Friday, September 30, 2011

Two Place Update 8-30-11

Can you believe it is September 30th? Where did summer (read...flying season) go? This kind of weather makes the Full Enclosure more and more of a highly anticipated reality. 

This week Hastings has had cold and rainy weather. Did I mention it has been cold and rainy in Hastings? In the last seven  days, I have flown twice and had to fight rain on the return trips both times.  The weekend is supposed to be warmer and perfect for some fall flying!  Count me in!

For those of you who have been following the Two Place Tandem, this has been a quantum week.  The 2.4L is "tuned and puts out more thrust than mankind is capable of measuring". I will have a full report next week.  

The new Main Gear is on it too....and it is gorgeous.  It looks simple and it installed just like the original gear and overall the entire platform is continuing to impress everyone that is exposed to it, including me.  When I am thrilled about it, there is really something to cheer about and I am absolutely GEEKED OUT about it! 

So far everyone that has a gyroplane background that knows we are using this engine in a gyroplane has said we could not have picked a better engine.  I absolutely believe we have the right engine in the G2 Tandem.  

Stay tuned!

Sweatin' the details,


PS: A special thanks to the Engine Works Worldwide (EW2) guys  (John W. & Jimmy O.) for all of their expertise, both in gyros and high performance engines! Could not have done it without you guys!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

How The HoneyBee Gyro Came To Bee

First HoneyBee Gyro (G1) Prototype
For those of you that have been following the Gyro Journal, you probably have wondered if I was ever going to get around to adding the next chapter.  Here it….let's continue the story of the HoneyBee Gyro...

There is a four letter word the human mind completely and immediately understands.  The response in other languages is more than likely a similar response to the English word. The word is "free"; what an amazing word. I only know of a couple things in my life that have been completely "free".  One was my salvation and the other was plans for the Gyrobee.

In 1997 Popular Rotorcraft Association provided a link to the Gyrobee Project. Once there web surfers found that Dr. Taggart graciously provided FREE plans to thousands just like me over the world.  It is true that Martin Hollman created the first Part 103 Legal UL Gyroplane called the "Bumble Bee" but it was really Dr. Taggart that spread the blessings of an UL gyroplane called the Gyrobee all over the world. I was one of those people that received a blessing. 

In 1997 I discovered the Internet with the help of AOL who made it come alive on a practical level.  By simply installing the AOL disk, my laptop became the information highway, just like Mr. Clinton and Mr. Gore said it would.  I discovered what "search engine" meant.  I learned that the "blue writing" took me all over the globe in a matter of seconds. It was a marvelous awaking to the world of "HTML", hyper text markup language.  I could look up P-51 pages....P-38 pages...and last but not least gyroplane pages. What more could a guy ask for? I was learning more and more about how to find things and what hot spots on the pages did, how to navigate and how to return to where I came from, how to bookmark, etc. Every day I was growing and learning "skills" on how to get around in the "World Wide Web".  It was during this time that I discovered the little rolling "New Ultralight Gyroplane-Free Plans" icon at Clicking on that icon changed my life forever.  I, like many of you, took the download.

With the plans in written form I immediately began printing and organizing the pages into a three ring binder. I started looking for materials, pricing blades, looking at engines and dreaming of the day when I would actually fly an UL Gyroplane. I dreamed of my new UL Gyroplane and what it would take to offer it as a kit aircraft too. I needed to contact Dr. Taggart and have that discussion. Finding him was easier than I thought. The URL of Dr. Taggart's website was clearly at Michigan State University who was an hour and fifteen minutes from my home. MSU was one of my largest and best college customers; they purchased truckloads of Rubbermaid from me.  Because I had gotten over the fear of cold calls about 100 years prior, I simply called the main number at MSU and asked for Mr. Taggart. They immediately sent me to the department where he worked, the phone rang, I got his voice mail, I left my number and within an hour Dr. Taggart called me back. He was easy to talk too and within minutes we had a date in Mason, MI for coffee and donuts ….to talk about the Gyrobee!

On the following Saturday morning, Dr. Taggart and I were setting together having coffee and donuts telling tall tales (not Tall Tails) of our flying experiences, drawing  on napkins and discussing the Gyrobee. With a couple of donuts and a lot of coffee in me, Ralph probably felt that he had me softened up enough to suggest that we not build the Gyrobee but rather build the next generation Gyrobee and call it the HoneyBee.  I felt like Ralph "slipped me a mickey" and I was shocked. I did not want to build something else, I wanted to build a slightly upgraded Gyrobee. This kind of thinking had never crossed my mind. As Ralph stated in the original video we did together, "Jim had a puzzled look on his face"....I am sure that I did. I wanted a Gyrobee and that was all I hoped for. When Ralph started suggesting these ideas, at first it sort of set me back. 

