Winter flying in a trike.

February 18, 2010, today I flew my Jetwing Ultralight Trike from Luverne, Minnesota (LYV) to Rock Rapids, Iowa (RRQ). The wind was calm with a temp of 26 degrees.  It was about 1:46 pm when I departed LYV with snow on the ground. Flying in the afternoon during the Winter can be very pleasant if the temperature is reasonable and the wind is low. Quite different than flying in the other seasons where thermals and turbulence are strong and common, and depending on the intensity, generally keeps me on the ground until early evening. Prior to this flight I had attached my Casio digital camera securely to the left washout strut on the wing and tested out it's operation. It seemed to work good so I was anxious to see the video when I was finished with the flight.

After I replaced the fuel with fresh gas since after about 30 days it loses it's octane, I did my preflight inspection.   I warmed the aircraft up and climbed aboard. I taxied out and announced my impending takeoff. The aircraft ascended quickly and normally and I was on my way.

The sun was so bright so I could not see my Lowrance GPS hardly at all. I wasn't concerned about getting lost since the Rock Rapids Airport is straight south of Luverne but I wanted to see how close my timeline was calculated.  I had prepared a flight log at home and had calculated the first leg of the trip to take about 20 minutes based on a tailwind of 4 knots. The flight was great and very smooth as I counted the first 7 mile roads that passed underneath me. You can bascially follow Highway 75 from the Luverne airpatch to Rock Rapids and at 7 miles or so there is a little mile jog to the East and then it goes South again.  Since I was in the air like a crow flying along I of course didn't have to make the jog.  As the highway turned straight South again I could see the runway at Rock Rapids.

At some point during the flight I looked over to my left and looked at my camera so that I could get my mug shot looking directly at the little digital lens. THe camera had slipped from it's original position and was now facing straight down. I knew that I had secured it and it wouldn't fall off but apparently the washout strut rotates in flight and wanted the camera to record the snow covered ground rather than me.

After changing to RRQ radio frequency 122.8, I announced my location and intentions as I continued South. I flew to the east of the field and entered a left downwind on a 45.  I announced my base and final turns as I looked carefully in the sky and on the airport for other aircraft.

It had been awhile since I had landed at RRQ but I was glad to have flown here today. I made a smooth touchdown and taxied toward the Operations building. As I shut the aircraft down on the ramp, I saw Lyle Chapin walking out to meet me.  Lyle, an Aircraft and Propulsion (A & P) mechanic operates Chapin Aircraft Repair on the field. It was nice to see him again and we chatted a for a few minutes. He said he had seen me flying over the river close to Luverne last fall. He was in his deer hunting tree stand and I flew right over him. He waved but I hadn't seen him.

We walked inside Ops to see what the temperature was but the gauge was inoperative. Not knowing for sure if the wind might become stronger, I said goodbye and climbed back onboard my trusty little Ultralight aircraft. This aircraft has been a great trainer for me after I had been properly trained by several CFIs to land smoothly. I have logged about 45 hours on my Jetwing and will be sad to see it go when someone finally buys it.

I have flown the Jetwing at 7 different airstrips and airports not including my home airport. Each flight has been a learning experience and I often see interesting sights along the way. I have seen hawks flying at the exact same altitude as me as they flew in my direction, not going away, head on, that gets your attention. I'm sure a hawk would fly out of the way especially since I am flying at about 30 miles per hour.

The wind was maybe a little stronger now out of the west-northwest. I taxied out and launched back into the sky, now headed for home. I definitely had a headwind, it was slight but I was making very good time. My Hall's airspeed indicator showed that I was flying at about 34 mph. I pulled the bar in and the speed increased to almost 45. Before long I could see the runway at Luverne and I flew to the left or wWest of it about a mile. I flew all the way to Interstate 90 before I entered a left downwind for runway three-six.

I made a fine touch-and-go landing and prepared for another "circuit and bump" as the British pilots would say, consisting of a takeoff, flying a rectangular pattern and a landing. When I had made my third landing for the day, I called it quits and taxied for the hangar. Another great day of Winter flying in my Jetwing was now in my Logbook.

I removed my Casio camera from the washout strut and watched the video that it recorded. The recording was pretty clear starting from the time I pushed the aircraft out of the hangar. I had captured my warmup, taxiing and takeoff without problem. Shortly after I left the runway, very slowly the camera started to rotate until finally I was out of the picture and all you could see was the snow. Oh well, just another lesson learned. I will take what good video I did get, and edit it and post on this website and maybe even YouTube the results. I really liked watching the takeoff, it is amazingly short in duration.  That's it for now, Think Safe and Fly Safe!

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