Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Gyroplanes Love Wind

For local in the pattern flying I now prefer having some wind!  Last night I experienced my first flight since January with no wind.  I had become rusty at landing with no wind, especially with a dead stick.  Nothing major, I just did not like the first two landings with zero throttle.  The first one, I came down a bit slow and hard, but, landed in the spot I was planning.  On the next landing, I wanted to maintain more airspeed and wound up with a fairly smooth landing, but, not where I wanted to land and wound up way down the runway.  On my final approach, I decided to use the throttle to ease the machine down the final few feet with less airspeed than the second approach and hit the spot I was looking for.
Needless to say I need to practice more when the wind is not blowing.  I have been spoiled by the winds that have been persistent the past several months.  Having a 5-15 mph or more wind in your face, even a quartering crosswind makes taking off and landing much easier.   The rotors spin up quickly on take off and the ground speed for both the take off and landing is much slower.  Landing requires a little less throttle into the wind and always results in very minimal ground roll.
On cross country trips this summer most days will be with little wind and with a higher density altitude both thrust and rotor performance will be reduced increasing the need for longer take off rolls and more throttle on final down to the runway.

Just a couple of days later I took The Beast out for a quick 15 minute flight.  Once again there was no wind, but, the temperature and humidity were both lower thus a much lower density altitude.   I also only had 4 gallons of fuel on board compared to the previous flight of 12 gallons.   The landings were all much easier to perform requiring less throttle.  I also kept the nose down longer as I started to settle through ground effect.   The combination of better technique combined with a machine that was performing much better resulted in all three landings being very smooth.

Gyroplanes are affected by density altitude as much and perhaps more than fixed wing aircraft.   Gyroplane pilots must keep all the performance factors listed above in mind when taking off and landing, especially on short and or grass fields.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Future Cross Country Trip in my Air Command Gyroplane

I am planning a 3 day trip to Dickson, Tennessee from Polk County Airport to Dickson County Municipal Airport, M02 to visit the Tennessee PRA Chapter 16 Volunteer State Rotorheads and David McCutchen. Day 1 first leg on a Friday is 60 NM to 8A1, Guntersville Municipal Airport, Alabama, . From there 59.6 NM to Abernathy Field Airport, Pulaski, Tennessee, GZS. The final leg from there to Dickson County is 61.2 NM. Day 2 would be in attendance to the Chapter's Saturday quarterly meeting and day 3 would be the return trip along the same route back to Polk County Airport. My wife Danita Duncan would bring our camper for the weekend.

In order to miss the West Georgia/East Alabama Mountains and the congestion around Huntsville, AL from Polk County would be by heading to Guntersville, AL 8A1 takes pretty much the same route I flew going to Piedmont, slightly north of the range between Cedartown and Alabama. This initial heading is more westerly and is not directly toward Dickson in order to avoid the mountains further to the north. The route would allow a slight deviation further west, if needed for a stop at Centre-Piedmont Airport, Alabama, PYP.

In order to avoid Huntsville, AL the leg from Guntersville, AL, 8A1, would require flying a little more north than needed toward Huntsville Executive Airport, KMDQ for the initial Heading and then back on course to Pulaski, TN, KGZS. Having airport way points that are not planned stops is good practice since they provide gps coordinates and are potential stops if needed.
If I was limited to only 5 gallons of fuel, these would be definite stops with an added stop in Centre-Piedmont, PYP. The trip would take much longer but, could be done with an ultra light.
Another airport way point that I will add between GZS and M02 on the final leg would be Maury County, Tennessee, KMRC.

The route would be as follows as entered into a gps or by using a knee board and compass (data from AirNav):

1st Leg: 4A4 to 8A1 60 NM WNW Initial True Course 293

2nd Leg: 8A1 to KMDQ 30.9 NM NW Initial True Course 332 to KGZS 30.3 NM NW Initial True Course 306

3rd Leg: KGZS to KMRC 24.8 NM N Initial True Course 346 to M02 36.5 NM N Initial True Course 341

Jon Carleton, our Peach State PRA Chapter President, told me about using TCP Lead Removal Additive.sold by Aircraft Spruce for use on cross country trips that would eliminate the need for a crew with mogas.  I purchased a bottle yesterday and will test it with Avgas per Jon's recommendation in the pattern before attempting a long trip.
For a long trip I would just need to carry enough oil and this additive for each refueling stop.

Just writing about this is getting me exited about making the trip!