Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Birthday Gift

I'm writing this latest post in Boulder Colorado. We drove all the way here from California to visit my brother. He moved here a little less than a year ago. We also decided to celebrate my birthday and thanksgiving up here (at 5,300 ft) too.

The drive was long, yet it wasn't so bad. It would have helped if the scenery wasn't as redundant during the trip. Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming looks almost identical....only slight changes. This makes me glad that I live in California. Green California!

The day we arrived, we went to a restraunt to have a low key birthday celebration. The food was quite delicious. I had a ciabatta mushroom sandwich and as nasty as it sounds, it was actually quite tasty. With a low appetite from driving all that day, my stomach filled up quickly.

Me being me, I wanted to open my birthday gifts at the last possible moment, but my mother wanted me to do it I did. All of the gifts were great, but stood out. It was a one hour trike flight with Douglas Donaldson from Golden State Trikes (!

I allways thought I'd be a fixed wing ultralight guy, but I never even thought about trying out some weight shift. Papapaul posted a comment on my previous post saying that I should wait a little longer and get a trike. This made me curious. Perhaps I would enjoy trike flying better? With that in mind, I started thinking about getting an introductory flight in a trike. I never told my mom this, but ironicly, thats what I got.

Whenever I find a good weathered weekend and Douglas D. is available, I'll be off flying once again. Afterwards, you can expect another post.

See you in a couple of weeks!

Mark Zinkel

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Did I get my very own ultralight?

In between the two flights I had with Dennis, somthing else was going on that's important to the whole picture. It's somthing that I will remember for the rest of my life. Somthing I'll share with my grandkids when I'm older. Every once and a while the story will gnaw at my brain and start teasing me. My gosh!, writing up this one will be hard.


Ebay is theplace where you can buy anything and everything. From used socks, to boats, to airplanes, ebay has it. There are normally a couple of ultralights on ebay, but they normally sell for $1,800 and up (non dammages ones). I try to watch for patterns and stratagies that could be usefull for me in the future.

Normally watching these ultralights sell is painful. They sell at very low prices for the quality aircraft that they are. Yeah, prices are low, yet not low enough for me. Comparing the amount of money I have to the amount that's being sold, I realise that I have a long way to go, yet I try to ignore the truth and tell myslelf that a miricle could happen.


Miricles do happen. And they happen at very suprising times. I love composite airplanes (fiberglass), and I also love the canard configuration (where the tail is in the front) in airplanes. During the milddle of the week, an ultralight with these same charachteristics popped up. It was a Eurowing Goldwing.

Doing more research on the Goldwing, I found that it was a beautiful airplane that doesn't have the popularity that it should. The composite construction made the aircraft much more durable than fabric covered aircraft, yet the weight stays within the legal FAR 103 limit. No need to purchase expensive sails every six, or seven years. It cruises at 55 mph, and stalls at a slow 25 mph.

It was a kit, which means that I'd have to assemble the aircraft. The average construction time to put one of these together is 400 hours. I figured that it would take a little longer with me because I'd have to learn proper building methods such as fiberglassing, dealing with epoxy, etc. I'm also a perfectionest, which is a good thing when it comes to building an airplane. Every edge would be sanded smooth, every bolt would be properly tightened, wireing would be cleenly organised, etc. It would probably take me at least 800 hours to build, but that's fine with me, as my life would rely on the airplane when I finally got to fly it.

What was really nice was that it was located very close to my house. Even closer to my families vacation cabin. Soo close to the cabin, I could walk to the airport from the cabin, and still have hours of daylight left. Just about 10 miles away. No need to trailer the aircraft across states. Just right to the cabin. Geting it home wouldn't be a problem either, as it's only about 100 miles. That's 100 miles that we drive regularly. It was soo close, it was killing me.

A Eurowing Goldwing on the Ground

This was an aircraft for me. I felt like it allready belonged to me, as it had (and still does) a special place in my heart.
Although I figured that bids would quickly go over my budget, I dreamed that a miricle. There was nothing else in the world that I wanted more. Just a miricle, just a fingers were crossed.

