Sunday, November 15, 2009

Coming soon, a gyro accident report( non fatal)

Gyro accidents happen for many reasons. They happen to novice pilots and also to high time pilots. Sometimes the accident is caused by someone wanting a picture of the gyro in flight. Inattention is another frequent cause of accidents. An example of inattention is the pilot who was fatally injured when he flew into power lines while being photographed from the ground. Well, I guess you could say that particular accident was caused by two reasons; a camera and inattention. But as mentioned, all manner of things can cause an accident.

Poor flight planning can be a reason for an accident. I am guilty not doing a thorough job of flight planning years ago when I went on a cross country flight in my gyro. I had neglected to check the runway condition of a field where I planned to land . I had landed there years before and at that time the small strip was well maintained and in good condition but in the intervening years the asphalt had suffered greatly and there were deep chuck holes all over the runway.

Fortunately for me , the wind was blowing about 30 mph. and that allowed me to make a no roll landing thus avoiding running into a chuckhole. The high wind allowed for an almost vertical takeoff when I departed, again avoiding the holes in the runway. If there had been no wind I could not have landed there safely as a landing roll or takeoff run was not possible because of the holes in the runway.

And if I had to fly to an alternate airport I would have had a major problem as I didn't have enough fuel to make it to the next airport. As I said, it was poor flight planning and is an example of what could cause a gyro accident. If there had been an accident I could have been cited by the FAA because it is an FAA rule that the condition of the runway to be used be checked prior to departing on a cross country trip.

Recently a gyro pilot friend with some years of gyro flying experience crashed his gyro. His accident was one of those that shouldn't have happened but it did. My friend was not injured but his gyro was totally destroyed . Knowing that the accident was his fault he has asked me to write about it for he believes as I do, that there is a lesson to be learned in every accident. He is to be commended for wanting to try to prevent someone else from similar grief. It will be a day or so before I can get to it but at his request I will describe his non fatal accident.

Till next time.
Marion Springer

Thursday, November 12, 2009

First Flight With The New Starter

I didn't realize it but I was spoiled. You see, the engine I have on my gyro was never meant to carry man or woman in flight . It was designed for the military during World War 2 to power small drone aircraft that towed target banners for pilots to practice shooting at. It was meant for one flight period. Along came a bunch of gyro pilots looking for a small lightweight affordable engine to use on their gyrocopters.

The pilots found the small powerful McCulloch engine in military surplus stores, in garages and just about everywhere. Of course, most of the engines had bit the dust when the aircraft they powered was shot down. But, the good thing about the engine, it was affordable. Most could be purchased for about $200 or less. As most of the pilots in our group were young folks with small children, the small price of the engine fit our small budgets. Gyro pilots bought the surplus engines, learned what to do to make it airworthy and flew it. It weighed 70 pounds and came in 72 and 90 horse power versions. The weight to power ratio was loved by gyro pilots, me included.

Down through the years modern engines came on the scene and many pilots adapted them to their gyros but some pilots still loved and flew the McCulloch. I was one of them.

To start the engine that didn't have a starter, one had to pull the propeller through. That means to turn the prop fast by hand. That isn't something for the faint of heart to do. It is a dangerous procedure and there are many gyro pilots missing a finger or two who can attest to that last statement. But with my husband always there to start or ' prop' the engine for me, I never gave a starter a thought. To fly, all I had to do was suit up and sit on the seat and Docko would prop the engine and start it for me. As I said, I was spoiled.

Fast forward...Docko passed away, I retired from flying then 12 1/2 years after his passing I started flying the gyro again. Now getting my engine started became a big problem for I only knew two gyro pilots who knew how to prop the engine and they were not always available to lend a hand when I wanted to fly. I needed a starter!

On the Rotary Wing Forum, a site on the internet which I visit often, someone offered a starter kit for the McCulloch engine for sale! Oh happy day! I ordered a kit and my friend , gyro pilot Dave Bacon installed the starter on my gyro. I wrote all about the installation in an earlier blog. Fast forward again to the last weekend of September , 2009. That's when we have the annual gyro fly-in on the El Mirage dry lake and that's when I made the first flight of my gyro with the new starter. The picture above was taken as I arrived at the fly-in site. I am still getting used to the feel of the machine with the added weight of 30 lbs. of starter and battery but I can say one thing for sure, to turn the switch on and push the button and have the mighty Mac come to life is a thrill! As Jackie Gleason would say, " How sweet it is".
The photo was taken by my friend, Edna Arlt, affectionatly known as Ed.
Till next time.
Marion Springer

Monday, October 19, 2009

My three buddies

My buddies, Lucky on the left, Buddy, center and Connie on the right.
Lucky came to us as a young puppy about six years ago. My son Dave said," there is a small dog outside our fence". Later that day he said, "The small dog has made her way inside the fence. Do you want to keep her ?"
I had two dogs and didn't need or want another one. My son had recently lost his 13 year old Princess to cancer and he wasn't ready for another dog. So, it was decided that Dave would take the little dog to the animal shelter in a few days. On the appointed day he and the little black dog started out but he was back home within a few minutes..."I just couldn't do it", he said. " She is part pit bull and they will put her down". So, Lucky as he named her, got a stay of execution and a good home.
Over the next two years I had to put both of my elderly dogs down . Suddenly I was without a dog as Lucky belonged to my son. My heart yearned for another Doberman as one of my long time companions that I had to put down was a wonderful Dobbie named Vokie. I finally found two , a brother and sister, pure bred Doberman pups for sale and in no time had purchased the male puppy.
It bothered me to leave his little sister all alone in the big yard. For a week I couldn't get that little female Doberman out of my mind so I ended up going back and buying her.
Oh boy! did I have my hands full with two seven week old puppies. They chewed up everything in sight. The bedspread I used as a couch cover looked like swiss cheese when they got through chewing on it. I ended up putting my boots up on top of the book case about six feet above the floor to keep them out of the pups reach .
They played and wrestled all over the house and claimed every comfortable piece of furniture as their own. Pottie train them to go outside ??? It's a job training one but two is a real challenge. And then there was the ear trimming which was it's own nightmare. Imagine two young pups with their ears wrapped and both having to wear large plastic collars to prevent damage to the healing ears. Picture taking those two pups both wearing their large collars in the family car 40 miles each way to the vets office to have the ears tended to. They wrestled in the car and it took my daughter driving and me trying to keep the pups from destroying the interior of the car and to make it worse, it was summer time in the desert with every day well over 100 degrees. My daughter thought I had lost my mind to buy TWO pups. At times, I admitted to myself that they were really almost too much for me, but give them up , never !
They are now 3 1/2 years of age . The 90 pound male is named Buddy, a name that fits him perfectly. Connie , the little female is about 60 pounds . She is a sweetheart.
At night it is a comfort to have them, along with Lucky who lives with me, zonked out in the living room...Buddy, on the couch of course and Connie, naturally , in my favorite easy chair. Lucky usually can usually be found in the bedroom in the middle of my bed. Home sweet home!
But it's a trade off...they love me unconditionally. They are always happy to see me. They would follow me anywhere and I hope they would protect me if the need should arise and all they ask in return is my love and dinner, not necessarily in that order!
Till next time.
Marion Springer

