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January 2022


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FLYER Club Telephone +44 (0)1225 481440 Email Website

Dave Calderwood


Back to the future

Telephone +44 (0)1225 481440 Email Website Seager Publishing, PO Box 4261, Melksham, SN12 9BN


ello and welcome to the first edition of FLYER wearing the 2022 dateline. There are changes. Most obvious is that we have a new Editor, me. Some may recognise the name. I’ve been here before as Editor, back in 1999, and been around the aviation block since. Former Editor, Ed Hicks, is still very much involved and is now Editor-at-Large while also becoming Editor of the Light Aircraft Association’s magazine, Light Aviation. We have an agenda coming into 2022. First, we are taking FLYER deeper into its digital transformation. More on that in months to come but I’m confident it’ll be a better reading experience for all. We’ve done so much flight-testing of the prototype even the CAA should be impressed. Second, it’s clear from COP26 and other influences that the world is changing. Being sympathetic to environmental concerns is not enough. Action is required. As a magazine, the best way for us to push this forward is to tell the world what’s good and what’s bad. In other words, report on the many wonderful green initiatives going on in GA so that best practice can be shared. To that end, we’re launching the ‘Fresh Air For Flying’ Campaign and we commit to sharing at least one story per month highlighting how GA is taking the issue seriously. Obviously, our aim is to do more than that. Third, and this is a bit of a personal agenda (where have you heard that recently?): Diversity. Look around at any GA event, fly-in, rally, club night, whatever and what do you see? Mostly older, white men. Now, older white men are OK. I’m one! And we keep GA alive! But the future must be to widen that demographic. We have to embrace other ages, other ethnic backgrounds, people with limited mobility and, of course, make the damn thing more appealing to women. Us older white blokes put up with huts as club rooms, with challenging outside loos. The rest of the world won’t! So let’s get a grip, GA world, and bring this wonderful activity of ours into 2022. FLYER will be there to show off your successes, share your initiatives, and encourage others to follow suit.

EDITOR Dave Calderwood EDITOR AT LARGE Ed Hicks PRODUCTION EDITOR Lizi Brown ART EDITOR Lisa Davies CONTRIBUTORS Paul Bass Mark Hales Richard Vary Matt Dearden Yayeri van Baarsen FLIGHT SAFETY EDITOR Steve Ayres PUBLISHER & MANAGING DIRECTOR Ian Seager PRODUCTION MANAGER Nick Powell SUBSCRIPTIONS MANAGER Kirstie May FLYER CLUB CHAMPION Jonny Salmon ADVERTISING ACCOUNT MANAGER Zoe Yeo EXHIBITION MANAGERS Darran Ward Paul Yates FINANCIAL DIRECTOR Martine Teissier CIRCULATION Worldwide, free to download digital edition from

© Seager Publishing 2022

Mark Mitchell

At FLYER we aim to produce the best possible magazine for our readers. All correspondence is welcome and will be read, but we can’t guarantee a written reply. We welcome contributions from readers, and guidelines are available from us. We take great care to ensure what we publish is accurate, but cannot accept any responsibility for any misprints or mistakes. Our reviews examine what we believe to be a product’s most important points, but readers are advised to check a product suits their needs before purchasing. No part of this publication may be produced in any form without permission.

January 2022 | FLYER | 3

Contents January 2022

Features 18 I Get Paid for This… Éric Magnan

Through air-to-air filming, Éric Magnan has flown everything from a blimp to a supersonic fighter jet…

26 Flight Test Silence Twister FG Is the Silence Twister single-seater a

mini Spitfire? Ian Seager flies a UK Twister that actually spits fire…

36 My First Solo Rob Hughes

Every time he lands, Rob Hughes still gets a sense of achievement and relief…

38 Special feature SSDR Biplane The trials and eventual triumph of building a

Nieuport Baby SSDR biplane

46 Accident Analysis Gruyère – not Emmental…

Accidents occur when a number of factors align to cause them – when the holes in the Swiss cheese align…

52 Flying Adventure Islands in the sea

The perfect post-pandemic pick-me-up for two mates – heading over the sea to the Outer Hebrides and the Shetlands…

Silence Twister 26

60 Top Gear Aerotion AS2 and PS2 headsets

Ian Seager takes a look at some new headsets

Regulars 3 Editorial 6 News 14 Instant Expert 16 Pilot Careers 21 Matt Dearden

23 25 48 62 72

Mark Hales Ian Seager Accident Reports By Association QSY

SIX Free Landings!




66 FLYER Club Members Save £42 n Beverley n Cromer n Netherthorpe

n Spanhoe n Strathaven n tbc PLUS Win a print or digital Pooleys UK Flight Guide July 2016 | FLYER | 5


Aviation news from around the world – for the latest visit

RAF makes world first flight with synthetic avgas

Above Ikarus C42 flown by the RAF using SynAvGas Inset Group Captain Peter Hackett flew the C42 and is seen here with Paddy Lowe of Zero Petroleum 6 | FLYER | January 2022

The RAF has flown an Ikarus C42 microlight using 100% synthetic avgas, a world first that’s been recognised as a record. The RAF worked with Zero Petroleum, which is manufacturing synthetic UL91 known as SynAvGas, by extracting hydrogen from water and carbon from atmospheric carbon dioxide. Using energy generated from renewable sources like wind or solar, they are combined to create synthetic fuel. The RAF’s interest is to eventually use synthetic fuel in its aircraft, including fast jets. Synthetic fuel has the potential to save 80-90% of carbon per flight. Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston said: “Climate change is a transnational challenge which threatens global resilience and our

shared security and prosperity. “I am determined to tackle this head on and have set the Royal Air Force the ambitious goal to be Net Zero by 2040. “The way we power our aircraft will be a big part of achieving that goal, and this exciting project to make aviation fuel from air and water shows how it might be done.” In tests before the flight with Rotax agent CFS Aero, the engine performed as if it were running fossil fuel but ran at a lower temperature, possibly leading to an increase in engine lifespan as well as a carbon saving. Ex-Formula One boss Paddy Lowe is CEO of Zero Petroleum. He said, “This unique project with the Royal Air Force demonstrates the validity of our synthetic fuel and the potential it has to eliminate fossil CO2 emissions

from a number of difficult but critical sectors, including transport which currently accounts for 23% of the global total. “We are particularly proud of the fact that our high-grade aviation gasoline ZERO SynAvGas was developed in just five months and ran successfully in the aircraft as a whole-blend without any modification whatsoever to the aircraft or the engine. “The engine manufacturer Rotax’s measurements and the test pilot’s observations showed no difference in power or general performance compared to standard fossil fuel.” Working towards the Government’s Net Zero by 2050 goal, the RAF is planning for its first Net Zero airbase by 2025, and goal of a Net Zero force by 2040.