As days, went by my fingers remained crossed. Strangely enough, and to my suprise, there had been very little bidding action going on. The last day of ebay auctions are allways the most intense and the bid price also has the greatest spike during that time. I was leaving to go to the delta that same day (when I just happened to fly with Dennis), so my mom decided to take the responcibility of bidding for me. She asked me what was the highest price that I was willing to bid and I told her $450 (told you it was a miricle). It was a rough guess. I knew I had a little more, but I didn't want to give her a number that was higher than what I actually had, so to be safe, $450 was the magic number.

A couple hours after flying with Dennis for the first time, I called my mom to see what was happening. We were the highest bidder at that time, although there had been some rough competitors. The bid was at $417. Later, my mom called me and said that one of the sellers put in a bid for $431. He must have had an automatic bid thing going on because the next bid my mom made was $450.......the magic number. It was dark when my mom called me again. She informed me that my agressive competitor had made a bid $5 over the magic number. I knew I had $5 more, so told my mom to put in a bid for $460. She refused and did not bid. My friends around me all said that they would pitch in some money so I could get this aircraft, but my mom was still stiff.

To this day, I don't understand why my mom did not put in that extra $10. I would have that debt payed off within a week, probably before she even collected my money. If I ask her if she's afraid of me flying, she says no, but maybe deep down inside she doen't want me flying and is afraid. The real answer remains out there.

The final bid was $455. I had lost the plane by five dollars. That's less that what it probably costs you to drive to the grocery store. Less than a good burger. Less than a cheep, flimsy, plastic cup. Less than a large pack of paper plates.

What is the moral of the story? Do what you have to do. If you can recover quickly, make small risks. Give yourself a little bit of slack, but not too much. If I were allready following the moral of this story before it happened, I wouldn't be talking about what a loss this was, I would be talking about what a good deal it was and how great it is to be flying.

"If you got to do it, do it!"
-Ben- high school band leader

Goodbye my lover,
Goodbye my friend,
You have been the one,
You have been the one for me.

My eyes turned skywards,
Mark Zinkel

Monday, October 09, 2006

Youtube Video


I recenly made a video just for this blog, so I hope you enjoy it.

Ultralight Flight Dream

Stay tuned, great stuff is just around the corner!

Mark Z.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Friday, August 11, 2006

Flying with Dennis

My friend James invited me to his vacation trailer next to the Sacramento delta. It's in a trailer park/campground called Tower Park. I was availabe that weekend, so I accepted. Tower park is allways a fun place because there's a pool, a bunch of cool people, and golf carts. I was ready for a fun weekend.

When we arrived I got settled in, them told everyone that I'd be back. I knew there was a Quicksilver MX II on floats near the dock, so I went there to check it out. It looked like a well maintained aircraft that had been put into good hands, except that the sailcloth was exposed to the harmful UV rays of the sun. I was wondering how many sails the guy had gone through.

Later that day I brought my friends to the Quicksilver to show off the aircraft. When we arrived there was a guy standing near the aircraft, so I asked if it was his. It was. We had a really great conversation, and when I started to leave, Dennis asked me if I wanted to fly with him in about an hour. Obviously I accepted, and was as excited as ever.

An hour later I was back at the dock, this time with a blue angels shirt. If I was going to be flying, I figured that I should be flying with an aviation shirt. Why not? Dennis and I pushed the aircraft off the dock and into the water, then climed abord. I got into the seat on the right.

Dennis just got his fiberglass floats repaired, so he was eager to fly too. Apparently, he was taxing to his take off position when a small log hit his floats. The log was mostly underwater so Dennis didn't see it. It was about 6 or 7 inches long and about 4 inches wide. It's amazing what dammage a small chunk of wood can do. The dammage kept Dennis handcuffed to the ground for about a week, until someone came out to fix the crack.

As we were in position and pointing West (that's the direction where the wind comes from in this neck of the woods), we waited for boat traffic to disappear. Once clear, Dennis asked me if I saw any more boats. I said no, and Dennis applied full power to the Rotax 503. The MX glided along the watter, then gracefully flew into the air. I could feel the air blowing against my face as I was watching the ground below me become smaller.

