2017....Even when I fly for fun on a warm morning,
there's usually some kind of goal. Today's fun is a
turn around over a high peak in the back country. I
see places where I could land and even takeoff
again, but being stuck there in a damaged plane
would be inconvenient, so I just look. The elevator
control stick is unattended for best picture taking,
so this is where I test the trim setting.
I'm testing a simplified tail skid, one of the very rare design changes that might make the plane both lighter and simpler. Not very much lighter or simpler, but at least contrary to the usual trend.
| June 24,
2017....This photo was taken just after I landed on
the grass next to the runway, seen behind the plane.
I had just done a touch and go there, also, but that
did not involve full weight on the wheels. Using the
open field seemed a little rough at first, but now
bumping around on the grass seems normal.
Two paramotors are flying but they are not in this immediate area. My appraisal of their operation was that it was admirably mobile (carried from home in a car or truck) but no quicker or easier to setup than mine (my setup is uncover, untie, roll to the flight line).
I did an extended test hop of the drogue chute with good results. The chute did not seem to effect control in flight or on the ground. I would like to use the drogue as an airbrake to shorten my landing distance. It's kept in the black zipper bag you can see at the lower left corner of the pilot's seat. All I have to do to use it is take it out of the bag and drop it back over the left forward flying wire. If I needed to turn it off I could reach back, grab the rim of the canopy, and pull it forward to collapse the chute.
The nose skid/wheel is totally deflated, I haven't bothered to repair the tube and pump it up because it is rarely used and seems to work about as well without the air pressure. It's just a 12" bicycle wheel with deliberate frame interference so it acts as ground brake instead of rolling freely.
The tail skid shoes on Bloop 2 and Bloop 4 have both worn thin and will soon need replacement. This is just a thick skid pad secured with pop rivets. Operating from the paved runway will quickly wear out the tail skid.
hills are brown again,
the warm season is returning, so I'm back to flying
with bare legs and a tee shirt. I maintain high
standards of elbow room and ventilation.
I'm taking off and landing on grass instead of a runway now, just to make the point that minimal facilities can be fun. The field at my club airport was scraped and plowed this year, so the thorns are gone, but if they return I might go back onto the bare clay runway just so I can keep air in my tires.
Here's the Bloop 2 being carted around. I had a chance to blast down the runway and hop it a few times, it still flies wonderfully.
It has a floating disk airspeed indicator and an altimeter, but I forgot to look. I was mainly evaluating thrust and looking at engine speed to help troubleshoot some engine issues.
I helped Glen F. re-tension his wing cables recently on Bloop 2, they were getting sloppy and hanging slack. This probably doesn't influence the shape of the wing in the air, since all of the adjustable cables on the wing are the ones that are unloaded in normal flight. One Bloop added outboard rear flying wire adjustment (the multi-line lacing) in order to deal with a chronic turning problem, and this allowed re-tuning the plane to the pilot's satisfaction. My reaction to the same issue was to put a trim tab on the rudder, and that worked, but the turn in my plane was so slight I had been ignoring it and didn't really need to do anything.
The Bloop 2 now has an off the shelf emergency parachute system (unlike mine which has a home made cover bag). This is a paraglider system, the cover bag attaches with snap hooks and has a small storage bag with a transparent top. This is an ordinary hand deployed setup, a bag inside a bag. The outer cover (as seen in the photo) is a diaper flap system that falls open when the red handle is pulled, so the chute is then held by the pilot's hand in its deployment bag and can be thrown or dropped.
I like that stylish and comfortable swept back control stick, made from an offset walking cane sold at Walmart. Contrary to this, Bloop 4 uses a straight control stick just to demonstrate simplicity.
Re-scheduled to Sunday, August 13, 2017!
