Sep 5th

I am Yuri

By Bryan Tuffnell

I’d tried this game before, sneaking out while most people were snoozing to try a flight above cloud in the blackness of a moonless, mostly overcast night. I’d rolled onto Rangiora’s 25 near midnight, and sat there for a number of minutes before bottling out. Too much unknown, too many risks I couldn’t quantify.

The idea wouldn’t go away, and whenever I got the chance on land, I’d get above cloud on a pitch-black night to check how identifiable the horizon was. Eventually it seemed doable, but it was nearly a full year later before the combination of nearly complete low overcast and no moon presented itself.

Take Two. We rolled well after the witching hour, but with a decent bite of the night to savour before dawn. A few specks of starlight fell through an inky overcast - not much, but just enough to give us a horizon and something to aim for - so we bored up through a tiny break in the murk and broke into outer space above. Nothing below, just blackness. Only stars above. And it was wild.

Starlight spanned the night between the horizons, and any trace of the planet beneath was obliterated by the cloud beneath. We went inland, climbed up and up until I got the jitters, three miles into the night sky, feeling like the only living thing in the universe. It was a night from a Kubrick movie, a scene in a diminished key, a bizarre inversion of normality, somber, wonderful, a little spooky, surreal. This wasn’t flying a trike, it was riding a spaceship in orbit; the absence of stars providing the only refence for the horizon. For an hour I was Yuri Gagarin, alone in space, and I loved it, but oh the stress, the concentration…

The first blush of morning took away that uncomfortable and somewhat nerve-wracking edge and provided its own otherworldliness by illuminating the cloud from underneath but leaving me and Penrod in a battleship grey world. We found another hole in the Stygian gloom and descended through vaporous severed goats' heads and damp Mount Rushmores and into brightness and warmth. The low angle of the sunlight caught strange fibrous filaments and delicate cobwebs falling from the base of the clouds and lit them with oranges and reds. We did a little aerial boogey between them, I dragged my fingers through them. A few Zen cartwheels later we set down on my favourite beach. A siren song of surf was playing. I looked at Penrod's empty back seat which just looked wrong somehow - something was missing, so I put my clothes there and went for a bitterly cold swim. Home at 0900.


Not a recommended way of flying a trike, a bit of a stretch of safety… but sometimes you’ve just got to dance.

Apr 9th

Travis achieves his goal to change his career/life and become and work as a trike CFI.

By Paul Hamilton


The phone rings. Someone asks if I provide mountain flying for trikes. HMMMMMMM…. Yes I do come out and fly with me and I will teach you how to fly in the mountains. Travis lived in NJ and wanted to get his CFI and set up operations in South America Chile to run a flight operation just like many other dreamers wanting a new life. I said “yea come out and fly with me and let me know when you are coming”. He said OK I will let you know.


It should be noted I get all kinds of calls about people wanting to live their dream but most are just talk. They say they will get back to me and that is the last I hear from them. Well this is not the story here.


About a month later Travis calls me and said “I sold everything and headed out to you. Do you still have that S-LSA trike for sale I want it?”.


Well he showed up, bought the trike, got his sport pilot license last summer and flew every possible time to get his 150 hours in less than a year. He just passed his CFI checkride and we had our first fly together with customers today. YaHoooooo


Travis will be working with me this summer providing intro flights at Lake Tahoe and doing primary training for trike students.


Congratulations Travis for living your dream and welcome to serious triking.


Mar 30th

Death Valley takes my Wing

By Peter Owens

I'm in the need of a new wing for my Tanarg.

Left Oregon in my Toyhauler with my trike on a trip down to Death Valley last week for some nice warm flying as I done before in the spring. We camp at Stovepipe Wells .It has an airstrip next to it. It is always amazing to drive down the East side of the Cascades and Sierras through snow and ice all the way and to literally go from freezing to 80 degrees in the last hour of driving. This year it was hitting 90 when we got there.  I noticed a lot of Lennies in the sky so knew there were high winds aloft.

But the mornings were warm and calm and could fly around the valley in shorts and flipflops so all was great. The winds though would start to pick up from the south by 11. One morning my wife Theresa and I were flying to Furnace Creek to get some groceries but the wind was already starting to kick in from the south so we hightailed back to Stove Pipe and tied down the trike.

