Aug 17/13 – Flight with Mark on Aug 11/13

Write up by Mark:
Andre and I arrived at the field to find that it was a bit blowy. We had made the trip to Staff Field, for a bit of variety. I hadn’t seen the place for over a year, but it looked just the same. Andre was happy to wait for conditions to mellow out a bit and so was I. I had brought the gopro camera and an old fishing pole, and thought that I might be able to knock up some kind of improvised camera mount with the roll of duct tape I had. Well after 15 minutes of duct tape engineering Andre suggested I strap it to a motor and try it out. Of course he had his phone ready.

Because the pole stuck out a lot a forward launch was needed, but wind conditions dictated a reverse launch. I tried the forward, but my weak shoulder coupled with forgetting to do up the shoulder strap, meant that the harness came off my shoulders and I messed up the launch. Andre had the video evidence to prove it. The wind did eventually drop off a bit, but not really as much as we had hoped. We never really got the glassy evening air that we had so recently revelled in. Despite this we both took off and headed towards Lake Erie. Flying high we were making slow progress forwards, but periodically we would drop down low just to remind ourselves that it was still bumpy close to the ground. My wing was flying noticeably faster than Andre’s. Whether I was extra heavy on the machine or Andre was a light on his, it meant that he was always playing catch up. This is not fun when you are flying, because the faster pilot pretty much decides where you go and you have to follow. I would circle around  once in a while so that Andre could take the lead if he wanted and explore features that interested him. That was my intention anyway, but I think Andre thought I was just demonstrating how much faster my setup was. Over the radio I heard him joking about how annoying it was that I was flying faster than him.

Arriving close to the massive power cables that run between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, we both climbed high enough to feel comfortable crossing them. Height is very tricky to judge in these situations and I’m sure we had plenty of vertical clearance, but even so these things always feel a bit sketchy. Once across, I eased off the throttle and dropped down low, but was immediately reminded how bumpy the air was at ground level with an unsettling flutter of the wing. A few feet lower and I would have been chopping beans! Power back on, I climbed out and remained high for the rest of the flight.

Looking down I recognised features that we had seen before on flights from Staff Field and soon there were large arrays of green houses that glinted in the sun. Laid out on the ground were thousands of colourful plants, which as I got closer were colourful pots holding pretty uncolourful plants. From above the swathes of colour in different patches stood out from the patchwork of green fields. I knew we approaching Bieda’s motorsports. This is a place where you can buy all sorts of ATVs and Snowmobiles. We used to fly there a few years back and even trained students there on a couple of occasions. Anyway I hadn’t seen it in a few years and was surprised to see that the fields that we had used were now planted with what looked like beans.

Looking around I was wondering at what point Andre would be heading back. the sun was low in the sky and the night was drawing in. By my best guess we had 30 mins before sunset and Andre was (as ever) still heading further away from where we launched. Over the radio I suggested it might be wise to head back. Having landed in the Staff Field at night before, I was not eager to repeat the experience. Andre agreed and we headed back, making much better time with the tailwind. e took a detour to investigate a fire that we could see. Smoke was pluming out over Fonthill. The smoke seemed to be rising up then slamming into a very low inversion layer before smearing out for about 2 miles over the expensive properties in Fonthill. Whoever was having there bonfire was obviously oblivious to the fact that his fire was probably pissing of a couple of hundred residents downwind. Andre wanted to buzz a couple of radio antennas nearby then we made a bee line for the landing field, then back to Andre’s for some beer and grub. NICE!