Monday, July 14, 2008

Fly-In Report: Kankakee Ultralight 2008

I attended the Kankakee Ultralight Fly-In this past weekend. It was held at The Ultralight Place which is on the west side of the KIKK airport. This location is home to a bunch of PPC’s but during this fly-in many other types of ultralights descend on the field including us PPGers. Our group attending has been getting larger each year.

This year the weather didn’t do us any favors. We are already limited by wind and thermals in the mid day but the wind never really let up all weekend. There were also a few storms throughout the weekend. I arrived on Thursday ahead of some storms. I scoped out a spot for the weekend and setup my tent. I visited with other pilots while waiting for the storms to pass and hoping for a slice of time good enough to fly before sundown. Well, the storms and wind didn’t accommodate me that night. Two other pilots managed some air time just before a storm came through.

Friday morning looked like it might be a blowout but the wind eventually cooperated and mellowed. The sun was coming up but was behind clouds so the thermals remained at bay for longer than usual. I got all my equipment out to the field and setup to do a forward launch. Another pilot was setup next to me and launched first. He ended up slipping on his run and falling to the ground. His prop, netting, frame and later discovered his wing suffered damage. Since he was in front of me and off to my right I figured I would try to maneuver around him on my launch. The combination of this maneuvering and my anxiousness to get in the air didn’t bode well for me. My wing went to the right as I was trying to maneuver to the left. It pulled me right, I went to my knees and managed to only tap the ground with the frame. This was enough to ding the prop where a previous repair had been made. That prop needed repair and I left my spare prop at home. No flying for me that morning.

Mike offered me his motor later but I haven’t flown other motors before so wasn’t comfortable strapping his on. I have a high hook in motor and his is a low hook in motor. That is a big difference for me but the gesture was appreciated.

Since the weather forecast wasn’t looking very good and I only live an hour away I decided to pack up. I headed back home and watched the weather. I started the repairs on my prop and it was nice spending Friday evening in my own bed. Storms rolled through Friday evening and it rained most of the morning on Saturday. The afternoon cleared up and looked good so I headed back to Kankakee with my spare prop ready to go. A lot more people were there since Saturday is the main day of the fly-in. I missed the pig roast for lunch but there were left overs for dinner. They have a wonderful chef at this event who cooks breakfast, lunch, and dinner during the fly-in.

There were many terms used to describe the Saturday evening air; salty, soupy, a lot of texture, character, active. It was active with a reported 4 on the bump scale early on. Even Jeff G. who flys in anything said he didn’t like the air. After kitting a while I decided to go for a flight right at sunset. It was an easy forward launch and the sky definitely had character. Down low it was turbulent but not rough. It was more of a smooth knocking around versus hard lift and sink. Up high were strong winds causing us to be para-parked. The sunset provided a nice view to look at while going nowhere. Turning to the east I had to be ahead of the wing mentally so as not to get blown over the main runway. I ended up with about a 10 minute flight which was enough for me in those conditions.

Everyone thought Sunday morning would be perfect. No storms and forecast light winds. I woke up at 5 am to the sound of leaves rustling already. That didn’t sound good. I looked at the wind sock and it was dancing around in the early morning wind. Some pilots launched and there were reports that the conditions were worse that the previous evening. Only one pilot stayed up for 20 minutes. The rest were down within about 10 minutes. I elected to stay on the ground and take pictures and video of the fun. The remainder of the morning was spent visiting, packing up, and talking about upcoming fly-in plans.

Even though the weather didn’t cooperate this weekend it was still a good time visiting with people that have similar interests. Below are links to photos I took at the event.

Kankakee Photos

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