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Meet Britta Penca

Britta is quite a gal, a real go-getter as a matter of fact. She is rated in fixed wing, in helicopters, and in gyroplanes. She is currently working on her commercial helicopter rating and in time plans to become a Gyro CFI. Good for her !
In the picture Britta is standing beside her single place Air Command gyro. The photo was taken at the 2008 fly-in on El Mirage dry lake. From that ear to ear grin I'd say she just landed from a good gyro flight!
Britta is also part owner of a two place tandem Air Command which she will use for flight training when she gets that all important Gyro CFI certificate. She is just what the gyro community needs.
This year for the first time ever, PRA ( Popular Rotorcraft Association ) recognized women gyro pilots...they asked Britta to head up a forum at the PRA convention at Mentone on Women in Gyroplanes. There were only four women gyro pilots at the time but it's a start. Connie O'Connor was one of the ladies working on the ' women in gyros' forum and she put together a very nice video of the women gyro pilots. I think that with Britta's enthusiasm that other women will be attracted to the gyro when she starts instructing.
Britta and her husband Mark and their two Border Collies live in Ariizona. She and Mark are regulars to the annual Ken Brock Fly-in that is held on the El Mirage dry lake the last weekend of September. Last year they brought Britta's Air Command to the fly-in and she put some good flying on the machine. Their gyro trailer only holds one gyro so this year Mark's gyro made the trip and Britta's Air Command stayed home. Earlier this year , Mark flew his gyro , which is his own design based on the Dominator, from their other home in Iowa to the gyro fly-in at Mentone. That was quite a trip.
Britta and Mark... gyro pilots both and they are both good for gyros!
Till next time.
Marion Springer

Monday, October 5, 2009

The gyro hang test

It is vitally important that the gyro be balanced properly, or in other words, the CG ( center of gravity) must be right.
To have the machine out of CG and fly in a nose up condition is very dangerous and the same is true for an extreme nose down attitude. So to be sure the CG is correct, the the gyro is is given a hang test.
When the gyro is constructed, it is given a hang test before the first flight. If later on changes are made to the gyro, such as adding or removing weight or modifying the gyro then it must have another hang test before flight.
In the photo above my friend, Teddy Udala, is preparing for Dave Bacon, another gyro pilot friend to do a hang test on Teddy's gyro. Teddy built the gyro awhile back then decided to make some changes such as shortening the mast , lowering the seat, and several other modifications, thus the need for a hang test to see if the center of gravity had changed.
So, early one morning before the wind came up we took Teddy's gyro the the gate-way and winched the machine up off the ground. Teddy then got into the seat.
Teddy's gyro is based on the Bensen design and as such it is supposed to hang between 0 and 3 degrees nose down for the CG to be correct.
To do the hang test, the pilot sits in the seat of the gyro with all wheels off the ground and holds the control stick centered...that puts the torque tube ( which is up under the rotor head) in a level attitude. The nose down angle is measured at the back of the mast by someone, in this case, Dave Bacon , holding an angle finder against the mast and reading where the needle points. Teddy's CG came out at 3 degrees nose down. So it was within CG limits. Had it not been in CG he would have had to make new head plates to get the CG right. Teddy was saved a lot of work because nothing had to be changed on his was ready to fly.
My Bensen gyro had recently had a starter and a battery added to the gyro...that came to a total of 30 pounds that was added to the machine. I feared the worst. I thought it would be so out of CG that new head plates would have to be made and I had nearly worked myself into a tizzy thiking of all the work that would need to be done because of the added weight.
But to my great delight, the nose down angle of my gyro when we gave it the hang test came in at 2 degrees nose down. YIPPEE!! The CG was perfect and no new head plates were required.
The 30 pounds we had added had been pretty evenly distributed with half the 30 pounds
added to the engine and the other half more up toward the front...that may be why the CG was still OK. All I know for sure that it IS Ok and ready to fly!
And I did make a brief flight with the new starter during the fly-in. I flew from my hangar out to the fly-in site on the lake bed. Not more than a mile altogether but after getting there and making a couple of passes , it was quite enough flying for the conditions . The day was 103 degrees and that put the density altitude somewhere over 6000 feet...not ideal conditions for flight.
I am looking forward to doing some flying and getting the feel of the gyro with the added weight
on it. Oh the thrill of just turning on the ignition switch and then pushing the start button to get the Mac going !
After I get some time on my gyro with the starter I think we are going to add those wonderful tuned exhaust expansion chambers to the gyro this winter. Then I can stand that gyro on it's tail and go straight up on take off...well, I used to do that but I will tame it down some this time.
Till next time.
Marion Springer

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Hello everyone, I'm back

I was a little under the weather for awhile so haven't posted in awhile . I think I was down from breathing all the smoke ( with ashes falling all over everything) during the raging forest fires in So. Ca. awhile back. The closest the fires were to us was about 40 miles but the smoke was so heavy here at times that we couldn't see more than a quarter of a mile.

Last weekend we had the Ken Brock Freedom fly-in on the El Mirage dry lake . The number of visitors was down from better times . Hopefully the economy will be better next year.

As far as gyro flying goes, it was a safe fly-in with no accidents. But we lost a fellow gyro pilot on Saturday due to a motorcycle accident. He was Mike Shallmann of Arizona. The photo above is Mike taxiing his gyro in from a flight earlier on the day of the bike accident which took his life.
Mike went riding just before dusk on a BMW motorcycle and ventured into an area where the lake bed is rough with small dirt mounds all over. Most of the lake is smooth as a table top but there are rough areas and that's where the accident happened. Apparently he hit a couple of dirt mounds at high speed and the bike started tumbling.
While traveling at high speed the dirt mounds would be impossible to see in time to avoid them.

My granddaughter Lynette went to the accident scene and was upset to see everyone standing around looking but not doing anything to help our friend Mike. Lynette is CPR certified so she moved in like a Marine drill sargent and took charge.

They worked on Mike until the emergency medical crews arrived. Despite their best efforts, Mike's time on earth was over and so he passed away shortly afterwards.
He was the first to arrive at the fly-in site at the beginning of the week and he did a lot of gyro flying over the week in his shiny original design gyro. Mike always did a buzz job at my home during the mornings of the fly-in. He called them ,
" wake up calls", and his ' wake up calls' were memorable. I shall miss them and I shall miss Mike. He believed in living life to the fullest. He said earlier on the day of his passing, " when my number is up , my number is up".
Till next time.
Marion Springer

Friday, August 14, 2009

One happy gyro pilot !

