Motorfloater News...       
by Mike Sandlin ................................ Last edit: May 22, 2017

 May 22, 2017.....I landed and took off from the grass today, since my rolling tests in the field seemed to confirm that it was smooth enough. It was suitable and produced results similar to runway operations. I was watching the ground as it came close, hoping to avoid any obvious craters, and this was a little destabilizing as compared to looking at the far end of the runway. Out in the open field, there is no good target to steer to, so my steering was a little confused. Sometimes I just waited for the ground roll to stabilize and then went to full power, and I was out of there like a rocket. I didn't note any great advantage to the open grass, but it makes the approach more casual when you are not trying to set down on a narrow runway.



May 20, 2017.....This morning I took the two pictures above to try to show difference between the full power climbing attitude (on the right) and the engine idle descent attitude on the left. When you cut power suddenly you go from one to the other, a major flight path change. This may be greater now that I have the vortex generator fins.

I got tired of sniveling about the slipperiness of the paved runway and just landed in the grass beside it, including a long level scoot to the end of the field. It's rougher than it looks, the ground squirrel holes are there, but it was tolerable.

I adjusted the idle stop on the two stroke engine so I can go to full back throttle in flight without stalling out the engine. The idle is high when first started, but I'll just live with it.

Does the engine at idle really push the plane in flight, or does the slow moving prop create drag like a windmilling propeller and hold the plane back? I'm going to get together with Floyd Fronius with his data logging hang glider instrument, and this will be one of the questions we'll try to answer.


May 18, 2017.....Things got a little chaotic this morning. I wanted to show the low angle of the wingtip relative to the horizon during a continuous descent, but I got bumped around while holding the camera and didn't aim seriously. There were bumps even though most of the nearby lake was glassy smooth.

I did more nose drops in a turn and again noticed a tendency to roll level without deliberate correction. I think the yaw/roll coupling, which has been built in to enhance the rudder only steering, is reacting to the airflow from sideways below and raising the low wing, as would be expected.

My headphones are now quite effective in blocking engine noise, and this may be preventing me from getting all the way down to idle during the landing. I really want to turn off the thrust when I'm coming down to the runway, and I am not really doing it. I'll try to watch my tachometer more and really get low idle settings for final approach in the future, so I won't skim way down the runway. (My throttle stop is set way low and if I just go back to that I risk an engine stoppage. I may re-set it.).

The crosswind landing on the paved runway was a little bit of a wheel dance. The pavement is not my favorite, it's always a little slippery, but  I got lazy and failed to get the nose down promptly when the wheels touched down, leaving me vulnerable to wing lift effects. Good flying discipline without ailerons requires getting the nose low right after the wheels are down, and when I delay I lose pitch authority because the plane is slowing down, so it just gets worse.

May 12, 2017......Link to Youtube Video, bamboo and plastic biplane based on the PIG
Black plastic, bamboo, up on a wingtip... just like my early hang gliding!  (but with better crash protection). Low and slow glider flying was once a regular activity, we called it "ground skimming", a kind of sustainable Flugtag on the hang glider training hill. It was great fun and allowed me to do some of my first original designs at little risk compared to high flight. The PIG video is another example of ground skimming, showing how novice pilots could fly low and slow with good crash protection.

....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.   



May 11, 2017.....On a murky morning I'm in my motorfloater, casually cruising out to the test area to do some maneuvers.
I did 360 degree turns, roll reversals, and slow flight, just the usual stuff.
Only at the lowest engine speeds can I get a nose up balk and nose drop. I tried this in a moderate turn and the plane rolled level as the nose dropped, a new result, kind of a self correcting stalling turn. I'll be doing more low speed maneuvers
, still evaluating low speed hazards. 

May 10, 2017....Another Bea Bloop Flying Report by Doug Wimer,  (edited by me). This comes after the report previously posted [see farther below].

...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.   


Link to Doug's .MOV video for download (68Mb)


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.


