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Saturday, May 2, 2015

Gun Lake visit

Gun Lake Airstrip.

A little soft, but wide and long with lots of room.  Takeoff video - notice the caboose doing new duty as a lakefront cabin as I cross the shoreline.

Couple more pics on the way in:

A flat top mountain called "The Table" that I used to play on with helicopters in days past.  It is just north of  Brohm ridge, where we saw a couple dozen snowmobilers taking advantage of late spring packed snow.

Black Tusk, seen from the "easy" side.  Climbed it a few years back.

Water is pretty low in Downton Lake on our left.  That's Gun Lake just in front of the spinner.

Short walk down to the lake.  Snow-capped mountains in every quadrant.

Blackcomb Helicopters has a small shed on the strip, along with a pad and probably jetfuel.  The tiedown area is gravel and hard.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Aviation News Journal Magazine for May/June 2015...enjoy!

Dear Aviation News Journal Magazine Subscriber, 

Here is your new ANJ May/June 2015 issue :
To view on your electronic device,  click here: www.tinyurl.com/ANJMAGZTER

 If you wish to receive your PRINT copy mailed directly to your preferred mailing address, please make sure your address and subscription status is up to date.
For new Subscribers, please 
 send a cheque of $25.00 plus $3.00 tax = $28.00 to:
Aviation News Journal Magazine
800-15355 24 Avenue
Surrey, BC
V4A 2H9
To have your stories and photos featured in an upcoming issue, please submit all your material to:
For advertising and rate card, please email : advertising@aviationnewsjournal.com
For Abbotsford Air show VIP Tickets (Chalet , Food, Drink , Parking) , please contact: info@aviationnewsjournal.com
Blue skies
TEAM ANJ and Elke Robinson

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Aerobatics Day at Squamish Airport (CYSE)

So, the day after our visit to Rowena, it was time to head to Squamish for a day of aerobatics. Jodi Rueger was running a little introduction to aerobatics course, hosted by Glacier Air, who operates a wonderful little machine called a Super Decathlon.

Because the Super Decathlon was down for maintenance since December, it was also a day for Jodi to get a recurrent on her favourite airplane.

Jodi hitched a ride with James Shephard in his gorgeous RANS S-6S Coyote up to Squamish via Point Atkinson and Howe Sound, arriving at approximately 10:00am with the expectation of Jodi going up shortly after that with Michael for her recurrency flight. As it turns out, that flight was delayed and didn't leave the ground until shortly after the two Davids arrived at Squamish Airport in David B's Titan Tornado.

Speaking of the two Davids, we departed King George Airpark in the speedy little Tornado and took the Indian Arm route up to CYSE (Squamish). It's practically a straight line from King George to Squamish and with a ground speed of +100kts, we were able to get up there in approximately 30 minutes.

As we taxied in to the Glacier Air apron, we saw Jodi and Michael taxiing out for departure on their flight.

Once we shut down, we were greeted by our friends James, Frank, and Heidi who had all come up to Squamish to take part in the fun. We socialized as pilots very often do, while Jodi and Michael rolled, looped, and flipped in the skies above us.

Once back on terra firma, Jodi led us through an aerobatics ground briefing. She introduced us to the ballistic roll (aileron roll), the basic loop, and the stall turn (Hammerhead), including all the entry speeds, control inputs, and common errors associated with each manoeuvre. These manoeuvres are the primary building blocks for more advanced aerobatic manoeuvres, so it was the perfect place for us to start. Jodi finished the briefing by providing us with a demonstration on the proper fitting and use of the parachutes we would be wearing during our lessons. Though not required by law in Canada, we would be operating Glacier Air's Super Decathlon with each person on board wearing a parachute.

After the briefing, Jodi took her first student up, Ali, a young man very keen on competing at aerobatics competitions. He also had a tight schedule to stick to, so we were more than happy to let him go first.

While they were up, David B took Frank up for a ride in the Tornado. Frank was crowbarred into the back seat, and they departed for a local flight up past Garibaldi Mountain, Daisy Lake, and the beautiful Brandywine Falls.