Last Saturday Dave Bacon came up to the desert and we started my gyro's McCulloch engine with the new starter. I was like a kid with a new toy, I'd turn the switch on, push the starter button and the engine would come to life.
I'd let the engine run a minute or so , shut it down and then do it all over again and again.
That's a photo of me on my gyro with the engine running.
After giving the new starter a work out we put the gyro on Dave's trailer and went over to a gate way to do the hang test to determine the CG ( center of gravity). A hang test is necessary when big changes are made to a gyro, in my case we had added a starter and a battery for a total of about 30 lbs. of weight.
The hang test involves attaching a hoist to the teeter bolt and with the pilot in the seat, lifting the gyro clear of the ground.
Someone then takes an angle finder and holds it against the back of the mast then reads the degree of angle that the gyro hangs from level. For the the center of gravity of the machine to be correct, the gyro should hang from 0 to 3 degrees nose down. My gyro came in right on target with a nose down angle of 2 degrees.
Teddy had made some modifications to his gyro recently making a hang test necessary for his machine also. So, after my hang test was done, we repeated the whole thing with Teddy in the seat of his gyro.
We started about 8 AM hoping to beat the heat but this is summer time in the desert and it was well over 100 degrees by the time we finished.
So, although I haven't flown the gyro since the addition of the starter, just having the starter and a successful hang test made my day! There will be cooler days to fly. Just knowing that I can start my gyro myself whenever I want to fly is a giant step of independence to me.
I am very appreciative of the work that Dave has done in getting my gyro to that point. He is a man in demand for he has taken on the job of going completely through someone else's gyro and bringing it up to flying condition. When he isn't working on gyros, Dave tries to decide which of his three gyros he is going to fly!
Till next time.
Marion Springer

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Update on adding a starter to the McCulloch engine

We are now on the third starter for the McCulloch engine. The first one was defective and the second one was too long. The front of the second starter touched the prop! So, when Dave came up last week to work on the adaption he brought a new light weight starter . The new one was made for race cars, weighs 8 lbs. and is beautiful. It's small and compact.

But, it didn't fit in the mounting bracket. Dave cut off a little bit of the bracket and still the starter wouldn't go in. He said that he could cut a piece off the edge of the starter itself and it would fit, " but", he said, " if it doesn't fit, we can't return it to the store. You will have a pricey shelf ornament. What do I do ?".

Since I figured we were about out of options regarding starters, I said, " make it fit". And he did . Back to the hack saw he went and took off a bit of the starter and then it went right into place in the mounting bracket like it was made for it.

After buttoning up everything and securing the new battery in it's holder on the keel tube, we pushed the gyro out to the run up pad and started it up. The engine started easily. I was amazed at the power with which the starter spun the propeller.

So, like a kid with a new toy, I would start the engine ( push button start, imagine that ! ), let the engine run a minute, shut it down and start it again and again. It looks like we have a winner in the new starter!

The day was hot, 103 degrees hot, and it was getting late in the day so we decided to put off the all important hang test until Saturday, August 8, when Dave will make the trip up to the desert again. I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas as I wait for Saturday,August the 8th. to get here !

Dave has gone to a lot of effort to help me achieve the freedom to fly whenever I want . He lives a couple of hours away in a much cooler area and yet he comes up to the high desert and works on my gyro in 100 degree plus weather . That's a real friend.

Till next time.
Marion Springer

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Telephones and Cell Phones

One of my pet peeves is to be standing line at the check out counter with money in hand to pay for my purchases and have the cashier pick up the telephone and carry on a conversation while ignoring those of us waiting to pay for our items.

If I happen to be on a tight schedule I will leave the items on the counter and go on my way . In an auto parts store the clerk kept answering the phone while no less than eight customers waited for service. He answered call after call . Finally one of the waiting customers announced that he was going to go home and call the clerk on the phone as it seemed to be the only way to get his attention .

The man who delivers our water is addicted to his cell phone. You never see him not talking on it. Recently I was standing there with a hundred dollar bill waiting to pay for the load of water and he had the cell phone between his head and shoulder and was carrying on a conversation while writing out the receipt. He hadn't even bothered to say 'Good morning' to me.

In the supermarket one day I saw a male shopper talking on his cell phone while shopping. He seemed to get the other person's opinion on every item he put in his shopping cart. He happened to finish at the check stand just about the time I did and he still had his cell phone cradled against his shoulder and talking away.

I watched as he left the store just as I did...he had a bag of groceries in each hand and was still yakking away on the phone. I wondered if he would let go of the phone to stow his purchases in the way! He set one bag on the ground and unlocked the car, put both bags inside , got in and drove away still talking. Now that is addiction!

About land line phones, I will be getting a new one in a couple of weeks. Because of my hearing ( or lack of hearing ) I use a TTY relay system with the telephone . It works great for me but callers are reluctant to deal with the operators who type their words, as the operators at times , have to interrupt the caller to check spelling or tell them to speak slower , etc. And also , many people don't know how to use the TTY system. When I called the animal hospital to check on my dog the girl who answered, said " We don't want any ", and hung up the phone , probably thinking the operator's explanation of TTY was a sales pitch.

The new phone I am getting is voice activated so the the callers words will be automatically typed for me to read and I will also be able to hear the caller's voice which my present system doesn't allow. I'm told the new phone, called, Cap-Tel , is more user friendly as it will be like making a regular phone call. Let's hope so . I'm looking forward to it. I promise not to become addicted .

Till next time.
Marion Springer

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Politicaly Correct ( P C )

It seems to be getting more and more difficult to just say a few words to someone in passing without the risk of saying something considered politically incorrect ( P C). I find myself being politically incorrect from time to time. That's probably because I come from an earlier time when life was different, and possibly because I'm short on diplomacy.

Today you have to examine every word six ways from Sunday to see if it will offend the other person before you say it. Example, I was in the supermarket and there was a lady in a wheel chair ahead of me in the isle. Her path was blocked by an empty shopping cart that was sitting cross ways in the isle. There was no room for her to go around it and it looked like she was having trouble trying to reach it to push it out of the way.

Naive me, I said, " I'll move it out of your way". Well, she darn near jumped down my throat! Looking ready to fight, she said , " It's in EVERYBODY'S way !". It would have been in everyone's way , if there had been others there but at the moment it was just the lady in the wheel chair and me .

It was in her way more than mine for I could easily move it whereas she could not. I figured that I must have said something politically incorrect by offering to move the cart out of her way but I was at a loss to know what I said that had offended her . So, I just moved the shopping cart without responding to her outburst and went on my way, thinking to myself, "she can move the next one herself ".

I talked with a man who worked for the Post Office. All postal employees had to attend a sensitivity training program where they would learn what was safe to say and what could get them a sexual harrassment lawsuit. He said he had learned that it wasn't safe to tell a coworker that she looked nice, or that her dress was very becoming, or any thing that a reasonable person would take as a compliment. In today's workplace he said, the big thing he learned was to just do his work and keep his mouth shut for that was the only safe way. Best not to talk to any female coworker, he said.

A man I talked with recalled having his grandchildren in a fast food place and one of the young ones was acting up and ignoring granddad when he repeatedly told him to settle down. He said, " I spanked him once on his bottom and it suddenly became very quiet in the resturant and everyone in the place was looking at me". The granddad then said in a loud voice to everyone in general , " Don't anyone say a word", and they didn't. Spanking an unruly child is not PC in todays world.

