Saturday, March 3, 2012

Rock House, Oregon

25 June 2012
Flying from Rock House strip.
In the desert in SE Oregon.

Rock House is the homestead of Larry and Karen Cottrell.
Larry flies a FireStar with an HKS engine, and they host an annual fly-in of like-minded flyers.
They're the best hosts ever, and it's a great gathering in the desert.

The gathering of the flock at Rock House

Next day a front came through.
No flying today, just trying to stay tied to the ground.....

The Steens Mtns (9,733ft) nearby still have snow in July.

Flying in this little aircraft at over 10,000ft
Still going well.

It's great to be able to fly  the snow and still be able to glide to flat ground nearby.
Alvord Dry Lake Bed (4,500ft) in the background.

On the Alvord Lake Bed
A popular flying spot for ultralights.
Just after the fly-in this wild fire threatened.

Larry clearing a fire break with his homemade 'bulldozer'.

All alone after everyone else went home.
Ended up spending 2 1/2 weeks here.  
First week for the Fly-In, then working on the aircraft.

I never was happy with the C-box and big three blade prop that came on the aircraft.  The ratio was a whopping 3.47:1, and it had a free-wheeling clutch.  That clutch was really handy for easy starting, and the engine ran really smooth at idle.  But that big windmilling prop was tremendous drag on descent.  If the engine quit, the prop would continue to free-wheel and act like a giant air brake.  Which it did when the engine quit at Moab.  Glide ratio isn't great for the FireFly at the best of times, but then it must have been about 4:1.....  Nose almost straight down to be able to hold 55mph glide speed.....  That wouldn't be a real good situation if the engine quit over hostile terrain....  The three-blade prop also meant that I had to remove it each time to get the aircraft into the trailer.  The usual arrangement on these aircraft is a 2.47:1 B-box driving a two-blade prop.  I located a B-box for sale at Brigham City Utah, so drove back there and got it. 

It came off a wrecked Kolb FireStar, and it was really sobering to meet Kurt and see the damage that the crash had done to him and the aircraft.  He had three broken vertebrae in his neck, a badly smashed up leg, and concussion such that two months later he still couldn't stand up for more than 15 minutes.....  The cockpit was completely mangled, after the aircraft cartwheeled when one wingtip hit the ground, possibly due to a whirlwind.....  That image stuck in my mind for the rest of the trip......

Then I ordered a two-blade Kool prop, because I've had such good results with 3-blade Kool props on Rotax 912s engines.  Had to wait for it for much longer than forecast (Fedex delivers even way out there in the desert), and then found it to be unsuitable for this application.....  The blades were too wide and powerful for the 447 at this ratio, so had to be pitched far too fine to be efficient.  But couldn't delay any longer, so put the original gearbox and prop back on and hit the road again, after wasting more valuable time....

There's no trees out here for corner posts
so they do it this way.

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