We drove to Furnace Creek and were having lunch at their golf course (It just seems wrong to have a golf course in Death Valley). But at least you can sit outside and eat. And the winds just kept picking up. It was starting to hit 30+ on the ground and I was just getting nervous about my Trike. Headed directly back to the airstrip and all was well. Still blowing like stink from the south, just tightened everything and headed back to camp. All good.

Back at Camp shortly thereafter the wind calms. First time in the afternoon it had done that. A friend stops by and we talk about taking him for a flight later.

We are sitting outside having a beer AND That is when the SCIROCCO hits!!!

A dust storm comes off the playa to the North and just rips through camp. Canopies are snapping off campers. Tents are blowing away. It’s now howling 40 FROM THE NORTH!!!. We race out to the airstrip (can’t even see the road for the dust storm) and get out there to see my trike flipped over. Ones wings webbing used for tying down was snapped. Yikes. One still intact. Stood out there for 1/2 hour caked in dust trying to keep it from scooting down the runway.

Soooo...  one Trike's wheel Pant broken, some fiberglass rash. But otherwise intact. (still have to go through it.) The wing though is toast. Keel broken. Sail shredded.

Lesson learned. When it the desert, whatever it takes, tie the tail down to something. I could have used a long tie to a parallel cable that was there for tie down.


So- now I'm in the market for a wing, new or used, for my Tanarg. Please contact me if you have something to sell.

Mar 30th


By Todd Halver

Check out my ad on Barnstormers:

Bionix 13  


Mar 22nd

Joy and frustrations of a student pilot

By Bob Lemke


What I would like to solicit from this blog is other's learning experiences along with their mind set. As I type this I've received 9 hours of instruction, 7.5 of those hours in the last three days. The first 1.5 hours was at my CFI's airport, the rest at my hangar/home in my airpark. 


The joy comes from flying again after a 37 years absence. 40 years ago I soloed with 0 hours because back then nobody was doing tandem hang glider flights yet, let alone giving dual instruction. I bought a used Seagull III and three other beginners from work joined me in the quest to learn how to fly. We learned in the Sierra foothills just east of Sacramento, California and on our 2nd outing one of the beginners crashed, destroying the Seagull and placing him in the hospital for 3 weeks. I became a dealer for Seagull to receive better pricing and placed a order for 3 new gliders for us remaining students. When the 3 of us resumed training, instead of the 20 minute drive to that foothill site, we drove 3 hours to a coastal site named Dillon's Beach with a 100' tall sand dune hill. There was a lot of physical effort involved in climbing with our wing in the sand but the reward was launching into a constant sea breeze that elongated our flight time and more importantly the soft sand in the LZ for our beginner pilot landings. With that long drive it was a serious time commitment so we always camped and had two or three days of learning per trip. After many trips we felt we were ready to return to that foothill site and continued training there. Between the 100' sand dune and the 500' high foothill site, all flights were short compared to the time of hiking our gliders up those hills. The time had come for our 1st "altitude" flight at a place north of Clear Lake, California called Elk Mountain with the LZ in the dry creek beds next to the Middle Creek Campground. The launch was 3500' AGL above the LZ. This area is famous for thermals so as low time pilots the three of us launched early morning to insure a 10 minute sled ride to the LZ. That was at least 5 times the air time of the other two sites. All three of us wound up doing what the more experienced pilots predicted, and that was pulling the bar in a bit past minimum sink and flying with more speed, hence a shorter flight. But 10 minutes in the air did give valuable input as to where each of us had set up our hang point CG, and so we could make adjustments on future flights to insure our CG setting would provide minimum sink for hands off the control bar straight and level flight. Getting the right CG proved very important for our next altitude site which was Big Sur. This site was famous for giving that first altitude flight so I was looking forward to that trip already having some altitude flights at Clear Lake. The club I belonged to went to Big Sur every Thanksgiving due to the whales migrating south that time of year. Nothing curls your toes like flying over a pod of whales in a prone position and your wing acts as a sound amplifier when they surface and force air out of their blow hole. It is loud. The club owned a old hot rod 4X4 Ford truck with a 427 and manual transmission that pulled a custom trailer built to accommodate 24 gliders. i know a lot about that truck because when I didn't feel comfortable about conditions on the launch hill, I would drive the truck back down the hill with just my glider on board. This happened more times than I'm willing to admit but hell I was one of the lowest hour pilots in the club and had every intention of surviving my early learning phases to become a higher hour pilot. On one of these Big Sur trips I didn't exercise my previous good judgement and launched above the fog before it had burned off because there was a good size opening in that fog along my proposed flight path. Well I'm sure anyone reading this is going to think what happens after you launch and are flying that VFR path and it closes back in again? You would be correct and I shouldn't have launched because in the time it took me to reach that clearing in the fog, it had closed in. This was why I mentioned how important it was at the Elk Mountain site to properly dial in my CG attach point for hands off minimum sink. When your in a white out that is your only option, remove input to the control bar and experence that feeling of time stretching out, where every 10 seconds feel like a minute. I am however keeping track of the time waiting for a break in the fog because my due west flight path will take me over highway 1 and then the Pacific Ocean. I finally saw a break in the fog and turned towards the opening and once there was relieved to see Highway 1 just west of my position. Total relief but that was short lived because on further observation I had no idea where I was in respect to the LZ and didn't know if I should fly north or south over Highway I. I chose north and that was incorrect, wound up landing 4 miles north of the LZ at the gas station/greasy spoon. After folding my wings I had breakfast wondering how long it would be before the truck/trailer would find me and pick me up. During the course of eating, 3 other pilots landed there to prove I wasn't the only idiot to launch into a sucker hole in the fog and after breaking out of the fog heading the wrong direction.



