Miami South Beach and across the Everglades

Day 1 flying coast to coast to coast of the USA.IMG_9945.JPGMonday 9th April. Mr Roberts arrived early. Access to the hanger, where the BZIM was staying, should have resulted being airborne by 10am. However two errors building the wing resulted in it having to be taken back off the pylon, the whole process starting again. The second attempt, completed around midday, in the blazing sun resulted in blisters on both hands making the whole sweat drenching process painful. Once everything was ready, it was time to drop off the hire car at Homestead. Thanks Diane Roberts.

Time to jump in and fly.

The ‘test flight’ was out to South Beach Miami with return to Homestead.  Weather at Homestead; hot, sunny, 14kts winds from the south, with gusts of 18kts. The BZIM bounced into the air before the first intersection and continued bouncing as it climbed.  Clearing the pattern, heading for the coast, the bouncing continued. Not the toughest flying, but most passengers would not have enjoyed.

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Looking south at the Ronald Reagan Turnpike

Flight to the coast was mostly between 1000ft and 1500ft. Routing between Miami Executive airport and Homestead AFB in uncontrolled airspace, many small private airstrips provided landing options, should a major problem occur. Once at the coast, the flight smoothed. Routing was towards Key Biscayne and upon rounding the Cape Florida Lighthouse turning north. Miami and South Beach were a sight to behold in the distance.

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Cape Florida Lighthouse with Miami and South Beach in the distance

Approaching the busy beach area, it was clear parasailing was taking place. This necessitated a transit further offshore than preferred. Unusually(?) no other aircraft,or helicopters, were seen during the entire flight, other than at Homestead.

IMG_0023At the northern turning point, the 18mph tailwind became a 18mph headwind. Two problems arose.

  1. Cramp developed in my left arm, hand and fingers. This is something I had only ever encountered a few hours earlier after finishing building the wing. Mr Roberts advised it was probably due to dehydration.  It was painful but more, it was annoying and distracting.
  2. The voltage indicator dipped below 12.4V.  S**t!

Pulling the bar in to go faster, was causing the cramp to worsen. If I didn’t grip anything, it was O.K. Not wanting to miss a good photo though, I put up with the cramp as best I could, but this wasn’t good.

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A cramp induced photo!

Voltage supply warning light was now flashing on the EFIS (Electronic flight instrumentation system), with 12.1V showing. It wasn’t possible to  switch the transponder off s the BZIM was within a Transponder Mandated Zone. A back up android tablet running iFLY GPS was cross-checked with the EFIS data, just in case it failed. A second android device would provide a further back up system. Returning overland towards Homestead was  smoother than the outbound leg. When the EFIS power indicated 11.9V, it was powered off, to ensure the transponder continued to work. Prior to landing, the EFIS was powered on, and landing was uneventful on 18, and short, turning off at the first intersection.

Airborne time from Homestead to South Beach and return was 1 hour 25 minutes.

The charging problem was quickly located. The problem was the 15V car fuse holder contacts, which were blackened. The fuse metal contacts had began to degrade with holes through the metal! Rewiring a new fuse holder took around another hour in the sweltering heat!

With the time now after 1600, a go or no-go decision had to be made. Getting into Lakeland, early Tuesday morning was the plan, so routing to Everglades City was canned. A call to George at Arcadia confirmed access to the camp-ground for the night, so a direct route was planned, routing around larger airports.  Distance of around 150 miles should take 2.5 hours. A quick top-up of AVGAS and the BZIM was ready.

After saying my thanks and goodbyes to Diane Roberts, the BZIM departed Homestead at 1655. The wind was now from the southwest, so any gain was lost as the BZIM headed northeast at an average  62mph ground speed.

Around 20 minutes after departure from Homestead, the cramps returned. This time however, both arms, both hands and fingers were cramping up depending upon how strong the bar I gripped. Other than the odd thermal every few minutes, flying was easy. As a thermal was passed, however, it was painful.

There is not a lot to see crossing the Everglades in the dry season 😦

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Crossing Alligator Alley

  • Airborne time from Homestead to Arcadia was 2 hour 28 minutes.
  • Total airborne time for Monday 9th April was 3 hours 53 minutes.
  • Video of Miami Beach leg will be added to the blog at a later date.
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