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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Wicked Witch 3 delta jet!

Just got a new plane to become the Wicked Witch 3. This one is a stryker delta wing with electric pusher motor!

And wow what a rocket! This plane says on the box that it'll go 80mph and they weren't exagerating. When you hand launch a plane you have to throw it with one hand and then immediately grab the stick and start to fly it. This plane took off at full throttle and I almost flew it into the ground 50 yards down the hill as it needed some up trim to fly level. Luckily I pulled it up before it hit! I flew a couple circles around me at full power and the plane was smooth and stable but very 'twitchy' on the controls. I had the dual rate switch on high which was not a good idea for a first flight apparently. As I came around the second turn I had a sudden sinking feeling as I could not tell the orientation of the plane. In radio control flight there are angles that the plane reaches where you can't tell if it's coming or going. I had one of these moments and guessed wrong, the plane started acting irratic to my controls and I was totally lost. It spiralled in hard! Luckily at the last moment I cut the throttle and since this plane is basically a sheet of foam it slowed just before it hit.

I kept my eye on where it hit and raced out there expecting the worst. Surprisingly the only damage was a 1" of the left wingtip was busted off. The good news here is that this plane is tough. Being a delta wing it is very stout and crash resistant. I have it repaired now and needless to say that I will practice on it quite a bit before I modify to accept my camera!

Comparing the WW2 to the WW3, the WW3 should do well carrying the camera since it is lighter and has more wing area.
Weight w/o camera: 22oz
Wing Area: 425 sq in

Weight w/o camera: 24.7oz
Wing Area: 369.6 sq in

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Lightning returns to the Front Range!

Checking my calendar and it's been 15 days since my last nighttime lighning shots over Denver. Finally tonight at extreme zoom I was able to catch four bolts way up north over Ft. Collins. Here are two of them, hopefully tomorrow night will bring some more chances for lightning!

Digital Aerial Photography

Having a great video system now and with some time on my hands, I've decided to jump into Digital Aerial Photography! Yesterday I ordered the controller below:

This little device will allow me to fly a small Nikon Coolpix or Canon Powershot A620 on the WW2 and get up to 7MP images from the air! This unit connects through USB to the camera and then to the RC receiver allowing me to shoot off frames while flying by using one of the spare radio channels. The Canon (which I currently have an ebay bid) can even have it's zoom controlled but it's unlikely I'll use this feature. More likely I'll keep the camera zoomed out and focused to infinity for some outrageous cloud structure shots!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Popup convection

Currently watching some high based convection pop up here and there over Denver. These short lived storms drop a little rain and then fizzle out. if one can last till dark it may provide a couple lightning shots!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Wicked Witch 2 overflies Historic Steam Locomotive

Fellow storm chaser and train enthusiast Dan Barker clued me in that a unique opportunity would exist this weekend to fly the Wicked Witch 2 over the historic Union Pacific Steam Locomotive 844.

This morning I got out to HW85 just south of Brighton where I stopped and asked a couple and a nice lady if they were waiting for the train and if it left Denver on time. "this is the Union Pacific, not Amtrak" she replied, ha ha ha! As I was shutting off my car and starting to get the WW2 out she wistled over that it was on it's way. And boy was it ever. I rushed across the tracks to the far dirt road and began turning on the equipment when the train sped past us behind me while I was still on the ground.

I asked the group if there was a chance of catching the train and raced north where I finally caught site of it as it slowed at La Salle, CO. The locomotive sped up again and quickly passed the 20 or so cars and motorcycles that where now obviously pacing it. At every crossing there were 3-4 carloads of people waiting for the train to speed by. Very much like storm chasing, here I was chasing a large object, moving fast without needing to slow for stop lights or traffic and making a Bee-line north-east. Train chaser convergence was everywhere!

North of Greeley people had started to slow and pull over and I noticed that instead of closing their camera view finders they were getting them out. I knew I had finally pulled ahead.

Just north of Lucerne, CO still on HW85 I pulled over and across the road next to a wide open wheat field with no powerlines or trees, this was my chance. I powered on the WW2 and launched her into the air and began making a sweep of circles over the tracks where I knew the old UP844 would pass.