Rolls-Royce electric racer sets three world speed records Main On its way to a speed record, the Spirit of Innovation Below Motor and battery power unit

Rolls-Royce has set three new world speed records for electric aircraft with its NXT-based Spirit of Innovation. On 16 November 2021, the aircraft reached a top speed of 555.9km/h (345.4mph) over three kilometres, smashing the existing record by 213.04km/h (132mph), said Rolls-Royce. In further runs at the UK Ministry of Defence’s Boscombe Down experimental aircraft testing site, the aircraft achieved 532.1km/h (330mph) over 15 kilometres. That’s 292.8km/h (182mph) faster than the previous record. The aircraft also broke the fastest time to climb to 3,000 metres by 60 seconds with a time of 202 seconds. Rolls-Royce has submitted the data to the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), the World Air Sports Federation which certifies aeronautical records. During the runs, the aircraft also clocked a maximum speed of 623km/h (387.4mph) which Rolls-Royce believes makes the Spirit of Innovation the world’s

fastest all-electric vehicle. Two test pilots were involved in the records. Rolls-Royce Chief Test Pilot Phill O’Dell flew the top speed run, while Steve Jones flew it for the 15km and the time to climb to 3,000 metres record. Stjohn Youngman is managing director of Electroflight which helped develop the 400kW (500+hp) electric powertrain. He said, “Developing the propulsion and battery system, in collaboration with experienced programme partners, has resulted in a world class engineering capability that will lead the way towards the decarbonisation of air travel. “Our next step is to adapt this pioneering technology so it can be applied across the wider aerospace industry to deliver a more sustainable way to fly.”

Aviation Minister responds to ST article “GA is the seedbed of all aviation, developing the talent of the future, the safety processes that underpin the entire industry, and is the test bed for emerging zero emission technology,” said Robert Courts, Minister for Aviation. Mr Courts was responding to a letter from Angela Rayner, Deputy Leader of the Opposition, which in turn picked up on a Sunday Times’ article criticising Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps’ support for GA.

The article also criticised the work of the CAA’s new Airfields Advisory Team which has waded into the planning row over the closure of Coventry Airport. Mr Courts said, “The Airfields Advisory Team was established to provide advice and support to General Aviation airfields on a range of aviation-related matters affecting their operations and its remit is set out publicly. “As part of this work, the Airfields Advisory Team also liaises with organisations to ensure

that the economic, educational and community benefits of General Aviation are understood so that informed decisions can be made by local planning authorities. “The work of the AAT is also consistent with the ‘growth duty’ for regulators (established in the Deregulation Act 2015) which requires the Civil Aviation Authority to take account of the growth of the sector whilst carrying out its regulatory functions.” • See also Ian Seager’s column, page 25. January 2022 | FLYER | 7

Take-off Grumman Albatross makes a modernised comeback Left What the Albatross used to look like as operated by Red Bull

The remarkable, spectacular, much loved Grumman Albatross is to go back into production with the current owners of the Type Certificate, an Australian company called Amphibian Aircraft Industries (AAI). The aircraft will be designated the G-111T Albatross and will have the original 9-cylinder Wright Cyclone radial piston engines replaced by modern Pratt & Whitney PT6A-67F turboprop engines. At the moment, AAI is supplying spare parts and service to existing operators of Albatross aircraft. Production ran from 1949 to 1966 with 461 built. AAI says, “Amphibian aircraft fill a special niche in an increasingly populous world. “Whether it is connecting communities on islands, rivers or lakes to major transport hubs, delivering people or important supplies to shipping, responding to emergencies at sea, or delivering aid following natural disasters where other infrastructure has been damaged,

Right Artist's impression of the new AAI Grumman Albatross with Pratt & Whitney PT-6 turboprop engines. Still spectacular!

they provide useful capacity and speed at unmatched affordability.” Several variants are proposed: • Combi passenger/cargo – 28 pax plus three crew and luggage in a cabin equipped with a galley and bathroom easily reconfigured to 4.5 tonnes of useable cargo capacity • Aeromedevac – capable of transporting up to 12 stretcher cases in a single lift with basic patient monitoring systems • Aeromedical – four-six stretchers with capacity for more sophisticated medical monitoring and treatment capabilities • Search & Rescue – capable of missions of up to 12 hours, extendable to 20 hours with external fuel tanks, equipped with mission systems and sensors tailored to specific customer requirements.

