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Meet Gonzo

    Have you met Gonzo ... ultralight pilot extraordinaire? He originally hails from somewhere way southeast of South Carolina and came to the city of Pelion because he heard about our chapter "through the grapevine".

    Gonzo aspires to become an ultralight pilot and felt it prudent to get an hour or two of in-depth flight training prior to his competition in the "race for space" and the $10 million X-prize. (Editor's Note: Unfortunately, Burt Rutan and Mike Neville beat him to it.) 

    He just purchased a slightly used QuickDMiz MX103 "ultralight vehicle". That model is a less expensive derivative of the popular Quicksilver series featuring an airframe made from electrical conduit and clothesline cables for weight and cost savings.  

    The original owner was practicing his aerobatics a bit too low and that's how Gonzo got the great deal (from bereaved family members). The ultralight vehicle was only 75% damaged in the subsequent crash. Fortunately, replacement parts and bolts are readily available at Lowe's, Home Depot, Ace and the local junkyard.

    It also sports a 254-pound capacity "Slim Chance" parachute. The original aircraft owner  never even got a chance to try it out before the crash, so it is practically brand new. The rocket motor housing was only bent a little bit. 

    Gonzo recently replaced the Rotax 277 engine with a Chevy small block V-8 engine. He figures it has enough power for his aerobatic routines, especially the tail slide, the hammerhead and the lomcevak. He hasn't tried those out yet, but plans to do so at his next major fly-in. Also, the V-8 offers the ultimate in redundancy. If one cylinder goes out, he still has 7 left!  Plus, any qualified shade tree mechanic worth his salt can perform "an annual inspection" on it. In fact, Gonzo already has his STM (Shade Tree Mechanic) certificate, so he is all set to go.

    The engine upgrade also necessitated that he add a 20 gallon boat tank (aft of the CG) for the increased fuel burn. It gives him the longer range he will need for those upcoming trips he has planned to New York City, Washington, and Atlanta next September. He especially wants to get a good look at the area where the World Trade Center was once located. He has also added realistic looking 50-caliber machine guns and bomb replicas on each wing ... for that authentic WWII look.

    The tail dragger design utilizes a tractor tire and power-assisted brake combination from John Deere for those very short field and steep terrain landings. He has also added a beverage cooler on the right side of his seat for easy access during those long flights. 

    Gonzo chose a 72"x 2"x 4" single laminated "Lowes" brand prop which he personally handcrafted to his own meticulous specifications with a fine-toothed chainsaw. He finally found one that did not disintegrate at max RPM (and also did not shower curious bystanders with shrapnel). He personally "flight tested" the prop on the back of a homemade go-cart at the local drag strip. He says that the moderate vibration he experiences from the slightly out-of-balance prop doesn't really affect performance much and only gives him minor nosebleed.  While he insists that the selected airframe/power plant combination will not exceed the 55 knot (ie. 63 mph) maximum ultralight airspeed, Gonzo says that he can reach that speed from a standing start in 2.1 seconds ... but he has to be careful to keep the wheels on the ground ... lest it make several rolls on takeoff. 

     He has also added a rather unique and innovative feature of his own invention, which he calls his "catimeter" ... basically, a cat on a leash.  He reasons that a cat can always maintain its balance and distinguish UP from DOWN, so this addition should prove invaluable when flying on cloudy or foggy days when he can't see the ground.

    Gonzo's career goal is to eventually become a SPI some day ... due to the lucrative earnings potential. However, he is having problems with terms like SAFETY, AIRSPEED and STALL, so we predict that he may experience further problems with terms like FARs, PREFLIGHT, SPIN, WEIGHT & BALANCE, VFR, IFR, MSL, and AGL.

    Do you know Gonzo? Bet you do