Flying in my Quicksilver

May 19, 2001


I woke at 4:30am so that I could drive to the airport and be flying as the sun came up… it was tough getting up that early — as I am not by nature a morning-person — but I’d say it was worth it.

This photo is taken only minutes after sunrise.  I’m about 4 miles from the
southern tip of Galveston Island, with the Gulf of Mexico in the distance…

The photos don’t really do the scene justice… there was a ground fog that was
stunningly beautiful.

As I approached San Luis Pass (the very southern tip of Galveston Island, where
there is a toll bridge), the sun was shining like a jewel against the Gulf of Mexico:

Here is a pretty good look at the full length of the bridge at San Luis Pass. From the air, it seems hardly substantial enough for car traffic, much less withstanding the full force of a hurricane, but it has survived quite a few major storms.

At this point, I make a 90-degree turn to the right so that I’m heading
south-west along the beach…

As I turned to fly above the beach, the clouds obscured the sun so there wasn’t
much in the sky to see but haze.

As I approached the town of Freeport, I started to turn back toward
the airport.

The ever-present Intracoastal Waterway…

Here is a side channel branching away from the main Waterway channel.

Here’s a good “close-up” of the ship and a speed-boat as they ply
through the Waterway.

Here I am above the Waterway.  You can see the airspeed indicator showing
about 45mph IAS, which is normal cruise speed for me in the Quicksilver.

Off to my right — as I return to Bailes — the sun is trying to break through the clouds and haze above the Gulf.


On Sunday, the 20th, I took off a bit later in the morning… In fact, Jim had
replaced the sparkplugs, and it started on the first pull (it’s NEVER done
that! 🙂 He flew for about an hour, so I didn’t get in the air until about 8:40am.
The air was fairly turbulent.

The bad news about the photos (as you can easily see) is that I forgot to
turn my camera around during takeoff, so all the dew on the runway
splattered on to my lens and the result is, well, terrible!

Despite my mistake, parts of the flight were spectacular. I had not yet flown above the clouds, and decided to try to fly to the Alvin Airpark.  One of the pilots who had just landed told me that it was smooth at 1500 feet.  Off I went, climbing to 1500 feet, where I found myself above the puffy-whites.

Looking off to my right, just over my radio, are more of the fleecy clouds.  It was almost smooth flying above the clouds.  Soon enough, though, I had to begin my descent as I was only about 5 miles out.

This next photo was probably the best of the lot, inasmuch as the spots weren’t too obvious.  It was also a rare moment when the haze seemed to be at a minimum.  Off in the distance is Alvin Airpark.  You can see that this area is a bit more built-up than the empty fields around Bailes.  By this time I was below the clouds again, and it was much bumpier.

Here, I tried to zoom in on the Airpark…  the turbulence made it difficult to get a steady shot, so this image suffered.

I attempted a landing and got down to about 20 feet AGL, but the wind was
really tossing me around, and I was a little worried about my fuel level. Consequently I just did a fly-by, then powered up and headed back for Bailes. The picture below shows the haze is still evident.  The clouds had increased their altitude so much that there was no way I could climb above them.  Plus I had a headwind and my ground-speed was down to about 32 mph.

I did, of course, make it back to Bailes, but it was slo-o-o-w going. The photo below is about 2 miles out.

Well, that is pretty much a normal weekend of flying for me! The afternoons are
usually way too windy and/or bumpy to go up, so I am left with the morning… but
they can be glorious! Flying an open ultralight is the _only_ way to fly!


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