Landing at EAA AirVenture on Monday, July 26 was SUCH a thrill! The largest air show in the world!
The turf runway slowed me down nicely and as I taxied up to the “gate” to the ultralight area, a volunteer sped up on a small scooter. Unfortunately, I had no way to alert the helpful volunteers that my brakes had failed 4 days previously and I hadn’t been able to fix them. He came a little too close to my wing, probably assuming that I’d brake, and I promptly took off his left mirror! Lots of apologies all around, and then I had lots of folks helping me push the Talon to a parking spot near Bob and Wayne. (There’s a strict “no engines on” rule in the tie-down area.).
We tied down and went about setting up our tents. Since my cockpit is completely open, I took my radio and SPOT (an emergency locater system) out and put them in my tent. I was just zipping it closed when I heard a shout. “FIRE!!!” I turned – and there were FLAMES coming out of my cockpit! It was bedlam for a few moments, and then Jim Zirbel threw his soft drink onto the flames, and I grabbed a t-shirt to further smother them. Someone else started cutting wires - including the battery wires, which it turned out was creating the problem. The smell filled the air - someone came over thinking there was a barbeque!
What happened was that when I had unhooked my radio and packed it away, the antenna cable was left dangling. The wind had picked up, and by an absolute fluke, swept the BNG antenna end onto the battery terminal! Immediate wire meltdown outburst of flames.
A crowd gathered round as an electronics guy from Canada - Fred Gaylord – diagnosed what had happened and began doing some repairs. The good news is that 1) it would never have happened in the air, since my radio would be connected and there wouldn't be any loose cable ends, and 2) the damage to both wiring and seat, although frightening while the fire was in process, wasn't extensive. Fred drew up a diagram of the diagnosis and repair he did, and gave me a list of wires and cables to buy the next day to be able to get going again. The seat will have some layers of red duct tape to hold it together.
I was pretty shaken, and ever so thankful that the fire didn’t get to the fuel tank. That would have been disastrous!
In my next post I’ll tell you about the BIG SHOW itself.