October 14th, 2003, Grants Pass, Oregon, USA = Land of the free, home of the brave:
I had to fly today because the weather was so nice and probably the last really nice day this season, work can wait, winter, rain, and cold are almost here, so off I went. I got to my dirt airstrip by 2PM and was ready to fly by 2:30. Just before starting my gas turbine engine I heard a jet overhead. A business jet. It was just to the east at maybe 4000 feet heading right for the airport I was heading for! Wow, I thought to myself, maybe if I get there soon enough I can see it and listen to it's engines up close?
My jet engine started fairly well though the batteries are not taking a charge like they used to and it's noticable. Slight winds from the west from 0 to 15mph. Take off from tee #9 heading south. I held the breaks and slowly spooled up the turbine. At 32psi turbine inlet pressure the breaks would not hold so I let them off and pressed to full throttle at 38psi. Take off was good and I had sufficient altitude to land in a neighboring field before reaching the end of my runway where the Applegate river is with 100 to 200 foot high trees lining both banks.
This time I took a more direct path to the airport cutting the distance from over 20 miles to about 15 miles. All along the way I was comfortable seeing places to land. Gaining more confidence in myself, the engine, and the aircraft I am relaxing a bit more and noticing more options and possible places to land which gives me more confidence, which lets me relax more, which lets me do and notice more, and enjoy more.
There was not traffic as I entered the pattern at 1650 feet MSL (Mean Sea Level) which is about 500 feet AGL (Above Ground Level). I announced all my intentions on the radio just like a real pilot would, "Grants Pass area traffic this is TurboProp Ultralight turning final for runway 30 Grants Pass." and landed and taxied over to the relatively new Jet-A refuling area.
Woha, there's the Lear! Very beautiful! Looks new. It's parked
in front of the Jet-A fuel pump! Rats.
This is a first. Two jet aircraft wanting to fill
up with Jet-A at the same time at Josephine County Airport?
I taxied up close yet out of the way near the fence and shut her down.
I jumped out and walked fast to the FBO's pilot's lounge to
use the men's room. Just inside the door I jokeingly said to
the guy behind the counter who was looking out the window at
my crazy aircraft, "Is this the first time you've had a line
for Jet-A". He laughfed and thought a bit and said: "Yes, it is!".
I think they added the Jet-A tank and pump just a year or two
ago and don't get a lot of business yet.
Someone commented: "Look the ultralight is drawing the crowd
away from the Lear - what a sight, does anyone have a camera?"
I just happened to bring my camera this trip, first time I thought
to bring it, so I ran out and got it.
I'm guessing is was a class field trip for a local group of school kids. I overheard the man pointing out that the larger jet can carry 8 passengers and this one here can carry only one. They seemed interested and looked at it for quite a long time.
(If you'd like your names here - let me know! ).
I was having a good time "hanger flying" in the lounge
I forgot to go refuel my turboprop.
One of the young men working there asked me if I
wanted him to fill it up with Jet-A for me?
Wow. Look at me, talking to real Jet aircraft
pilots and not having to pump my own fuel too!
Notice the Jet-A costs less than normal AVgas, and in the photo on the right you can just make out the number is 2.6 gallons, which filled up my 5 gallon tank. So it means I could almost fly to the airport and back on one tank, but it would be way to close for me and if there was any head wind I'd be in big trouble. I think a good rule is to always fill it up every chance you get. I remember last year in Vic Falls a 6 passenger plane ran out of gas and crashed. It was not in the news, I learned it from the flight controller at Vic Falls airport after work having a beer. He was pretty down it being his first loss aircraft.
AND, you know that chain link fence that seperates the normal people/spectators from the aircraft that has a sign saying something like "authorized personell only". This time I'm on the other side.
I wanted to run my engine for Joel because I had told him about it several times over the years but he had never seen or heard it run. The Lear pilots watched too and agreed it was very cool. So I asked if they would start up their engines for me, but they couldn't, but they did let me sit in the cockpit and ask a thousand questions about everything in it... man, what a day.
The owners of the Lear arrived and it was getting
late and they said they wanted to see me take off,
so I went ahead and took off. I wasn't sure they
really wanted to watch me fly off or just wanted me
out of the way. But when I flew by climbing out
it did kind of look like maybe they were watching.
LOOK!!! It almost looks like that GE TV commercial about what if they could have been there at Kitty Hawk helping.... hey GE, how about helping me here in Murphy? I want to be a FAN JET test pilot! I need a fan! I can't find a fan. Help!
I took the long way back via the Rouge river. Sun low in the west, fields green, sky deep blue, air smooth as silk, the sound of my engine like a wosh of wind, and can see in all directions for a 100 miles. Arriving home I circled my field 3 or 4 times slowly losing altitude and making tighter circles, thinking, studing the way the aircraft flies, getting the feel, always thinking of what I will do when the engine quits, but also enjoying it very much, and finally landed just past the 9th tee heading south at 5:50pm. The sun was already behind the mountian. It was very fun to have been flying in the direct sunlight 500 feet above a few minutes before. 21 minutes later at 6:10PM I had the plane packed into the trailer and ready to go.
Ultralights with gas turbine engines are fun and sound cool!
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