The BeaBloop, (much like a  Bloop 2) Flying Report by Doug Wimer,  (edited by me) flying season has been somewhat frustrating so far- only two loops around the pattern and 3 broken landing gear to show for it. I put her mostly together Thursday April 20 by myself on a breezy day.  Took about 8 hours. On the 21st I finished some odds and ends and it was still blowing 5 to 15.  Several pilots expressed some hopes that I would be able to fly it by Saturday for the annual Wings and Wheels show at the airport and perhaps win the short field landing contest as they had tired of giving the prize each year to a Stol pilot from Oregon. Against my better judgement I decided to do some test hops.  That went ok for a few runs but the right wing wanted to dip all the time so I had to use a lot of left rudder.  The last hop was a bit too high and I really had to use all the left rudder to get the right wing up so I came down sideways, leading with the right wheel and folded the side strut poking it through the lower surface of the wing.  I also bent the bottom of the forward landing struts.  (Those didn't break probably because I always do a spiral wrap of fiberglass at the bend in the struts as well as make a wing shaped cross brace wrapped in fiberglass between the two struts where you previously had used the cord brace)  Some golfers helped me do the walk of shame back to my tie down and I went to the nearest lumber yard for a 2x4 to make her a crutch so I could take the gear off and bring it home. I had enough pieces from previous gear to slap another set of struts together quickly but had to wait till Monday the 24th due to rain and wind.  I put the new gear on and added a cable from the outside of the gear to the wing at the outboard front interplane strut on both sides to resist inward force when landing less than perfectly level as I tend to do.  I also made some adjustments to the incidence cables to try to raise the right wing. This time I flew the pattern which went OK but still the right wing sinks.  Again had to crab the landing and landed mostly on the right wheel.  The bungee gear are soft enough but they cause the wheel to hang down further which gives the ground more leverage to bend my struts.  That, and the pavement doesn't allow for skidding like dry dirt would.  So once again it bent the ends of my struts (see photo) but at least the cable kept the side strut from folding, although it also bent a little.  I attempted to straighten this by pulling the new cable tight on the right side (bad move, I discovered yesterday).  I also broke the nose wheel tube but that whole arrangement needed to go as it was jut too flimsy for the taxi ing I have to do at my airport.  I revamped this and tried to make another run later that day but as I pulled out onto the runway the motor suddenly sounded different so I shut down and checked it out.  The airbox had become loose where the boot goes in allowing it to rotate and had gotten sucked into the prop when I revved it to pull onto the runway.  I ordered a new one (carbon fiber this time, very light so less vibratory wear on the boot) from Dell at Paraglider Mall.  He puts Shoe Goo on the boot before inserting it into the box.  He says that checking to be sure the box won't rotate should be part of the preflight check each time.  I worked the next week and din't get to go play with the plane till this past Wednesday.  While I was putting that on and instlling my newly arrived Comelli chute one of the guys from the pilots association pulled up and congratulated me.  Turns out Bea won the prize for the the rarest aircraft at Wings and Wheels!  I got a trophy and a lifetime supply of aviation fuel.  (Technically the fuel was just a $50 card but as she doesn't use much gas and I'm not a very good pilot...). 
All of Wednesday was spent trying to get the engine to idle right.  By yesterday morning I finally solved a combination of fuel line and throttle cable issues and did the pattern again.  This time the right wing was even worse.  This was the first flight after  attempting to straighten the slightly bent right gear by tightening the newly installed outer gear cable.  That must pull the outer leading edge of the wing down and cause more washout.   Made for an exciting sideways flight and an even more sideways landing. This bent the struts a little bit more but still able to taxi back to the tie down.  I went home and cobbled together another set  of gear (I'm getting pretty fast at that) and hope to try again this morning after some cable adjustments. This time I extended the dowel inside all the way up to the bend which should make it harder to bend.
Can't really concentrate on whether the VGs are making any difference yet as most of my attention has been focused on the distracting right wing problem.  I think the bungee gear is helpful but hard to say when landing sideways on one wheel.  I do like the brakes.  I agree a disc brake would be more effective but my wheels don't have a place on the hub to attach them and I couldn't arrange for enough clearance with the sliding mechanism between the forks and struts and I would have to put the caliper down at the end of the forks which would be complicated.
I now use the wing crutch to rest the tail on during tie down so hopefully she is better prepared to deal with wind storms.  Thanks again for providing the award winning design.  I'll send a photo of the trophy once I get it.  My friends Mike and Randy claim it exists but don't know who has it- I'm more interested in that than the gas card to be honest.



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.

On the left, bloop static balance allows the nose to sit on the ground, just barely.           On the right, I relax and enjoy the moment, comfortably seated in the biplane shade.

Ups and Downs of Bloop 2 Flying, by Glenn F., (edited by me)

I had a hard landing at Nichols field late this afternoon (April 10, '17) due to an engine out.
Apparently I didn't tighten the locking bolts enough on the redrive when I adjusted it the other day. It took a while to loosen up though. The flight was almost an hour long and pretty uneventful though it was windy aloft. At one point while I was over the BMX track heading West I throttled back and the Bloop just stood still in the air with no forward movement to speak of. I had to give it a lot of throttle to make it move towards Nichols. On the last downwind leg the engine was making a weird sound and I thought to myself "I never heard the engine make that noise before"! Then just before I turned base the engine lost complete power so I pulled off the throttle and called a mayday. Luckily I was able to glide to the field, from 700 ft. altitude. I thought the engine had seized or died while I was in the air, but after I landed I could hear the engine idling and I had to shut off the mag switch. There was smoke coming off the engine redrive it was so hot, and the belt looked like it had partly melted. the pulleys were trashed from grinding against each other. I was glad that I had stayed close to the airfield while I was flying.
Fuel was dripping on my back, my seat belt held me in my seat and I was able to exit uninjured (airplane was upside down). Several people from skydive helped me right the airplane and I was able to push it back to my hangar. There is very little damage to the airframe, mostly the collapsed left gear tore the lower wing cover fabric. The engine pulleys and the belt are trashed, but the engine and prop are o.k.
The rest of the airframe resisted getting damaged pretty well. glided farther than I expected too. When the engine went out I didn't think I would make it to the airfield. I think my glide angle was too shallow though, because when I needed to flare I didn't have enough speed and the bloop stalled which caused the hard landing. The bicycle wheels did not collapse, just the two struts attached to the aft wing spar bent in half and punched through the lower wing fabric causing a rip. Bloop 2 will be down for repairs again, just when I finally got it to running good, but it shouldn't take too long to fix if I can find the time to do it.
Glenn Frehafer