Cessna singles OK to use unleaded fuel It’s OK to use unleaded and very low lead avgas in three popular Cessna single-engine piston aircraft after tests by engine maker Lycoming. Textron Aviation, which owns both Cessna and Lycoming, said owners and operators of Cessna’s 172 Skyhawk and 182 Skylane equipped with Lycoming engines can use 91-octane unleaded (91UL), 94UL or 100VLL (very low lead) fuel in their aircraft wherever it is available. The 206 Turbo Stationair is approved for 100VLL. Cessna’s Chris Crow said, “We have produced more than 75,000 of these three piston aircraft models, and this gives owners and operators around the world a chance to take action in reducing emissions.” Operators may begin use of the alternative fuels once they are compliant with Service Bulletin SEB-2804 or MEB-28-01. 8 | FLYER | January 2022

Livestream WITH THE TEAM



Take-off Pie Aeronefs aims for 270kt electric race aircraft

While some teams in electric race series Air Race E are electrifying an existing airframe, one team, Pie Aeronefs, is developing and building its entry from scratch – and intend the racer to be the start of a new aircraft manufacturing company. No pressure then! Marc Umbricht, managing director of Pie Aeronefs SA, is both an engineer and keen pilot. He plans to race its aircraft, the UR-1, in two races in autumn 2022 and hopes to break the current 340km/hour world speed record for electric aircraft. The UR-1 has a wingspan of 6.6 metres, a vee-tail for lower drag, and is designed specifically for air racing with a maximum speed of 500km/hour (270kt), powered by a 200hp electric motor. The batteries are inserted into the wings. Pie Aeronefs says its design depended on various factors.

Above Pie Aeronef’s UR-1 racing aircraft is also the start of a new aeroplane company Below Engineers! Don’t you love ‘em! Team Pie Aeronefs

If the batteries are heavy, they must be cooled intensively. If they are small, the voltage will be higher and cause a lot of heat. The developers found a happy medium in a battery system consisting of 12 flat lithium-polymer batteries that are 60cm long and have a capacity of 1.15 kilowatt hours. They are packed in heat-resistant material with cooling achieved with a water-glycol mixture. A fire safety system developed in-house continuously monitors the temperatures of all the batteries and can automatically disconnect the affected modules if values become critical. Should a fire occur, smoke and gas will escape through exhaust pipes. The team’s first attempt at the wing had to be redesigned, said Umbricht. “Our wing had to be rejected. It was a difficult situation to deal with. We worked so hard and we felt like we’re starting from zero. But it is obviously not so. The design work, for example, is 90% completed.”

Two more E-models planned

When the UR-1 takes off for the first test flight in April 2022, Pie Aeronefs will already be working on the development of the next models, a production UR-2 and a four-seat electric aircraft. An electric business jet is also mooted. The Swiss company wants to equip both the UR-2 and the four-seater with distributed electric propulsion with several electric drives distributed on the wing edge and three to ten propellers per wing. Pie Aeronefs 10 | FLYER | January 2022

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Take-off FLYER Q&A with the UK CAA Future standards for electronic conspicuity was one of the subjects covered

The CAA held its Virtual Voyage seminars in early October and FLYER’s Ian Seager was invited along to ask questions. The seminar was not recorded by the CAA but the authority has supplied a transcript of the Q&A. This is a short excerpt – the full document can be read here.

next steps for electronic conspicuity. We are busy putting in place the building blocks to deliver against those steps and anticipate a statement from the two organisations shortly. The headline of our approach will be the development of a ‘single technical standard’. We anticipate a mature draft by end Q1/22.

FLYER What is going on with licensing at the CAA? Your own figures tell us that licences are being turned around in an average of 11 working days and that no application is older than 14 working days. These are numbers that many people, including myself, do not recognise. CAA We know that more is needed to be done to simplify the actual licencing processing – more is being done – bringing in more people and training. We have seen that approx. 50% of applications are put on hold. We would also ask that those GA pilots submitting applications can make sure they are submitting complete applications. We recognise more needs to be done.

FLYER There’s no legal prohibition from flying in most Danger Areas, why then did CAA policy change to deem them as worthy of an infringement? CAA The CAA has not changed its policy. Under Section 3 of the Civil Aviation Act 1982 the safety of air navigation and aircraft are statutory functions of the CAA which are intended to keep pilots and the general public safe.

FLYER Can you describe ‘The Big Picture’ for GA in this country going forward, given the variety and diversity of work going on, including all of the drone/eVTOL projects etc? CAA Supporting the potential growth of both sectors and integration. PwC says the (GA) sector has the potential to be worth £3bn by 2030 and RPAS operations accounting for a further £42bn. Both the GA and RPAS communities are growing and we need to integrate them to make best use of our resources. FLYER Will the CAA be implementing a Basic Instrument Rating (as per EASA) and, if not, will the IR(R) be extended to allow access to Class A airspace? CAA This is part of the review whether or not to implement the BIR. There are no plans to extend the IMC/IR(R) Rating to include flight in Class A airspace. FLYER Has the CAA started on making bilateral agreements with all EASA states to allow mutual operation of microlights and other ‘non-EASA types’? CAA Bilateral agreements are made by HM Government not the CAA. The CAA would be asked to provide technical support in such negotiations. FLYER What are the CAA’s long-term plans for GA conspicuity? CAA The CAA and the DfT have reached an agreement on the 12 | FLYER | January 2022

FLYER Will the CAA admit that Cellma is a complete mess? When will it be fixed? CAA Dr Mike Trudgill, Chief Medical Officer addresses issues surrounding CELLMA within his presentation. FLYER When will we have the equivalent skill based improvement path for NPPL-SSEA holders to ICAO PPL(A), giving a joined-up skill improvement and qualification progression route for all along the hobby GA licence ladder? CAA The review of licencing for GA pilots will consider this in all probability. FLYER Will the CAA automatically and immediately incorporate the latest additions to CS-STAN for G registered aircraft? CAA The UK is no longer an EU Member State. There is a responsibility on the CAA to decide what is appropriate for the UK industry. FLYER Why is it taking so long to re-issue British licences to those folk who had to SOLI out? These are folk who had a perfectly legal British licence (EASA) on 31 December, who lost it when they had to SOLI out. CAA Anything kept current on the EASA licence since it was transferred out is what will be issued on the UK one, e.g. the EASA licence should be revalidated so that the UK one can be issued with everything they require without ratings falling back on the licence. For more information we would ask the licence holder to get in touch with us, and we will do our best to deal with these queries directly.

