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Postby Chappy » Sat Nov 19, 2005 9:36 pm


That's ironic. Last year I traveled TO NC from VA to look at a series III that turned out to be basically corroded scrap. Very disappointing, that's for sure.


BTW, I learned to fly in a very nice 172 that belonged to a buddy's Dad. I solo'd my series 1 with no problems after 12 hours TT in that nice, docile Cessna. It was a lot more challanging years later transitioning into my Champ than it was into my Lazair.
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Postby tommyb » Fri Nov 25, 2005 10:53 pm

chappy where abouts in va are u? im not to far by flight to most of va. maybe i could buzz up one weekend.
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Postby Chappy » Fri Nov 25, 2005 11:35 pm


I'm 5 miles West, as the crow flies, from Dulles Airport's tower (Loudoun County, Northern VA). I fly out of Winchester, but Leesburg is closer. The flight restrictions imposed after 9/11 make getting close to DC a serious pain. Contact me directly if you want to come by.

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Postby Wings » Sun Feb 05, 2006 9:16 am

Pilot's Log
Date: 051385.7
Aircraft: Series I Lazair

Last log entry...

Cloudy, blustery weather all day. Itching to fly but can't.
4pm: Winds mostly calm now, hazy, visibility 2 miles or less.
Took off, headed west into any incoming weather.
At 800 ft abruptly encountered severe turbulence.
Did 180 and headed back to field at near VNE.
Field is boxed in on 3 sides by trees, so had to fly past field, do 180, and approach.
Field is on top of a slight hill with tree line about 400 ft from approach end.
Flew out of turbulence prior to making 180 turn to approach field, thought I had it made.
As soon as I completed the turn to approach the field, encountered MAJOR turbulence.
The trees below me were what you would see in a hurricane.
Full power. Head banging against the A-frame tubes. Ailerons practically useless.
Wind blast in the face. Groundspeed zero. Then nothing, fell like a rock, down below
the treeline at the top of the hill. Recovered enough airspeed to fly again.
Decided to fly straight into those large oak trees ahead (no other choice).
Wind gust lifted me above the treeline, so fast it made my cheeks droop.
Maybe I'll make it now.
Just crossing the last row of trees at the top of the hill, 50 feet to spare.
Downdraft. Right wing is yanked up, stick full right and we're still going over.
The acceleration to the left is tremendous.
Left wingtip clips a treetop and the aircraft rolls nearly inverted.
Last thing I saw was a tree viewed from the top, just limbs sticking out, no trunk.
Sounds of someone firing a gun as fast as they can, right next to my ear.
Silence. Dizzy. Left leg numb. Left arm numb. Lips numb. Thunder.
I'm still in the air, inverted mostly, held by one major limb about 15 feet from the ground.
Thinking why can't I feel my lips. No blood there, so what's going on?
Looking around wondering how I'm going to get down with my left side not working.
At least I'm alive which was more than I expected. Must be my lucky unlucky day.
Smell of gasoline. There it is, pouring straight straight from the tank into my battery pack.
I'm bailing out. The thing about those car seat belts is that under tension you can't
press the release button, at least not with one hand. Finally managed to get my left
arm working enough to help, and the belt let go. Head/neck hit something on the way
out and nearly tore my head off. Slid across a wing, then free fall. About half way to
the ground caught a limb right across my ribs and it spun me like a prop.
The impact with the ground was nothing compared to what I'd been through already.
I laid there for maybe 5 minutes, taking inventory of what worked and what didn't.
I could walk, sortof. Leg wasn't broken, neither was the arm. But my lips,
that bothered me. Still couldn't feel anything there. If you've ever been smacked
across the mouth with a stick you'll know why. It gradually came around.
So did people, lots of people. In trucks & cars. Some saw it, some heard it.
And they all came to help, or to see some hamburger. They helped me get
home, which wasn't far. And the wife says when I stumble in, "How was your flight?"