I got off subject, damn I'm good at that. Well back on subject, these early days of flying lit a fire under my ass (or lit my ass on fire) and 3 years after learning to fly hang gliders I was at my local FBO taking lessons in their Cessna 150 trainer. This was a low budget flying club that even though they had the new 152s, I preferred the old 150 for two reasons, manual flaps vs the slow moving electric, and more important for the budget minded, the 150 only recorded tach time hours unlike the 152 Hobbs time. Lower RPM settings would net more log hours and less billing hours. On this note you are probably aware I'm a budget minded person and as such I'm having some diffculty with time to solo and instruction rates. If memory serves I think the 150 I rented from the club I belonged to and paid monthly dues went for $25 per hour wet and the instructor was an additional $15 per hour. Granted this was 37 years ago. I feel like I'm getting a good rate from my current CFI at $150 per hour in his trike at my hangar/home location. However, time to solo might be different. I don't want or expect to solo at 0 hours like I had no choice in my hang glider. I did solo GA aircraft at 10.8 hours and as a newly minted solo student pilot moved my touch and go's from my 2400' FBO field to a little airstrip my U/L friends were using at 1200' in length. I got to practice short field and spot landings all day at that little strip which was only 3 miles from my home strip. I got pretty good at this and when my club had its Fun Day with flour bomb drop, balloon burst, and spot landing competition I was eager to participate. Only problem was students weren't allowed, so I was bummed. I could understand a low hour student pilot could get into trouble attempting the balloon burst and even the simple flour bomb drop, but spot landings? This is what we practice all the time we are accumulating, not just hours flying straight on cross country flights. I spoke up, the powers to be contacted their insurance agent and the green light was given to allow the students to do spot landings. That was the very first 1st place flying trophy I ever received, still proud to this day.


So this gets me back to the first paragraph, I have 9 hours dual and have the impression from my CFI that my first solo is further away than the 10.8 hours I soloed the 150. I know we need to trust our instructor's judgement as to our flying abilities but input from others would be appreciated. What was your flying experience before trike instruction? How many hours before solo in the trike. How did you feel about your CFI? I really want the good, bad and ugly.


Here is my thoughts on flying. As a little boy I was a tree climber for the perspective of being above the ground and the solitude. As I grew older I would climb mountains for the same reason, to escape the 2D world and enjoy a 3D experience. I will never fly as a means of transportation and as such would never ever fly to a schedule. I'll leave that to the pros. Unlike my hang gliding days when so much time was committed to driving to the flying site and hence a bit of pressure to get some air time even if conditions were less than perfect, now doesn't exist due to my home/hangar fronting a taxiway and just 900' to the active runway. Yep, with no time commitment envolved in getting to the flying site, I have the luxury everyday I wake up to decide if conditions are benign enough to serve my level of experience. Life is good retired at a residental airpark.


