Building the MachNone
A Sky Pup Construction Project
I wake up to a beautiful summer morning at our ultralight strip at Pit Meadows, B.C. Canada. My wife and I live in our 20 ft. motor home (also homebuilt) during our B.C. summers and this is a lovely camping area. The grass strip is leased from a benevolent farmer who likes to see the 25 or so pilots enjoying their planes. My Sky Pup sits in its enclosed trailer with plastic covers for the wings. The farmland in the valley is surrounded by mountains up to 7000 ft. There is a 15 mile long lake, several smaller lakes, a couple of rivers, a few quiet roads, and lots of dykes dividing the valley.
This terrain, as you can imagine, makes ideal “Sky Pup” flying. By the end of summer, all I would have to do is make a low pass over one of those high speed ski boats, and I had a race on my hands. Sometimes they would leave me behind so I would make a climbing turn back down the river to find something more my speed. Some of the boaters got to recognise my “Green Machine'' and they would stop and wait for me to zoom on them which was the signal to start the race. One day I came screaming over a dyke (doing all of 30 probably) and there was one of these racers with a half dozen young people aboard. I banked steeply and went alongside. We raced for a mile down the river at ever increasing speeds before I turned away. They were waving and grinning at this 60 year old Sky Pup pilot. I wave back doing my porpoise act which is raising and lowering the tail rapidly (I wonder if they think the plane is out of control).
I always wave to people walking on the dykes and they wave back. When I was a kid I would shout up to a passing Cub or Champ. Now I can shout back! I know the regs say to stay 500 ft. from the public, but when a farmer waves and I feel he wants to see more, I mow his grass a little. If they have a smooth pasture, I land and let them see the Sky Pup up close. Then away I go again, just like Lindberg in the old days. Sometimes I photograph their homes from the air and they are delighted. It helps to make good P.R. My Pup is the quietest ultralight around and I think the people like that.
There are many birds in this area and I find myself in amongst flocks of geese and ducks and even sparrows and swallows. They don't seem to have any trouble avoiding me. The big and slow flying Great Blue Heron gives me the most concern as he gets into a great panic. Once, while flying alongside the mountain, an adult Bald Eagle came at me as though to cross my path. He saw he wasn't going to make it and did a fast wingover and passed behind the tail of my ''Green Machine'' (phew!). Another time, while flying along the river, I was chased first by one Osprey and then by another. I was laughing until I saw they were gaining on me and looking very angry. So it was back to full power again.
I generally go up high in the early morning, climbing over and following the steep mountainside until I'm at 3000 ft. or so. With snow-capped mountains, and lakes and rivers below, I can see forever. It’s like I am the only person awake in the whole world.
What a delight to have built and to fly a "Sky Pup".
Sechelt, BC Canada VON-3AO
(for background information on the ''Green Machine'' see issues no. 17, 18, and 21 of the Sky Pup Newsletter
A TYPICAL SKY PUP HOLIDAY