6 months later I started putting together my Series II. ... to be continued.
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Postby Wings » Mon Feb 06, 2006 6:56 am

In my previous post where I said Lazair Series I and then later, Series II, I'm not sure if I got that right or not. It's been a long time. My "Series I" was the original suspended-stick short-axle Lazair with the Rotax engines. The Series II I'm talking about is the wide-track Lazair. Is this right?

Pilot's Log
Date: Mid-80's.
Aircraft: Lazair Series II (I think)

Dealer tells me about a single blade high efficiency prop that Lazair has just come out with, and I order a pair.
They arrive, I bolt em on and do some ground testing. It's not as smooth as the double blade props but with a little sanding they balance out fairly well. Definately a LOT more thrust. I'm going to be happy.
Time to fly.
Full power and away we go. Hey, that WAS acceleration I felt wasn't it?
Getting light, time to "rotate"... then BAM!
My eyes won't stay focused because the vibration is so severe.
The left engine is way out there, stretching the rubber mounts like rubber bands.
Throttle back, cut engines, settle back to mother earth.
Half of the left prop is missing and cannot be found anywhere.
We did find a 2-inch gash in the ground at the spot where it happened, but not the prop.
Just a bad prop, right? Got replacements for the bad one and the remaining good one, just in case.
Repeat ground test, all is well.
Repeat test flight, all is well there too. I can CLIMB on one engine!
Having forgotten my bad experience now, we go for days with no bad luck.
Another day, another flight. The other guys at the field are amazed at the altitude I can get by the end of the runway.
Which is where I am today, near the end of the runway maybe at 100 feet alt, when BA-BAM!
BOTH engines look like those paint shakers at Lowes hardware. I quickly cut em both.
With only about 100 feet of runway ahead of me, and about 100 feet below me, I have a decision to make.
At the end of the runway is a very thick briar patch and beyond that the back yards of people's houses.
The one I may touch down in doesn't look good at all. Swing set and all kinds of junk in my way.
Stick forward...vertical dive. Really, like straight down. Pull up at the last instant.
The briar patch was like hooking a cable on a carrier. I stopped very quickly.
No wear & tear on the plane but enough briars got through to make an outline on my face where my sunglasses were.
As luck would have it, when one prop separated the missile hit the other engine and broke its prop too.
People from all over started arriving. They say they heard the explosion and by the time they looked they saw an aircraft disappear beyond the trees heading straight down. Must be a nasty crash there.
Fooled 'em again.

Back to the stacked props. No more single-blades for me.

... to be continued. (Next entry - stuck ailerons)
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Postby Wings » Mon Feb 06, 2006 8:15 am

Pilot's Log
Date: Mid 80's
Aircraft: Series I (Narrow track, Rotax engines)

With a couple of hundred flying hours in this thing I'm starting to push it.
Today's stunt is to see how tight of a pattern I can fly, doing touch-n-goes.
Takeoff, bank hard left while watching that left wing tip almost drag the ground.
Fly the shortest downwind leg on record, then hard over and dive to the ground.
Another hard bank to the left while pulling up, level off just over the runway.
Centering the stick after that high G pullout, and it locks at center!
I'm right over the runway, wings about level, so I cut the engines and land, like, right now.
And now the ailerons work OK.
Got all the king's horses & all the king's men together to talk about this weirdness.
No one can figure it out. I know it happened, but WHY?
Quite a while later, I'm doing my 30-second touch-n-goes again.
Ailerons locked, same way as before. The "landing" this time was at a pucker-factor of 9.
A serious examination is in order here.
And there, some scratches on the aileron gap covers. How'd that get there?
Turns out that high Gs on the ailerons caused them to bow slightly, so that the aileron ribs (where they are riveted to the aileron tube) would catch on the gap cover and block its movement.
Once I released the pressure on the stick (which I wasn't about to do at the time) it would uncatch, explaining why they worked once on the ground.

So the lesson is, in a high G banking turn, if your ailerons jam move the stick in the opposite way just briefly.
Now, at a time when you're 20 feet off the ground, banked 30 degrees and you gotta level off, you think my brain is going to let me move the stick the WRONG way, even for an instant?