The granddad was lucky he didn't get hauled off to the pokey for child abuse by today's standards . Having raised four children, I can attest to the fact that sometimes it takes a smack on the bottom to make the kid behave.

Well, enough about being politically correct with every word ... Saturday , July 11 is the meeting of PRA Chapter 1 and we will talk about gyros and the upcoming gyro fly-in and we won't worry about being PC.

If you're near to the El Mirage dry lake in So. Ca. (30 mi. East of Palmdale), and have an interest in gyros, come to the meeting. You can email me at for directions .

Till next time.
Marion Springer

Rattle snake season here in the desert !

The photo is of my daughter Linda holding a Mojave Green rattle snake which she killed in her yard a couple of days ago.

Linda's cat was looking out the window of her home and was acting very disturbed. Linda looked out to see what had her cat's attention and there it was...a very large rattle snake just off the edge of her front porch and about three feet from the side of her house, all coiled up and waiting for something!

She grabbed a shovel, her weapon of choice, ( not mine though), and went outside to dispatch the snake to rattle snake Heaven which she quickly did . It was a good size snake with 6 rattles and a button.

This is desert country and rattlers are a part of the wild life out here. My son and daughter and I have all killed rattlers that were in our yards and close enough to be a threat to us. Lest anyone think we enjoy eleminating the snakes, I assure you we do not. I hate it when I have to put a rattler down and I know my children feel the same way.

BUT, we are a long way from medical help and it takes a medical helicopter an average of one hour to reach us, a fact that was observed once again last week when a neighbor with an injured leg waited for the emergency helicopter.

The venom of the Mojave Green is particularly dangerous and is life threatening if help isn't immediate. So, it's us or them!

With the activity of three dogs running here and there on my place I am seeing fewer and fewer snakes but Linda's place is much more serene than mine .

Lucky is the smallest of my three dogs and she is the rattle snake watcher. She is always on the lookout for rattlers. When she spots a Mojave Green she doesn't attack , she just sounds the alarm and we hop to.

Till next time.
Marion Springer

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Three steps forward and two back

Things had been going nicely with the starter adaption to the McCulloch engine on my gyro. There were a couple of set backs that had to be dealt with but Dave Bacon is a resourceful man and he took the challenges in stride .

When he found that there was simply not enough room to accommodate both the starter and the Wunderlich prerotator that is on my gyro , he switched out a part of the prerotator for a different one that would leave room so that I wouldn't have to give up the prerotator.

Finally last Saturday, a 102 degree day in El Mirage, after working all day in the hot hangar it looked like we were on the home stretch. We rolled the gyro out to the cement run-up pad and started the engine. It fired right up and I was pleasantly surprised at how powerful the starter was.

Still not having everything buttoned up, Dave shut the engine down after a very few seconds of running. I looked at him expecting to see a big smile on his face but instead his face showed great disappointment and I knew that something was wrong. He pointed to the propeller.

We found that a brass bushing had come out of the front end of the starter and had contacted the propeller leaving two gouges in the hub area. The starter that had come with the kit was a reconditioned one. Dave checked out repairing the starter but considering the importance of the starter and it's it's closeness to the prop he opted to pick up new starter.

So, no work on the starter this weekend, the 4th. of July but next weekend is a whole new ball game. What's left to do is install the starter, that should go fast now, and hook up solenoid and battery wires for good and then run that baby up !

After the engine run up will come the hang test. To do that we will use a comealong and lift the gyro off the ground with me sitting in the seat and holding the gyro level with the control stick . Then with an angle measuring device , ( sorry, I can't think of the name of it), we will check to see that the center of gravity is correct. In this case, the gyro should hang 0 to 3 degrees nose down. If all is Ok then it will be time to go fly.

So, we're gettin' there.
Till next time.
Marion Springer

Sunday, June 28, 2009

No heavy lifting !

Sometime back I posted about a fuel transfer pump that my daughter Linda, gave me for Christmas. Well, my daughter knows how to make her mom happy.

I didn't have an opportunity to use the fuel pump for a variety of reasons until day before yesterday. I have been busy trying to make a dump of a hangar into a decent place to keep my gyro and with the help of Linda, it has become a decent and clean place to house my gyro and also a good place to go hang out if I need to get away from the sometimes hectic life at home.

On my gyro there is a 1/4 inch diameter plastic tubing that runs on the outside of the fuel tank from the bottom to the top of the tank. It is easy to see the level of fuel in the tank through the clear plastic. That tubing is the " instrument" by which I know how much gas is in the tank . Imagine my surprise when one day I saw the plastic tubing had shrunk and pulled off the top fitting and was short of reaching it by a good inch or more. Good thing I noticed it on the ground !

The tubing had to be replaced but the tank had to be drained first and wouldn't you know , the tank was full ! So the tank was drained and a new and better kind of tubing was installed, then finally, I had the first opportunity to use the fuel transfer pump .

The advertisment says it will transfer the fuel in one took me more than one minute because I would turn the pump handle and watch with joy and fascination as the av gas rushed from the container up through the clear tubing of the pump and into the fuel tank then I would turn the crank a few more turns and stop and watch again. No heavy lifting ! Thank you Linda for your wonderful gift.

Till next time
Marion Springer

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Progress Report on the McCulloch starter

Dave Bacon has been working on adapting a starter to the McCulloch engine on my gyro ( see post of June 16).
It has turned out to be a real challenge. First of all , try as he might, there was no way that he could make the starter work with my Wunderlich Prerotator. There just wasn't room. That meant swapping the drive wheel and it's support bracket of my prerotator for a different one which allowed a smidgen more room between the wheel's cable and the fly wheel of the starter. It was cut and fit, cut and fit and finally it was all done except for finding the right length bolts to secure it. That probably means another trip to Aircraft Spruce and Specialty for the bolts .
We did turn the prop over with the starter today just because we needed to see if it was going to work and also just to hear it run if only briefly. There are folks who will say the Mac is noisy but those of us in the hangar today thought it was beautiful music when the prop turned over! It's a toss up who had the biggest smile, Dave or me or maybe even, Eber, Dave's dad .
Next weekend, Dave will do the final buttoning up of it all, then do the all important hang test to see if the center of gravity has changed because of the weight of the starter and when he gets that all done, I will have the pleasure of sitting in the seat of the gyro, pushing the starter button and having the engine come to life. Then I'll just have to go fly it ! I can't wait! Wish me a cool day with a nice breeze.
The photo above is Dave . Looks like he is about to attack the prop bolts with a torque wrench. After he quit for the day on the starter Dave just couldn't let the nice wind go to waste so he rolled his KB2 out and flew for an hour and a half or so and had a great time up there hanging on the wind. You should have seen the pride on his dad's face as he watched his son taming the breeze.
Till next time.
Marion Springer

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I set them free but it didn't take

Whenever I find an injured baby pigeon I take it in and take care of it until it is well enough to be set free. At any time I have a number of young birds in cages getting over injuries. Last week I set free two young birds that I had taken in some months ago when they were tiny little things. Both had been picked on and bloodied by older birds.