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Instrument approaches for GA Ed Bellamy More GPS approaches to appear in 2022 after slow start


ursuing the Q&A as part of the CAA Virtual Voyage presentation series, I noticed the all too familiar subject of RNP instrument approach procedures (or lack thereof) at GA aerodromes featured. The particular question was regarding why some recently published IAPs have restrictions on use, but also alluded to their generally slow appearance in the UK. The term ‘RNP’ stands for ‘Required Navigation Performance’ – indicating that to fly the approach, the navigation equipment onboard needs to meet specified accuracy and integrity requirements. ‘RNP’ is a relatively recent change of nomenclature for describing an approach procedure – previously terms such as ‘GPS’, ‘GNSS’ and/or RNAV(GNSS) were more common. Associated with RNP approaches are the different categories of landing ‘minima’, such as LNAV (without vertical guidance) or LPV (Localiser Performance with Vertical guidance). One side effect of the UK leaving the EU is that LPV approaches are no longer available since they rely on the European EGNOS signal augmentation system. The first GNSS approaches appeared in the UK in 2006. There was a CAA trial in the summer of 2006, for which GNSS approaches were published at several aerodromes (including GA ones such as Shoreham and Gloucestershire) and pilots holding an instrument qualification were encouraged to give feedback on their use. Fifteen years later though, uptake by GA aerodromes outside of the original trial members has been limited. This is unfortunate, since I think with more approaches, the utility and viability of GA would be improved.

Business sense

A historical barrier was the UK requirement for an approach control service to be provided for instrument approach procedures. Few GA aerodromes in the UK have ATC, and upgrading for the purposes of obtaining an IAP was unlikely to make business sense. A policy for exempting from the requirement was published by the CAA in 2014, but to date only a few aerodromes have gained approval. People are often quick to point out that the situation abroad is better. Go to the USA, for example, and approaches are published to many GA aerodromes. There are infrastructure differences that make the comparison less straightforward though – in many countries regional ATC centres provide approach control services and the state takes a more active role in designing and publishing procedures. In the UK, a much higher burden falls on aerodromes to devise and fund procedures, including going through the ‘Airspace Change Process’ (even when not applying for airspace as part of the application), so the business case is often weak. The CAA long ago stopped designing procedures itself, and this is now done on a commercial basis. In some circumstances 50% funding is available 14 | FLYER | January 2022

from the Department for Transport, but the organisational burden associated with navigating the approval process is still quite high, although this will hopefully come down as more aerodromes go through it. Despite the cost and organisational challenges for aerodromes, there will likely be more RNP approaches without ATC in the UK over the next few years and these will have some additional considerations for pilots compared to those in the ATC environment. Of the few currently in the AIP (Sywell and Kemble for example), use of the procedures is by prior permission and notes on the procedure charts make it clear there is no ATC service or separation with other traffic provided. The aircraft avionics and pilot qualifications needed to fly them are no different from any other RNP approach though. When this subject first arose in the UK, there was much discussion about the risks of conflict between inbound IFR traffic and VFR traffic that may be operating at the aerodrome. Experience in other states suggests this is largely a non-issue. When VFR weather prevails, most GA IFR traffic should have no problem integrating visually. Many states where this takes place typically have rules or guidance on IFR operations at uncontrolled aerodromes published in the AIP. I suggest in due course the CAA adopts some common procedures based on practice elsewhere.

Multiple aircraft usage

Another issue to contend with is sequencing of IFR arrivals – in many places this is achieved remotely, but in the UK most lower airspace ATC only serves airports and associated airspace, unless participating in the Lower Airspace Radar Service (LARS). It looks like most UK IAPs without approach control will be PPR, to stop multiple aircraft trying to use them at the same time. Personally, it seems unlikely to me that demand would be such that this would be an issue in practice and perhaps on the occasion it did happen, self-separation over the radio would work. Another solution would be regional approach control, as in France or Germany, but again someone would likely have to pay for this. Approaches in Class G do raise issues of conflict with other traffic in the uncontrolled environment, although historical evidence suggests that there is limited risk when in IMC. I suspect most of the risk can be mitigated by keeping a good lookout while in VMC and using electronic conspicuity as appropriate. In the commercial world, reducing speed where possible and always using the autopilot, so as to devote more attention to lookout, is standard practice for IFR operations outside of controlled airspace. I do not predict many of them, but 2022 should see some additional approaches appear in the AIP and hopefully GA pilots can start to make use of them.

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Pilot Careers The definitive source for pilot training, career and industry news

In Brief

Pilot Careers Live returns

Airbus has just released its latest forecast, and projects 39,000 new passenger and freight aircraft will be needed by 2040. That’s partly driven by fleets retiring older aircraft in favour of new, more fuel-efficient aircraft to lower carbon emissions. Airbus also says, “The economic benefits of aviation extend beyond the sector, contributing around 4% to annual global GDP and sustaining some 90 million jobs worldwide.”

To mark Black History Month, some of easyJet’s flying colleagues came together to operate an all-black crew flight, EZY8861 from London Gatwick to Alicante and return. Leading the crew was Captain Michelle de Graaf who has been with easyJet for 11 years and captain for over five years flying an Airbus A320. TalentView Aviation (TVA) is a new govt-funded aviation recruitment platform that’s free-to-use for both people looking for a job and for employers. TVA has already received support from across the aviation industry including Heathrow, Virgin, Flybe and the Royal Aeronautical Society. www. Dubai-based Emirates Flight Training Academy (EFTA) held its second graduation ceremony recently, with 25 cadets successfully completing the ATPL course bringing the total number of cadet graduates to 50 since EFTA opened in 2017. Admissions for 2022 are now open to interested international candidates who can apply online here.

