Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Stanley, Idaho

20 July 2012
Flying from Stanley, Idaho.

Great views of the Sawtooth Range from here, but SD card in camera failed.....

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Craters of the Moon Lava Flow, Idaho

Jul 21, 2012
Flying from Carey, Idaho.

This enormous lava flow is in southern Idaho
One edge of the lava flow.
The houses give a perspective of size.



Tourist access to the lava flow.








Cinder cones.
Evidence of wild volcanic activity.









No, that's not a whale embedded in there.
  
I'd heard there are lots of rattlesnakes around this strip, so I landed there.
I wanted to find a rattlesnake and hear that rattle.....
I heard that the sound really makes your hair stand on end!
That's the only snake that I know of that warns you to go away.
Hunted for hours, but I couldn't find one that day....
A strange sign that I found near that remote strip.


 Whenever I'm flying in remote places I always carry a SPOT satellite signalling device.


Carey Airfield, can't be any closer to town than that.
It even has a courtesy car.



Monday, February 27, 2012

Yellowstone Park

Jul 23, 2012
Flying from West Yellowstone Airfield, Montana.

This is the way in to the main volcanic caldera at Yellowstone.


And this is the crowded highway this time of year, so no chance to land there.

But the scene inside is worth the risk!
Steam everywhere.






Old Faithful sure is the center of attention!
Didn't fly any lower because we're required to maintain 2000ft above the ground over 
National Parks....
And way too many witnesses with cameras down there to get away with it....



It's best to visit the geysers early in the morning when the dew point is such that there's lots of dramatic steam.
This is the same Prismatic Pool a couple of hours later, and the steam is all gone.

That's a bear down there beside the road, getting his breakfast.
Sure, you're not allowed feed the bears, but he knows that many still will....

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Headwaters of the Missouri River

 Jul 25, 2012
Flying from Three Forks, Montana.

Three Forks, Montana, is the very beginning of the Missouri River, which flows into the mighty Mississippi and then to the sea.

So the motto here could be, "...Please flush, New Orleans needs the water...."

I'd like to fly that whole river some day....  I realize there are dozens of dams across it now, so it's not really a river any longer, but still a mighty feature of the country.

Early morning flight in perfect weather, with Lee (Trike) and Gary (Challenger) to Townsend airfield, and rode the airfield courtesy car into town for an excellent breakfast.  We then followed the Missouri to it's beginnings.


This is where the the Madison, Jefferson and Gallatin rivers all join to become the Missouri. 
 They join up here and go out through that gap in the distance, 
and that's the start of the Missouri.


The Lewis and Clarke expedition passed through here and camped for awhile before venturing up into the difficult mountain passes.
Three Forks is one of my favorite towns.  A very quiet farming town,  but with facilities to cater for that local population.  Sure is good to get away from cities and freeways.  This is just next to the foothills of the Rockies, close enough to the mountains for good adventures, but not too close.  I need a wide horizon, and don't like being surrounded by mountains and pine tress everywhere.  It's nice to have a mountain range for a feature on the distant horizon, but I don't like being hemmed in by them...


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The 'Buffalo Jump' near the Madison River.
Hundreds of buffalo were chased over this cliff each year, and butchered at the bottom, 
and the meat dried and stored away to feed the tribes for the winter.
Runners chased the animals from the plain and funnelled them out onto this trap.
Now the plain is all wheat fields.....

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Wild looking storms gather over the nearby mountains,
 but then mostly go right over Three Forks and dump elsewhere.

Three Forks is one of my favorite towns.  A very quiet farming town,  but with facilities to cater for that local population.  Sure is good to get away from cities and freeways.  This is just next to the foothills of the Rockies, close enough to the mountains for good adventures, but not too close.  I need a wide horizon, and don't like being surrounded by mountains and pine tress everywhere.  It's nice to have a mountain range for a feature on the distant horizon, but I don't like being hemmed in by them...

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New Landing Gear

Ever since getting this aircraft, I'd had 'adventures' each time on landing.  It would dart sideways just when I thought it was steady, and sometimes needed right rudder, and sometimes left, not matching cross-wind conditions, very confusing and embarrassing when it darted off a runway a couple of times......  Even after Stacy straightened the landing gear leg, it was still unpredictable....   When we stripped off the black paint before straightening that leg, we found deep scars from having been clamped in a big vise....  Showing a history of some brutal straightening attempt sometime in the past....  I don't like to see sharp scars like those on a part that is continually being flexed, so ordered new main gear legs from Kolb and picked them up at West Yellowstone.  At Three Forks I met Gary (Challenger flyer) who invited me to fit those new legs in his hangar.  We slung the FireFly from the rafters and replaced those old legs.  On sitting it on it's wheels again, we noticed that the wheels ended up with a very positive camber (top of wheel outside the bottom).  Looked good, and maybe was meant to be this way to allow for flexing of the legs under load.  But then we got looking at the brakes.  They were mounted so that the caliper was under the axle, putting the hydraulic hose very exposed to shrubbery that might be on the ground, and the hose was drum tight that way.  So we turned the brake assembly and axle 180 degrees so that the caliber was now on top.  This made a lot more sense, putting the hose in a protected position and giving suitable slack so it wasn't in tension.  But now the wheels showed considerable negative camber!  So the stub axles themselves were bent!  And bent before I started flying it, because they were bend down rather than up.  So it would appear that someone had a heavy enough landing to bend them and the legs, then turned over the axles to compensate for the bent legs.  Took those axles and had them straightened, and finally with everything lined up, the strange gyrations on went away.  Now I understood - with those bent axles, the alignment changed from when the tail was on the ground to when the tail raised.  This explained why it was so unpredictable.....  And when landing, why it suddenly wanted to dart left when the tail came down....  I would have thought I could have seen that mis-alignment by eye, but didn't.