John Nichols Field, San Diego, CA
Class and Ultralight airplanes, paramotors, and a flag jump!
will be flying and on display until 2 pm. Drive in, or get
permission & info. to fly in.
are expecting to fly in daylight since the eclipse is still a
Bloop 4 will be there and flying, and maybe Bloop 2! See the
SDUA website for details.
| June 13,
2017....This is the propeller drive belt that I
replaced on Bloop 4, turned inside out to show the
pulley contacting side. It had been used for about
56 hours of operation over two years. The new belt
has continuous ribs, not broken and segmented like
The new belt seems to be working a lot better (good starts, good operation, low belt tension). Maybe cleaning the pulleys made part of the difference. Engine maintenance is not really my subject, but it's something I have to do.
"Last Sunday we had quite a squall with hail and 70 mph winds. My friend Mark texted me a photo of Bea swimming in the wind. By the time I got there he was gone and she was tied back down. The left wings both have bent rear spars and the horizontal stabilizer and rudder are toast as are the landing gear. I took her apart today. I suppose at some point I'll fix her but I already had a fairly full set of summer plans... It's just a little too rough for such a light fragile craft here."
June 12, 2017...There's my drogue chute out with the engine running.
The airflow into the propeller is keeping the drogue inflated.
I hopped this setup down the runway and didn't find anything bad, but the conditions were puffs from all directions and not good for testing.
I replaced the propeller reduction belt on my two stroke engine and cleaned the pulleys, so now it starts better but is mysterious in other ways. The idle setting was now real high and pushed me way down the grassway when I landed in calm conditions, like a drogue chute in reverse!
| June 8,
2017.....I attached my old hang glider drogue chute
onto the Bloop 4 at the back of the throttle
quadrant. I'm going to experiment with it as an
airbrake, to see if I can approach landings steeper
and use less runway rolling to a stop. Many planes
have flaps and wheel brakes for this, but I have
been considering the in-flight drogue chute as a
This morning I made several test hops with the drogue out it to see what the effect would be, and it seemed promising. The drogue inflated and positioned itself as planned. You might expect the chute to pull the plane to the left, but I don't think I felt that. Instead, I was drifting off the runway to the right, and had to counteract that with left rudder. I think the right drift was due just to the cross wind, and the drogue chute seemed to have little effect on flight control. At full power during the lift off I did not feel the drogue at all. I'll continue the hop testing as conditions allow.
Ultimately the plan is to deploy the drogue chute in the landing pattern and leave it out until the plane stops. This is unusual, since most aircraft that use drogues do so only when their wheels are on the ground, but I want the air brake effects for the entire landing, as long as there are no control issues.
My chute is the same size and design as the American made hang glider drogues (smaller than the European). I made it from a drug store beach umbrella, and have landed with it many times in my airchairs and hang gliders.
2017...On a Saturday morning in front of the club
house, the Bloop is tied down to a cable (I carry
tie down ropes in the airplane storage bag). To the
left a paramotor is done for the day and is being
lashed to a car bumper. The turboprop on the right
will start up soon and carry sky divers. The wind is
still calm, as shown by the limp flag.
Earlier I had done some hops on the paved runway, which as usual allowed me to feel every little jolt. Today, twice, I felt the tail skid coming down on the runway during the touchdown, perhaps the first time I have felt in on a landing. This may be a result of the recently installed vortex generators allowing the Bloop to reach a higher angle of attack as it settles down onto the wheels, a nose high touchdown for sure! As you can see in the photo, with the skid down the nose is up about sixteen degrees. Touching down with the tail skid causes no problems I know of unless someone is laying cables across the runway.
May 29, 2017...Today my landings and takeoffs were made from the grass at the side of the runway. The field is soft and forgiving, and should be fine until I get bumped by rolling through a ground squirrel crater.
This is part of the idea of a kind of flying that uses minimal facilities for personal aviation. We could be flying simple motorfloaters out of mostly unimproved fields to make local flights. This is partly a matter of design. Most light airplanes are restricted to paved runways by their small wheels, fast speeds, and their need for extensive repairs if they do a major ground loop.
