SAR After Action Report 2-26-20

Lessons learned at the end

Situation: 3 boaters missing in vicinity of Pickwick Dam.

Search Area: Approx. 1 mile wide, 12 miles long. Flooded timber. Flooded and recently flood row crop fields and river bank.

Personnel: 3- Pilots; Kurt, Alan. Ground team; Mike

Made contact with authorities the night before, but we were unable to get a firm answer on whether or not we were needed/wanted. Search area is approx. 2 1/2 hour drive so I made the call to go and be available in the area.

Official meet up time for volunteers was 0730, we arrived at 0700 and made contact with the command post. The large number of boats had priority so we waited until those were assigned search areas.

The EMA director showed us the area he wanted us to work in and briefed us that helicopter support was expected at 0830. We decided to look for a safe LZ to operate from and plan to launch when the helicopter exhausted its fuel. We were given approx. location of a sod farm on the opposite side of the river that was believed to be usable and set out to find it.

The command post had contacted the sod farm owner who luckily found us soon after we got to the area. The owner led us to a perfect location near our assigned search area. The field was recently flooded but accessible and had plenty of open area to operate safely.

We set out wind socks and started pre-flighting equipment by 0830.

The helicopter came on station approx. 0845 and began working the search area. We contacted the command post to get an idea of the helicopters fuel supply. Shortly after they learned an additional helicopter would be available for the search.

We were reassigned to an area down river near the Savannah bridge. The closest usable LZ was the Savannah airport approx. 3 miles from the search area. We collected our gear and headed there.

Making contact at the Savannah airport, we were given an area near the fuel farm to operate out of. We also made contact with one of the helicopter crews on the ground and were able to better de-conflict our search areas and get radio frequencies before they took off.

We launched at 1115 and started our search just above the bridge. We made the call to stay together on the East side of the river due to extensive flooding and no visible safe path to search the West side.

We were able to search approx. 5 miles of the river bank and flooded fields before turning back. It was difficult to drop below 200′ due to high winds and heavy turbulence. It was a rough flight but doable. While we were able to maintain safe emergency landing areas, some of them would have been very difficult extractions due to flooded roads/debris and very muddy terrain.

We landed at Savannah at 1230, reported our actions, and began planning our next run. Winds were increasing at this time and weather was expected to deteriorate. After talking to the helicopter crew again we decided we couldn’t safely continue so we checked in with the command post and advised them we were departing the area.

We were all very impressed with the professionalism shown by the search directors.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Contact cards- Having cards printed with our contact information, cell phone, email, names of personnel involved, explanation of capabilities, would have been very useful.
  2. Have a plan, plan to change it regularly. Be patient. Search directors are working hard to herd volunteers we are just one small part. Look for every opportunity to not bother them.
  3. Ground support is critical. Having someone who can concentrate on navigating and communicating takes pressure off pilots and allows them to focus on safely conducting the flight.
  4. Don’t forget food and warm or cold drinks depending on the weather. Patience wears thin as people get tired, keeping their energy up will make everything run smoother.
  5. A thorough search is difficult especially over challenging terrain. Don’t sacrifice safety for a better view.

Winter is Here


The last two flights have left no doubt it’s getting deeper into winter here. High 30s to low 40s isn’t terrible on the ground, but it can get a little painful in the air if you aren’t dressed for it.

I hate cold. And I really hate all the bulky clothes you need to combat it. Gloves are the worst. I’ve been avoiding breaking out the thick gloves as long as possible but the time has come. The problem with heavy gloves comes mostly from the loss of feeling during launch. Difficulty manipulating radios and touchscreens in flight is an inconvenience, but good control at launch is critical. You have to kite with new gloves before you fly with them.

My last few flights were with light gloves. It makes for a better feel, but you pay the price with a little pain. The real danger of cold is losing fine motor skills and a tendency for poor decision making. I’ve noticed both of these in my flying.

Your throttle hand is the worst. It’s always working and always open and exposed and in contact with an aluminum handle. It’s also the hand that needs the most discrimination in it’s actions. Throttle equals thrust which controls your climb/descent rate. At altitude your thrust isn’t critical. Climbing or dropping 10′ while flying at 300′ isn’t a big deal. That same variation flying at 15′ can lead to problems pretty quick.