Mar 3rd

Stuffup, gale and fence and sheep.

By Bryan Tuffnell

Take three university students, one car, a bunch of toys, a bad idea, and what do you have? It could be the Cadbury Moro Lake Ohau Spectacular in 1987! One of those weird triathlon thingies that had been fermenting, possibly along with other substances, in the mind of some twisted individual with capitalistic intentions and a morbid sense of humour. Run up the Ohau Skifield, ski down to the carpark, fly (hang glide) to Lake Ohau, windsurf up the lake to the pub, scull a pint. For three engineering students it actually sounded like a good idea! Lets take a week - no, fortnight! - off studying, load up John's 53 Austin 8 with skis, climbing gear, flying gear, windsurfing gear, and beer, and chase those Ohau babes!! Yeah!! And I have this idea for a secret weapon for the race!! It so happens that Bruce Parlane, a skydiving mate of mine who makes parachutes for a living, has built something called a parapente or a paraglider or something.  It has fairly miserable performance apparently - goes down faster than Xaviera Hollander after twenty dollars - but for this race, by crikee, you want to fly something that sinks out of the sky like a polished brick. Besides, it'd be a great new toy to play with.

So John, Deano and I roll into Ohau, coughing and wheezing (John's car leaked black exhaust smoke into the cab) and laid siege on the local establishment. We set up camp on the Ohau airstrip - an imperial mile-long grass strip separated from the highway by a few grazing paddocks. With sheep in them. We cooked on an open fire. Climbed crags. Windsurfed on the bitter glacial waters of the lake. Skied. Flew down to the airstrip at the end of the day, and ran back up for the car. Spent time in the bar, worked on the car exhaust, played the guitar and drank ourselves to sleep late under a blanket of stars. Bars, cars, guitars and stars - I was a true ars man. By golly, life was good. We were unlovable boors, not so much irresponsible as young kiwi blokes with no responsibilities. And then the winds came.

And then the winds came.  It blew an alpine nor'west gale for a day, two days. We couldn't ski, fly, windsurf or climb. It blew a gale. It blew a riot. It blew a revolution. It blew from hell, and it blew the pale eggs of the beast.  etc. etc.

What could we do?  No sports, no girls to chase, beer isn't cheap, and I'm bored...

So here's our heroes, stuck in Ohau, camped out for days in the great nor'wester that blew storm force gales in the lead-up to the Great Cadbury Moro Ohau Spectacular. Frustration is brewing - we were renaissance men who liked our women hot, beer cold and steak rare - in our dreams, at least - and there was nothing to do.  Or was there?

Gottit you guys.  The paraglider... we could tether it to a tree or the back of the car or something... maybe tie it on with twelve feet or so of climbing rope... take turns at having a go in the harness, letting it fly kite-style... in this wind it should easily lift someone of the ground - waddya reckon?

Hey, good call... what can possibly go wrong? Hold my beer while I look for something to tie it to. How about that tree?

Nah, too many branches... the rope might snag... what about that corner fence post... that big one in the corner of the airstrip that keeps the sheep out?  Its pretty solid, and its braced by all that number 8 fencing wire running the length of the strip... should do the trick...

So, we tossed a coin. Deano won. He's a lucky tyke. Trust him to get first dibs.  So Deano gets into the paraglider harness, and John and I struggle to get the glider itself out of the bag and laid flat on the ground as the wind raged. No mean feat in that blast. The rope is connected between the corner fencepost and the paraglider harness, with Deano on board.

