Aug 182010

Sunday, 8 August, after Church I decided I needed to grab some air so I headed out to the field. It was the kind of day most light plane pilots and especially ultralight pilots avoid but I like it. Why? Well, the wind was about 20 mph from the SSE and the ambient air temperature was floating around 100º. This provides you the perfect trifecta of wind, heat and turbulence. All bad if you like smooth flying (and I’m not against calm days…) but some times I like the challenge and action of thermals on the prairie.

Sunday was such a day.

Because I kept my Quicksilver down to its best economy airspeed of 38mph, I was averaging a groundspeed (as output by my GPS) of only about 20mph. This allowed for plenty of time to take in the landscape. I was maintaining about 1200′ AGL (above ground level) as I watched Oxford slowly appear on the horizon. I saw a dust devil appear in a field that was being plowed and shot this from probably 8 miles away.

Oxford, Kansas from about 5 miles NW

As I alluded to before, the air was very active and it was hard to get a steady shot so I only have one picture of Oxford closer than the one above. The rest were not up to par because they have too much “smear”.

Oxford, Kansas with a farmer in the foreground turning the ground

From this point I slowly circumscribed the town to the south by going around the east side which is on the upper right side of the photo and headed toward their airport which is about two miles east of town.

I parked my MXL+ next to the hangars at Oxford Field

I landed at the Oxford Field and walked out to the country road to get this picture. It was about 103º and on the ground their was virtually no wind. Off to the north I saw an interesting old farm setting so I walked about a quarter mile to get this picture.

An abandoned Silo and Farm Building near the airfield

I would have rather shot this with a tele lens but when I am out on these fun flights I just take my pocket camera. It shoots a fair shot in wide angle but cannot reach out very far. You get the idea of the scene, though, from this shot.

I took one more picture of it when airborne so you could get a different perspective. I’m at about 150′ AGL.

The Silo and Building from the air

After making the turn downwind to head back to my home aerodrome, Selby Field, I was pumping along at a ground speed of 65 mph with that 20mph tailwind. That is the method I choose when ultralight fun-flying in higher winds. I make the trip out into the wind, pay the price first and then reap the fun part on the way home. It’s like eating all your vegetables first and then having desert at the end of the meal.

This flight back was marked by several passes over the Arkansas River which we in Kansas pronounce as the “R-Kansas” River. When I first moved here I found it a bit quaint but now I am sold – “R-Kansas” it is…

The Arkansas River switches back about 3 miles SW of Oxford

Blue Skies & Tailwinds!

Brian FitzGerald – Wichita, Kansas