At about 200 feet, Dennis reduced the throttle to it's crusing position, and we soared over the delta below us. I could see the crisp green crops boardering the water. The air was perfect, feeling like we were gliding on frictionless rails. I'd never been as close to heaven as I was durning those moments.Quicksilver MX II on floats (not Dennis' plane)

After a while, Dennis let me take over the controls. I had spent countless hours reading about flight, and practicing the things I've learned on a flight simulator. To top that off I had done introductory flights with Ray Mellow, and Bill Bardin. I allready had a general idea how to fly, but apparently, Dennis didn't expect me to know soo much. He started off holding the stick while having his feet on the rudder petals, but soon realised that I didn't need his assistance. From that point on, he let me fly it for the rest of the flight, except for the landing.

Once landed, Dennis asked me if I wanted to go flying again the next day at 8:00 in the morning. Without hessitation, I accepted. That flight was just as good, if not better than the last. This time, Dennis let me do the take off and the entire flight. Again, we crused around the delta in perfect air.

During the second flight, Dennis informed me that he was legally blind. This made total sence because he asked me several times what way a boat was going, or if I saw some power lines that was supposed to be nearby and other questions relating to vision. This didn't worry me at all since I have a perfectly good pair of eyes, but it did enable me to tell my friends that I flew with someone that was blind.

This story has soo much more detail that I haven't even gone over, but I think I'm going to wrap it up. The general idea is established.

Mark Z. - Money is the only thing holding me back from flying.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

The Quickilver MX II Sport Introductory Flight

Well, as expexted (it's really easy), I made it through middle school. Now I move on to high school. I really wasn't expecting anything as a graduation gift because it's not too hard to do, yet, to my suprise my mom presented me with a book (Glems Sport Pilot), and an introductory flight with Bill Bardin at his ultralight/light sport flight school ( I was absolutely excited.

We set up a date to head twards the Lodi Airport. When the day came, I was up bright and early at 6:00 am for my flight at 1:00 pm. It only takes about 45 minutes or less to get to Lodi from Sacramento, but I woke up from excitment. I also had a problem getting to sleep the previous day. I probably got a whopping 5 hours of sleep, but that's not bad compared to how much sleep I get on some school days.

When I woke up I recorded a CD as driving directions for my mom. Yes, I did say driving directions on CD. You see, I would predict how long it would take to get from one street to another, so I would talk and play music in between directions. This presented problems somtimes, because there are too many variables to properly estimate how long it would take to get from one street to another.

I allways crack my mom up when I give her the audio directions, or should I call them audorections. This made that 45 minute drive alot quicker. We got there with no problem, and my smile was way overmodulated.

As soon as I arrived, I was quite impressed. Bill Bardin was working on putting together a Quicksilver MX when I arrived. The hangar was quite large and held about 6 aircraft. There was even a plane hanging from the celing, which I think is quite a good idea since lots of times we have plenty of vertical space.
As Bill was showing me the hangar, he walked to a place in the wall and pushed against the sheet metal. The sheet metal moved out of the way and through the door was another hangar. Wow! He showed me even more aircraft, and did the same thing with the wall, which revealed another hangar. Bill rents 5 hangars. His students keep their planes in the hangars for a whopping $35 a month. As of the aircraft, there were a ton of Challengers. Single seat Challengers, dual seat Challengers, single seat with glass pannel Challengers, Challengers that had amazing paint jobs. Did I mention that there were alot of Challengers?

As we were in the second or third hangar, Bill an I went back to the first hangar to get are aircraft ready to fly. I requested to fly the Quicksilver MX II Sport since most likely, I'll end up with the single seat version of the aircraft. We had to push some other aircrafts out of the way in order to get the MX out, but since they weigh soo light, that's not a problem at all. These aircraft weigh lighter than some people.

Bill handed me some foam ear plugs to use during are flight. This was a good idea since this is an open cockpit aircraft, and the engine is right behind you. Bill pull stared the engine and off we we were.