16 | FLYER | January 2022

Pilot Careers Live returned as an exhibition on 6 November, the first event since the Covid pandemic affected all live events 18 months ago. And, everyone agrees, it was successful for both exhibitors and visitors, despite numbers having to be limited to maintain social distancing. A total of 32 companies exhibited, mostly Approved Training Organisations, and just under 900 visitors attended the event, which was split into morning and afternoon sessions. Five seminars were held in each session, tackling important subjects for would-be professional pilots. All the seminars were video-recorded, as were interviews with various exhibitors and industry advisors. The videos are available, free, to watch in the ‘On Demand’ section of the Pilot Careers Live London website. Several ATOs announced news at the show, including FTE Jerez, which revealed it is

sponsoring the full price of two places on its Airline First Officer programme which is an integrated ATPL course. Applications for the ATPL scholarship will open on 29 November and will be accepted until 31 December. Oscar Sordo, CEO of FTE Jerez, said, “We are very excited to offer this opportunity to two motivated and deserving candidates. We also consider the scholarship as a fantastic landmark, aviation is finally recovering following the pandemic.” Ryanair’s recruitment specialist Michael Guerrini gave one of the seminar talks, speaking about the airline’s

expansion plans, which include introduction of the new Boeing 737 MAX. Rayanair has ordered more than 250 of the B737 MAX to help its plans to carry 225 million passengers a year by 2026. Helicopter operator Bristow also attended and gave a seminar on a different sort of flying career – helicopters in roles such as Oil & Gas transport and Search & Rescue operations. Several ATOs announced dual CAA and EASA courses including FTA Global, Leading Edge Aviation and Skyborne Airline Academy Catch up with on-demand PCL TV here. Top Video coverage of Pilot Careers Live is available free on the website (link above) Left Ryanair were among the 32 exhibitors

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Pilot Careers

I Get Paid for This…

Éric Magnan Through air-to-air filming, Éric Magnan has flown everything from a blimp to a supersonic fighter jet. Interview by Yayeri van Baarsen How did you get into flying?

Already as a child, I knew I wanted to both be a pilot and work in the movie business. In 1986, I went to study at UCLA (California), where I learned to fly. Tell us about your job?

I’m the director of Airborne Films, which specialises in aerial cinematography. Based in France, we film and direct movies, commercials and documentaries all over the world. To shoot air-to-air at high speed, we have a TBM 700 equipped with a Shotover F1, a 6-axis gyro stabilised camera mount. Flying CV About 90% of my job is preparation, the Co-founder of Airborne Films. He in-flight part is only 10%. I spend hours and has directed everything from hours on the ground. Everything is planned Hollywood blockbusters to and everyone is briefed so there are no big campaigns for Breitling and Boeing. surprises once we’re up in the air. The only Started current job: 2009 unexpected part can be the weather. Now flying: Warbirds, fighter jets, airliners and small GA aircraft Sometimes beautiful clouds make your Favourite aircraft: P-51 Mustang. planned shot even better, and if the weather Hours at job start: Approx. 1,000 flight hrs in isn’t good, we’ll fly to a different place and air-to-air shoots. Approx. 200 as PIC shoot there. Hours now: Approx. 1,700 flight hrs in air-to-air shoots / Approx. 400 as PIC With the camera, the aircraft you’re shooting from, and the aircraft you’re filming moving, it’s a lot of movements to keep track of. If a shoot wasn’t very well briefed, it’d soon get chaotic. Lots of What’s been your favourite flight? planning is needed to create a beautiful image. Naturally, extensive Filming the movie Skyfighter in 2004. For this, we spent one month preparation is also essential for safety – you’re flying formation at in Djibouti, a stunning place, flying the Mirage 2000 supersonic high speed with wingtips often just a few metres apart. fighter jet. We did some amazing low and fast flying which was On a shoot, I’m always in the air so I have an overview of the absolutely mind-blowing… I felt like I was in Star Wars! choreography and can keep an eye on everything. Being a pilot myself really helps when talking to the pilots. Apart from flying and And your favourite airfield? cinematography knowledge, to do this work you also have to feel Mojave. I directed many films over there, so this airport holds well in the air. To get the right shot, you might be doing 360s for good memories. I love the two huge runways, the beautiful two hours! landscape and the fact it has good weather 340 days a year. Also, I’ve had the chance to fly with high-level pilots in fighters, Mojave is where all the space stuff happens, it’s got the big aircraft airliners, blimps, helicopters – you name it, I’ve flown it. Generally, boneyard, and its proximity to LA means all the cinema tools are when working in aviation, you only experience one type of aircraft. nearby. For me, apart from going into space, I’ve done everything.

“We did some mind-blowing flying… it was like Star Wars”

What training did you have?

After UCLA, I got into the cinema world by working as an assistant director and continued flying alongside. I started off directing smaller parts and once I got to direct my own movie, I put an aircraft in it. It all evolved from there. There’s no air-to-air directing school. At Airborne Films we have some very experienced cameramen and although I’ve trained them, this is something you learn by doing. The more experience, the better you are. Spend lots of time in the air filming aeroplanes and you’ll eventually get a sense of how to catch the good light and where to best position the aircraft. 18 | FLYER | January 2022

Do you get to fly much outside of work?

It all depends on work, but when I’ve got time, I love taking a Piper J3 for a spin from Saint Cyr. It’s a grass airstrip with amazing views of Château de Versailles, the closest you can get to private flying in Paris. What’s your most valuable career advice?

Only attempt aerial filming with people who fly formation professionally! Don’t try it with inexperienced private pilots on your local airfield, find experienced military pilots instead. When filming, if you miss your shot, that’s OK, just do it again. But flying, that’s serious business.