Not knowing how the slip stream and turbulence of a train moving at 65mph would impact a small plane I kept it at a reasonable altitude of 100 feet or so. Enjoy the video, it was a fun little practice flight in a time-critical situation and a good off-season practice for when storm flying returns in the fall!

UP 844 speeds under the WW2 along HW85 on it's way the Cheyenne Frontier Days

Steam Locomotive 844 quickly heads up the tracks at 65mph!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Chance for Flooding Storms Today

Well last night we had a few storms in the area but mostly to the south of town. We did have the one large cell over DIA that produced small hail and beautiful towers for quite awhile but died before dark so I did not get any of the lightning shots that I had hoped for.

Today the mid-levels of the atmosphere are capped so there is only a chance of storms over the mountains. I am hoping again for something to hold together till after dark for lightning potential!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Severe thunderstorm over DIA

This nearly stationary storm just went severe warned for quarter size hail. We are under a flash flood watch this evening for just such storms! I am really hoping this storm sticks around till after dark to give us a decent chance at lightning photos!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Devil's Tower WY

Amanda and I are coming back after a weekend in Deadwood, SD where she did the X-Terra triathlon. We took a little side trip to one of my favorite places, Devil's Tower. Of course I had to pick up a DVD copy of Close Encounters at the gift shop!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Wicked Witch flight near a severe thunderstorm!

Nice cell near Anton! Eric and I in my car and Michael in his car chased the Tornado Watch Box that went up yesterday in ne CO. This was the most impressive storm we saw and was a nice treat! At this time there was a report of 2" diameter hail from a spotter but when we got to the site 10 miles east of Anton we found no hail falling or on the ground.

This cell fell apart as the one to it's west went severe warned. I got out the Wicked Witch and flew it in the inflow near the storm for about 10 minutes. Eric will be posting one of his nice split screen videos of the flight soon.

Highway 36 east of Cope, CO as seen from the Wicked Witch 2 camera at about 400 feet up!

Eric and I and the Subaru flying the WW2!

The severe warned thunderstorm Rain Free Base as filmed from the WW2 at an altitude of approximately 300 feet. The WW2 was flying in the inflow winds of about 10-20kts and had a definate tendancy to want to go downwind quickly. I spent most of the flight fighting the flow as I didn't want to chase the plane out in the field. Had there been a tornado under this updraft it would have been the plane's natural tendancy to drift with the current and go straight into the updraft.
I have a locator coming from that I will use to locate the video after it comes down hopefully within 600 feet of a road. That is the range of this device and it is definately needed as the plane is easily lost in tall grass and crops!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Underneth the storm that passed through Broomfield.

Just took some shots of the lightning that passed through. Tomorrow will be a sweet day for a nice backyard chase!

Michael C.

Beautiful storm pops up over Boulder, CO this evening. A nice isolated storm with copious amounts of lightning popped up tonight! Here are some of the pics I got from my house.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Cell over Gilpin county

This storm blew up this afternoon and quickly moved east out of the mountains. It had such vigorous scud rising up into the updraft that I had to pull over and get this picture. Tue and Weds this week look like post frontal severe days for the CO front range!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Vigorous convection over Boulder, CO

This storm has popped up west of Boulder and has a very strong appearance to it!

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Man-made and Natural Fireworks!

Tonight I got a very rare shot. Here you can see lightning, fireworks at Coors Field and Downtown Denver all at once!

The Wicked Witch flies NCAR in Boulder!

Here's the NCAR building as seen from a screen grab from the WW2 video.

View of the flatirons looking north from the NCAR mesa.

Just landed after flying around NCAR and the Boulder flatirons. Wait till you see this video - wow!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Meso just passed my house!

This meso just passed over my house with reported golf ball sized hail. Heading there now to see if theres damage!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

First Denver lightning opportunity at night!

Tonight at 9:45pm we had a small cell popup over north Denver, CO and put out two photogenic bolts and I was able to catch them both! Right on queue, July is the month for night lightning shots over the city and the first day of July did not disappoint!

The Carlsons', Verne, Michael and Eric

The Carlsons', Verne, Michael and Eric

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