I think this was just about Glenn's first long flight in the newly renovated Bloop 2, too bad about the damage, I hope it's just a matter of getting new parts. All three existing Bloops have wiped out their landing gear in their short flying careers. I want my landing gear struts to be strong enough so that upon impact the wheels are bent (they can be sacrificial because they are easy to replace) but the main wing airframe is not damaged. Maybe we are still headed towards tundra tires.

 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.

If the aircraft red line (maximum safe airspeed) is calculated based on load relief due to stalling, then a lower stall speed will call for a reduced red line. If I consider the Bloop to have a load factor of 6 (also expressed as 6 gs) and it stalls at 20 mph., then using the stall load limiting method, I calculate a red line of 20 times the square root of 6, which is 49 mph. (I use 45 mph. as my maximum speed, I have probably not actually gone faster than 40 mph.). If I reduce my stall speed to 17 mph., my new red line is 17 times the square root of 6, 42 mph. (Notice the magnified effect, a 3 mph. reduction in stall speed resulted in a 7 mph. reduction in red line.) This means that if you lower your stall speed then you have to stay slower to maintain a given structural safety margin, so I'm not going to fly real fast with vortex generators on my wings. This is the same idea as having a reduced maximum air speed limit because your flaps are down.


April 10, 2017...It's a turbowing! Now my whole Bloop 4 wing, top and bottom, has these little stick on plastic vortex generator fins. I just followed the directions on where to place them, no innovations here.

The outboard fin spacing is finer than inboard, helping the wing tend to stall at the root first instead of the tip. This is desirable, it gives you a straight ahead stall instead of a wing tipping stall. It's generally thought to be faster and easier to recover from a straight ahead stall than a turning one.

The vortex generators worked pretty much as advertised. With the new generators installed I flew two test hops and then a pattern. The Bloop seems able to fly slower, and control is good at all speeds. I was concerned that I might float down the runway into the sunset, but actually I stopped in about the same distance as before. There was no "parachuting" mode, the flying was smooth right down to the runway.

I'll fly to altitude and do more testing soon.

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.

April 5, 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.

Bloops in a row, before the morning club meeting. They're tied down to a cable so they don't get blown away like tumbleweeds when the turboprops start up.

I made several landings with light wind from various directions. The wind on my first landing was 90 degrees from the left at about 3 miles per hour, a rare opportunity to do a two axis landing in a pure crosswind. I touched down as slow as possible, my course down the runway but my heading into the wind a little. That was good, but I was a a little late getting the nose down, the plane was tracking to the left and trying to get off the runway and perhaps the left wing lifted a bit, no smooth landing this time! I got the nose down, steered back down the runway, and was able to add power and take off again as I had intended. If I had not gotten the nose down in time I would have just had to settle for rolling out into the field and stopping, nose slightly into the wind.

Be sure to understand that the tendency while rolling in a crosswind is to be turned into the wind (not downwind) by the tracking of the tires and possibly the weather vaning of the tail. The upwind wing may start to lift if your nose is high, and that should be answered by lowering the nose to reduce the wing lift and to let the plane settle back down on its wheels. The intuitive reaction to a wing lifting on the ground is to apply rudder toward the high wing (this is what you might do in flight to level the wing)
but on the ground this is wrong, it will turn you off your intended course. The proper two axis procedure for ground rolling is to keep steering to where you want to go and lower the nose to level the wing.

The beach tires I used to fly with were better for crosswind landings and takeoffs because they did not have the stable tracking of the BMX tires I am using now. Stable tracking is usually good for runway rolling, it makes for easy steering, but when you land headed off course it works against you. The tundra type tires that are durable enough for field flying will be heavy, but they may still be an option worth trying.

March 23, 2017....This view is from a few days ago.

This flight was sunny but a little chilly, about the same as I would feel in a paramotor, but a little quieter because I'm a few feet out in front of the engine.

Recent experiments (pressing on my headphone in flight) suggest that with firm fitting headgear I could reduce engine noise and improve radio reception.

The thirty year old rock climbing helmet that I fly with has side areas cut out to accommodate my noise reducing head set, but the helmet still interferes and the earphones are not seated as close on my head as they should be. I plan to try out a cloth helmet (
like the one in a photo on this page farther down) that should allow a closer earphone fit.

March 14, 2017...
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.

The Bloop 4 motorfloater flying video:

Bloop 4 Slow Flying #2

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.

Why taxi when you can just take a nice, quiet walk?

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.

October 27, 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.

Floyd 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!

July 13, 2016......Here's Bloop 3 warming up for yesterday's flight.

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).

November 8, 2015...At the local motocross track the Red Max has landed for a visit. He's flying a red Minimax with one white wing.

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.

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