In time their injuries healed and they were eating on their own and ready to be set free so one morning I put them out in the pigeon house in the back yard. One of them flew out immediately so I thought he would adjust quickly to his new freedom. The white one just stayed where I put her in the pigeon house.

In the evening after the birds have all gone into the pigeon house and into the large cages I close the doors to keep them safe from predators of the night. So that evening I went out to close up the pigeon house. The white pigeon was still in the same spot where I had left her that morning . She never took her eyes off me. The other young bird was hanging on the door of the pigeon house. I picked him off the door and set him inside on the floor. He immediately went to cling on the door again. Once more I took him off the door and this time I put him on the floor next to the white one. He hopped onto my arm. Meanwhile the white bird is watching me and her eyes are saying, " Take me home. How could you leave me here ?"

Softie that I am, I picked the two young birds up and took them back into the house and put them back into their recently vacated cage. They immediately settled down and looked oh, so contented . I'll try again in a couple of weeks to set them free...hopefully freedom will take next time. My cats, dogs, and birds have no trouble training me !
Till next time.
Marion Springer

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Adapting a starter to the McCulloch engine

The McCulloch engine was never meant to carry man or woman in flight. It was designed during world war 2 for the military. It was used to power small drone airplanes which towed a long banner for the military pilots to practice shooting at. The engine was meant to make one flight, period.
Along came gyro pilots looking for a small
light-weight powerful engine to use on their gyrocopters. I was one of them.
After first trying heavy Volkswagen engines and various motorcycle engines on their gyros, the pilots generally discarded them and began to use the surplus McCulloch engine. The Mac, as it was called , was readily available, lightweight, inexpensive and unbelieably unreliable .
The gyro pilots didn't give up easily , so they set about learning ways to make the Mac reliable. There were a number of modifications necessary , such as cam grinding the skirts of the pistons, using new and different bearings, proper oil and av gas mixture, and a host of other mods. Finally the Mac was fairly reliable. The weight to power ratio of the engine couldn't be beat for it weighed only 72 lbs. and came in a 72 or 90 hp. version. The weight was the same for each version.
Down through the years more modern engines became available for gyros but some of the gyro pilots stayed loyal to the McCulloch engine. I am one of them. To use a different engine would mean changing many things on my Bensen gyro and I didn't want to change the configuration of the gyro for I love it the way it is. I don't mess with perfection!
The Mac doesn't come with a starter...that wasn't a problem as long as I had my husband who was always right there whenever I flew the gyro. Docko would pull the prop through to start the engine for me. Propping the engine is not something you ask just anyone to do. The person handlling the prop has to know exactly what he is doing for it is a dangerous procedure . Carelessness in proping could result in losing a hand, fingers or an arm.
So, that gave me a problem when I returned to gyro flying some years after the passing of Docko. My gyro pilot friends who were knowledgable about starting the engine would prop the Mac for me but they were not always available when I wanted to fly.
Then one day, someone on the rotary wing forum on the internet posted something about making a starter for the McCulloch engine...that got my attention big time. I ordered one, it arrived soon afterwards , then the frustration began. Some modifications were going to be necessary if the starter was going to work on the Mac engine.
My gyro has a prerotator which is a device that spins the rotors and shortens the take off run. I am convinced I can't live without the prerotator!!! The problem is that the prerotator drive drum and drive wheel are located right where the starter has to go.
I contacted Dave Bacon, a friend who is a gyro pilot and who also flies a McCulloch engine. He is in the process of adapting the starter to my engine. He is having to make several modifications to the prerotator and I don't know what else but I am confident he will get the starter up and running soon.
In the photo above, Dave is the one in the white shirt kneeling . The gyro pilot on the left in the colorful shirt is Teddy Udala . Dave's dad, Eber Bacon, an old time gyro pilot from the 60's , is in back of Dave and farther back is Ron Klock, who flies a powered parachute.
We expect to be able to fire the engine up with the starter ( I'll just push a button for that !!!) in a couple of weeks. I'll keep you posted.
Till next time.
Marion Springer

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Golf Cart

I had often thought how handy a golf cart would be, even priced them some time back...well, I thought after pricing them, four thousand dollars is way too much for me to spend on a golf cart, a used one at that.

Then one day, I saw it, a cute little golf cart for sale in someone's yard. When I say cute, I mean cute the way the Flintstones vehicle was cute in the old TV program my children liked to watch.

The little golf cart in the yard was what people mean when they say of someone , "he has a face only a mother could love". But I wanted that golf cart...I began thinking of it as mine when I first saw it. So it needed painting, so it needed new seat covers, so it needed new batteries ( 6 of them at roughly $ 100 per battery), for it is battery powered.

I'm handy, I thought, I can paint it and I can make new seat covers, maybe even raid the piggy bank and come up with the ransom for 6 new batteries. I gotta have that golf cart! So after some negotiation with the owner, the ragged little cart was mine. Mine and my dog Buddy's, that is. He took to it instantly when we got it home.

Where I really expect the golf cart to be useful is at the annual gyro fly-in we have on the El Mirage dry lake the last weekend of September. I like to walk the line, gyro line that is, and check out what's new and who is flying what , etc. Sometimes the gyro line-up is long and being that my legs are old , being able to ride the line and have a seat to rest the back is very appealing.

The fly-in is the reason for the bright " look at me, don't run over me ", new paint job on the cart. The colors are highly visible.

And you can see from the photo that Buddy doesn't mind the ' stop your heart' paint job. He spends hours sitting in the cart so he will be ready to go when the cart moves.

While waiting for the fly-in to put the cart to work, it has proved to be very useful around home. I carry the trash bags down to the dumpster in it, and yesterday Linda and I used it to haul some plywood and a work table to the bead shop she is building on her place next door. Of course Buddy rode along on top of the building materials every trip. We also made a trip to the mail box and back in it and the mail box is a mile away from home. So far so good. and besides, the golf cart is cute!

It has already proven itself, so come on fly-in time , hurry up and get here. Me, my gyro, and the golf cart are ready and waiting...Buddy will have to miss the
fly-in for that's not a safe place for a dog to be.

One last note for today, I'm having a starter put on my McCulloch engine, Oh Happy Day ! More about that as it progresses.

Actually, two last notes,
To the person who commented on my post re the 80th. birthday celebration flight, Thank you for your comments and if I can be of help to you in getting your Bensen in the air, steer you to parts sources, CFI's , etc. I would be happy to do so. I can be reached by email at I'm happy that you are going to be a Bensen gyro pilot!

