Sunday, February 26, 2012

Day 6 Powered Hang Gliding Lesson

Well, when I was looking through all the tourist activity ads in Kauai I saw this ad for a powered hang gliding instruction introductory flight.  The company was called Birds in Paradise Flight school.  I figured I love flying and it seems pretty safe.  What the hell; you only live once, right?  Right!  So, I called the flight school and scheduled a lesson.  Technically, Birds of Paradise could not do tours as it was illegal in Hawaii to offer these kinds of flights as tours.  So, the only way to do the flight was as a flight instruction.  Cool, I get to log the time in my logbook to boot!!  I scheduled my lesson at 09:00 AM in the morning.  As you might of guessed, I got there early.  The aircraft were already up on earlier scheduled lessons, except for mine.  She was there waiting for me.

  This was good, cuz I could film them coming in and landing just before my lesson.  These powered hang gliders flew so gracefully.  The only thing cooler than watching them fly, was flying one.

My instructor was Gerry Charlebois.  Gerry is an FAA-certified Flight Instructor, an FAA-certified mechanic and a certified Rotax aircraft engine technician. He is also a Master Rated Hangglider Pilot by the United States Hanggliding Paragliding Association.

Gerry started flying hang gliders in 1978. A year later he began teaching hang gliding on Oahu’s north shore. Winning the Hawaii state hang gliding championship brought corporate sponsorship and Gerry went on to compete on the national and international hang gliding circuit.

Gerry founded Birds in Paradise on Kauai in 1990 offering tandem hang gliding. In 1993, Birds in Paradise began offering powered hang gliding and, since that time, Gerry has logged more than 17,000 hours operating ultralight trikes and sharing the experience with more than 22,000 Birds in Paradise clients.
Gerry began using wing-mounted cameras on his glider to shoot the stunning visuals in the 1980s. He is one of the most published sport-aviation photographers in the world with more than 60 magazine cover shots. In 1997, he was named photojournalist of the year by the U.S. Ultralight Association. Combining his passion for trike flying with his passion for still and video photography, Gerry also produces films that capture the breathtaking scenery and marine life on Kauai. Extreme Kauai, his most recent DVD, can be found in most stores on Kauai. He is currently in post-production for his new film, Kauai Unveiled, featuring more awesome underwater and aerial footage of the Garden Island..

Birds in Paradise has been featured on HDNet’s extreme travel show "Get Out!" as well as on the Discovery Channel, the Travel Channel and TV Land's High School Reunion show.

Thanks Gerry!!!! for a great flight lesson over the Garden Island of Kauai.
All the above info  on the instructor was obtained  as published from the Birds in Paradise website.

I got admit I was a little nervous but once we were aloft I felt right at home in the air.  The following is a 15 min video that I produced with splices of film from the 60 minute flight.  I chose some of the most breathtaking views to put in the abbreviated video.  I hope you all enjoy my flight lesson in Kauai.  Please comment on the post.  I enjoy reading everybody's comments.

This was one of the funnest things that I have ever done and would do it again in a heart beat.   I hope you all enjoy the video.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Day 5 Aerial tour of the Island of Kauai

These are a couple of pictures of the family in the plane as we were taking our aerial tour around Kauai, HI.

The Island of Kauai was so pretty, but sadly there are lots of areas that are inaccessible by car.  So, that leaves hiking or viewing it by air.  I will give you one guess which way I chose to see the beautiful remote areas of the island.  Yep, you guessed it; by air it is!  There are many aerial tour services on the island, most are helicopter tours.  We chose to go by fixed wing, given my affinity for fixed wing aircraft.  Plus, my wife said she could not find a helicopter tour that would fit 5 people.

There was a company on the island called Air Ventures Kauai that offered pretty reasonable rates on airplane tours.  My wife, Yami, also wanted to go to an authentic Luau being that this was our first trip to Hawaii.  Fortunately, this tour company had worked out a combo deal with the most authentic Luau on Kauai, The Smith Family Garden Luau.  So we booked the combo deal and went to the Lihue Airport for our tour.  The airplane was a Australian made airplane Called a GA-8 Airvan.  The plane sits a total of 7 people including the pilot.  Oddly enough this plane has the exact same engine as 24MT.  The following is a video of the plane (N721AV) as it started and took another tour group up just before we were scheduled for our tour on the same plane:

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Trip to Kauai, Hawaii Day 1

Well, the day that we have been waiting for arrived.  We have planned a trip to the island of Kauai in Hawaii.  Kauai is known as the Garden Island of HI.  We have never been to Hawaii and in case you didn't know it 24MT does not have the range to make it there so we had to break down and fly commercial, yuk.  Well, I like flying in any form, but it is always better when it is in your ride.  The plan though was to incorporate a flight down to the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul for you non Minnesotans) in our plane to then fly out of KMSP to Hawaii the next day.  We were saving $400 per person to fly out of there rather than taking a puddle jumper from Thief River to the Cities.  So the decision was a no brainer.  I got to incorporate a flight down to the cities in my plane which gives me a good excuse to fly cross country in my plane as part of our trip.  This also allows me to make a good blog entry into my general aviation blog.  But NOOOOOOOOO, the gods seem to have a sense of humor.  We were fogged in across the entire state for three days.  THREE DAYS!!!!  Forcasts said it would lift. by the day we were planning on leaving, but unfortunately the forcast was wrong.  So, I finally broke down after waiting for most of the morning for the fog to clear up and made the only decision that I could make, DRIVE TO THE CITIES.  God I hate that.  You see, I live 6 hours from the Cities by car, compared to an hour and forty five minutes in 24MT.  You can see why I would prefer to fly rather than drive.  I would fly even if it was closer, just cuz.  But safety for me and my family dictated Plan B.