Brakes can be used for small quick adjustments to altitude, but the effect is temporary. When you pull both brakes you can trade airspeed for a little lift, like pulling back on an airplanes yoke. And just like an airplane, if you use it too much you will bleed off too much airspeed. Eventually your going to stop flying and stall the wing. It’s a balancing act that gets tricky when your losing blood flow to your arms and hands. This means you have to constantly evaluate your physical condition as well as all the other variables if you choose to get low.

You also have to consider how far you are from your LZ. You might be in good shape right now, but how will you be after fighting a headwind for the next 30 minutes to get home. Those fine motor skills get real important during landing. I misjudged my wind last Sunday due in part to wanting to get on the ground and warm up. This lead to coming up a little short and having to bust through the brush at the edge of my LZ. It all worked out, I just had to run out the landing a little longer to keep from dropping my wing on the scrubby bushes. Being off by 2 more seconds could have created a much bigger problem.

From here on out I’ll take the discomfort of bulky cold weather gear over the possible bad effects of getting too cold.

Like a kid at Christmas

10-28-19 Launched from home at 8am.

I really needed this flight. Aside from a few 15 min runs I hadn’t made a real flight since the crazy ride that ended the Darkhorse 450. I had great weather and Kate made sure I had the whole day to make it happen.

I got off the ground about 30 minutes after sunrise. Wind was light and the temps were high 40’s. Perfect conditions for smooth air and I wasn’t disappointed.

Climbing out of the alley.

It was odd not having a plan or any goal to meet. I didn’t even decide which direction to go until I had climbed out. The leaves are just starting to turn and with a little ground mist here and there, the view was everything you would imagine. Spectacular.

Waving at cars on an elevated road, you get the strangest looks.

I decided to head towards Troy and just see what the day might bring. I had a great view of the town starting to wake up.

Good Morning Troy, TN

I made a loop around my parents a few miles outside of Troy and then started hopping tree lines heading back towards Union City.

I see me.

I was starting to get pretty chilly about an hour into it, but like a kid in the snow, I couldn’t quit. It was too much fun. At one point I thought I was losing power until I realized my throttle hand had gotten so cold it was sluggish squeezing.

2nd Baptist Church, Union City TN

I rounded U.C. headed back home, and landed just shy of the 2hr mark. I was shaking so hard I could barely control my flare. That’s probably why it was so smooth.

Headed home shivering.

That flight has made my whole week better. I can not wait for the next one.

Darkhorse 450 pt 9.

Jamestown to Scott Oct5 2019

Launch at 1300

To explain this flight I need to quickly explain how my glider works. It looks like a parachute but it doesn’t work like one. Parachutes fall down, catch the air beneath them, and slow your descent.

My glider works like an airplane wing. It’s two layers of material with and opening in the leading edge to allow air to rush inside. This flow of air inflates the glider like a balloon. The weight of the pilot pulling against it also helps it hold an airfoil shape, like an airplanes wing.

It’s important to understand because if you lose airspeed, or if the pilots weight isn’t pulling against the glider, the glider will lose it’s shape. We refer to it as a “deflation”. Like a popped balloon you aren’t flying until you reinflate the wing.

I took off from Jamestown at 1:00 in the afternoon. Winds at ground level were around 10mph. Winds aloft were 15-20, almost 90 degrees from my direction of travel. This made for some very rowdy air.

Emergency outs are few and far between in this area. Neil had given me a heading for climb out which put me over the few open fields in the area. Again, thank you Neil. Very impressive dude.

As soon as I got airborne I started getting thrashed. Remember the glider needs airspeed to fly. Mine needs 25mph flowing over it to fly straight and level. More airspeed means you will climb, less means you descend. The preferred method to affect this is smooth application of the throttle. Gusty inconsistent wind also changes airspeed and therefore lift. The sun hitting the ground creates hot spots. These hot spots create “thermals”, columns of warmer air that travel up. The more direct the sun hits the ground, the more heat it creates and the faster and “sharper” the thermal becomes. 1:00 is prime time for this.

Every yard of that 25 mile flight was a battle. Unlike other flights, there was no altitude to find stable air. As I neared 4,000′ feet the wind gust got much worse. I had to stay lower were the thermals were more violent.

A lot of firsts on this flight. First tip deflation for example. I was 90 degrees to the wind and flew through a thermal on my right side. I felt the brake line go completely slack and knew exactly what happened. By the time I looked up it was already reinflating, that’s the advantage of a beginner glider. You give up speed but gain stability.

When you hit a thermal your wing will tend to turn one way or the other. You are swinging beneath the wing like a pendulum. This means if you don’t manage that swinging force correctly you will start oscillating, swinging back and forth beneath the wing. If that isn’t corrected it can get quite violent and eventually lead to the wing collapsing. To prevent it you “roll with the punches”.

