It's ok, I needed some excercise
Imagine it is about 7:00 in the evening on Friday May 22, 2010 and you have just returned home after a nice dinner with your wife. You see your phone, and notice the message button is flashing. You pick it up and see that you have missed a couple of calls: 1. Special Gregg Bolton, at 5:05 pm 2. Joe Manor, 6:17 pm. 3. Special Gregg Bolton, 6:40 pm. You dial up the first offender, and the conversation goes something along the lines of:
Me: what’s up?
Special: did you hear about Weldon?
Me: nope, works been stupid lately. I haven’t even looked at the boards, what’s up?
Special: Buxton went 445!!!!!
Me: Holy smokes!!!! That is insane!!!
Special: I know, crazy huh? Joe and I have been thrashing on the 160 at the shop all day and she’s ready, the forecast for the pass is off the charts!!! Tomorrow is THE day.
Me: Who’s going?
Special: Me, Joe, and Paul.
Me: I’m in. I just gotta do a couple of things and the 100 is ready. What time, please don’t say early.
Special: Joe said he be at the shop at 9:00.
Me: Nice! See you there.
I hang up the phone my adrenaline is already pumping, tomorrow is going to be super fun I think to myself, this could be the day we have been waiting for. Today they got it good at Weldon, tomorrow we are going to get it good at Mars. Then the phone rings and caller id shows some wacked out number that lets me know that it is either some cheap ba$tard who hates to give their money to the phone company, or somebody who doesn’t have a land line, and doesn’t have cell service at their house calling me on Skype. I answer and confirm it’s the later, it’s Joe. I know this because there is a voice not unlike Joe’s on my phone that sounds like he is calling me from a manhole located somewhere near Kiev. After heckling him about his phone connection / location he gets down to business and the conversation is pretty much the same as the one I had with Gregg, except Joe uses a few less words, something to the effect of “it’s on, can you make it?” I tell him that I’m the car for Saturday, and we confirm the time. I hang up the phone and start to giggle, the regular crew is set up to go, and Joes bringing the big plane! All I can think about is how hard it is going to be to sleep tonight…
When I do finally get to bed, all I can hear is the wind chimes in the back yard, tomorrow is going to rock I think to myself, tomorrow is going to rock.
I get out to Joe’s shop my usual 40 odd minutes late, (I can’t help it if his shop is geographically undesirable from my house). Paul is out front with a video camera heckling me before I even get out of the car, I think to myself “I miss flying with these guys, I wish it was windy more often”. I get out and things are moving at a blistering pace in the shop to get out the door and to the hill. Note: (the previous statement is sarcasm, no one except for Paul looks alive. The other two guys stumbling around look like they are getting ready for a part in some "Zombies ate my brains for dinner and I can’t D.S. today movie".) Turns out Zombies didn’t eat their brains, Joe just hadn’t drank a trough of Red Bull yet, and Special was suffering from a bad case of too much work, not enough sleep, and how long is it going to take to charge these batteries???!!!! It turns out a long time because apparently if you have 9 stupid big servos in your plane, you need several stupid big batteries to power them, and stupid big batteries take a stupid long time to charge. So long we decide to make some ballast for the 160. This gives Joe a chance to try out his new lead melting toy, a turkey fryer from Bass Pro Shops. If any of you were wondering how to turn your shop or garage into a poor man’s foundry, visit Bass Pro Shops and pick one up for yourself because it is “the shizzle” for melting lead in. Why in no time at all we all had breathed in more toxic smoke than the folks downwind of Chernobyl, and Joe was busy making a brick made out of lead for the belly of the beast. Hopefully Paul will post a pick or two of Joe melting lead, remember kids, “Safety never takes a holiday”.
After a few hours the batteries were all charged, the lead was all melted, we got Joe some Red Bull and we loaded the planes into the car and headed out. We even got Gregg some food. The plan was that we were going to meet up with Jason Lilly, Gary Leggerton, and Bill Lamping up at Mars, but as we got closer you could see something was wrong. The wind direction was off, it was south. The feeling you get when you see that the wind is south when you are hoping to fly Mars is kind of like the feeling you get when you lean over to pick something up and your phone falls out of your shirt pocket into the toilet. Don’t know that feeling, I do, trust me when I tell you it sucks. So we drive up the hill anyway, (note: I am still not really sure why but I guess it is just one of those things you do, we do it everytime, I mean everytime), just to confirm that it is blowing the wrong direction, (it is). Jason, Gary, and Bill must have been stalking us because they pull in almost right behind us. We all talk about whether to stay or go somewhere else and give it a go. We look across the highway at Windmills and someone says “how about Windmills?” I am not sure who it was, it might have been Paul, or Gregg or myself as none of us have been there, (It is funny because I can remember most of the rest of the day like it was yesterday, but this part of the conversation is hazy-I think it has to do with not wanting to be known as the guy who suggested we walk up that hill-it must have been Paul who suggested it), but the direction looks good. Keep in mind we are at least 5 miles away trying to convince ourselves that it is going to rule up there. We then discuss how to get up there because there seems to be an access issue, or the lack thereof since it is sort of fenced in. It seems that one could “walk” in if one wanted to but Jason said he had done it before and “it was the worst hike of my life and I have done Half Dome” So with those words still hanging all of our minds we agreed that windmills was our best bet.
