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