When they returned Frank was just buzzing. He clearly had an enjoyable time and you could see in his eyes a look that told you he was doing the math and budgeting to determine if buying an ultralight of his own was a feasible option! David B is clearly a good ambassador for the ultralight community.

Not wanting to be left out, Michael offered to take Heidi up in the Decathlon, which he had flown up from Vancouver in for the day. Yes, a Decathlon, not a Super Decathlon.

Now, some of you may be wondering to yourself "What's the difference between a Decathlon and a Super Decathlon?" Well, both have inverted fuel and oil systems which make them both ideal for aerobatics, but the older Decathlon is fitted with a wooden wing spar, while the Super Decathlon has an all-metal spar. Also, the Decathlon has a 150hp Lycoming O-320 engine, and the Super Decathlon improved upon that by using a 180hp Lycoming 0-360 engine. That extra 30hp gives the Super Decathlon improved climb performance, which is very handy when partaking in aerobatics. I'm sure there are other minor differences between the two, but it would take a very keen eye to pick them out.

Anyways, Michael and Heidi had, what from the ground appeared to be, a wonderful aerobatics flight, and soon after that Jodi and Ali came back in the Super D, signalling that it was time for lunch.

As we learned through story, and not through personal experience, it is important to eat before doing aerobatics. Low blood sugar and dehydration will lead to a person getting sick quicker. It is best to eat 1-2 hours before aerobatics. Everyone has their own motion sickness threshold, and what is most important is to monitor how your body is feeling and to cease unusual attitudes before a technicolor yawn in the airplane becomes unavoidable. Most of us were hungry at this point, so we headed into town to find a place to eat.

Heidi and Frank had both driven up from Vancouver and became the taxi service for the people that had flown up. None of us had a clue where to eat, so we googled a couple places, and then headed into town. We ended up settling with a restaurant called the Watershed Grill. 

From the road it looked kinda shabby, like a house converted into a restaurant, but once we were inside and onto their patio, it felt like we were in a completely different world. The view from the patio was simply stunning, with the Squamish River flowing literally meters away, and the majestic coastal mountains rising up to the skies above. 

 The food was great too, but since we were all going to be aviating after lunch none of us had a beer, which would have really completed the scene. Talk about will power, right? Or perhaps it was easy for us because of our overpowering obsession with flying, which easily trumps all other temptations.

After lunch we headed back to the airport and James was quickly made ready for his first ever aerobatics lesson.

Judging by the spring in his step as he exited the Super Decathlon, he had an amazing experience under the watchful eye of Judi Rueger. It also seems that James is quite eager to do it again!

After James, it was Frank's turn in the Super D.

Now, Frank can be a fairly excitable guy, but doing his flight training has taught him to contain himself when airborne, and to wait until the airplane has come to a complete stop and to ensure that he is well clear of the airplane before reacting to how awesome his flight was. His training came in handy here, as you could see that he was ready to burst with excitement as they taxied back to the apron after his flight. Pop goes the harness, open swings the door and Frank hops out of the plane and proceeded to communicate how amazing his flight was by doing what might be considered interpretive dance combined with loud non-descript vocalizations. It very well could have been the coolest thing he'd ever done, but you'd have to ask him yourself to be certain. One thing is for sure, he definitely thought his ride was well worth the price of admission.

By this time the sun was getting closer and closer to the horizon. Being cradled in the mountains meant that sunlight would soon be lost in the Squamish Valley. With night looming and a flight home to an unlit airfield still to come, we knew we had little time to waste on getting home.