I think not, and that is why I gave up on my 30-second touch-n-goes.

... to be continued (Next: My ONLY mid-air restart after an engine out, and when I needed it the most)
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Postby Wings » Mon Feb 06, 2006 8:41 am

Pilot's Log
Date: Mid 80's
Aircraft: Series I (Narrow track, Rotax engines)

Flying low over a nearby ski lake. I'm enjoying this really low stuff, as usual.
Fly close to a ski boat with a couple of bikini passengers. I'm enjoying the view.
Motion for the captain to come closer, and we match speeds.
I scooted down so I could lower my left hand as low as I could and motioned for one of the girls to c'mere.
She stands on the seat, arm outstretched, and we actually held hands for a second.
Flirting air-to-water... I can hardly stand myself.
Time to go.
Full power. Climb out of that bowl. Then, the familiar sound of a fouled plug, and #2 engine winds down to a stop.
I'm in deep hockey here. I can swim, but I know a Lazair can't. And these things are rather expensive.
I start pulling on that cord as fast as I can, knowing that it's a lost cause. I head for shallow water.
I believe I pulled on it so fast that I could almost swear I was getting some thrust just from my pulling.
Then at about 20 feet or so, just when I was about to give up and cut the remaining engine and go for a swim, it fired once.
Another pull and it roared to life.

The lesson here, aside from the obvious one, is to NEVER treat your Rotax engines with a product named "Slick-50".
It's supposed to make em run cooler, but after many hours in those treated engines and many more in other untreated engines, I'd say it's a bad move. Might be something else but I'm blaming it on that treatment.
(Could it be that Slick-50 causes carbon buildup to break off at a size more likely to fit the plug gap? That's what I almost always found in those fouled plugs... a small pice of carbon lodged in the plug gap.)

... to be continued. Next: Oxygen mask & thermal underwear required.
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Postby Wings » Mon Feb 06, 2006 9:14 am

Pilot's Log
Date: Mid 80's
Aircraft: Series I (Narrow track, Rotax engines)

Never saw a spec for these things telling us what the service ceiling is, so it's time to find out.

Tank: full
Uniform of the day: Flightsuit
Preflight: More thorough than usual
Cameras: Check
Oxygen: Oxygen?

It's not a cold day, but chilly enough that at 30-40 mph it will be.
And I know it'll be colder where I'm going, so I don my color-chosen-by-wife blue flight suit.
Take off, and for the next 37 minutes kept those Rotax engines at full tilt.
I have a certified "real" altimeter, so I'm pretty confident that when it said 10,100 feet, it was pretty darn close.
It still wasn't at its limit, but I certainly was. Even with that flight suit I was shivering pretty badly.
That's the coldest I think I've ever been while flying, and the air was really really thin. Inhaling quickly and you could hardly feel the air rush by your teeth.
I think the rate of climb up there had fallen to something like 50 fpm. I know it wasn't much but it was still climbing.
A 727 passed below me and about a half mile away. (Greensboro, NC airport is close by.) Made me wonder if there was enough metal in this thing to show up on radar, and am I moving fast enough for them to think I'm not a bird. Probably not.
I cut off both engines and went into a steep spiral. I wanted warm air in a hurry.
I think that was my first time with both engines shut down, as I recall being very concerned at all those creaky sounds the plane was making.
Took 17 minutes to get down, but not all of that was in the steep spiral.

No ultralight I know of in this area has been higher than that, in a Lazair or anything else.

Here's a picture (if I do this right).