If a thermal rolls you left, pull some left brake to bank smoothly then roll back onto your desired heading. The goal is to keep your weight pulling squarely against the center of the wing.

Descending into Scott this became very important. Gretchen and Kate had hoped to see this landing and sent me a text asking if I could circle for a few minutes before touchdown, they were almost at Scott. I saw the message pop up over my instruments and thought “no way, I have got to get out of this chaos yesterday”. I didn’t know it but they would have plenty of time to catch the landing.

Scott has a big beautiful gorge about a half mile from the runway. This had become a wind tunnel. I passed over several similar features on the way in at 3,000′. Even that high I could feel the effects as the wind hit them and changed direction. No way was I passing over that at 1,000′ or less.

The sun was baking the earth near the airport and I really did not want to get into their airspace until I was about to land. I try to avoid traffic as much as I can. The problem was, every time I started to descend I got blasted back up. And I mean blasted.

My best climb rate in normal conditions is 400 feet per minute, that’s on a good day. One of the few times I could make out my climb indicator in a thermal it was reading over 800 feet a minute. This was no power, trying to dive at the ground. Remember “rolling with the punches”? The harder the punch the harder I had to roll to keep my weight pulling against the glider. Gretchen was seeing this for the first time and thought I was playing around, “it looked so cool” she said afterwards. Kate said she knew I wasn’t playing when she saw me go into a 90 degree bank. I didn’t know my wing could hold that, but at the time I had too.

Afterwards it hit me how this entire experience was exactly like coming home from war. The flight itself was fun and terrifying at the same time. Moments of peace shattered by unexpected moments of violence. When the time finally came to land, I couldn’t figure out how. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to return to the safe, normal place everyone was, I just didn’t know how.

Gretchen didn’t have the reference point to understand that my behavior wasn’t ok at all. Kate knew it was bad but didn’t have the ability to fix it for me.

What I really needed more than anything was another pilot who had flown in the area. He could have gotten on the radio and calmly pointed me to a place with better conditions. He could have reminded me to just keep flying the wing and the bad times will pass.

This is why the Darkhorse Lodge is so important to me. It brings people in rough times together with those who already navigated those rough times. It’s already saving lives during construction. I have no doubts about how effective it will be in the future.

Darkhorse 450 pt. 8

Dropping in to Jamestown Oct5 2019

Launch at 0945

If you’ve ever used a GoPro you know how finicky and battery hungry they can be. Mine started having problems in Smithville so I didn’t get any footage going into Jamestown.

That’s disappointing because the terrain started to get more rugged and it was beautiful. Climbing out of Smithville the air had really started to get active. Until I broke through 2500′ the wind was not in my favor and I had some doubts about making the 56 miles to Jamestown. That changed pretty quick.

My average speed was 38mph, 52 at the highest. My youngest loves the Pixar movie “Planes”. Ok, I love the Pixar movie “Planes”. In it our hero, Dusty Crophopper, has to overcome his fear of heights and get up into the fast moving jetstream to gain time and win the big race. This felt kind of like that. It felt like breaking through a wall in the sky, a rough, slow slog through a few hundred feet of trashy air. Then I could see the terrain starting to slide by faster and my ground speed shot from 15-40 in just a few seconds.

After that I knew I’d make it. I spent most of the next hour at around 4000′. An altitude that used to make me very uncomfortable, but I needed it to get the speed and make the most of the day.

Even up that high it was not smooth air. The thermals weren’t quite as sharp and the wind was pretty consistent but I didn’t have much opportunity to sit back and relax.

Coming into Jamestown the wind at ground level had picked up to 10-15 which made the landing super soft. I just parked about one foot off the ground and stepped down. For a few seconds I had to fight my wing to stop flying but it came down, finally.

This is where I met a young man named Neil. I hope I’m spelling that right. For anyone worried about the capabilities of the current crop of young people, Neil swings the average hard to the positive side.

He was working in a hanger when he saw me walking my motor over to the fuel farm. Immediately he jumped up and came out to introduce himself. He is a high school student and trusted to run the whole place by himself some days, this being one. It didn’t take long to see why.

Neil was a big help at Jamestown.

As I searched for the wallet I lost in my pocket(it was a long morning), Neil pulled out the fuel hose and grounded my motor, then went through the process of activating the fuel pump while I measured oil to mix my fuel.

