Flying From the Past


(Originally posted to the FLY-UL mailing list.) --Jon

At 06:45 PM 5/9/97 EDT, Charles V Boehnlein wrote:
>Ok I have know dave for years and he is not one to brag. So in this case
>I will do it for him...


I am flattered, Charlie. I'm glad that you guys on the ground saw the flight as man mastering machine and lots of sentimental warm fuzzies and such. Just to keep my ego under check, I'll share my slightly-less-fearless version...

A few weeks ago, I got to fly Ike's old Hi-Nuski Husky. What a hoot! This is similar to an old Eipper weight-shift. Doubt it weighs 200 pounds. It has rudder, elevator, and spoilerons attached to the harness. All of your control inputs are via weight-shift, and the control surfaces just kinda follow along with it.

I taxied the length of the runway 2-3 times, until I could keep a straight line or slalom down the painted center lines at a fast taxi. A "fast taxi" is something like 10-12 mph. I could tell the plane was not far from flying.

I planted my feet to see just how much push that tiny little direct-drive prop would develop, and was predictably not overwhelmed. One final scan for faster, heavier ships in the pattern, and I opened the twist-grip throttle all the way!

Actually, I opened it most of the way. Seems it takes two twists to get it open all the way, and about the time I got the second twist twisted in, the plane was about ready to leave the planet. I kept the nose down as the Hall's got close to 20 m/h. They had told me it would fly at 15, but I wanted a little more room between me and a stall.

I pushed out, and was very pleased with the climb rate this little flying machine produced. In half a minute, I was at tree-top level -- about 80 feet -- and only half way down the runway. The tree tops off to my left were coming closer to get a good look, so I shifted to the right a bit to suggest that they might enjoy the view better from afar.

The trees did not take my hint, however. They continued to move in, ensuring they wouldn't be left out of any excitement. I responded by shifting further right, not really caring if I offended my arborious friends with a hasty departure.

At this point, the forest got downright pushy, offering to polish the tires and floss the propeller. As the trees outnumbered my steed and I, I felt no shame in fleeing for my life by hanging every ounce of my weight off the right wing.

About the time the birds were evacuating their nests, the Husky finally started to catch on that maybe I wasn't a "forest for the trees" kind of guy. As the plane slowly initiated a bank away from those nasty, mean trees, I apologized for my rude gestures as I eased my little body a little closer to center.

The Husky was just now grasping the urgency of my former suggestions, and was doing its best to make up for its daftness. I tried to console it by swinging just a bit to the left, but so profuse was its attempt to please that it had now fully turned tail away from the trees and was making hasty trot back toward the runway.

As we climbed past 100 feet, I was scolding its enthusiasm by pinning myself to the left side of the pilot enclosure. "Enclosure" is, of course, a bit of an exaggeration, but even the Husky has an ego which must be attended to.

I'm sure we looked like Laurel and Hardy (not Richard Merideth-Hardy... the other Hardy) trying to walk through a door together as we swung back and forth -- each insisting that the other go first before butting shoulders and starting over again. After three or four such exchanges, we both settled down a bit and agreed to walk through the door arm-in-arm. From there on out, we got along famously.

I doubt I ever went above about 300 feet AGL. With Mr. Hall as the sole instrument on board, I'm really not sure. We went a little ways from the strip (not too far) and got a little more intimate with our turn negotiations. The Husky informed me that flying along at 35 mph might be fine and dandy for an MX, but that it got a little nervous with all that noise. We compromised around 20-25 mph.

I made a low pass over the runway as the sun stumbled off the horizon. Flying the length of the 3000' strip gave me a few minutes to convince myself I could reunite rubber and asphalt in an orderly fashion.

During the downwind, I made a 360 turn. As I prepared to roll out to my initial heading, the Husky bucked like a bull stepping on a bee! Struggling to settle the beast, I scanned the area for the 757 who dumped this wake on us. None to be found, I decided my featherweight mount confused the scent of its own exhaust for an Easy Riser in heat. As quickly as it had come, all the excitement ceased.

Luckily, we were approaching the runway at this time. I kept the airspeed up during the approach, only to have a long, wandering flare to ride out. I regretted not exploring slow flight more at altitude, but I was committed at this point.

I flared a bit harder and I think it stalled about 2-3 feet AGL. A little bounce... and then we were rolling down the runway again. I dropped my brake shoes to the surface and skidded a bit. As we got down to taxiing speed, I lifted out of the harness and ran under the plane for last 20 feet to where the rest of the club stood cheering.

I found my sweetie hiding behind the hangar. Seems Becca had no interest in seeing her co-pilot enter a new realm of the heavens. That night's bonfire produced some of the best hot-dogs ever. Stuffed with various beef and/or pork products, we loaded up and drove home to a very sound night's sleep. Ah... what a way to end a great day of flying.

                                          (c)1997 DBH.  Please reprint freely.

David Hempy             --       USUA Region 6 (KY, IN, MI, OH) Regional Rep
ASC Trike BFI #56       --                     FAA Aviation Safety Counsleor
http://www.dl.ket.org/staff/dhempy/       <hempy@ket.org>        (c)1997 DBH
Views expressed are not those of USUA, FAA, or ASC, unless explicitly stated

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