On the count of three, John and I fling the flapping canopy into the hurricane, the wind catches it and it snaps into life.  It rapidly plucks Deano off the ground, and flies overhead.  At this point several things occur to us: the wind is CONSIDERABLY more forceful than we had really imagined and was putting a huge strain on the glider, harness and rope; also that now that Deano was 3 metres up in the air we had not really considered how we might bring him down (30 square metres of sail in cyclone-force winds make quite a tow); it might not have been as good an idea as it seemed in the pub; and the whole ensemble, instead of flying "behind" the fencepost at an angle to the ground, is in fact nearly vertically over the fencepost... for a few seconds anyway... Then, the earth around us shuddered, a low moan joined the keening wind, 3 startled faces turned earthwards as, gently at first, but with increasing ease, like a Ducati pulling away from a green light, the fencepost pulls free.  Then Twang!Twang!Twang!Twang!Twang!  All the lighter fenceposts are uplifted by the viagra-like force of the gale, acting via the paraglider, a rapidly deteriorating harness and its now concerned human contents, the 11 mm climbing rope (Hey! Thats MY rope!!!) and a half-dozen strings of that famous number 8 fencing wire, until finally a mile of fence splits the Ohau skyline, anchored finally by the distant corner post at one end and a bright orange sail at the other, and OHNOWADDAWEGONNADONOW??????  Deano is hundreds of feet above the Earth, with a paraglider above him and a fence between his knees and the planet he loves. The paraglider harness is not coping with the strain; and if the final fencepost fails, he's going to be blown downwind over those wires with zillions of volts on them that run between them pylons there. Crap!

$#@$^%^&$$%in' GET ME DOWN!!!!!!  We can't hear the words, but the Deano's message is unmistakable. Oh good grief, Deano is trying to get out of the harness and climb down the fence before the harness rips - well, we can't help that but John, we gotta DO something!!!  We gotta tie that last fencepost to something, ‘cos if that goes Deano is dead meat!!!

So the rescue team swings into action, leaps into the car to try charging the low end of fence. The idea is that maybe we can drive 'up' the fence, pulling it down to the ground with the weight of the car.

Well, that startled the sheep in the paddock behind, and in fright they ran towards the low, tethered end of the fence. Sure enough, one of them (Britney Shears) is soon hopelessly tangled in fence wire. As is John's car.

So John and I are now out of ideas. There's still a gale blowing, a mile of fence in the air tied to a paraglider at one end, with a sheep and a car tangled in the other end, and an intrepid adventurer climbing down the fenceposts. Anyone with a trace of decency would have been deeply concerned about Dean and the sheep. Fortunately John and I didn't have any traces of decency so we watched.

Well, fortunately for us in general and Deano in particular, after a while the wind mercifully dropped and allows Deano, arms wrapped around a fencepost, to reach Mother Earth alive. However, Mother Earth organised it that the sheep, still stuck in the fence, got to experience flight in a couple of the more violent gusts, and apparently Britney didn't enjoy her little flights. She fell free from the fence just as Deano decided 'I can jump from here.'

Maybe it was seeing our mate survive, maybe it was the sheep's brief flight, maybe it was the fence still arcing into the sky beneath the paraglider, maybe it was Deano landing on the sheep. Maybe it was the whole situation, but John and I lose ourselves ingreat gales of hysterical laughter. The three of us were rolling around on the ground, holding our guts, tears streaming down our faces, out of control with laughing so hard. It took ages before we regained enough control to beat a retreat to the bar to drown a mighty thirst, swallow a little humble pie and generally hang one on. Boys, eh?

Post script:  On race day, the wind was so strong that only three of us got on the water to start the windsurfing section. Deano was rescued by boat an hour after starting that section, I went backwards so far that it became a major effort to get back to the car, and John managed to get to the bar by a combination of windsurfing and running.  

Deano bought the pattern for the paraglider from Bruce and founded Pacific Paragliders. John is recovering from a scuba diving accident. I grew up and am now a relaxed, responsible trike pilot. Mostly. So there.


Jan 25th

Experimentation to develop understanding of aerodynamic phenomena.

By Joe Hockman

I am going to start this blog by saying something that might ruffle a few feathers.  If you think about where we have come since Francis Rogallo days we can reflect on a rather consistent evolution and many may argue we have come a long way.  I can easily defend an argument that states we are still in the dinosaur era.  One factor at a time experimentation, tweaking and copying another manufacturers design improvements have led us to the slow evolution and state where we are today.  But if I think of where we could be today given the time span, availability of new materials, etc and using more efficient methods to extract fundamental understanding of flex wing phenomena, quantified understanding of what specific design alterations and materials yield, gee we could be light years ahead of where we are right now. Ok so I may have caught your attention. If so read on.  If not then feel free to exit now from this blog and move on.