May 24, 2017.....Floyd Fronius is in the high seat warming up for an instrumented flight. We are both continuing to search for good ways to get up into the seat, it's a challenge for our limited flexabilities. After his first flight with the vortex generator fins, Floyd commented that the low speed control seemed good. We flew, now how do we get the data out of the instrument (Flytec 6015)? We're working on it.
Just after touchdown my landings have been a little unstable lately, and I suspect it's due to a confluence of the vortex generator effects and my bad piloting habits. I think I'm landing slower and more nose up than before (good), and when the wheels are first on the ground I tend to keep steering (also good) but I don't do anything in pitch, I just sit there (nose high) when I should be rotating the nose down immediately to get stable in ground roll. I'll try to do better soon.
I've been flying with a naked head and styrofoam earplugs and must say that it's actually more enjoyable and informal [than wearing a helmet]. The past few days....I have flown later in the day with some very active thermal activity. What a thrill! Not exactly relaxing but it certainly takes my mind off everything else. Yesterday at about 300 ft AGL while getting routinely tossed between areas of lift and sink with only moderate stress I suddenly had my left wing lifted dramatically. I would estimate the bottom wing was at least 45 degrees below horizontal despite full left rudder. I put the stick full forward and kept left rudder pedal all the way down. It actually recovered fairly quick. Not sure how much elevation I lost but once I had control back I had changed course about 100 degrees right. I just continued turning right and headed back to the runway as I'd had enough excitement for one day. Did get a few more bumps on the way back but nothing that took more than a second or two to respond to rudder input. Today I made more cable adjustments on the right wing as it still had been requiring more left rudder than right and it did help. Lots of good free lift today without any moments of panic. The landings are improving but I still felt somewhat dissatisfied with them. The bungee system, BMX wheels, and the dual cable bracing are holding up much better than the bearings on the beach cart wheels and I don't miss replacing the side strut every time I land. I do get tired of people pointing out that my struts are askew every time I pull up to the tie down (turning left off the runway and again onto the taxiway always leans them to one side) but after I get out, lift the wing, and use my foot to scoot it back over they say "oh, that's better." I think tightening the cables any more would just put undue stress on the spar and they don't sway enough in the turning process to cause any real problems. Loving the brakes for ground handling.
As I landed today my friend Randy was showing up to goof around in his Jabaroo so I went with him. Flew all over locally and did three landings in the process. He has over 300 hours in that and also has a Cesena 172 and a 337 push me pull me so has plenty of experience. I would rate our landings pretty similar in terms of alignment on approach, the roll stability during descent, and smoothness of touchdown and it actually mede me feel a lot better about my landings. Part of it may be that I haven't been flying in ideal conditions for a while now.
....Another Bea Bloop (similar to Bloop 2) Flying Report by Doug Wimer in Idaho, (edited by me). This comes after the reports previously posted [see farther below].
Tuesday evening I took another flight with the epoxy/fiberglass strut reinforcement still tacky on the replacement struts. They still aren't painted yellow....Took a really nice long flight over the hills and had an absolute blast. The controls felt so crisp and tight [a rudder issue caused slop but was resolved]. The landing was imperceptible between air and pavement. I'm stuck in work jail till next Wednesday but really looking forward to getting back up there. Considering adding a second or larger gas tank as I get antsy seeing that fuel level get down to the bottom part of the tank. Now that she is flying good I'll hopefully work on getting better video and posting it on youtube making the linking process easier.
...Good call on making the flying lines adjustable. I did that before flying today and it did help a bit. Flew a pattern but still required a lot of left rudder. Made further adjustments to drop the rear of right wing and raise the rear of left wing with perhaps a little more improvement and flew for about an hour. Will attempt to email a clip of video taken from my phone mounted on a selfie stick on the nose tube [see link below]. I use it for an app that has an altimeter, variometer, and groundspeed. The vibration makes video crappy though. Perhaps I can borrow my son's GoPro and get better video from a helmet later on. Had a blast getting lift from the hills while feeling safe having limitless landing options on the valley floor. Did bust a side strut landing and I really don't know why as I make many worse landings than that- probably cracked from a prior landing. Again enlisted the help of willing golfers to remove the evidence from the runway and spent the next few hours getting rid of the side struts and replacing those with an inboard cable. An old retired crop duster happened by and suggested I twist the tail feathers a bit so I did that before flying one last pattern (would have flown longer but was running low on fuel and didn't bring extra two stroke oil) and it felt pretty comfortable this time. Had a pretty rough landing but the elastic gear and the cable set up held up really well this time. I may finally have the answer for my lack of finesse. The brakes are working great for ground handling. Just give it brakes and gas and it will go wherever the rudder tells it to.
