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Sandy ultralight pilot flies to Monument Valley

On May 3, Arty Trost left on a two-week trip to Utah


Sandy resident and sport pilot Arty Trost doesn’t use the "c" word.

In her 25 years of flying ultralight planes, she has experienced engine failure eight times and crashed only once, she said.

When flying over Montana on her way to an air show in Oshkosh, Wis., Trost’s engine failed. She was following the Yellowstone River in her single-seat plane and surrounded by pristine fields, so she was only slightly annoyed at the occurrence.

After attempting to restart the engine and having no luck, Trost prepared to glide into a barley field below for a landing.

“I was making a perfect landing, watching the wheels touch the tips of the barley,” she said. “In the next nanosecond I was hanging upside down from my harness.”

Trost’s plane, which weighed less than 800 pounds, flipped upside down after the wheels caught on the ready-to-be-harvested field crops. Other than having a mouthful of barley, Trost was uninjured. The most painful part was having to haul her plane home on a rented truck, she said.

Trost, 70, took off on her annual long flight trip Saturday, May 3. This time she is headed to Monument Valley, Utah. She and a few friends who also are flying ultralights plan to be on the trip for two weeks.by: POST PHOTO: KYLIE WRAY - Arty Trost has been flying ultralight planes since 1989 after she took a demo flight and was hooked.

Spending 2.5 hours in the air at a time traveling at 75 mph, Trost expected it to take four days to reach Monument Valley, weather permitting.

While on her trip, Trost keeps a blog updated on her travels. In a blog post Sunday, May 4, Trost reported that the weather caused more of a problem than they’d expected, saying the headwind was awful.

On Saturday, they didn’t get as far as they would have liked, stopping for the night in Roseburg rather than Ashland as planned, and couldn’t leave the ground at all on Sunday.

But other pilots they had planned to fly with were making progress, which upset Trost at first. She wrote: “I immediately regretted that we didn't try to leave Roseburg — until the guy here at the FBO (flight office) pointed out that one pilot flying a Mooney (a much heavier plane than any of ours) had decided not to fly out due to weather and that there had not been a single other plane flying all day.”

Trost began flying in 1989 after a good friend talked her into taking a demo flight. After three minutes in the air, she was set on taking lessons. “It’s been an obsession ever since,” she said.

Since 2000, Trost has tried to make one long flight a year. Her longest was when she traveled to Florida and back. It took seven weeks.by: POST PHOTO: KYLIE WRAY - Trost left on Saturday, May 3, on a two-week trip to Monument Valley, Utah.

Trost also went with a friend on that trip, flying near each other in their own aircraft. And although many said it wasn’t possible, especially in an ultralight plane, Trost made it there and back.

She describes it as her favorite trip, not just because of all the diverse scenery she got to see, but because she didn’t talk about anything but flying on the whole trip.

“The farther we got, the harder it was for people to believe that we came from Oregon,” Trost said.

Trost’s current plane is a Talon Typhoon that she’s had for four years. On its own, the Talon weighs 496 pounds. When it's loaded up and ready for flight, with the added weight of gas, Trost’s camping gear, tools and Trost herself, it reaches a weight of about 715 pounds.

Trost described the Talon’s engine as similar to that of a chainsaw, although it is 65 horsepower. “So, a big chainsaw,” Trost said.

The engine runs on automobile gas rather than aviation gas.

Although her original ultralight of 22 years was the love of her life, she says her Talon has a couple of important modifications. Like a windshield. by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO - Although there are some better aspects to the Talon Typhoon she flies now, Trost said her coral colored Maxair Drifter was the love of her life.

“The windshield makes a huge difference,” Trost said. With her old plane cruising at 55 to 60 mph, Trost said she built up some strong neck muscles. The Talon also handles better in turbulence.

Visitors to Trost’s blog can track her progress using a spot tracker that sends out a signal every 10 minutes while Trost is in the air.

Trost said it is a way for her husband to keep from worrying. “It makes such a difference,” she said. “He can look and say, ‘That’s where she is.’ And friends who are bored at work can see where I am too.”

A common misnomer Trost likes to correct is that flying lower is not necessarily less dangerous. "The higher you are, the safer you are," she said. If you're too low to the ground, there is less time to set up a safe landing if something goes wrong with the engine.

Those wishing to follow Trost’s flight can access her blog by going to www.lessonsfromtheedge.com and clicking on “Flight to Monument Valley May 2014” on the left.