I keep hearing this oft repeated phrase, through "trial and error" improvements are made.  That my friends is the most often used form of experimentation to discover or understand complex systems because there is very little fundamental understanding on certain attributes or phenomena. But that is the most inefficient method of developing needed understanding and design improvements.  That is why I occasionally toss in the idea of controlled experiments.  But so far no one seems to have picked up on that.

So if you don't mind I will jump on my soap box for a moment.  In my 25+ years working in R&D at DuPont and previously many years in academia I have had the wonderful opportunity of working closely with many brilliant minds.  Chemists, chemical engineers, engineers with many other specialties, etc almost all with Phd degrees and some with 2.  I taught experimental design for more than 2 decades to these highly educated colleagues.  Almost without fail, all believed the only way to develop understanding of a "black box" system is to do 1 factor at a time experimentation.  This has been drilled into their heads through course and lab work in academia at both the undergraduate and graduate level.  Then I teach them statistical methods of experimental design which can be described as objective driven experimentation within an experimental framework that manipulates multiple variables simultaneously yet is able to quantify individual variable effects and variable interaction effects in a mathematical model.  OK off soap box.

I am not suggesting that any wing designer (P&M, AC, Airborne, NW, Evolution, etc) should go out and willy nilly throw together a bunch of experiments that involve changes to many wing variables without giving very serious thought to many implications including safety, feasibility, etc. To the contrary, all aspects should be considered.  With regard to flexwing design and developing quantitative understanding we could initially take some baby steps focusing in on one variable in a way that not only enables development of a mathematical model on how that variable adjusted at various levels impacts any aerodynamic or other performance criteria that can be quantitatively measured, but also develop good estimates of uncertainty about that model. Only through careful and disciplined experimentation can true cause and effect relationships be established.

A very important word on measurement systems. Only through the use of capable measurement systems can one reliably establish true cause and effect relationships.  A capable measurement system must be both accurate and precise, otherwise either biased and/or uncertain results are obtained.  Additionally, a measurement system should be both repeatable and reproducible.  Repeatability implies replicated tests or trials will give consistent results with low error.  Reproducibility relates to different operators (in our case pilots) being able to reproduce the results of other operators. To tie this concept into recent discussion, using thick reference lines and pieces of 2x4s to give approximate guesses on amount of twist is a very crude measurement system.  It is slightly better than a WAG but it does not have the required accuracy or precision to be a useful measurement system. It is also likely not adequately repeatable or reproducible.  For this type of investigation one would want to use the best available yet practical measurement technique. Abid suggested the use of AoA sensors mounted in selected locations.  If such sensors provide accurate and precise measurements and would yield both repeatable and reproducible results then this would be by far the preferred measurement system if it is indeed relatively simple and safe to implement.  Only by using capable measurement systems can we be confident that the results and models developed truly reflect reality.  Most every one has likely heard the term "garbage in garbage out" which is extremely important any time experimentation is conducted. I am not suggesting the crude measurement Paul H used to assess twist AoA was garbage as I already indicated my view is it was better than a WAG.  In a modeling context, you can have the best most sophisticated and beautiful empirical model in the world but if all the Xs and Ys are noisy and based on questionable measurement systems then the model is likely not useful.

The experimental methods I am advocating have proven to be effective, efficient and do accelerate the discovery and developmental cycle times of any program where experimentation is needed to develop true cause and effect relationships.  I am 100% convinced that if we have specific "improvement" goals for flexwings (and for what hangs below the HB for that matter) then a simple statistically designed experimental approach will help achieve such goals quickly. Through intently observing many discussions of a technical nature on this and other forums I am amazed at what is actually "known" or "unknown" about how flexwings work or perform under certain scenarios.  I contend there is a significant in the unknown category that should actually be in the known category. I also believe that when more fundamental understanding is available to designers, instructors and advanced pilots the more we can advance the sport for the benefit of our community and make the participants and equipment safer for all.

Lastly, even though I am not a designer or manufacturer of wings, I would certainly contemplate developing the needed relationship with one (or maybe more than one) to help them pursue their innovation and improvement goals in a very efficient manner.  I have already thought about approaching Kamron at NW on this.