...You were correct in assuming the picture was of the Comelli chute. It does a good job at its main purpose of repelling intrusive thoughts mid flight. It is not, as Randy guessed, a device for launching clay pigeons for target practice during flight.
The Bea Bloop in Boise has its new elastic suspension landing gear.
See below for Doug Wimer's report on early season flying in Idaho.
Doug's new elastic suspension landing gear is shown on the right (notice the added bracing cable that was mentioned in the report). The shoe brake and brake cable are shown, also.
As you can tell from the fairings, the direction of travel is to the left.
In the left photo I think this is the compressed air rocket chute Comelli) mounted on the nose tube. The elastic wheel suspension, wheel brake, and vortex generating fins can all be seen.
|Here in southern
California ya gotta have wheels. These wheels on the
Bloop have been good to me, they are custom bicycle
BMX wheels. The 20 inch diameter is good for
rolling over squirrel holes. The landing gear struts are rigid but I hope to get several inches of elastic impact absorption from the wheels before I go down on the rims. One draw back is that if the air pressure is low, the tires can easily slide over and come off their rims, requiring tire iron work to set them back on. I try to keep the inflation firm.
I don't use wheel brakes, but I think bicycle disk brakes could easily be installed onto these conventional hubs if desired.
I looked for these wide rims on the internet recently, and they don't seem to be available (in stock) right now, they come and go.
On the paved runway this morning my idle was a little high, and the plane kept rolling forward as I was trying to get in it. I guess the tail skid friction was reduced by the pavement and couldn't hold the plane in place. It seems friction is greater on the dirt, maybe even more on the grass? I'll try a grass landing, sometime.
April 25, 2017.....Moving out to the runway, I push on the tailskid, rolling along.
Below left, the static balance of the Bloop allows sitting on the nose, convenient for raising or lowering the tail. A breeze will sometimes bring the tail down, bouncing on the tailskid.
Below right, I relax in my front row seat to watch airport activity.
Today I flew three patterns in mild wind conditions. With the vortex generator fins I seem to be lifting off and touching down at lower airspeed than before (no fins). I seem to notice more instability from the wheels in the cross wind than before. It may be that the lower airspeed has reduced the authority of my yaw stability and control, or perhaps the effect of the crosswind is amplified by the lower airspeed (a left crosswind becomes more left the slower you go.) Now, when I land in a crosswind, my nose is way up in the air, and I have to do substantial rotation at low speed to get the nose down into a stable rolling attitude. The two axis procedure may have to emphasized: don't linger, set the nose low as soon as the tires are on the dirt.
April 11, 2017...Here are my fun fins in action! The little clear plastic fins (white in the photo) spaced out along my leading edge shell are my newly installed vortex generators, and I'm up in the air checking them out. All is well at altitude, the turns are slow and tight.
At idle power with the stick full back the nose will still dip after considerable hesitation, too bad that didn't go away, but it's happening at a very low airspeed.
Takeoff is slow, short, and smooth.
My landing approaches have been slower, so I'm spending more time in the landing pattern, maybe I need to fly closer inside to get down and clear the space for other traffic. My transition from groundskim to rolling is smoother now, I can settle down with the stick full back instead of falling through in the parachute mode.
Overall I like the generator effects, I can't say I've found any drawbacks yet.
Ready for flight testing the turbowing Bloop.
If I were buying all new equipment, I'd get an integrated crash helmet with this headgear, for enhanced flight safety, but this is the setup of the moment.