The only problem was that I, David M, still had to do my aerobatics flight with Jodi. The Super D was already warmed up so once strapped in, we blasted off. I immediately fell in love with the Super Decathlon. It was a complete package of an airplane. Compared to the lovely little Jodel F11, it felt more solid, and understandably more powerful. As I have a decent amount of taildragger time, Jodi trusted me with the take-off, which was straight forward and enjoyable. After the immediate 30 degree right turn after take-off from Runway 15 for noise abatement, we continued our turn north up the Squamish River valley to the aerobatics training area. Once we got to a safe altitude we did our HASEL Check: Height, Area, Security, Engine, and Lookout. Then Jodi demonstrated a ballistic roll (aileron roll), followed by me doing one myself. Lower the nose to attain 132mph, momentarily return to straight and level, pitch to approximately 30 degrees nose up, stick fully to the left, and around she goes, rolling 360 degrees around the longitudinal axis of the plane, stop the roll, and ease out of the dive. Satisfied with the roll, we moved to loops, with Jodi demonstrating, and me duplicating the example as best I could. Lower the nose to gain 140mph, return to straight and level, check stick back and maintain constant back pressure throughout the manoeuvre. As you lose the horizon behind the cowling, look out to the left wingtip and watch as the horizon spins past vertical, and when over the top of the loop, and with the horizon coming down from the top of the windscreen, return to looking forward and keep the back pressure in until you return to a normal straight and level attitude. Piece of cake! The last manoeuvre was the stall turn (Hammerhead) and like the previous two manoeuvres, Jodi demonstrated first, and then I tried to duplicated, but I'll admit that my stall turn was rather poorly executed. Let's just say that I'll be requiring more tutelage with that manoeuvre. The way you begin a stall turn is the same as entering a loop. Lower the nose to gain 140mph, check level, pull back and do a quarter loop and use forward/back pressure as necessary to maintain a perfectly vertical climb, while travelling upwards you'll need to apply rudder to counteract the adverse yaw, and just as the airplane runs out of upwards momentum, you kick the rudder in the direction the nose naturally wants to go, and use aileron inputs to eliminate any rolling motion that may occur. Once pointed straight at the planet, ease out of the dive just like the last quarter of a basic loop.

Because Jodi and I both had a time crunch we quickly headed back to the airport. On our way Jodi asked what my favourite maneuver was, I said "Roll," and she said "Okay, do another one!" So, I did. What a fun new skill (only to be done in airplanes approved for doing so)! Then, it was time to descend for the circuit back into Squamish. The circuit is interesting on base and final as there is rising terrain and tall trees. In fact, it's not unusual to lose site of the touchdown point when you're on downwind and about to turn base. So I slipped the Super D onto final and went on to land it too. Despite a slight breeze blowing from 30 degrees from the left, the Super D made my landing look good-ish. It was a bit of a rushed lesson, but all the manoeuvres were completed and I was ecstatic to have had such an enjoyable flight with the always classy, Jodi Rueger. Can you believe my entire flight in the Super D was only 0.3hrs? That's right, from engine start to engine shut-down, only 18 minutes!

As we taxied in, I could see David B in his Tornado with the engine running. He was warming it up, so that we could take off as soon as I got myself strapped in. James was also sitting in his Coyote waiting for Jodi. We both ran up to the front desk at Glacier Air, filled out some paperwork, paid for my flight, and I swiftly made my way back down to the apron. With few words said, I hopped into the back of the Titan, strapped in, and we were off.

We took off from runway 15, abated the noise with a swift right turn, and climbed up towards the Chief (Stawamus Chief). The very next day a chunk of the Chief had broken free and fell to the valley floor, and apparently, it was not, and I repeat, not the sound of David B's Tornado that caused it.

Through Indian Arm we cruised, 

 popping out at Burnaby Mountain, then over the big Canada flag in north Surrey, and into King George Airpark via the Panorama Ridge approach. We landed with plenty of time before night fall, but of course, it is better to be safe than sorry.

It wasn't long after the Tornado was put away that James and Jodi arrived in the Coyote and since we hadn't gotten completely sick of each other yet, we agreed to go for dinner at the Big Ridge Brew Pub. Surprisingly, Frank, who had to drive back down from Squamish met up with us at the pub with little delay, as did David's wife Jen, and Leon who we bumped into at King George.

Finally, we could have some libations. What a brilliant day. Good friends, good flying, good food, and a beer to round out the day.

When can we do it again?!!

Written by: The Author