He saved me time , but more importantly, effort. Afterwards he gave us a quick tour of Jamestown airport. And showed us a very cool two-place powered parachute.

Powered Parachute, a different animal than a Paramotor.

Then it was time to pack up and head out. The ground team started out before I launched hoping to be at Scott for the landing.

Neil helped me carry gear out to big grass island he suggested as a launch area, and I got strapped in. The air had gotten more intense as the day advanced and thermal activity had really started to pick up.

My first attempt was a forward launch, I didn’t think the air was steady enough to pull a reverse.

I got a cravat(wing tip tucked under the lines) on the left side during inflation and I couldn’t shake it out, so I aborted. In the process the wing flipped over as I turned to face it and kite it down. Neil started jogging over to help.

I had practiced this situation kiting several times and really did not want to drop gear, reset the wing, and strap in again. So I snatched the brakes hard, inflated the wing inverted, let the breeze clear the cravat, then pulled left brake until the wing flipped over into a reverse launch configuration. I was pretty proud of that move(yes I’m still a rookie, I can say things like that). Then I grabbed the A’s and pulled off a decent reverse launch.

I got snatched into the air, turned East and promptly had the scariest flight to date. It was just past noon, the thermals were strong and sharp, and there was almost a 90 degree crosswind blowing 15-20 at altitude.

26 miles to go.

Darkhorse 450 pt. 7

Landing at Smithville(0A3) Oct5 2019

Smithville International (could be)

Approaching Smithville the air was getting rougher but the view was tremendous. A pair of Gyrocopters were getting ready to go enjoy the sky as I checked in and started my landing run. One took off as I came in, he was already on the runway, the second waited for me to get down so I did as fast as I could.

This red gyro patiently waited for me to get down.

I picked out a landing area just past the hangers and got my next surprise of the day. Another paramotor pilot had picked the same LZ.

Another PPG pilot, what are the chances?

I came in fast, did a tight 180 and slid it in on my knees. Not the best show to put on for a new friend but I needed to clear the airspace(that’s my excuse anyway).

Tight 180 to land

I picked myself up as he came jogging over and I thought “this is either really good or really bad”. Turns out it was great. He introduced himself as Pat and was as happy and surprised to see another PPG pilot as I was. He offered to bundle my wing and help me hike everything over to his trailer where he had snacks and drinks. Talk about a lucky meeting.

Pat offered to haul my wing to his trailer.

Just as we got to his trailer I got another big surprise. Three amazing friends had driven in from Lancaster, TN to let me have the first cup of Darkhorse 25. What’s Darkhorse 25 you ask? Can’t wait to tell you.

Fast friends.

Nicole Sauce is an incredible and crazily diverse human being and entrepenuer. Her skills include podcasting,website development and consulting, homesteading and all that entails, and my personal favorite, custom coffee roasting.

L to R Nicole, Paul, and Pat

Under the brand Holler Roast coffee, which she roasts from home using very carefully selected and limited runs of imported beans, she has created flavors of coffee that I didn’t know were possible. A wide variety of roasts and methods including a blonde bourbon cooled that was at the top of my list until recently.

Cooling off the first steaming cup of Darkhorse25.

Darkhorse25 is a very special roast she developed with Chris, The Tactical Redneck, to honor the 25 Marines killed alongside the Catherwoods son. It is everything you want in good Marine Corps. coffee, dark and strong, but without sacrificing taste to achieve these goals. It is my new favorite. Recurring order put in for as long as it last.

Holler Roast will also be donating $5 for every pound sold to The Darkhorse Lodge. I’d stock up just for the flavor, the fundraising is a huge cherry on top.

After coffee I picked up the Talon and we hiked over to the fuel farm for a fill up. The ground team showed up as we were fueling and I decided to scrap the extra fuel bladder and put a new fuel cap on the main tank. Glad I thought to bring that, and that I had the support to carry the extra equipment.

As we were stripping the extra fuel system another pilot pulled up to use the pumps and jumped out to see the ridiculous machine we were working on. As soon as he heard our story he couldn’t wait to donate to the cause. I lost count of all the incredible people I got to meet that day and it wasn’t even lunch time.

I gladly took a few of Pats snacks and got ready for the next hop. I’ll be looking for any reason I can find to show up in Smithville again.

Full power run up.

Having another pilot on hand made launching so much easier. Pat hauled my wing to the launch site and laid it out, leaving me to do the final adjustments and checks before clip-in. I didn’t have to say a word he just new what I needed and knew what I needed to handle myself.