After a couple of hours together, the idea of a next generation Gyrobee started sinking in and the idea of a "HoneyBee Gyro" started getting traction in my mind, the momentum started building. Soon my laptop was humming  with "tweaks" in AutoCAD Light.  Getting the data into CAD would allow for machining with automotive precision and provide me with a production quality frame. Getting the data into CAD also allowed me to make the changes that Ralph and I were coming up with. Getting the data into CAD allowed me to put the aircraft together "electronically" before we started cutting all the aluminum that it would take. For the record, paper is cheaper than 6061-T6 for sure! 

Days and days went by; probably a month in total.  By then the new "HoneyBee Gyro" was really born and it was a work of art!  The "Improvements" were: 
1.     New Nose Gear (It took three iterations to get it right)
2.     New Adjustable Rudder Pedals
3.     New Fiberglass Rod Main Gear (It took two iterations to get it right)
4.     New Composite Tail (No more Brock Tail)
5.     New Engine Mount (It took two iterations to get it right)
6.     New Control Stick 
7.     New Lighter Tires and Wheels (It took two iterations to get it right)

Within 60 days it was complete and it was absolutely beautiful as gyroplanes go! It was the HoneyBee Gyro (G1). That was fourteen (14+) years ago and I still enjoy seeing and flying gyroplanes.

At this point (1997) in the design stage of the HoneyBee Gyro (G1) was 99% done with 50% to go. Building a gyroplane is not flying a gyroplane. Flying one requires a gyronaut and I had only sat in one gyroplane in my life, that was the new HoneyBee Gyro (G1) setting on the shop floor.  There was much to learn….

Embrace the struggle!


Monday, September 12, 2011

Attention CFI's!

Good afternoon! 

Thank you for all of the feedback in the most recent survey. Some have clicked on the buttons and others have sent me private emails regarding how they could be involved in flight training with us; this has been very  helpful for our schedules and staffing plans.  

With that lead-in, those of you that are interested in joining us (at GTCI) as a CFI, please send me your information/Resume' at HoneyBee G2, LLC.  If you want to  email it to me, please send it to  For those that want to mail it, please send it to HoneyBee G2, LLC, 1010 Barber Rd., Hastings, MI 49058. I will confirm receipt of it to you and place your information in the file for the respective flight centers that may be close to where you live; wouldn't that be fun!

Again, looking forward to flying together!


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Update On SP-HP & The Suzuki: FYI

For those that made it to the EAA 2011 Airventure event and made it out to the Ultralight Field, you probably got a first hand look at the Pink Single Place-High Performance HoneyBee G2 flying!  With 90 HP and over 400 lbs of thrust it is a great flying machine.  This aircraft flew flawlessly for the entire show and was an absolute joy to watch and fly. When the show was all wrapped up, we packed up the aircraft and headed for Mentone.  The aircraft was ready for some maintenance and I knew that when we got to Mentone, I was going to be flying it back to Michigan. It was due for an engine and gear box oil change; this was a good time to do it. 

Once it was unloaded and fueled up at Mentone, I took off with about 30 minutes to spare for daylight in Hastings.  Off I went into perfect weather on a simple 1 hour and 55 minute trip home.  Fifteen minutes into the flight is when the trouble began..... On one of my routine scans of the panel I noticed that the Coolant Temperature was in the yellow at 215 degrees.  That was odd, it had never done this before.  I looked down again a moment later and it was back in the green at 205 degrees running cool....for awhile.  There were no noticeable issues with the engine most of the time but it would spike just enough to let you know that something was going on and maybe wrong.  The tell tale signs did not seem to be a problem; just the gauge. Well, the engine ran fine all the way back to Hastings in spite of the gauge telling me that the engine was running very hot for seconds at a time.  When I landed, there was no coolant missing, it had not filled the overflow tank and everything seemed just fine or so it seemed. 

To make this a short not long story, please understand that it would take me pages to tell you the full story of what we have learned since that return trip.  The short story is that the Enigma/ARDAC/MFD just flat out a big way. This failure caused us to look at the pump, the sensors, the head, the radiators, etc. When we finally got to the bottom of the issue we learned so much by just going back to a simple, non-electric analogue coolant temperature gauge.   What a great and simple fix it was....though frustrating to say the least.

Guess what? Since we have gone this direction, the Suzuki never has "run hot" since; it runs at 175 - 185 degrees, hour after hour after hour. What a great engine. I am real convinced that some additional changes are being made to our panels. I think you will love what you see!

There is so much to learn!