Monday, March 5, 2012

Moab, Utah

June 2012
Flying from Moab Airport, Utah.

Moab Airfield, canyons nearby.
Moab town, nestled in this wild country.
That's the remains of a uranium processing plant in foreground,
in the process of being hauled away for safer keeping.

Canyonlands National Park

Canyons and more canyons.

That's Mineral Canyon airstrip down by the river.

On approach.
What a perfect fly-in camping strip, with the river right alongside.

After take-off follow the valley to gain altitude.

How's that for a road!
Probably just a walking track.
But what an adventure to build it!

Rafters camped in a canyon.

Oil drilling in the midst.

Strange rock formations

And more strange formations.


At Moab I had two instances of fouled spark plugs......  First I've ever had in about 1200 hrs of flying with these 447 two-stokes.  In each case it was a small chip of carbon that had lodged across the points.  When I removed the heads, there was way too much hard, flaky carbon in there.....  I had been convinced by an experienced flier in New Mexico, that Blue Max brand oil was the one to use, but now I wasn't satisfied.  So I ordered a case of Pennzoil, which has a pretty good record of satisfaction with Rotax users.  Luckily both of those plug fouling instances showed up on start-up just before take-off, so no safety issue, but it sure left an impression in my mind when flying over the canyons.....

Engine Out!

The Part 103 category limits fuel to only 5 gallons, which is about 1 hr 40 min endurance for this engine at cruise speed.  That really limits range because you must also allow for the possibility of an unexpected 20 mph headwind on the way home.  That's just what happened to me at Moab, using up my reserve, then a high speed jet was on approach to be in circuit at the same time as I was going to be there, so I held off until he was down.  By then I was running on fumes, and on downwind it ran dry and suddenly quit.....  Fortunately I was high and close in, as I always do in an ultralight, so it was no problem to turn onto the runway and do a dead-stick landing, a really perfect greaser right at an intersection so I could roll out and clear the runway for another incoming aircraft....  The airport manager heard my engine-out call, and saw the very steep descending turn onto the runway, and assumed a spin, so came rushing over, expecting the worst, only to find all OK, and me just pushing the aircraft onto the grass...

That limited range was going to be an ongoing problem for the sort of exploring that I wanted to do.  Turned out that a standard Walmart jerry can fitted perfectly behind the seat, right at the CofG.  I also installed an electric transfer pump into the original tank, which then gave me an endurance of over three hours, just what I needed.  I try to obey regulations whenever possible, but when regulations are contrary to safety, I will do what I know to be best for safety.....

On another landing at Moab, the aircraft darted to the left as soon as the mains touched down, no way to hold it.  Turned out I had a completely flat tire!  Must have picked up a thorn somewhere.  Those ultralight tires are pretty thin at best, and these had worn even thinner very quickly flying off asphalt.  It turned there was an alignment reason for that, as will be told later...  I had very nearly landed at that remote Mineral Canyon airstrip on this flight, but lucky I didn't this time.  Would have swerved into the bushes along that narrow strip, and been difficult to arrange repairs out there......  

So two embarrassing incidents at Moab airfield, so unfortunately it confirms to the minds of GA flyers that ultralights are treacherous toys.....  Very embarrassing.....

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