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On Approach

Matt Dearden


Parting shot

hey say you should always give anything new at least two years… be that a new job, new car, new hobby or even, I guess, a new aeroplane. It’s a policy I’ve always adopted throughout my life and it has served me well. If, after a couple of years I’m still enjoying things, I’ll keep doing it and reassess my feelings periodically. If at any point after those initial two years I’m not enjoying things, I’ll move on. What I have noticed however is that I tend to get restless after around five or six years. It all started when I used to work in IT and after five years realised I was done with working in an office so then spent three years retraining as a commercial pilot. That led me to taking a job in Asia. I planned to stick with it for a couple of years to gain experience and then return to the UK to fly commercially. That plan changed when I realised flying a Pilatus Porter in the mountains of Papua was rather good fun, so I ended up sticking with it for much longer than planned. But eventually, after six years I got restless and needed a new challenge. During that time in Indonesia, I embarked on something entirely new to me and purchased a share of the UK’s only airworthy Catalina in 2015. I think you can see where this column is going… as it’s been more than six years since then and yes, I started to feel the need to change in 2020. I honestly never plan to deliberately make big changes every five or six years, but it just seems to be about the length of time I tend to stick at things I enjoy doing before deciding I need to change. I ended up selling my share of the Catalina just after the Loch Ness rescue at the end of 2020, which wasn’t quite how I planned it. I was expecting another season’s flying with the old girl while my share was up for sale, but when you are made an offer in the middle of a pandemic, I figured I would be silly to turn it down. It wasn’t the pandemic that forced my hand but I suppose it did limit the amount of flying I was able to do, and hence dampen my feelings about it all. Also, my Super Cub had finally become airworthy again and so with a new toy to play with, I realised I didn’t need the Catalina flying any more. It’s all too easy to stick with the status quo rather than make a change but that’s not how I go through life. It has been an amazing five-and-a-half years flying the Catalina and I have met some wonderful people. I bought my share because it is an aircraft that allows you to try your hand at many aviation disciplines – namely seaplane flying, warbird flying and display flying – none of which I’d ever tried before.

It’s a great group to get into as there’s progression if you want it from being a land rated co-pilot all the way up to being a water rated captain. Or you can stick with the simple pleasures of being a co-pilot and enjoy flying without all the extra responsibilities of being P1. In my first year of ownership I gained my land rating as a co-pilot and was able to fly as P2 at a number of air shows that season. At the end of the year the group made its annual pilgrimage south to Bordeaux and the lakes of Biscarrosse for water training. This was an absolute highlight for me during which I gained my water rating. A week in the sunshine with a seaplane in its natural habitat along with splendid French food and wine is pretty much the perfect aviation holiday in my mind. The following season saw me upgrade to the left seat as well as gain my display authorisation. This was much more of a challenge than you might think as the Catalina is a difficult aircraft to fly well due to its lack of any real directional stability and so requires a lot of rudder inputs to keep the turns balanced. During a display, the amount of

Mark Mitchell

“So that’s it, no more warbird flying for me. For now. Onwards and upwards… ”

20 | FLYER | March 2020

control movements needed during a dumbbell manoeuvre are quite extraordinary but something I always relished perfecting. My years flying the Pilatus Porter stood me in good stead for this as the rudder pedals are far from footrests in such an aircraft. I found it fitting that my last ever flight in the Catalina was flying her all the way from Loch Ness back to her home in Duxford following the engine issues she suffered at the end of the 2020 season. For me the flight south was extra poignant as the sale of my share was going through and so I knew it would be my last trip with her. Channelling my inner Guy Gibson and taking in the dam at Ladybower reservoir was a must – although sadly not as low as him as I kind of need to retain my pilot licence for work… So that’s it, no more warbird flying for me. For now. Onwards and upwards as they say, and if you’re on the fence about making a change, be it aviation related or not, I say go for it! As they say, it’s better to regret the things you’ve done than the things you haven’t. Currently dividing his time between a Super Cub and a Pilatus PC-12 January 2022 | FLYER | 21











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Full Throttle

Mark Hales


Next best thing…

t was only a couple of days ago I discovered that Richard L Collins, the great American aviation author, had died three years ago at the age of 84. He wasn’t an airline pilot, nor a military one, and most of his many, many hours behind the controls were spent in light aircraft. Flying them was his life, and at least 9,000 hours of that was spent in the left seat of his own much-modified pressurised Cessna 210 and wherever possible, when he couldn’t see the ground. Flying in IMC was for Collins, the best reason to fly. In his words, ‘dealing with inclement weather in light airplanes is one of the most interesting things that a pilot can do. If not done correctly it can be lethal but done correctly it is fascinating and rewarding. Poking around the innards of a weather system will teach you things about weather that you simply can’t learn anywhere else…’ As long as I’ve been flying, there have been plenty of warnings anywhere I cared to read, stating firmly that this last sentence describes research that nobody should ever be doing. Collins, though, made it sound like a reasonable course of action, not least because he used a light aircraft to travel everywhere – in a normal year for anywhere between 300 and 500 hours a year – which in a Cessna 210, far above the clouds, represents a fair old distance. It’s definitely not typical though – even in America – so what he wrote was a rare insight for the rest of us, based on real world experience, not to mention a deep understanding. He also told it very well, involving the reader while making it sound as if anyone could do it… provided they had an understanding of the basics, possessed some experience, and kept an open mind. Weather information, he said, was black and white, what the pilot had to do was learn to squint at the various shades of grey he or she would encounter. The weather you see is what you get, not what is written in the TAFs… Belated discovery of his passing left me with a strange sense of loss. I didn’t know him but Collins was one reason I took out a subscription to Flying magazine in my formative years, along with Peter Garrison – self-taught aerodynamicist and designer and builder of two high-performance low-wing retractables – and of course Len Morgan and Gordon Baxter, time-served professionals in the cockpit and on the page. All of them possessed a conversational style, born of many years of actually doing what they were writing about, and none seemed to have any ego that came across. Confidence, yes, but no self aggrandisement. We’ve had our own great writers in the UK and Europe, but here was an added sense of romance born of a sense that flying anything in the United States was aviating

in the bigger, wider world where more was possible, and more was legal. Collins and his colleagues probably wouldn’t have seen it like that, but based on a small island thousands of miles distant, it seemed like it to me. Many more years ago than I care to contemplate, a year and more of slogging in a Cessna 152 had produced a piece of paper that said I was legal, if not competent. I wondered many times whether I really wanted to do this, mainly because there was so much I didn’t understand. I didn’t know why things happened, just that they usually did if I made a similar input, but not always. The time it took to gain a licence ensured practical experience and mental osmosis had at least soaked in some knowledge, but the breadth of understanding was dangerously narrow. The instructors I encountered could tell me what needed to happen but they didn’t necessarily explain it in a way that could be applied to a slightly different situation. Much of this resonates now when I sit in the left-hand seat

