Yesterday morning I had another Scariest Flight Ever, this time because of motor issues. I don’t know two-stroke motors well and I knew I’d have to be on the phone with Aviator PPG to get help tuning it up.
Basic motors: like any fire, engines need fuel and air to burn. There’s a nice ratio of fuel:air that every motor likes best. Down at sea level there is plenty of air that never really changes composition. Once you get higher in elevation, the air gets thinner, resulting in a mixture that’s too “rich” or has too much fuel and not enough air. That’s okay-ish for the motor – it won’t hurt anything, it just won’t run as powerfully or maybe even at all. You adjust the mixture to let in more air but be careful! Too much air and your fire will be hot enough to melt the engine. So it’s a balancing act and yesterday morning I was on the too-rich-to-vroom side.
I lost power in the air and couldn’t climb well, making me think I’d pliff into some very tall power lines. At times I could feel the motor wanting to stop, and definitely losing power. I thought about landing early about three thousand times but wanted to push myself through the fear; I was pretty certain I was just running too rich and the spark plug had gotten fouled, so no damage just weak power.
I did land at a checkpoint just shy of my target but I was happy with it. We spent the morning on the phone with Kyle from Aviator (THANK YOU) and got it running smooth again. Off to the local hot springs for the afternoon and I’d pick up as normal.
Back to the airport for a nice evening flight then!
No. Clouds are low, winds are high, my confidence in the motor is (unjustifiably) shot. I debate just skipping these silly mountains and driving straight down to Idaho. There are three legs coming up that get increasingly scary with elevation gain. I decide to try the first one today and see how I feel, see if the clouds lift enough to let me get high above the mountains, see if my hacky tuning job is good enough.
Just try. It’s what I came here for, right?