Better charge hard to pull this one off….

The wind was a little cross, but with a little finesse and a lot of power from the Talon I got moving towards Jamestown in a strong tailwind.

We are outta here.

Darkhorse 450 pt. 6

Tullahoma(THA) to Smithville(0A3) Oct5 2019

This one may be a little longer than normal. It was one of those very rare perfect flights and I’m not sure how to describe it without sharing all of it.

Warmup at sunrise, Tullahoma.

My first time flying Tullahoma was just over a year ago. Several guys got to watch me blow launch after launch trying to make my second flight. One of those guys, Scott Dowdy, came out to see me off on the run to Smithville.

Scott Dowdy showed me where to launch at Tullahoma.

We met up with him just before dawn and followed him out to the launch area. He planned to fly with me on his trike for as long as he could. It’s hard to explain how much all these acts of support do to keep you going.

There was no chance of finding a replacement O-ring for the fuel bladder so I built a seal out of sandwich bags and electrical tape. Wasn’t sure if I would need the fuel but I wanted to be as prepared as possible.

Homemade fuel seal.

If you’ve never been there, sunrise at Tullahoma is a sight to see. It’s an aviation town and the airport is everything you would expect from people who love to fly.

There was zero wind on the ground when I laid out my wing so of course it picked up and was 90 degrees different after I pulled out all my gear. Such is paramotoring. Reset the wing, warmup the Talon, said goodbyes to everyone. And blow the first launch.

Blowin it at Tullahoma.

Reset, gear up, clip in and hit it again. On round 2 everything went perfect. I circled back to wave then got out of Scotts way.

Leaving Tullahoma.

I kept my trims in and tried to fly slow during climb out to wait for Scott but I wanted to clear the airspace to not be a nuisance. The light wind on the ground rapidly gave way to a ripping tailwind and I was gone. I got a message from Scott saying he was hitting 50mph and couldn’t catch me. I really wanted to turn back to fly with him but I wasn’t 100% on my fuel situation so I pushed on. Thanks again for all the help Scott.

Normandy Lake

Picturesque does not adequately describe the flight out of Tullahoma. Everywhere you look there is something amazing, for the entire flight. It starts with Normandy Lake just to the North and just gets better as you go.

The air was fast at my back but buttery smooth. Perfect for a cross country flight.

I made much better time to Smithville than I had planned. I even beat the ground team. On landing I met up with some very special people. Some were expected, some were not.

Darkhorse 450 pt.5

Baker(0M3) to Maury Co.(MRC) Oct4 2019

I lifted off at 1000. Winds were still strong from the North so my speed wasn’t great, about 15mph. But that wasn’t the biggest problem by a long stretch. About 15 minutes in I felt a dampness on my chest,odd feeling at 2000′. The fill opening on my fuel bladder had started to leak. Very slowl but definitely a leak. Upon landing I found a nick in the O-ring, but at the time all I knew was I had another leak.

Smoother air was forecast at 3000′ so I continued my climb while I worked this new problem. I found that if I pulled the bladder up fuel drained from the cap and the leak stopped, but that meant I only had one hand to steer. I decided to start my fuel transfer early to mitigate the issue asap. The main tank didn’t have room yet for an additional 3L so I barely opened the valve. Luckily my fix at that connection held up, I was all out of hands at the moment.

The rest of the flight went fairly smooth. I leveled out at around 3200′. The inversion layer I had been chasing was starting to dissipate. Updrafts from thermals were starting to strengthen as the sun rose higher. By the time I made out the Maury Co. airport and started my descent the sky was much livelier. I had to orbit a few miles out trying to lose altitude for awhile. Thermals are great for getting free altitude but they can also lift you up when you just wanna get down.

I did see a dragonfly about the time I started my descent. No idea why a dragonfly would be 3000′ in the air. He probably said the same thing about some guy in a lawn chair.

Maury Co. had some beautiful aircraft hangered there, like this immaculate T-6.

Finally I got down and made a pretty good landing at Maury Co. I dragged my gear over to the fuel farm, bagged my wing, refueled, and decided it was time to find some lunch.

A very helpful young lady in the terminal threw me the keys to the courtesy car and gave me directions to a great bacon cheeseburger. I was hungry and it was huge.

All the best diners have these chairs.

When I got back to the terminal I got a surprise visit from a great friend. Bryan let me stay at his house during the end of my training last year, so this entire flight(and my addiction) is partially his fault. He just happened to be across town working on a project.

