Tuesday, December 22, 2009

EAA Chapter 1476

I have been part of an EAA chapter for several months now. It has been one of the greatest decisions I've ever made and don't know what took me so long. I've been able to connect with some of the brightest, most knowledgeable and generous aviators people that I've ever met. They have flown me all over the place, taken me to breakfast, paid for my breakfast (thank you Mike), given me advice, shared their war stories and much more. I am very lucky to be surrounded with such great people and I'm not sure if there's a place anywhere else where I can find people like the people at EAA chapter 1476.

Here are some photos and videos of some of the flying I'm lucky to be a part of:

Friday, December 18, 2009

My Training Situation Figured Out

As of last post, I had no idea where I was going to get training so I would have the skills and confidence to fly my Pterodactyl . I have spent many painstaking hours sorting this out in my brain and I've finally come to my conclusion. Since I would like to be a full, FAA approved Certified Flight Instructor (and possibly a CFII), why not start training towards my private pilot rating? My plan before this decision was to get this training once I was in college. I realize that I'll have more work and more distractions in college, so why make things any more difficult for myself.

Obviously, there is a HUGE difference between a four seat, 1,620 lb, enclosed cockpit, 160 hp, Cessna 172 and a single seat, 200 lb, open cockpit, 30 hp, Pterodactyl Ascender II. I will not be one of those general aviation folks who believes that ultralights are toy airplanes compared to their Cessnas so they automatically have the skills to fly them. That is a mindset which has killed and continues to kill many and I would like to stay alive longer so I'll have even more time to fly.

I was concerned a while back about the FAA's decision to essentially end all training in ultralight-like, experimental light sport aircraft. Since then, the Experimental Aircraft Association has worked with the FAA to establish a set of guidelines so that training in these types of aircraft can continue. I will definitely will need to get some sort of transition training so I'll have the skills to fly my low inertia, light wing loading, high performance ultralight. Because of the EAA/FAA arrangements, I'm not worried about finding a safe place to get instruction. For now, Rainbow Aviation (the same folks who have written "A Professional Approach to Ultralights") appears to be the place for me to get my transition training.

If in the unlikely event that I can't find a place to get instruction, I'll find or make a friend with the right equipment and go flying with them. If even that doesn't work out, I'll have to revert back to the way people learned how to fly ultralights in the 1980's and self teach myself. Jack McCornack, the man who designed the Pterodactyl line of aircraft wrote a self training guide and amazingly, those who actually followed the guide step by step had very little problems.

Some people have told me to simply follow the self training guide and not worry about getting training in a dual seat machine but I will learn to fly my Pterodactyl in the most comfortable way that I see fit. I'm all about flying safely so I can continue flying for years and years to come.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Training: Oh where, oh where?

It is 1:33 in the morning right now and I'm unable get myself to sleep. You would think that 17 years of experience (18 on the 18th of this month) would make me very good at it but obviously not. A lot is going through my head right now and my mind is unable to slow down to stop analyzing for the night.

Redrive washers, aviation instructors, and tomorrow's government test is what's keeping my mind from relaxing. I don't see any three of these topics to be a problem any more, yet my mind keeps on whirling.

The biggest thing that I've been thinking about is the flight instruction that I'll be getting so I can fly my Pterodactyl safely. The word safely is key. My plans to get proper ultralight training have been dramatically altered after learning the horrifying truth about certain things. I value my life and would like to live longer so I can spend more time flying. Therefore my plans have been altered to reflect just that.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Negative Parts of the Journey

I started this blog to share my experiences as I reach towards my goal of flight. I need to make it clear that there is a lot of the story that's missing. There are a few negative experiences that I've had and I kept those experiences off of here. I do not want to hurt anyone's feelings and I certainly don't want anyone mad at me. That being said, I've started to change my thoughts on that.

I've learned a ton from the negative experiences that I've been through. There is a lot to take away from these experiences and those experiences will make me a better and safer pilot once I am one. For now, these experiences will keep me alive and pain free for much longer. When you think about it that way, why am I not sharing these experiences?

There is still the problem of having people upset but I've come up with a simple solution. I'll simply not mention any names. If the people associated with my negative experiences end up reading this blog, they'll know that I'm talking about them, but their name won't be mentioned. There is still a possibility that they get upset, but I hope they respond in a mature and reasonable way. I hope they will take my thoughts as constructive criticism and that they will consider changing their behavior and habits to better themselves and the people around them.

With all of this in mind, be prepared to hear a few more stories coming through the pipe.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Friday, October 09, 2009


After listening to some encouraging words, I have decided to keep my Pterodactyl project and keep on building. I've done the math and I'm about $850 from it being complete. To be safe, we'll say it's $1,000 from being complete. I have about $250 of that $1,000 right now, so I have $750 to go. A lot has happened since my last update on the Dac so expect a video or something of the sort soon.