Mark Mitchell

“The weather you see is what you get, not what’s written in the TAFs…” of Mazda’s MX5, trying to help someone navigate a race track in a shorter space of time. If I shout, ‘brake now… turn at that piece of kerb, keep to the left until you can see the marshals’ post…’ and so on, it’s me who’s driving the car, the student is just the autopilot. When I get out, what do they do? If it rains, and all the brake and turn points change, how will they adapt? When they go to another venue, will those instructions serve them? There are some very good instructors and coaches in all disciplines, but having learned to manipulate the controls of an aeroplane, that’s about all I could lay claim to. I have never understood how some people get a licence in a fortnight and then feel confident enough to add some form of instrument qualification? Not getting lost and making a passable landing more than once in 10 attempts seemed hard enough to me. There’s no doubt though, that I gained more of the context that would eventually make flying a pleasure, from books and magazines, and in those days there were more column inches which seemed relevant, written in America. I’m still more comfortable in shabby conditions when there’s someone with an IR sitting next to me, but Richard Collins’ writing was usually the next best thing... Working vintage aircraft and cars make Mark particularly happy January 2022 | FLYER  23

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Squawks Ian Seager


Warning: Politics incoming…

usually avoid politics in this column, but a couple of things have happened recently, so I’m going to have to jump in with both feet. I know that we’ve generally lost the ability to talk about differences sensibly, but I’m hoping that my views on the following two observations are sufficiently far apart (politically), for everyone to be able to see them as non-partisan observations. Some hope, but here goes anyway. Last Sunday there was a piece in the Sunday Times about the UK’s Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps. It was a two-hander written by one journalist specialising in Whitehall and another in property. I’m oversimplifying, but it basically said that Shapps was fighting for General Aviation and General Aviation airfields unfairly. That he was lobbying against his own government by creating the Airfields Advisory Team at the CAA, and that he was using taxpayers money to do so (as well as to offer pilots money off on equipment – this relates to the Electronic Conspicuity scheme). It also pointed out that Shapps owns a Saratoga, which he flies from a farm strip, and that it was worth £200,000. The CAA’s AAT’s comments on both Coventry’s proposed Giga factory and Chalgrove’s new village were cited as evidence, as was FLYER magazine, for campaigning against building on airfields. The story even generated a letter from Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner to Lord Geidt, the Independent Adviser on Ministers’ Interests (even that mentioned FLYER magazine). What a croc of bandwagon chasing shite. It’s a real Minister in ‘looking after his portfolio’ shocker kind of thing, served up with a helping of disgust at the CAA chiming in on, erm, airfield matters, and FLYER magazine doing its best to point out (along with many others) that dismantling an essential part of our national aviation infrastructure in a non-reversible manner is dumber than a dumb thing on a dumb day. Get real people, I know the current Conservative Party is barely treading water in a sea of corruption, but this is weapons grade ignorance that presumably has one or more people behind the scenes nudging things along. Now that’s not to say that Grant Shapps walks on water (erm, I mean air) when it comes to General Aviation. We all know that he’s paid more attention to GA than any Transport Minister that I can remember. He’s created a few waves at the CAA, and he’s generally done good things for GA. This, for the benefit of any Times journos, is part of his actual job, and part of what we all pay him for. But perhaps, inevitably, he also toils under the cloud of collective responsibility. This means upholding the notion that Brexit is a good thing for aviation. As far as I can tell he actually

believes it too, and that might be funny if it wasn’t so tragically wrong. Being outside of EASA may have brought us the chance of an advantage here and there (open goals that we have largely missed so far – take the DfT’s mad action on pilots flying on FAA certificates), but it also dumps massive problems on the industry. A couple of examples… Right now there are hundreds of ATPL students faced with choosing between a CAA and EASA licence. Given there’s next to no long-term mutual recognition, many of them have been pretty much forced into training for both licences, and that means more study, more exams, more time and more money just to get back into a position that’s still worse than they would have enjoyed 12 months ago. And, I haven’t even mentioned the loss of freedom of movement that would have allowed UK professional pilots to live and work for an airline anywhere in Europe. Then there’s the slightly awkward problem of people with a LAPL. You know, that lower cost licence that used to permit you to fly throughout Europe. Not any more. It’s a sub-ICAO licence so your horizons have shrunk considerably. Oh yes, those LPV approaches that provided relatively low-cost precision approaches. Well, for political reasons we couldn’t

Mark Mitchell

“The wheel will still be round, but we can pin a (made in China) Union Jack on it” possibly sign up to something with the word European in it, so we trashed that advance and have fallen back on whatever hugely expensive and late national solution that someone dreams up. The wheel will still be round of course, but at least we’ll be able to pin a (made in China) Union Jack on it, if the Union survives that is. Last example – certification – and yes I have mentioned this before. The sensible pragmatic solution would be to recognise FAA and EASA certification, but no, it seems that the Department for Building Better and Rounder Wheels will swing into action ensuring that our stature as a truly independent nation flourishes in isolation, while missing out on all sorts of progress that pilots in much of the rest of the General Aviation world will be able to enjoy. I know it’s a bit (OK, very) naive, but maybe the political class can be left to argue the toss with a few ignorant mainstream journos, while the sensible grey people in suits can get on with the day-to-day pragmatic business of making things work better, without having to worry about dogma or appearance… Publisher, pre C-19 often found flying something new and interesting January 2022 | FLYER | 25

