Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Another Trike Flight!

Well, my birthday has passed and I got another hour flight in Doug's trike! It has been an entire year since I've flown and it was great to finally be flying again. Unfortunately flying is like a drug; the more you fly (NOT on the airlines), the more you want it. Flying on the airlines does the exact opposite and makes you want to kill yourself.

I'd lost the antenna on my Icom A-3 transceiver while biking to the local airport one day. I was hoping that my mom could listen to my radio during the flight to listen to us depart and arrive back at the airport. Another birthday gift given to me was the antenna, but it was still in the mail. Literally five minutes before we left to go to the airport, a package arrived and it just happened to be the antenna! It was like magic! As if it was supposed to happen.

About fifty minutes later, the car was parked just outside the Southwest most hangar. The energy inside me was at the boiling temperature. I shook Doug's hand and he had a genuine smile on his face.

After attaching my camera to a neckband, so it wouldn't accidentally fall out (and through the prop) I got strapped in with Doug's assistance. He pushed the trike out of the hangar, warmed up the engine, and off we taxied towards the runway.

After doing a 360 on the ground looking for traffic flying the wrong side of the pattern (idiot traffic), I heard a click through my helmet. "Lodi traffic, Weight Shift something, something, something, I don't remember is taking off runway three-zero for Southwest departure." We taxied onto the runway and the Rotax 552 (blue) melodically hummed (the fat, ignorant people on the ground that sit on their couch watching the Sopranos all day will complain that it screams). While the trike was rolling (not very long), Doug was explaining how the trike will take off by itself. He didn't give the bar a push or do anything to get flying earlier, he just let the trike do it all by itself while placing his hand just an inch or two away from the control bar. Soon enough, I was no longer shackled on the ground.

About twenty feet above the ground, reality set in. I realized that I was flying! Actually flying! The left side of my brain (the mathematical and systematic side) knew that we were going to fly and was not shocked when we did, but my right side of my brain (creative side) was surprised. There was a definite feeling relief at that moment. It's the feeling of all your worries and stress being left behind.

We climbed even further then made our left turnout. It was a little hazy, so we decided to climb above it and get a clear view of mount Diablo. Along the way we discovered an inversion layer. At 1,400 feet we were above the haze and saw Diablo quite clearly as we headed towards it. To our left was the city of Lodi.

When passing Kindon Airpark a multi engine aircraft took off and it made me realize how slow we were actually going. He rocketed away as we putted along at 42 mph. He can enjoy his speed because we were having so much more fun than he was. Those general aviation guys just don't understand what ultralights are all about. I know that a general aviation guy (or gal) is probably reading this right now, and therefore I challenge you to find an ultralight instructor and get a flight in a Challenger, Quicksilver, trike of any sort, Kolb, etc. Just be warned, you'll soon be purchasing one shortly after.

Soon enough, we were flying over the delta (at a safe altitude of course). This is the place where I've been to many times...on boat and even by air with Dennis. Ahead of us was Lost Isle. After Doug pointed it out, I informed him that that's where all the crazy parties happen.

The rest of the trip was a bit of a blur. I remember seeing all sorts of boats and birds. At one point of the trip, Doug took back control of the trike and I took out my camera and started taking pictures. This was also the time when my body started shivering. Here (below) are those pictures that I took. You can click on any of the pictures, then click on the "all sizes button" to get a high res version. I give you personal permission to use any or all of them for any purpose including commercial uses as long as you let me know what you're doing beforehand to answer my curiosity.

2007-11-21 Mark trike flight 010

2007-11-21 Mark trike flight 009

2007-11-21 Mark trike flight 008

2007-11-21 Mark trike flight 007

2007-11-21 Mark trike flight 006

2007-11-21 Mark trike flight 005
This last picture is my favorite out of them all and I have it hanging on my wall to remind me of the flight.

After leaving the delta, we did some low flight (about 20 feet AGL) over a road in the middle of a massive field. As we gained some altitude when the road made a 90 degree turn, there was a bunch of fake rubber birds to our right in the field. We had a feeling the ducks were used for hunting of some sort. Flying low in a hunting field doesn't give you the best of feelings.