The wind picked up well above my safety margin so flying for the day was done. My ground support caught up with me and Bryan and we decided to make the drive to Tullahoma and our hotel reservations. For some reason they did not like the idea of leaving me to sleep beside the taxiway……women.

In Tullahoma we met up with two more great friends that wanted to take us for Mexican food, can’t say no to that. Nicole Sauce (of Holler Roast Coffee and The Living Free in Tennessee podcast fame) and the Tactical Redneck(Former Marine and Coast Gaurd) are a pair of wonderful humans. They’ve both been big supporters of this effort and on the next flight gave me one of the best surprises of the trip.

Nicole,Kurt,Chris, Gretchen in front.

Then I slept like a rock.

Darkhorse 450 pt.4

Landing at Baker(0M3) Oct4 2019

I followed a toasty warm inversion layer all the way to Baker. It was a slow ride 10-20mph, but not uncomfortable. Once I found the airport and started descending I hit a layer of air that made my teeth chatter. It’s funny how it can be hot on the ground, warm at 3000′ and frigid at 1500′.

Dirt track outside of Baker

Baker is a pretty small place but perfect for a paramotor, lots of soft grass and space to work with. On landing I set up my helmet to charge strobes and radios then hiked the motor over to the fuel farm. It’s kinda funny ordering 2 gal of avgas.

While I was working on a fix for the leaking connection in my fuel system, a very nice man came out to help. His name was Wayne, a mechanic doing an annual inspection on one of the aircraft hangered there. He offered me free use of any tools or facilities I needed. He also had some great stories about ultralights. At one time he had a helicopter that used a small 2 stroke motor like mine, and he was in process of repairing an ultralight he had recently purchased. This was another guy I could have listened to for hours, but I had to get moving, the ground was heating up and the air was getting rougher.

I said goodbye to Wayne strapped on my gear, including the fully repaired(I thought) fuel bladder and ran into the sky.

Darkhorse450 pt.3

Beech River to Baker Oct4 2019

I didn’t plan to but I woke up at 4am. way too excited to go back to sleep. Thanks to the Beech River hospitality all my electronics were charged, I was well rested, and had a hot cup of coffee in hand shortly after waking up.

I got packed, returned the keys, and tried to make sure I cleaned up before I left. Hope I didn’t miss anything, the kindness these people showed me can’t be overstated.

Saying goodbye to Beech River

Winds weren’t bad at ground level but forecast to be strong out of the North at altitude. It was also a bit cooler, glad I packed some insulation. I laid out my wing got strapped in(including the repaired cursed fuel bladder) and said goodbye to Beech River.

The repaired (and cursed) fuel bladder.

Launch went well. I got hit by a fast moving wall of air as soon as I cleared the trees, this was expected. The goal was Maury Co. about 55 miles to the East. Pretty fast it became apparent this was not happening.

I use an app called PPGPS to record my flight path and help with navigation. It starts automatically when my speed gets above a jogging pace and stops when I land and my speed drops to zero. It restarted more than once. In the air.

Making 5 knots, backwards.

Trying to climb out above the worst of the wind I ended up flying backwards for awhile. I found smooth air and my best speed at around 3000′. The day before I averaged 40mph. This flights average would be under 20mph.

After crossing the Tennessee River emergency landing options got pretty sparse, but from my altitude I was pretty sure I could turn downwind and make a good ten miles before touchdown. That’s a pretty big safety margin.

Emergency landing options were few and far between.

I decided quickly to go for my alternate airport , Baker(0MB) near Hoehnwald. Again started the fuel transfer about an hour into the flight. Luckily (and I’m not sure why) I had put two valves in my aux. fuel line so the night before I removed the faulty one and ran a full bladder through it to test.

Fuel started flowing, VICTORY, fuel drops started leaking from the connector just after the valve and blowing backwards. My exhaust is on that side. Not victory.

I cutoff the fuel and started working this new problem. I wasn’t sure I needed the fuel to make Baker, but I was sure the wind was really slowing me down and it may get worse. I needed to make the transfer happen. I figured out if I just cracked the valve and held the leaking joint with my glove I could slowly move the fuel into the main tank. For the next hour I alternated moving fuel until my glove was saturated and closing the valve to hold out my hand and let it dry. It was really slow and really sketchy but it worked.

It took almost 2.5 hours to get into Baker. Without the extra fuel I wouldn’t have made it.