We taxied twards runway 26 (magnetic heading 260 aka: allmost West)

Did the engine run-up. Everything good.
Then it was time to leave the ground.
"Quicksilver 103 is taking off of runway 26, Lodi traffic."

One hundred and fifty feet later we were in heaven. We climed to a safe altitude and flew straight out. When we got about 10 or so miles away from the airport, we flew about 4 feet above the ground weaving in and out of trees. It's a really fun fealing flying close to the ground.
Since it was a hot summer day, we climed to an altitude of 1,000 feet msl. Up there the air was smooth and the temperature was just perfect. Once up there, Bill let me take over the controls.
At the time, I loved stalls, so it was my goal to pitch the nose up as high as it would go, before the wings stalled and the nose pitched down. One time I held the stall and turned it into a spin, which is really fun!

We were out there for about 45 minutes dancing under the sun. It was quite an experiance. It totally proves my theory that I'm a bird stuck on the ground. People say sex is good, but I say screw sex, I'd rather fly. Now I have no idea what sex is really like, but I don't see how anything can top off flying. It's sooooooooooooooo good! Not only that, but it's highly addictive.

Unfortunalely, the flight had to end somtime. We headed back and met up with a trike. We talked to him and did some formation flying on are way back. Since he had the Rotax Hotrod engine, and we only had a Rotax 503, he got to the airport first, but we had more fun.

I don't understand why they use black asphault at airports. They get quite hot under the sun. As soon as we flew over the airport you could feel that blast of heat balloning us upwards. It took some mussle to get twards the ground. As we arrived about 1 foot over the ground, Bill reduced the power, flaired the nose, and made a nice smooth landing.

I taxied back and we shut off the engine as we arrived near the hangar. Bill got out of the aircraft, then I followed. The Quicksilver gently rested on it's tail as I got out of my seat. It was bowing at me for the great flight.

Boy I love this sport!
I need more!

Mark Zinkel

Monday, July 03, 2006

The Golden West Airshow and Fly-In

The skys were as blue as the ocean. The visibility was amazing that cool morning. I got up at 7:00 that day, so I would miss nothing. I had driving directions neatly organized on the table printed the day before. Everything ran smoothly as the morning progressed and we drove towards Marysville to the Yuba County airport.
Traffic was great. The parking lot was small. This confused me at first, until I realized that this was also a fly-in. I would say that most of the people there flew in. Lucky for them, I didn't have an aircraft...yet.
As I arrived, I was surprised at how many light sport and ultralights were there. This pleased me because these are the only type of aircraft that I'm mainly in to. Instead of relying on instruments, you fly by feel, sound, and sometimes smell (believe it or not, the smell part is true). Ultralight's are amazingly safe. They are safer than the big 737s that are commercially flown because unlike 737s ultralights can land just about anywhere. You are more likely to get hurt or die driving to the airport than flying, even if the airport is blocks away. Ultralights are some of the most amazing aircrafts, and the Golden West Fly-In had lots of them.

This article will be continued later...