The aiport was near and the flight was almost over. As usual we entered on the 45 into downwind. On the fourty five there was a multi engine airplane (a Baron I believe) departed the airport and flew about 200 feet away and above from us. He took some military guys from Iraq to visit their families in Lodi. As we turned onto downwind there was some idiot (he wasn't flying the idiot pattern though) in a single seat Quicksilver who took off runway 26 and flew in front of us and all over the pattern. Doug felt uneasy and took back control. Once we were on short final we both had control and made our landing pushout on the control bar.
Despite that it got a little cold, it was still a fantastic flight. I can't wait to go again. If you're a pilot and in the Northern Califonia area leave me a comment! Hehe.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

2007 Golden West Fly-in

Since I've gone to this fly-in before and have posted all about it, I'll make this one short.

The people at fly-ins are amazing. Unlike the air show, I was allowed and encouraged to sit inside almost any aircraft I chose (as long as the owner was near). Everyone was happy to tell me about their airplane and give advice. No questions are left unanswered.

The ultralight side of things were ugly. I saw one trike trainer and an uncompleted Quicksilver II. The powered parachutes were happy, and I saw a powered paraglider in flight.

The sport pilot side of things was very happy. I got to meet someone from an ultralight Yahoo group, and saw his Rotax 912 powered Eurofox. I also had the opportunity to sit in a Sportstar, which almost put me to sleep (the seats were amazingly comfortable). Everywhere I turned there was another LSA.

The best part of the fly-in was the dinner with Mike Melvill, pilot of SpaceShipOne! The stories he told were amazing. There were two stories he told that I really enjoyed. One was when he was coming back into earth and started playing around with the space ship doing barrel rolls. Knowing that the FAA might be upset about that, he finished having fun and announced on the radio "Roll test complete." My other favorite part of his speech was the story of when he strapped himself on the top of a UAV with limited controls. The autopilot on the UAV failed and he could not keep the aircraft level (he was able to hold 45 degrees from level). Being the brilliant man he is, he shoved the stick in the direction of the lowered wing while close to the ground, and used adverse yaw to get him safely to the ground. This proves that knowledge is power!

Another very exciting at the Golden West fly-in!

Cheers everyone,
Mark Zinkel

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Radio

I will eventually need a radio. I'm not the only one flying, so a radio adds extra safety to the equation. I figured that since it would be a while until I actually have a complete Skypup, I could purchase a transceiver and have some more to do while I'm waiting to finally be in the air.

It comes down to reputation. I would like a radio that's built tough, digital, and going to last a long time. The leader of handheld radios is Icom, due to their great reputation of hi quality products (I feel like I'm giving them a free add), and this was what I'm looking for. Since I'd like to keep as much money as possible in my wallet, I was going to give Ebay a try.

There were many Icom airband radios on Ebay, each ending about a day apart from each other. The first three auctions I lost due to people putting bids at the last couple seconds. I never knew that an Ebay auction could be so stressful, but during those three auctions I learned many strategies which benefited me.

During the fourth auction I felt like I would either win the auction, or break my mouse from pounding on it during the last two seconds of the auction. Sure enough, the stress payed off and I won the auction. Yay

The radio arrived last week, and as soon as I got back from my school band's spring trip, I took a bike ride to the nearby class delta airport, and turned on the radio. Transmissions were crystal clear, and it made my visit to the airport much more enjoyable than my old ones.

That's what new and exciting in my life. My two new goals are:
A - Learn to read blueprints so I can understand my Skypup plans.
B - Start building my Skypup.

Mike Alpha Romeo Kilo

Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Big Decision

Well, I have been thinking about this for a long time, and now, I've finally made my decision.

At first, I was thinking that I would probably get a Quicksilver MX, but after a while, I started to see other aircraft that met my interest. The CGS Hawk, the Challenger, Phantom, Flightstar, and much more. Perhaps I should invest in something else other than a Quicksilver.

