A Flightful Day of Play

Foggy flying and my fastest cloverleaf to date.

I probably would question the number myself but both Shane and Tim were taking times. 43 seconds. And that was with a 5 mph wind. My previous best time was probably around 49 seconds, probably flown on a Silex or Spice. But I've still got this speedy Plasma 22 and this was my first time out with a full course set up. I'd been flying the patterns and turns before but now the official cloverleaf.

The morning Polo Field gathering included a number of our regulars, Bob, his soon-to-fly friend (and timer) Shane, Gale, Gary, Tim and I. After some practice, Shane offered to time my runs. That would be great! Clearly I need practice because several times, especially after the wind picked up to maybe 7 mph, I misjudged turns and wound up either with grossly bad center-stick crossings or couldn't get around to it at all. But when everything came together, it felt mighty fine, and I was ecstatic about the time.

One bummer happened when I was going for it hard. Full speedbar, full power, hands nearly up, trims 2-fast (2 of 11) just getting to the center stick when both tips folded in. According to those on the ground, about 30-40% of my left tip folded and 30% of the right tip folded. Upon feeling the strangeness, I immediately let up on the speedbar, reduced power and concentrated on steering. When it became obvious I was coming down, I goosed the motor to full and managed to land on my feet. That was close. Turbulence is to be expected at that point since we fly through our own wake each time after rounding a stick. But obviously it doesn't usually collapse the wing tips. Anyone who does cloverleafs a lot has logged a lot of wake encounters. Maybe there's more I need to learn about trimmer settings, brake use and so forth. I am flying the wing a bit differently than it was designed in some regards. Trims are set to 2-fast and I'm going to full speedbar while rolling out of the turns. That's great for speed but, apparently, may be a vulnerable condition. The folds didn't actually affect the flight path as much as I expected. That's not surprising since I suspect that 80% of the lift occurs in the middle 50% of the wing.

The rest of the morning was spent cruising and playing. At one point I landed, let the wing fall back and did a forward just for grins. Since using just the center A's I have yet to blow one. It's really pretty easy to launch. Up to that point I'd been doing reverses, probably 5 or 6 as I'd fly a couple clovers then land to hear the times. It is really nice being able to fast when I need to, especially for pictures.

Foot dragging this polo field is pure magic. Smooth air meant it was easy to do 360 drags or basically go anywhere you want on the field while just riding your feet. Man is that fun.

Gary and I went out for a little corn cruise and photo flight. Then when Tim told me on the radio that horses were starting to arrive (this is a polo field), we headed back. Plus it was starting to get bumpy, probably only a 2 on scale, but not as much fun for playing down low.

What a great time.

In the afternoon some non-flying friends came by for dinner and flying in Bubba (a Bonanza). Marcelo is an advanced student physicist working at Fermilab and wanted to see his lab from the air. So we did. How fitting since, a few weeks back, he had taken Tim and I on a tour of the place. I'm truly amazed at what science has been able to ferret out of our surroundings and was in awe of the place. It is, after all, where the most advanced high energy particle physics takes place, where the world's top scientists come to see smashed atoms and their aftermath. It's title as most super of smashers will soon pass to the LHC (in France and Switzerland) when it finally comes online next year.

When we got back to the field the sun had not yet set and conditions were still perfect for PPG. So up I went for a quickie out of the back yard. What a treat.

1-6) Morning flying at the polo field. Unfortunately, I didn't get close enough to Bob, who took several flights, to get any good pictures. Tim Kaiser went for a couple cloverleaf runs, scoring a respectable 55 seconds. 7-9) Backyard dessert.

Doing a foot-drag turn. Photo by Gary Grown.

2015 Jeff Goin   Remember: If there's air there, it should be flown in!