To give you an idea of what it looked like outside my place when we started driving I have included two pictures of how thick the fog was below.  I mean you could cut it with a knife.

 So as you can see it was impossible to take off in this.  The take off alternate would have been somewhere in mid North Dakota.

About 3 hours into our drive the fog began to lift in some places and you could see the frost that was on the trees from the temperature inversion.   OUCH!!!, that stuff would have stuck nicely to my wing.  I think we made the right decision.  This fog lifting was in intermittent places and then you would be back in the soup again.  That blue sky in the picture is also just a whole in the cloud/fog cover.  It was just ugly all the way down.

It took us the same time to drive to the cities as it took us to fly to Hawaii from Los Angeles KLAX.  But we made it safely to the Hotel that we would stay at overnight for our flight out the next morning.  Below is a picture of my excited kids in the lobby of the Hilton just as we arrived.

All safe and sound in the cities.  Safety first.  Stay tuned for day two.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Heavy Plane Equals Back Problems

You know I thought I had a good back and up until last year I did.  The first time I threw out my back was in the most innocent of ways, however.  I was at the airport talking to my friend Joe (my A&P), no, actually it was his son and all of a sudden I needed to sneeze.  So, in order not to sneeze in the kids face I turned my torso and sneezed away.  BIG mistake.  Apparently, sneezing is a pretty violent reaction on the body and all your muscles really tense up in the moment of the sneeze.  And when I say violent, just ask my wife.  I inherited my sneeze from my Dad, and lets just say the big bad wolf had nothing on my dad. If your torso is turned one way or the other the uneven tension being put on your back during this violent reaction and muscle tension can knock your back right out of alignment.  Yup, that's right.  I wouldn't have believed it either if it didn't happen to me.  If you ask anyone with back issues, they will tell you that when they sneeze they are postured looking straight ahead.  Well, the back pain resolved in about two weeks.  I figured that was the end of that and I would always sneeze correctly from now on and that would be that; right?  WRONG!!

Apparently, there are other things one can do to throw out their backs.  No, really it's true.  For example, I was going flying one day with the family.  And was going to pull my 3000 lbs plane out of the hanger all by myself.  Why? You might ask.  I don't know.  I think it had something to do with my wife saying, "Wait! Don't you want us to help?"  Naaaaahhhhh, didn't even answer her.  This was a job for the MAN of the house.  Oh yeah.  So, I hooked up my tow bar and began to pull that puppy out.  Well, getting that plane moving out of the indents in the asphalt where the wheels rest is no easy task.  But, hey, that's what testosterone is for, isn't it?  I finally Man(fool)handled that baby out of there and then put the tow bar away and proceeded to put everybody in the plane including myself.  No problem.  I didn't even break a sweat.  After all, the only other time I threw out my back was with that sneezing incident.  And that was a fluke and mistake of bad posture, you know.  It could never happen again; nope.  When I pulled the plane I used standard Olympic athelete heavy lifting posture.  What could go wrong, eh?

Well, we went on our flight.  Got home later that day and went home.  Later that evening my back started to hurt.  I felt a little tension during the day in my low back, but I shrugged it off as a result of sitting in the plane to long.  I certainly could not admit to my wife that I should have availed myself of her assistance.  As the day went on, though.  OH BOY,  the pain got worse and worse.  I was laid up again.  I even had to stay home from work the next day because of it.  That cost me good.  Apparently, you can injure your back and have a delayed pain response too.  Who'd a figured, eh.

Needless to say, I was tired of throwing out my back.  So, I was looking for a solution to pulling the plane out safely.  I thought about buying a beater pickup truck, ripping off the front bumper and welding a pintle hook to the front chassis.  I would then get an industrial tow bar to hook to that.  That idea never really materialized.  But when I went to do my instrument rating work at Airmotive in Brainerd, MN, there was a pin up ad on the bulletin board for the "Aircraft Caddy."  This was a Battery powered tug that was made by a company in Little Falls, MN.  Home of Charles Lindbergh.  The company was aptly named the Lindbergh Aircraft Tug Co.  Hmm, go figure.

Take a look at one of these babies at work pulling and pushing on a Pilatus PC-12 like nobody's business.

So, long story short, I ordered me one of these babies and I have never looked back (get it?, back. No, OK). Hmm, well anyways.  Take care of your backs people.  Don't take it for granted.  I know alot of very once productive people reduced to disabled people because of irreparably injured backs.

Here I am pulling out 24MT about 50 yards from the hanger in a nice area of the ramp where there are no pebbles to ding my prop.  I could pull and steer this plane with 2 fingers now.  Oh, and did I mention it's green too (Oh Brother).  No internal combustion engine that won't start in the winter.  It is powered by two 12 volt Car batteries hooked in series to give 24 volts of power. And these batteries are rated with alot of cold cranking amps.   I can also jump my plane with this device.  Ahhhh, modern conveniences.

Thanks for reading my blog.  Feel free to comment.