Feel free to add your thoughts related to both experimental methods and potential goals that specific designers or the community could pursue.

Jan 19th

Brain teasers for those that believe down wind turns are

By Joe Hockman

If you believe that downwind turns are "different" from upwind turns, or if you think that a pilot can "feel" the direction of the wind, or that an aircraft tends to "weathervane" to point into the external, meteorological wind, then you might enjoy these brain teasers. Primary context is hang gliding but also applies to flying trikes.

Brain teaser #1:

1.) You are flying indoors.  In an immense, enclosed room.  The walls and floor and ceiling are black. You've launched off a platform near the ceiling and are practicing turns, stalls, stalls from turns, etc.  There is no evidence of any air movement in the room. Does your aircraft behave differently when flying in any particular direction?

2.)  Sunrise. You realize that what you thought were black walls, are clear glass panels. The room is actually the enclosed gondola of an enormous balloon.  As you look down at the newly visible earth, you see that the ground is passing by very swiftly far below. The balloon is in a stiff south wind, and is being blown northward over the land.  Now does your aircraft fly differently in any particular direction, within the closed room? Is it now more dangerous to turn downwind (toward the north) than upwind (toward the south)?  Just because the sun came up and now you can now see the ground? What if you close your eyes? Can you "feel" the wind by the way the aircraft responds when flying in different directions?

3.)  You notice that each of the transparent walls of this enormous, enclosed room has several large windows.  Someone comes and opens all these windows. But no air blows in through them.  Likewise the flags that decorate the outside of the gondola hang limp. Anyone who has ever been in a balloon will recognize this to be true, and the explanation for this is simple: the balloon is moving freely with the airmass without resistance, and so the balloon's velocity is constant, and so acceleration is zero, and so net force also must be zero: the wind cannot be "pushing" on the balloon in any way.  Since the windows are now open the airmass in the room is now the same as the airmass outside. Now does your aircraft fly differently in any particular direction? Is it more dangerous to turn downwind (to the north) than upwind (to the south)?

4.) The balloon is too heavy and needs to shed some weight.  Someone hits a button and all of the walls get jettisoned. The floor, ceiling, and corner pillars are all that is left of the "room".  Again, no air is blowing through the "room". Now is a downwind turn (to the north) somehow "different" than an upwind turn (toward the south)?

5.) You fly out of one of the missing walls and into the clear blue sky.  Now is a downwind turn any "different" than an upwind turn? Is it easier to stall when turning downwind than when turning upwind?

(P.S. Part 3 of brain teaser #1 brings to mind another old puzzle: if a fly takes wing within an enclosed aircraft, do the wings of the aircraft no longer need to support his weight?  What if a window in the cabin is open?  What if the fly is buzzing around the cockpit of an old open-cockpit biplane?  What if the fly flies out of the open window (or out over the side of the open cockpit) and then flies along in formation with the aircraft?  What if he positions himself directly over one of the wings?  At what point as the fly approached the window (if any) did the aircraft stop "feeling" the weight of the fly?)


Brain teaser #2:

We are flying in still air over the San Andreas fault. Suddenly the block on the west side of the fault starts sliding rapidly northward.  (Devastation is breaking out below).  As we fly from across the fault from east to west in the still, uniform, airmass, we suddenly find ourselves flying in a north wind in relation to the land immediately below.  Does this affect the way the aircraft flies?  When we are on the west side of the fault line, are we in more danger of stalling during a "downwind" turn (toward the north) than during an "upwind" turn (toward the south)? 


Brain teaser #3:

Aliens arrive.  After consulting with Art Bell, they decide to use their advanced engineering prowess to abruptly halt the earth's rotation.  You are piloting an airliner at 30,000' over the equator, and the effects of this little disturbance have not yet propagated to your altitude--the layer of the atmosphere surrounding your aircraft is still rotating at a normal rate.  From your perspective, the ground has suddenly started moving toward the west at 1,038 mph.  Relative to the ground, you are now flying in a 1,038 mph west wind.  Does this have any affect on the way that the plane flies?  Are "downwind" turns (toward the east) now different than "upwind" turns (toward the west)?