Till next time.
Marion Springer

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Beautiful El Mirage Dry Lake in the Mojave Desert

To many people I suppose it is just a wide expanse of desert without vegetation , hotter than blazes in the summer and very windy much of the time and not much going for it. But to me, the El Mirage dry lake is a thing of beauty.
Located in the Mojave desert in Southern Ca. about mid way between Palmdale on the west and Victorville on the east, the dry lake is flat as a table top for five miles the long way and about one and a half miles across.
The lake bed is host to a variety of activites including, off road vehicles like dirt bikes, ATV's, and dune buggies. The racers of SCTA , Southern Ca. Timing Association, have meets on the lake bed. There are many types of aircraft that use the lake bed . The photo above is me in my gyro taking off from the dry lake bed.
The ground is so hard and shiny. You can even roller skate on the lake bed and some people do just that with oversize roller skates on their feet and sails held out to catch the wind. There are land sailors that use the lake and also film companies make movies and commercials there.
We were driving across the lake bed one morning and saw a film crew busy building a huge fake oak tree on the lake. Only the trunk was in place but later in the day the tree was complete with many limbs and leaves. A while later a whole village had sprung up out in the middle of nowhere.
A yearly event that takes place on the lake is the Ken Brock Freedom fly-in during the last week in September. The gyro fly-in is hosted by PRA Chapter 1 . Many gyro pilots come early and enjoy flying around the area before it gets busy with other aircraft. The fly-in is a fun
get-together with many kinds of gyroplanes and a few helicopters. On Friday evening there is a corn roast and a " Bring your own meat" barbecue on Saturday. There is always much to see and gyro pilots and enthusiasts to visit with.
There are no motels or other accommodations so what you bring with you is what you have while visiting the lake.
If you plan to join us at the fly-in, and I hope you do, you need to know that the BLM ( Bureau of Land Management) who oversees the lake , is now charging a fee to everyone who comes onto the lake. The rates are $ 15 per day, $ 30 per week, and $ 90 for a yearly pass . You can learn more about fees and lake usage by Googling the El Mirage dry lake, El Mirage , Ca.
Come fly with us in September.
Till next time.
Marion Springer

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Work Ethic and good Manners... where are they ?

When I was a kid, a long time ago, we were taught to call adults mam or sir. For a child to be disrespectful to a grown up meant a trip to the wood shed. Grown ups were respectful to each other too. People were nicer to each other that they are today.

Store clerks were pleasant too. Back then a customer in a store received good service and a thank you for shopping there. But that's all gone with the wind. It's a cold hard nosed world out there today.

I think a lot of attention to the customer left with the demise of the family owned , or, mom and pop stores. Success to them meant keeping the customer happy but with the chain stores, there is no closeness between customers and store owners.

The work ethic of the past is just that, a thing of the past. It seems like the clerk, or the technican or whoever the person is who is supposed to be offering service just doesn't care about the job .

Here is an example. I am severly hearing impaired and to use the telephone, I rely on the TTY, relay system. The relay system is for hard of hearing or deaf persons. It would seem to follow that an operator who works for the TTY company would understand that it is for people who have severe hearing prblems. That seems clear to me. But, recently when my daughter called me on the TTY system she asked the operator to speak slowly to me when I answered the phone. The operator asked, " Why, is she hard of hearing, or something ?". Unbelieable!

Till next time.
Marion Springer

Friday, April 24, 2009

If Icould live my life over again what would I do differently ?

If I could live my life over, what would I change ? What would I do differently the second time around ?
Well, Let's see, on the plus side, I have lived a good life, not deleriously happy every moment, but that's life, right ? I was happy more than I was unhappy.
Docko and I raised four healthy and good children to adulthood. That's another plus.
I was able to live my dream of flying while caring for my home and family, another plus.
My marriage lasted for over 48 years, chalk up another plus mark.
I believe my husband Docko, was happy with me ( most of the time ) ,and with our children ( most of the time) and he enjoyed our life together ( most of the time), that's three more plus marks. From the vantage point of 80 years of age I think it says a lot to have more pluses than negatives in my long life.

To be sure, there were times when my patience was sorely tried, especially when the four children were small. It seemed that my four kids and several of their friends were constantly in the house wanting something to eat, or wanting me to taxi them somewhere, or I had to go pick up a kid from somewhere. And all the sibiling squabbles I had to settle!

The house cleanig , laundry, cooking, and taxi service and peacemaker for the family was a round had no beginning and no end. It was just constant!

There was sweet little Coby with the face of an angel , forever standing in a corner because she had mischieviously stuck her foot out and tripped one of the other children as they walked by. And Dave, one day he leaped from the roof of the garage onto a tree limb like Tarzan. The limb broke and so did his arm when he hit the ground. The same summer my youngest Donna, fell off the porch railing and broke her wrist . Tough little trooper that she was, she finished eating her peanut butter and jam sandwich on the way to the tears for the wrist. And Linda, always , always, a free spirit. Yeah, those children ran me ragged and at times I wondered if they would ever grow up. Then suddenly they did and then they left home to follow their own drummer through life.

I remember having tears in my eyes as I watched my baby Donna, walk down the driveway to meet the school bus on her first day of school. It was long ago but it seems like yesterday. Today Donna is a grown up lady and getting ready to retire from the post office.

So, if I could do it again ???? Well, what I really would like if I could live my life over again, would be to raise my children again. I realize now from the point of time how precious those early days were and how swiftly they are gone. Yes, I would love to raise my children again.

Till next time.
Marion springer

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A good Tired

On Sunday I spent the day puttering about in my decrepit old hangar. I did a little work in there but mostly just did house keeping chores. I put up a rack of shelves for storage of oil, funnel, tools, and such and I put some screws in the worn boards of the door to firm the door up some.

On the wall I hung a framed picture of myself flying my gyro . The photo is from an article in Aviation History magazine and is about my gyro flying career. I feel a little self conscious about the title of the says, 'Gyrocopter Queen'. But hey, Teddy presented the framed picture to me and wanted it to be placed on the hangar wall. Self consciousness be darned, I don't want to hurt his feelings by not hanging the picture. So, it graces the wall to be joined in time with many photos of my gyro flying friends.

Awhile back I made curtains and installed them on the hangar windows. Some of the guys laughed at the thought of curtains on the windows of an aircraft hangar...they thought it was too cutesy or girley or something, I guess. But the curtains give me light inside when they are open and they keep prying eyes from seeing inside when they are closed and no one is around.
Besides, they look classy.

All in all the hangar is looking good all except the ratty old roof which needs to be repaired. But that job doesn't have my name on it. I think my children would have a canniption if I got up on top of the roof but they don't have to worry about me climbing up there. Oh Man, I would hate it if I got up there and the roof gave way under me and I fell on the gyro and damaged it !

So after a day of this and that in the hangar I came home tired , but it was a good tired. I define a good tired as being tired from doing something I really don't mind doing, like working to make things better for my gyro , as in fixing up the hangar . Another kind of tired to me is when I've done some thing that I dislike doing but it has to be done. Housecleaning, grocery shopping, yard work , for example , are just plain old tired and nothing good about it.

So, about 5 PM I came home tired ( good tired) got a cup of coffee , sat down in the easy chair and turned the TV on to see how Tiger Woods did at the Masters. Well, Tiger didn't get the green jacket this time so if he went home tired, it probably wasn't it wasn't a good tired.

Till next time.
Marion Springer

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

That's how it is today

I was talking to a friend a few days ago about how rude sales people are today. I mentioned that I had stood in line at the checkout counter at the supermarket for almost 30 minutes while the checker and the girl doing the bagging waited on only two customers ahead of me .