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The Flight


I remember when my friends dad mentioned Freedom Field. I really didn't respond. I'm not exactly sure about the reasoning of this strange behavior, but for some reason, It just wasn't a big deal. Boy I was wrong.
School was school was still in session and I didn't have much time to spend on flight. I remember one week I wanted to learn more about this Freedom Field (from now on I'll refer to it as FF) thing. I realised that it was somthing to check out. Every day of that week I remember getting homework done and looking forward to look it up, but then I would look at the clock, and it would be too late.
The day I found the site ( , I was quite impressed. Every nook and corner of the site was explored. That day I also sent off an email to Ray Mello. Ray is the owner and instructer of the field. I explained about how I loved flying, flight simulator, my grandfather, and probably my life story. I was more than happy, yet I had no patience for a responce back.
Ray's responce was worth gold (it actually had some value). He said that since I seamed to love flight, he would give me a free introductory flight! It felt like my heart skipped a beat. I was soo excited, and was blown away from the big sign that said FREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I gave him my phone number so we could set up a date.
After a couple of days Ray and I had set up a time. Saturday at 10:00 am was when the magic was about to hapen. My mom was my transportation, so instead of printing directions, I decided to make a CD for her with audio directions. This would keep me intertained on the way to the strip and not driven crazy by the 6 hour drive that actually takes 30 minutes. I was ready.
Once arriving, I saw the aircraft all ready to be flown, so I knew I was in the right place. I got out of the van to find an empty hangar. How strange, where's Ray? Just about then was the time where Ray made his entrance screeming (not him, the bike) on a dirtbike. That was the moment where I realised that I would have a really fun flight! It got even better when he told me it was an acrobatic plane. HAhaHaha! I was ready to have a blast.
The takeoff roll took only 150'. My mom was on the ground taking pictures, but she didn't get too many shots, because the thing was soo fast. The sport aircraft was amazing. We flew to the Lincoln airport and back. He basicly gave me the controls the whole time, so I could get the most out of the flight. I even did the landing and take off at Lincoln.
On our way back, Ray said "Hey, do you want to see somthing cool?" Of course I said yes. He said the following manuver is really good when you want to turn in a hurry. He pointed the nose straight up till it stalled, when he gave it a little right rudder. The plane literally pivited around the right wing as if you were to nail it to a wall with the nail on the tip of the wing and then swing the plane around that point. This manuver is called a hammerhead, and it was really cool. Strangely enough, I really didn't feel it. Everything else I felt, but not this.

You can check out a video of this amazing manuver here.

We feathered to the ground and rolled back to the hangar. It would be a long time untill I would fly again. My mom and I talked to him for something like 20 minutes afterwards. He has so many great stories to tell and he's truely a great guy.

What a great way to start,
With a cross country flight,
To Lincoln airport,
During the day,
Not at night,

We felt the thermals,
We felt no drift,
We felt that pillow of lift.

Live with Freedom,
Mark Zinkel

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Will be updated soon

The story moves on, yet this page stays the same. Why is that? Well, lets say I've been "really buisy". Sounds familiar? Updates will appear soon and you will be able to get a little taste of my dream. Just gave me a week.


PS: I need to proofreed my previous posts.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Beginning

It all started about four months ago when I figured out that I can legally fly an ultralight aircraft. I've allways been into flight, but it's now where I get serious. Ever since that rainy January day, my life has changed dramatically. I'm spending more time researching, mowing lawns, pulling weeds, reading theory of flight books, etc. People have found me being "buisy" all the time. I've been staying awake past my bedtime and find myself daydreaming in class. I've discovered that I'm a bird in human form and it's about time to fly!
Ultralighting is much better than flying a 747, Cessna 150, or an F-18. People who fly ultralights don't do it to make money, transport goods, or bomb Iraq, people fly ultralights for one fly! Although they don't go fast, they still dance in the air, drift with the brese, and soar with the birds. Boeing 737s don't fly at all, they only move, ultralights fly.
The past four monts I've only been doing a couple of things...learning about ultralights, and saving money for my ultralight.
My ship will be the Quicksilver MX. It's probably the most famous ultralight of them all. Ever since the early 80s this ship has proven great reliability, safty, and excitement. It also has a cheep sticker on it. I will buy a used one and that will probably cost me somewhere between $2,000 and $4,000. That's a really good price! Now I don't mean to give a free add, but I think Quicksilver deserves a pat on the back.

It's all a matter of time,
As it gets closer, everything will go slower,
And the excitement goes up
Saying "I can't wait" is an understatement,
Hopefully soon I will be up there,
Looking down wondering if you're watching,
Because I will be watching you,
As of now, It's all a matter of time.

Tailwinds - Mark


Welcome all,

This is my journal about persuing my dreams. It's a story about what started with a 14 year old boy with the addiction in flight and ended with somthing great. So much better than anyone would have ever imagined.

This is only the beginning,
And the best part is not there yet,
Once it's started,
I will never go back!

Tailwinds - Mark Zinkel