... to be continued. Next: I-40 makes a great runway
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Postby Wings » Mon Feb 06, 2006 10:03 am

Pilot's Log
Date: Mid 80's
Aircraft: Series I (Narrow track, Rotax engines)

Nice evening. Warm, no wind.
A potentially hazardous evening, cause when my plane goes exactly where I point it I sometimes tend to get a little bold.
But not this time. Just an enjoyable peaceful flight.
Heading home now, and I notice #2 engine not feeling right.
It runs better at reduced throttle. At cruise setting it's rough.
Now its running rough at reduced power.
Finally at idle it's still running rough, and then dies.
I'm at around 400 feet. And with so many fields in this area, not a suitable one in sight that I'm sure I can make.
Well, there's that really nice looking slab of asphalt down there but it's cluttered with big fast-moving objects.
The median looks a lot better than anything else in sight, so I make a turn and follow the interstate.
With nothing else to do to pass the time, I pull and pull on the starter rope. No go.
Didn't think so.
Time to pick a good spot and land this thing. Looking back over my shoulder, what do I see?
Two rows of cars, about 10 deep in each lane, slowed to my speed.
They're gonna let me merge!
I set it down just before an exit ramp and roll off the highway into the ramp.
Some stop to ask if I need help. That's nice. Anyone with a trailer?
I pick up the Lazair by its tail and get it off the ramp. As it rolls off the asphalt it rocks, and one wing comes down on a reflector post.
Man, what a hole. Through both lower & upper panels.
What else can go wrong?
Well, here it comes. Highway patrol, lights flashing, siren blazing.
Hey, no ticket, not even a warning (for what I wouldn't know).
Called my wife to bring my full toolkit and some duct tape.
Engine problem was the mixture screw had worked itself out. Easy enough to fix.
Wing patched, engines run... now, how to get home?
HP officer was nice enough to allow me to use the interstate for my airport. He went up the road and blocked traffic while I did my getaway.
He went like, TWO miles up the road and stopped traffic! I coulda even used just the exit ramp I guess.
Anyway, got home, replaced the wing panels, and lived to fly another day.

Lesson learned: Most drivers will give you all the rope you need if they think they'll see something exciting.

... to be continued. Next: Losing elevator control. Pucker-factor off scale.
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Postby Wings » Mon Feb 06, 2006 10:43 am

Pilot's Log
Date: Mid 80's
Aircraft: Series II (Wide track, Rotax engines)

First flight after the first test flight after build.
Flying to the UL field 5 miles from home.
(I keep my Lazair in a hangar I built near a field behind my house.)
Chewed the fat with some guys at the field, showing off my freshly built flying machine.
This is my second Lazair, after the first got eaten up by a thunderstorm.
Time to go home. Weather is OK but cloudy and a lil windy.
About half way, a dark cloud just materializes overhead and it gets very turbulent.
It rains on me, but it's cool to see the props kinda suck the raindrops into the blades and mostly away from my face.
I've been in turbulence worse than this, but still it's uncomfortable, especially in a brand new plane.
Dark cloud finally gets behind me and the turbulence subsides. But...
But, something is wrong. The stick isn't where it's supposed to be.
It's back too far. I should be going up, but with it back I'm flying level.
Let's think about this. WHY is this happening? WHAT can I do about it?
No answer. My pucker-factor meter was pegged off-scale.
It gets worse as time goes by. Can I make it home or should I ditch this thing in the nearest field?
If I had found a good one I woulda put it down, but I got to my field before I did so that's where I'm "landing". Wondering if the newspaper will call this a landing or a crash.
Trouble is, with so little elevator control you can't slow down or you go down.
With brakes already locked, I touched down at around 30 or more.
It was an easy touchdown, oh lucky me. It didn't bounce.
It nosed over on the nose wheel and we slid to a stop just inches from my hangar.
I remember being a very busy person trying to work three things at touchdown with only 2 hands (throttle, brakes, control stick).

The trouble turned out to be my memory, which has been trying to kill me ever since I had one.
Back on build day #48 I decided to remove the aluminum rivet that holds the plug in the elevator torque tube, and replace it with a stainless steel rivet.
Didn't have one the right size, so I postponed putting in the new one until I did.
And I forgot about it, and never saw it missing when I did my pre-preflight.
The plug had worked itself almost out of the tube.

Lesson: Obvious, huh?

...to be continued. Next: How can BOTH engines quit?
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