The two women were doing more talking with each other than they were checking and bagging groceries. They were just visiting while customers cooled their heels in line waiting to be waited on. By the time I got to the head of the line my legs were tired and my back was aching from the long period of standing . My patience level had dropped to zero.

Finally, when the checking and bagging of my groceries had completely stopped so they could continue their discussion, I said to the bagger, the one doing the most talking, " If you will stop talking the clerk can do her work and I can get out of this store before bedtime". It was about 11 AM at the time. All converstion between the two stopped and they finished up with my groceries very quickly but the bagger put the bag containing the eggs in the cart hard enough to break two eggs..." take that, old woman", she was probably thinking. So I got two broken eggs for my auduacity in speaking up.

My friend then told me of his recent experience with a salesgirl in a Radio Shack. The salesgirl was leaning on her elbows on the counter while a male co-worker was standing beside her patting her posterior. After waiting to pay for his items and being ignored , my friend said to the sales girl , " I want to join the party". She asked him what he meant...he said , " I want to come behind the counter and do like he is doing".

With all seriousness, the girl replied that he couldn't do that. My friend couldn't believe that she didn't get the message that he was being sarcastic and was in his own way telling her that she
should be waiting on customers.

So he and I talked about the work ethics, the rudness and generally how different is is today from the time I was young. He said me, " you just have to put up with it for that's how is is today ". In other words, the ethics and morals and courtesy and consideration of the past is gone and forgotten, outdated.

I don't believe that common courtesy , consideration for others and good work ethics is ever outdated. They are just not practiced today. The best book I ever read was ,
" Atlas Shrugged ," by Ayn Rand. It was all about personal responsibility in everything. The book was published in 1957 and has been in print ever since. I read recently that ' Atlas Shrugged', is used by most big businesses as part of their code of ethics by their management...I can't believe that managment took the book seriously considering that so many of those big companies are being bailed out by government today because of mismanagement and how so many of the CEO's took huge salaries and split when the company received the government's support money.

Yeah, things are sure different today but not better, sad to say.

Till next time.
Marion Springer

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Where do other people keep their " stuff ? "

Small items seem to collect at my home and I don't know where to put them. a book mark, a small stapler, Several mechanical pencils without any lead...a small tube of lead for the mechanical pencils, several small spiral bound note pads, a couple of post it note pads, a bean flipper that came apart, old sun glasses that don't work for my eyes anymore, a dog collar , a bunch of emails that I was going to answer about two years or so ago but for some reason didn't, and a lot of other stuff that just doesn't seem to belong anyplace.

I live in a mobile home so storage is limited, thank goodness, for if it wasn't then I would likely have much more stuff to try to keep out of sight. So I do toss some of it but the good stuff or stuff I might need some day and other stuff gets put in the middle drawer of my computer desk.

It's risky putting anything in that drawer because the drawer is not attached securely. If I bump the drawer it comes tumbling down to the floor and when that happens, my six year old , forever young cat Georgie , has a great time going thrugh the stuff while I am trying to pick it up.

Yesterday the much overloaded drawer fell to the floor and this time I will have to repair it before I can put it back in the desk and refill it with the stuff that fell out of it. Meanwhile, I put everything that came out of the drawer into a plastic dish pan and set it on the table ( the loaded down table is a whole other story ). Georgie who has always considered the desk drawer her personal property anyway, is in kitty heaven now for she naps on top of all the stuff in the dish pan and when she wakes up she entertains herself by pawing through and scattering the stuff she digs up from the pan.

I wish I had the nerve to dump the contents that used to be in the drawer into the trash but there's probably stuff in there that I will need some day.

But I have been wondering, where do other people keep their stuff ? I have a friend whose house looks like no one lives there . Nothing out of place, no signs of life there at all, just antiseptically clean and neat.
Another person I know vaccums her living room so that the vaccum cleaner leaves a pattern that no one dares to step on and muss up the pattern. Her house has no stuff anywhere to be seen. It's just clean and neat and without life.

I know these people must have things like pencil erasers, extra key holders, pens, note pads, and the kind of stuff that overloaded my middle desk drawer but they keep it well put away and neat. Tha'ts something I never have gotten the hang of.

But at least Georie is happy with all my stuff sitting on the table in the plastic dish pan where she has unlimited access to it.

Till next time.
Marion Springer

Monday, April 6, 2009

80th Birthday gyro Celebration flight

Last week I reached the grand old age of 80 years of age and to commemorate the day I made a birthday celebration flight in my gyro. The day was cold with the wind blowing about 25 mph. Just right for a gyro flight.
After conducting a preflight inspection of the gyro and pronouncing all OK, we refueled and I suited up in my orange flight suit and helmet and cool looking shades then strapped into the seat, ready to fly.

Since my engine doesn't have a starter someone has to pull the propeller through to get it started so my friend Peter Prentice, also a gyro pilot, propped the machine for me.

My daughter Linda and another gyro friend Teddy, were there with cameras at the ready.

I started the blades spinning with the prerotator and with the strong wind helping they were ready to fly in no time. After a short take-off run I lifted off and went straight up. What a thrill the take off is in wind!

The flight was around a half hour in length, not long at all but wonderful! I can't think of a better way to celebrate a big 80th birthday than to fly a gyro.

Teddy made a video of the birthday flight and put it on YouTube. If you want to check it out , look under Tadgyro , then Marion Springer 80 birthday flight.

The amazing thing is that the magic of gyro flying is as great today as it was back when I was young. May it always be so.

Till next time
marion Springer

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Today my little feathered friend, Coo, passed away. Coo was a pigeon . She had been with me for 11 & 1/2 years, ever since she was a month or so old.

A cat had mauled the baby pigeon so after having a doctor stitch up the lacerations my daughter brought her to live with me. Coo learned to fly in the bathroom. It was obvious that she was happy living in a very large cage in my living room so I never considered setting her free . Coo was much loved.

Recently she developed a large tumor and her health began to fail. The doctor talked of possible surgery but considering her age, surgery seemed too risky.
I decided to just take care of her until nature took her from me. Today nature did just that.

Tomorrow she will be laid to rest beside her longtime Doberman friend, Vokie .
I have lost animal and bird companions before so I know that in time it will be easier but right now that point in time seems far distant.
Fly away Coo. I will miss you.