Brain teaser #4:

You are in still air. Looking straight down, you see a train driving south at 60 mph.  You decide that the train constitutes the "surface" of the earth for the few seconds that you are overflying it. As you overfly the train, you are in a 60mph south wind, in relation to the "surface".  Does this affect the way your aircraft flies?  If you close your eyes and fly in circles over the train, will the "feel" of the aircraft tell you which direction the wind is blowing, i.e. which direction the train is travelling?  Is there a greater danger of stalling when you are flying "downwind" (flying toward the north), or when you are performing a "downwind" turn (flying toward the north), than when you are flying "upwind" (flying toward the south), or when you are performing an "upwind" turn (turning toward the south)?

(Extra credit for hang glider pilots: do you have to "flare" your glider differently when landing on top of the southbound train with the nose of your glider pointing south, than when you land on top of the southbound train with your nose pointing north?  Obviously answer is "yes"--landing with a 60mph tailwind would be disastrous--but why?  Does it have to do with the behavior of your glider in relation to the air?  Or does it only relate to the fact that you are trying to minimize your glider's groundspeed at the instant that your feet touch the ground?  If you were practicing flares at high altitude, aiming for a given profile in the airspeed and sink rate with no concern for ground track and groundspeed, could you tell when you were over the train by the way the glider felt when it flared?)


Brain teaser #5:

This one also applies to those who believe that an aircraft flies differently in "lift" (rising air) than in "sink" (descending air).

Let's ignore the earth's surface, and take the sun as our reference point. In relation to the sun, the earth's atmosphere (as well as the rest of the earth) is moving at 66,674 mph.  If we are near the equator, the direction of motion of the atmosphere (as well as the rest of the earth) is (roughly speaking) toward the west at noon, toward the east at midnight, straight up at sunrise, and straight down at sunset. So we have an east wind at noon, a west wind at midnight, an updraft at sunrise, and a downdraft at sunset.  (Don't confuse yourself by factoring in the earth's rotation around its axis, which is a mere 1,038 mph at the equator).  Bearing this incredible wind velocity in mind, does an aircraft fly differently when turning to the west at noon, then when turning to the west at midnight? Does an aircraft fly differently in the sunrise updraft than in the sunset downdraft?

Oct 10th

when are 'they gonna'.

By monty stone

when are 'they' gonna quit putting power cords on portable tools, why not fit each tool with a twist-lock socket, that way you'd only need ONE power cord, it'd alleviate any possible copper shortage, and we could then 'stuff' more tools in our drawers. when are 'they' gonna quit telling us to be sure to smear never-seize on our rotax exhaust joints when 'they' know that the first flame front will burn it out, immediately. when sales adds proclaim 'was $29!, now reduced to $9. it wasn't selling at the 'old' price, maybe over-priced at the 'new' price. do 'they' think we're the gullible stupidos 'they' think we are? maybe we are! why do we ask (usually strangers) "how are you" ?, when we REALLY don't give a rat's arse how 'they' are, and if they try to tell us how they are we interupt , quickly, and make a mental note NEVER to be sociable to anyone ever again! aviators refer to their 'control area ' as a 'cockpit', this seems to defy the present day 'let's be gender-specific world' so what should a female pilot's control area be called? .... when meeting 'furriners' for the first time i always get them to teach me their best swear-words. being able to swear in many different lingos has landed me into, and out of, several 'sticky' situations!  we have, on occasion, discussed what it is that we fly, resulting in 'they' refering to them (fed speak) as 'flexible-winged aircraft of the weight-shift variety', when we all know they'r really TRIKES! when are 'THEY' gonna get it right!..............frazier ballzoff

Sep 8th

Triple Tree (Who's going?)

By Charles Moore

This weekend is the annual Triple Tree fly-in located near Woodruff, S.C.  Last year we only had one trike attend. Doug Boyle with his Tanarg. This year looks to have a few more trikes flying in. As of now (1:15pm 9/8/16) Doug should have already arrived, Tony Ford and Fred Snyder are coming, John Williams from VA in his Revo (hope I got his name right), a gentleman named Quinn with a Delta Jet (I think), Todd Halver is flying down Friday afternoon in his new Tanarg, Chris from GA is supposed to be bring an Aeros Ant and I plan to leave at first light to fly down in my XT. Did I miss anyone?