Wednesday May 17, 2006
Over the Hoover Dam!
Things didn't turn out exactly as planned. Michael and I set up for takeoff on runway 33, and I started my roll-out a few seconds before he did. I quickly climbed to 500 feet (agl) and looked to my right, but, no Michael! I climbed to 1,000 feet, and then looked all around. He was nowhere to be found, and I didn't see him on the ground either. Very frustrating.
After 15 minutes I still couldn't see him, and couldn't raise him on the radio, so I decided to visit Hoover Dam and take some photos. It's easy to see from the air how much Lake Meade has dropped from lack of water. Still, it's quite beautiful... the dam of course is monumental, and the valley below the dam provides a new definition of terrain you never want to have to land in.
I returned to Boulder, and found Michael and his PPC back at the trailer. Turns out he'd gotten about 50 feet off the ground and realized his climb rate wasn't satisfactory, so he landed. The density altitude was about 3,200, and the additional weight of the videographer and equipment was simply outside the performance envelope.
We've changed our itinerary, and will be flying directly to Glendale airport (GEU) next. Glendale is a suburb of Phoenix, and we'll be there for a few days. The flight there will take two days if the weather cooperates.