We then began our little caravan to windmills, basically it is back down the hill, across a big sandy river bottom, under the freeway, through a bunch of mobile homes / houses, down into a drainage ditch, back up out of a drainage ditch, up a windy access road until you think you are at the closest point you can be to the flying site, then you park. It turned out that we found a spot that looked to be 1-2 miles from the site, with a gentle uphill grade for the first mile or so. It should be no problem seeing how all we needed to get up there was 105 pounds of airplane and 20 odd pounds of ballast, a guinea pig plane to test the wind, (surprise Gregg!), and enough water to hopefully keep all of us upright for our journey.
The walk up was not as bad as I had expected, it was roughly an hour of passing around different heavy, awkward, shaped things amongst ourselves. Basically you carried something until either your arm, hand or shoulder went to sleep, then when the little tingles of pain started to feel like needles you either shifted it to your other hand or passed it off to one of your unsuspecting friends. I believe Paul won the contest of who could carry the most by starting off with the fuse and a backpack full of water, and somewhere along the lines passed off the fuse but ended up with the brick of lead that I was carrying, the front half of the wing, and a backpack full of water.
We hiked and hiked until we reached the ridge and the I don’t know about everyone else but I was tired, but when we got to the first windmills and they sounded like a jet engine it got the adrenaline flowing which definitely helped get me energized, and I think it gave everyone else a little push too as we trudged on towards the flying site. As we walked under the windmills I couldn’t believe how big they are, I mean they look big from your car when you are a couple hundred feet away, but stand under one sometime when the wind is blowing 50+ miles an hour and it is awesome!
We finally reached the flying spot and took a well deserved breather, it had been roughly an hour of hiking to get to the site. Everyone was excited as none of us really knew what was going to happen. After we had settled down we all let Gregg know that it was super cool of him to go first and test out the air with his D-80. Gregg stood up to the challenge and had Paul toss his plane for him, it was crazy to see that thing go up, keep in mind Greggs plane is roughly 200 oz. and most of us aren’t used to them leaving the guys hands when they get launched and going up like Hitlers Gentle Lady, but the front side lift was incredible. Gregg played on the front for a minute or two and then walked over to the back side and dropped her in. It was soon apparent to all that it was kinda scruffy on the backside and Gregg was getting bounced and rolled around. After lots of laps, Gregg said that he wasn’t feeling it and punched out, and brought her in.
So what do you do now? You have seen a plane fly and it wasn’t really setting the world on fire, you’ve got your baby there that you’ve put countless hundreds of hours into. Do you throw it out, or do you pack her up and fly her another day? Joe did the right thing, we killed a bunch of time on top of the hill hoping it would get better, then we packed her up and we headed home. In case anyone was wondering; going downhill with 105 pounds of plane is easier than going uphill, it only took about 45 minutes to get down to our cars.
It had been a good day, we didn’t get to see the 160 fly, but she was in one piece and would be ready the next time the call was made. Only one of us got to fly but it was one of the most fun days I have had in a long time, I guess the flying doesn’t matter as much if you are with a bunch of guys that are your friends.
One of the last things someone said to me when we were up on the hill and I was taking a bunch of pictures is “you’re not going to write one of those stupid long posts you do when we go fly are you?”
The answer to that is: yes, yes I am.
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I remember when I lived in Desert Hot Springs, I drove past the windmills all the time. Saw a 18-wheeler hauling stuff into the windmill farm. It had *ONE* blade on its flat bed. ONE BLADE. Those things are incredibly massive.
Now I don't feel so bad about my weekend though. I don't DS, but the winds here were forecasted to be awesome, and then totally sucked.
Joined May 2004
Look at the E82
It´s like comparing an Opus with a D160
Nice story , now I know how Joe do the D´s ,a lot of friendly backup
was up at the windmills earlier this year... gate was unlocked so easy access. sorry to hear it was closed.... was blowing like hell when I was there and opted not to fly a friends plane solo. those things do sound awesome when the wind is howling... thanks for the report.. sorry mars didn't work out for you guys.
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