A Three Forks I also replaced the tail wheel with a much better one.  The original was so narrow and hard that we called it a 'pizza cutter'....  It would dig in and plow through soft dirt, and skip around on hard asphalt,  giving unpredictable ground handling.  The new tail wheel was costly, and overkill in structure for this light aircraft, but it greatly improved ground handling.  Now I could handle any cross-wind with ease, and landings became predictable and comfortable.

So it finally became a nice aircraft to land, after half the trip was over.......



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Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Berkeley Pit, Butte, Montana

Aug 1, 2012
Flying from Butte Airport, Montana.



'The Lady of the Mountain' overlooking the Berkeley Pit minesite at Butte.


The mine was abandoned in 1982, and the pit is since filling with water,
now 900 ft deep, and almost full....... what then???
It's reacted with mine waste to become sulphuric acid 
and carries many toxic heavy metals including arsenic.......
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berkeley_Pit

In 1995 a flock of 342 migrating snow geese landed on the water, and all died....
Later, scientists discovered micro organisms living in this toxic water.
Those microbes not only survive in that environment, but they also have an amazing ability to capture and precipitate those heavy metals,
so they're being developed further to try to clean up such messes.
But the clincher to the story is 
the only other place in the world where those organisms have been found
is in the poop of snow geese......
So, if the geese hadn't landed there???

To hear the whole fascinating story, listen to:
Click on 'Stream' and wait while they jabber some promo, then the rest is fascinating!

When I first heard that broadcast in Australia, I knew I had to see this pit.....

As you can see from other flights I've done in Australia, I have an interest in mine workings.
When you approach mine workings on the ground, the mess seems overwhelming.
But when viewed from the air, the destruction and mess is seen to be only a localized blot on the vast area surrounding.
So I don't have a problem with the physical damage confined to the site,
but I do have a problem when I see the pollution that can spread from a mine site.
Tasmanian copper mine
Uranium mine tailings


Sure wouldn't want these pools to get loose in the waterways....


That big white roof just to the right of the airport is Walmart, where I camped for the night, 
very convenient.

West Glacier, Montana

Aug 2, 2012
Flying from Ryan Field, Montana.

At Ryan Field, near West Glacier.
It's owned by Recreational Aviation Foundation.  http://theraf.org/
It's a fine grass strip in spectacular scenery, all set up for fly-in camping.
There's a barbeque shelter complete with firewood, toilets, etc
And a courtesy car.

But it's heavily timbered country all round, and much of it near vertical....
So I wouldn't fly my little ultralight out of gliding distance of the strip....




Friday, February 24, 2012

Shelby, Montana

 3-14 Aug 2012

Shelby, Montana

Canadian regulations wouldn't allow me to fly this aircraft there, and there would be hassles with customs if I tried to take it across the border, so parked the trailer at Shelby and just drove the truck north.

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New Prop

Ordered a two-blade Ivo prop to be waiting for me when I got back from Canada.

The Ivo prop was there when I got back, so pulled the C-box again and mounted the B-box and the Ivo.
What a difference that made!  Lots more take-off thrust, and higher cruise speed for the same power setting.
Really impressive!  I'd been skeptical of Ivo props on higher power engines, but this one suited this power and aircraft really well.  And so easy to change the pitch to tune it.  Highly recommended for this aircraft.....

So, finally, after half the trip was over, I had the aircraft going really well, both on the ground and in the air....
Now I have to really cover some ground to see all that I want to before the summer is over.....

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While at Shelby I had a very sobering experience with weather.  Late in the day I wanted to unload and prepare the aircraft for a flight next morning.  There was a storm moving across north of the airfield, but it appeared to be staying clear.  But luckily I decided to wait until it was clear for sure, cause next minute a blast of wind came through, and I do mean a BLAST!  The tail end of the trailer was already off, and the wind caught it and sent it rolling away so fast that I had to run really hard to catch it and lay it down on the ground.  Then moved the trailer around into the lee of a hangar.  Weather office recorded 67 mph, so that would have destroyed this light little aircraft if it had been tied down in the open.  Once again very happy to have this portable hangar to protect the aircraft.

Alberta, Canada

4 Aug 2012

I left the aircraft and trailer at Shelby, Montana.
There would be problems with customs to take it across the border
and I couldn't legally fly it there anyhow....

Then drove to Viking, Alberta, where I was born and  raised.
Visiting friends and relatives.

Flew with childhood friend Edmund in his Cherokee 140

This is the farm where I was raised.

Good crops everywhere this year.
That's very productive farmland.

How's that for a tractor collection.
Just a winter hobby for this farmer.
From here they look like toys...

On final to Edmund's home strip among the hay bails..

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We also flew to Ft McMurray to view the tar sands oil mining project.

This is the terrain we had to fly over to get there.
Really would like to have a float plane here....


This is the action to mine the tar sands.


Enormous earth moving equipment at work.


This is one of the plants that 'steams' the oil out of the sand.


These plants go for miles and miles.


Seismic work outlining more oil and gas fields.



Workers accommodation.


A large and growing tank farm feeding the pipelines across Canada and to the US.
A new type of 'farming' in this traditional farming land.