Many, many months ago, I looked for ultralight yahoo groups to join. There weren't many, and at the time, there was only one that was active. The Skypup group. My first impression of the Skypup was not a good one. It looked bulky, big, and too much of a haste. Then after a while, it became the inverse. People were talking about the simple construction, low costs, easy fun flying characteristics, and great portability. To top that off, the group was nice, helpful, and had each others back.

As good as the Skypup sounded, I wanted to make sure I wasn't getting myself into trouble. I had many other options. The Quicksliver MX, the Kolb Firefly or Firestar, Mitchell Wing, a trike, Phantom, etc. I was hoping that the trike flight would help me narrow down these options to just fixed wing, or trike, but in the end, it did nothing (just an amazing ride).

As I mentioned last post, I enjoy flying in general. Trike flying is great, but fixed wing is also awesome. With that in mind, I decided that why not build a Skypup. Haven't heard a complaint about the Pup (except for vibration) yet. I've finally found my bird, my love, and my new girlfriend.

Now I can soar like a bird (the glide ratio is an impressive 12:1), dance with the wind, and fly like a pilot. Cacn you tell that I'm in love?

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Trike Flight

The flight was scheduled for 4:00 pm on a wonderful clear blue Sunday. The drive there showed me what a great evening it was for flying. Before I saw the airport, a Quicksilver flew over the car.

The Lodi airport (1O3) was full of all sorts of ultralights in the traffic pattern. It was a friendly greeting and a sign of how great my flight was going to be. I found Doug and Doug's hanger without a problem. Doug seamed to be a nice guy excited to share the sport with me. After my mom signed my life away, Doug and I were ready to fly.
My mom had never seen a trike before. She later told me that it looked like "a little toy." The smooth fiberglass parts of the trike, gave it shiny toy-like look to it. It truly was a beauty. It's my version of a girlfriend.

When Doug and I got in the girlfriend, I heard something over the radio:

"Lodi Traffic, Piper Cherokee is on right downwind for runway two six. Lodi"

At first, I thought It was Doug talking to me over the intercom system, but it was actually over the radio. It was sort of surprising because I never remember transmissions being so clear when flying with Bill and Ray. This was either due to the icom radio, or the Lynx headset.

We taxied to runway 30 applied full power, and was off! The 4:00 air was very smooth and silky, which made for a very enjoyable flight. I remember when flying with Ray, the air was very disturbed and choppy with tons of little cotton ball thermals. Also with Bill and our 12:00 flight, we had to fly higher than normal where the air was less disturbed. This time, the air was so much nicer, which allowed us to fly lower.

When I was allowed to take over the wing, I quickly got a hold of the technique. This was nice because I was able to fly it (except throttle) to Lake Comanche without concentrating on flying the trike, giving me maximum pleasure. Once we arrived, Doug showed me some low flight. After that, he gave me the wing and we climbed back up and followed the creek back to the airport.

When flying back, I pointed out two ducks to Doug, which was flying faster than us! Doug replied in a disappointed tone of voice "Yeah...they are." Ducks are basically rocks with tiny wings. If a duck needs to fly, it must overcome these problems with pure thrust. I wouldn't feel so bad, Doug.

When the airport was in sight, I was disappointed, yet still very excited for the landing. I still had the wing when we were entering the traffic pattern at a 45
degree angle (standard procedure). A little time passed, and we were on the downwind leg. I still had control of the wing. Time passed and I found myself on base. It was an amazing feeling of importance that I felt when I was flying my first traffic pattern. When I was turning on to final, I started to hear Doug talking to himself. About 2-ish feet above the ground, Doug and I pushed forward on the control bar at the same time. We were on the same brainwave, thinking the same thing, at the same time. It was absolutely amazing and Doug is insanely lucky to have such a great job.

This was an incredibly great flight, and I learned several things:

1. Flying is fun. In a 3-axis, trike, etc. Aircraft type doesn't matter.
2. I prefer open cockpit designs.
3. I'm desperate to fly. I can't wait until I finally get my own ultralight.

Get me in the sky,
Mark Zinkel