2017....Floyd Fronius is flying with some of his
soaring instruments clamped onto the nose tube. I
flew with them too and made a few observations.
My nose level cruise speed was about 33 miles per hour, faster than expected, due to a high throttle setting. I flew at a comfortable height which turned out to be about 1500 feet above ground.
Updated Bloop 4 drawings will soon be posted, to cover the new smaller vertical stabilizer, simplified tail skid attachment, and to show just the current set of wheels. The updated drawings will have new dates (isn't that what updated means?) and the newest zip files will have the highest numbers, as always.
Glenn went ahead with his first high flight in his Bloop, this may be the landing. The winds were odd but the runway was soft (therefore forgiving), and the flight went pretty much as intended.
Bloop 4 is off like a rocket back on Christmas day. This looks like a high angle of attack, maybe I'm pulling up out of the wind gradient or maybe I'm focused on those trees ahead. It doesn't seem to matter whether you fly in San Diego or New York state, there will still be trees around the airport!
Photo thanks to Susan Scherer who was shooting from a nearby hilltop.
Here I am flying at a more or less normal pitch attitude (close to having the nose level), in a slight left turn.
The paved runway can be seen running visually from my knee to my chin. I usually land there in the lower right to upper left direction when I use the pavement, but normally I'm on the dirt strip, the edge between the light and dark fields leading up to my nose. I have to approach that strip over the scrubby hill to the right, which is actually pretty steep. My major goal there is to come down close to the hill and use as much of the runway as I can. Without a headwind, about a third of my runway is unusable because of the need to maintain clearance from the hillside. This is why I say if I was to add more controls, it wouldn't be ailerons, it would be airbrakes, to allow steeper approaches.
2016....Floyd Fronius is off in the Bloop 4, notice
the full fuel tank and the airspeed probe mounted on
the nose tube. He was flying with an instrument with
flight recording abilities, so there will be numbers
for those who crave them! The nose high angle is
worth noting, we just fly at the angles that feel
the best. Experiments at higher altitudes show that
at full throttle, with the stick full back, the
plane just waddles on.
The reported maximum climb rate was 400 fpm.(feet per minute), but that seemed to be with the help of air going up, the more normal climb rate was 200 fpm. I'll add on to this when I get hold of the data.
Floyd flew some roll reversals and reported that the controls are effective but the feeling is weird. I felt the same thing until I got used to it. The initial yawing is something you don't get with ailerons.
|Floyd flew out to a
local mountain top, looking south toward Mexico at
the bottom of the canyon. The outskirts of Tijuana
can be seen off to the right, this is not a clean
air day down there.
I haven't been in this area, I want some place to land when the engine quits. You could land uphill in the brush, but it would probably wipe off the landing gear.
prepares for data gathering as the engine warms up
(notice the spinning propeller, my paramotor power
pack does not have the increasingly popular
automatic clutch that would disconnect the prop at
low engine speeds).
Not much warm up was needed, I had made an earlier flight into the back country to check out the new Indian reservation casino (no activity, parking lots are still dirt).
It's wonderful to be able to take action shots with people in them instead of the usual static machinery photos I have to use for my news page.
I took some takeoff shots with Floyd leaving the vicinity, walked away, turned back, and he was still there, still leaving. This is a really slow airplane!
2016......Here's Bloop 3 warming up for
I'm not putting air in the main tires so they are getting softer on every flight. The low inflation seems to work fine. I'm not going to measure the pressure because I'm told that the sealant slime in the tire can contaminate a pressure gage.
The fittings rubbing on the top of the nose tire (for ground braking) can be seen, also the three bungee cords running back from the nose (two for the rudder pedals and one to the bottom of the elevator control stick for nose up trim).
8, 2015...At the local motocross track the Red Max has
landed for a visit. He's flying a red Minimax with one
Room for landing is the critical factor in a tight situation like this. Maybe a good set of wheel brakes, a small motor, and a de-clutching propeller would be the right setup for this spot.