Marion Springer

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Desert Beauty

Before I actually lived in the desert I
heard all kinds of negative things about the desert. It was hot. There was nothing there. It was windy. And who in his/her right mind would want to live in the desert? Well, I live in the desert and I love it!
13 years ago I bought 10 acres of sagebrush covered desert land andput a mobile home on the place and moved in .
Some of the things I had heard about the desert were right on . It is hot in summer. At times the wind does blow mightly. But there is life and beauty and peace and quiet in the desert.
Our closest neighbor is one mile away. The only noise on our place is what we make. The early morning sunrise is a thing of beauty as are sunsets when there are clouds about. And the rainbows out here after a rainshower seem close
enough to touch as do the stars at night . After a rainy winter the wild flowers are breathtaking in their beauty and variety. The cactus in the photo above is near my home and is just one variety of cactus to be found around here.
And wild-life, of that there is plenty. Awhile back there were two red foxes who lived in a burrow just outside our fence. I put out food and water for them. They were regular visitors in our yard. Several times we have seen large turtles making their way across the place. Road Runners, we have them as well as desert grouse and quail. There are burrowing owls who live underground. The baby burrowing owls come up from their underground home and learn to fly from the ground up. They first hop up on low sagebrush branches and gradually learn to fly up to higher elevations. Neat to see.
Probably best of all , at least for me, is that there are no buildings or houses or city clutter, no traffic clogged streets and city noise. There is just wide open desert. I can see for miles in every direction and every direction is like looking at a beautiful picture.
Desert living is not for everyone but it works for me.
Till next time.
Marion Springer

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The perfect Christmas present

That is a picture of me holding my wonderful Christmas present from my daughter, Linda.

Maybe to most moms it wouldn't look like anything to get excited about, probably they wouldn't even know what the heck it is , but this mom was very happy to receive the five gallon fuel transfer pump for Christmas.

What the fuel transfer pump means is that instead of having to lift a heavy ( about 30 lbs. ) 5 gallon can of aviation fuel up to about shoulder height and use a funnel to pour the fuel into the fuel tank on my gyrocopter, now I can just turn the crank handle on the transfer system about 20 turns and the fuel/oil mix is transferred in less than one minute from the fuel can into the fuel tank on the gyro.

My son made a small cart type carrier on wheels to move the fuel transfer system about. Now it's just a matter of wheeling the small carry-cart with the fuel transfer system on it out to the gyro, give the handle a few turns and wow, the tank is refilled ! I am so pampered !

Down through the years I have received the most unusual gifts from my children. Coby gave me a set of screw drivers one year. Linda gave me a set of motorcycle handle bar grips another time. I hasten to add thatI used and much appreciated all those gifts. Those children had my number!

I overheard my daughter Donna ,when she was about eight years of age and her friend discussing their mothers. My daughter had the last word when she proudly proclaimed , " well, my mother is a TOMBOY !" So I guess unusual gifts are just right for a tomboy mom.

Till next time.
Marion Springer

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Pigeon eggs - baby pigeons, etc.

As my grandma would say, I put the horse before the cart...I had intended to post first, a picture of a small egg incubator with a pigeon egg in it and second, a tiny baby pigeon just hatched and finally, the picture of a day old baby pigeon that did make it through my clumsy attemp to post photos.
Maybe another day I will manage to post a picture of the egg in the incubator.
Pigeon eggs are white in color and small, about 1 &1/2 inch in length and about 1 inch high. The babys when hatched are very tiny. When left in their parents care the baby will double it's weight in 24 hours. In the wild they develop incredibaly fast. Development is much slower when hand raised . The baby in the photo above is one day old. If he had been with his pigeon parents he would have been much larger than he is in the picture.
I found a baby pigeon that looked to be about a week old that had been attacked . It's scalp had been torn away and his skull was exposed. Remarkably, he susrvived the damage to his head. He will be forever bald with no feathers on his head but he is alive.
It has always amazed me that birds and animals seem to know who will help them when they are in distress ( see the recent post " The Hitching Pigeon" . ) I could cite numerous other instances where birds literally cried out for help. For example, several days ago I stepped outside and several pigeons flew toward me. One of them literally flew into my foot then he landed beside me so close that I nearly stepped on him. He had apparently been attacked and there was damage to his back. He let me pick him up and put him in a cage where I can care for him and eventually when he is healed , set him free. He surely did know how to get the help he needed.
Till next time.
Marion Springer

Monday, January 26, 2009

Oh , My Poor Puppy !

Meet Connie, one of my two Dobermans. Connie and her brother Buddy are my 21 month old pups . They are a lively pair.

Friday had already been a long day. My daughter and I had just returned home from a day in town . It takes an hour to drive to town from our home in the desert and an hour to get back home .

Friday's trip to town had included a visit to the doctor which had taken up much of the day so both my daughter and I were happy to finally get home and I was looking forward to just taking it easy for what little was left of the day.

But as it turned out, relaxing was not an option. We were soon on the road to town again !

My two Doberman pups and our other little dog were happy to have us home and they were running around and being very frisky. Then I noticed a tuft of hair standing up on Connie's back . It was a fresh tear in her skin...a V shaped tear on her back . The legs of the V were about three inches long. It was nearly 4PM and every Vetinary office we called were closing at 5 PM.

There is an excellent Emergency Animal Clinic in town and they are open all night. Wouldn't you know, the Clinic had moved to a new location since we had last used their services so that entailed some driving about to locate them. Their new location is so new it doesn't even have the name on the building , so that really made it hard to find!

But we did find them and Dr. Edwards stitched up the tear in Connie's back. Connie and her brother Buddy, have a condition known as Von Willibrand's disease. What that means is that their blood does not coagulate as it should and should they sustain an injury and start bleeding it could be fatal to them. Fortunately, the tear in Connie's skin was not bleeding.

Connie spent the night in the hospital and she is home now and is wearing a hood to keep her from pulling the stitches out. She is very unhappy having to wear the hood . The white item you can see in the photo is one of the drain tubes which the doctor placed in the tear. I don't know what she caught her skin on to cause the damage but she is going to be Ok and I'm happy about that. My budget took a big hit with the emergency repair service but she is worth it!

Till next time .
Marion Springer

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Hitchhiking Pigeon

I had been down working on my gyro hangar all day and finally packed up the tools and started for home about a mile and a half away. I hadn't gone very far when I saw the pigeon.

He was just standing there along the side of the road . I stopped the car about even with him and he didn't move at all. I approached him , talking to him all the while and still he just stood there. I had the feeling that he was waiting just for me.

He walked a few inches away and then stopped and waited for me to pick him up. He didn't struggle, or try to get free. It was eerie , but nice too.

I held him during the ride home he was very relaxed and comfortable, not struggling at all. A large flock of pigeons live on my place. When the new bird is well settled I will put him outside with the other birds .

My daughter Linda had a pigeon that called out to her for help. Linda was sitting on the porch when a beautiful black and white pigeon circled her several times just screaming. The pigeon landed nearby and we could tell that it was injured.

Later that evening it went into an open cage and we closed the cage door and cared for the bird for several weeks until her leg healed .

When her leg was well we opened the cage door and set her free. She spent quite a bit of time sitting and staring at Linda's window.

It was obvious that the bird wanted to be taken in so Linda took her into her home and the pigeon became Linda's beautiful Lacy . The black and white speckled bird was in pigeon heaven living with Linda.

Birds are smart. I don't know if the hitchhiking pigeon I brought home had followed me when I left home that morning or if he was a total stranger to me and just needed help. He doesn't appear to be injured . I think he was just lost and probably scared for it was getting late in the day with night not too far away .

He knew when I stopped that I would help him . He was very happy to get some food when I got him home and settled in . He has a home for as long as it pleases him to stay here.

Till next time.
Marion Springer