Training is a whole other issue that I'll have to address. It looks like the FAA, who always emphasizes safety when in public, isn't allowing folks full access to safe ultralight flying. We are back to the 80's when people were dying left and right due to the lack of proper training.

Friday, October 02, 2009

There's a Twist

Just when you think you can predict how things are going to end up, I make a change in plans.

As you might know, the FAA doesn't always make logical decisions. This lack of logic has impacted me this time. After January 31, 2010, the FAA is not allowing any Sport Pilot training to be done in Experimental Light Sport Aircraft (ELSA). Instead, you are only allowed to get training in Special Light Sport Aircraft (SLSA). Why is this a problem? Well, there is absolutely no SLSA aircraft in the entire state of California that flys like a Pterodactyl Ascender.

Unfortunately, my Pterodactyl project turned out to be a bigger project than I expected. I know that I won't be able to have it ready to fly with enough time to get training before the deadline. With that in mind, I've run into a dead end. I am aware of a place where I can get semi-proper training illegally, however the hours spent there won't be able to go towards any Sport Pilot or Private Pilot ratings and that's a waste of money.

I could certainly get training in a Sportstar, Remos, CTLS, etc, however they are all enclosed cockpit, slick, fast, heavy, and higher inertia aircraft. Flying ultralights requires a certain skill that's not obtainable in these planes. Some GA (General Aviation) guys think that their all superior private pilot ticket means that they can fly an ultralight without any specialized training. With that mindset, they decide to fly one and quickly realize that they are wrong when their body hits the ground dead. I'm not going to be that guy.

At the dead end I've arrived at, I have no choice but to sell my Pterodactyl project. Now the letter "P" in pFlying.com has become irrelevant...or has it?

The Pterodactyl Ascender is an absolutely great airplane. It is safe given that you fly it within its limitations, it's fun, it will climb like the space shuttle, and it is by far one of the most unique ultralights out there. It has a place in my heart which is here to stay. I will fly a Pterodactyl one day, but it won't be anytime soon.

With all of that in mind, what am I going to do now? I'll give you a hint: the silent "P" in pFlying.com won't be silent for much longer.

To be continued...

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Breaking News

Today was an extreme and radical day. Over the course of five hours, so much has happened. At this time, I don't know where to start and I don't know where to end. That's why I will not be sharing this news with you today.

Is this good news or bad news? To be honest, I don't know the answer. It's going to be a hard night to get to sleep.

Expect to learn more soon...

Monday, March 02, 2009

New Progress, New Problems

It's long past due for an update, so here we go!

For the most part, my Pterodactyl hasn't changed very much. It has been sitting in the garage with the nose wheel off waiting for parts for months. Dave Froble, the man who supplies Pterodactyl parts is REALLY slow at getting orders sent out. He's waiting for his side of the country to warm up since his shop is in his barn. I've since told him to forget my order for now. I'll get as many of the parts I can find elsewhere purchased from places where the wait isn't 6+ months long.

In the mean time, I've been keeping myself busy with other projects. One of which is a recently rebuilt Cuyuna 430. I got it at an amazing price and along with it came two mufflers and a box full of Rotax, Cuyuna, redrive and other engine related parts. Most of these parts will be sold off, but there's some really good pulleys which might be useful for a redrive.

Speaking of redrives, I've been trying to remove these hex bolts off the redrive attached to my older Cuyuna engine and I've have had no luck. A ratchet and a hammer doesn't work. I've tried using penetrating lubricants such as WD40 and Liquid Wrench as well, but still; no luck. I guess my last option is to find someone with a torch. and heat it off. Hopefully that will actually work.

The last worthwhile thing to mention is that I now have a CHT gauge, Tiny Tach, Ratio Right (helps measure out the correct amount of two stroke oil to mix with the fuel) , RPM gauge, Cuyuna service manual, voltage regulator (now I have two), an Icom A3 headset adapter, a Pterodactyl rib tip tool (used to pull the trailing edge of the wing over rib tips), Fram G1 fuel filter, fuel line and two old Pterodactyl pins. I have no use for the extra RPM gauge and voltage regulator, so I'll be selling those. The Key West regulator (thanks to Gary Orpe) and the Tiny Tach will stay.


Stay tuned for more updates. I have an instrument panel to build, a 3 blade Ultra Prop to buy, the Pterodactyl to finish restoring and training to get done. Things are getting unbelievably exciting as I get closer to flying.

Stay Tuned!