Sunday May 14, 2006
Iron Mountain and onward
An interesting day! We departed Chiriaco Summit at 6:30am, planning on stopping at Iron Mountain (72CL) so Michael could refuel. Since he was going to land, I planned on it as well, so I only filled the bottom tank, which holds 10 gallons. The distance to Iron Mountain is 52 miles.
It turns out that Iron Mountain is a private strip maintained by the Water Authority. The last time they had a non-company plane land there was over a year ago. My GPS took us right to the strip, and I landed, and was met by a security guard a few minutes after touching down. As I was chatting with him we turned and watched the last 5 seconds of Michael's touchdown. It was rather abrupt, but I didn't think anything of it until Michael informed me that he'd run out of fuel at 4,000 feet MSL, luckily within gliding distance of the strip. So now he knows exactly how long his 10 gallons of fuel will last!
This is one of the areas where the HKS engine shines. I'd started with 10 gallons, and landed at Iron Mountain with 5 gallons in the tank. Also, the PD 550 chute is meeting my expectations. The climb rate is vastly improved, and contrary to what I expected, I'm actually flying faster with the 550 than the 500. I don't understand how this is possible, but Michael confirmed it.
The security guards at Iron Mountain were glad to see us, as it provided some relief from their usual routine. Iron Mountain is in the middle of absolutely nowhere!
Rusty arrived with the support rig, Michael's PPC was put in the trailer, and I refueled and took off for Needles (KEED). It was a 50 mile flight. I could've made the whole Chiriaco to Needles flight easily with both tanks full and still have had 8 gallons left over, but its enjoyable to fly with Michael. That's why we split the trip. But since Michael had run out of fuel on a 50 mile flight, we didn't want to chance it happening again on the flight to Needles.
The 100+ miles covered today is indescribable to someone who's never flown over the high desert area of the southwest. Incredibly vast areas of virtually nothing. Yet obvious signs of mans attempts, mostly futile, to use the land. In the middle of the desert there are farms! Folly, in my opinion.
Weather/wind wise, the flight was uneventful with the exception of the thermals. They don't bother me, but still, its odd to be flying along and suddenly feel a push on the butt, look down, and see the VSI read 1,000 feet per minute up, and then have the reverse happen 30 seconds later. At the end of the flight the biggest problem I had was trying to lose altitude to land. Every time it tried to descend a thermal would push me back up. But eventually gravity won.
Tomorrow we fly to Searchlight (1L3), Nevada , and prepare for a media stop at Boulder (61B), a suburb of Las Vegas.