26 | FLYER | January 2022

FLIGHT TEST | Silence Twister FG

Love not lust… Is the Silence Twister single-seater a mini Spitfire? We fly a UK Twister that does actually spit fire… WORDS Ian Seager. PHOTOGRAPHY Ed Hicks


im gave me three bits of advice before I closed the canopy and started the Twister’s engine: Remember the tailwheel steering is geared, take off with one stage of flap, and enjoy the experience. At least I nailed two out of three… Back in the late 1990s Matthais Streiker was enjoying considerable competition success with a radio controlled model aircraft. The story goes that the little aircraft handled really well, and after many friends suggested scaling it up to a full-size single seater, Matthias and elder brother Thomas did just that, creating the Silence Twister, which they went on to market as a kit. The prototype flew with a Mid West Wankel Engine (maybe 50ish hp on a good day), but that was replaced by the Jabiru 2200, which is said by some to produce 85hp. Quite a few Twisters now fly with the ULPower UL260i which apparently delivers 107hp, albeit at 3,300rpm. As well as producing an efficient aeroplane the Streiker brothers set about producing an efficient kit so, for example, there are only moulds for one wing and one tailplane (the wings have a symmetrical aerofoil). Obviously once built the wings aren’t interchangeable thanks to internal wing differences

like the 40 litres per side fuel tanks. The original Twister had retractable gear, operated by a single electrically driven screw jack. The wheels didn’t fully retract and the mechanism added weight. All of which means that those Twisters that fly with fixed-gear are both lighter and faster than the retract version. You can argue all day about which looks the best, but I’m going to sit on the fence and say that aesthetically they’re both cracking aeroplanes, thanks in no small part to that gorgeous and evocative elliptical wing. A couple of people have tried to explain that it wasn’t inspired by the Supermarine Spitfire, but I’m not buying that for one second! The kit comes with all the structural elements built but not finished. The underside of the fuselage is covered by a large composite panel (also built but not finished), so you can get easy access to everything before finally bonding it on. I’m not qualified to judge the quality of a kit, but those who are tell me the Germans have done a very impressive job. G-TWSS is one of two Twisters owned by Tim Dews. If the name’s familiar, it’s probably because Tim runs a two-ship Grob 109 display team with his son Tom, as well as heading up a glider repair and maintenance company – Airborne Composites – with another son Ben. January 2022 | FLYER | 27

Silence Twister FG

Above Sleek, well proportioned and with that gorgeous elliptical wing Left TWSS occasionally flies displays at dusk and is fitted with LED lights Below Fixed gear Twister is faster and lighter than the retractable gear version

Tim’s first Twister was bought as a kit but thanks to the pressures of work and displaying the Grobs (as far away as New Zealand!), that Twister remains configured as a kit (i.e., the build hasn’t yet started and it’s still a collection of parts). In 2016 G-TWSS came onto the market as a completed and flying example, so Tim bought it with the intention of displaying the aeroplane while Twister number two was being built… Tim was also kind enough to bring the aeroplane over to the strip at Lydeway, to put me on the insurance, and to let me take the aircraft for a flight. I’ve loved the small amount of flying I’ve done in single-seaters but I do find the first flight a bit of a challenge, so try to spend as much time as is available getting familiar. There does come a time, for me at least, when you either have to get in and go, or scrub for the day, as happened on a couple of occasions when I flew the Sport Performance Aviation Panther.

Geared tailwheel steering

We started off with a good look around the aeroplane with Tim explaining some of its quirks, or features, as marketeers like to call them. One thing I don’t think I’ve encountered before was geared tailwheel steering. The wheels aren’t independently braked in the Twister (they are on newer kits, just not on G-TWSS), so using differential braking to improve the turning circle is not an option. To get around this and still achieve a small turning circle, the tailwheel is geared so that it turns maybe twice as much as you’d expect. Tim warned that it was common for first Twister flights to start off with an 28 | FLYER | January 2022

Silence Twister FG

unintentional weave as you accelerate down the runway. I made a mental note. Although the Streiker brothers do not come from the sailplane industry, I thought there were more than a few passing nods in that direction. The aircraft can be rigged and de-rigged by a single person using the appropriate aids. The seat/tub is easily removed to facilitate rigging. It’s not fixed in place and just sits in the fuselage, a side effect of which we’ll come back to. To demonstrate Tim showed just how easy it was to remove and refit the tailplane and rudder, taking care to ensure that all clips were in place, and double checking by giving it a good pull to make sure that it doesn’t come off in your hands. Now that would spoil your day…

Road transport

Just like a sailplane it can be easily loaded onto a trailer for road transport, and while most of us won’t have the space for a competition glider on our drives, a few more will have room for a Twister trailer. Trimming the aeroplane is by use of a spring rather than aerodynamics, and for this there’s either a trigger on the stick to set the tension at your desired speed or a small slider by your left leg. Tim advised that it flies beautifully and rarely needs trimming. The composite honeycomb with carbon fibre spars structure is good for +6/-4g, and although not fitted to TWSS, there’s an optional ballistic chute. It was a hot day, so we pulled the aeroplane into the shade so that I could sit in the cockpit (you need to wear the parachute or it’s an awkward fit) and get familiar. For a single-seater the space is pretty generous, and by sitting on the wing it is not too

Top It’s a pretty spacious single seater, note FLARM display at top of panel Above Easy access for rigging with the seat removed. Wing pins lock into place with an over centre twist motion. Note also trim lever on the stick Right Here lies fire! Buttons to set the wingtip pyros off when fitted for a display

January 2022 | FLYER 29

Silence Twister FG

difficult to get in and slide your legs down to the rudder pedals under the panel. The seat is not adjustable but the pedals are (another sailplane thing), basically by pulling a handle and putting them where you want them. There’s a minimum seat weight of 70kg, not that it bothered me. Sadly. I think you’d describe TWSS as a functional working aeroplane. It’s got a small Dynon screen, the usual collection of steam gauges, and a few extra bits and pieces – some that work the smoke system and others that fire the pyrotechnic charges when fitted. I was hoping for nothing to go off with a bang. Flaps are electric and operated by a rotary knob on the panel and there’s even a decent-sized reminder label on the other side of the panel saying ‘FLAPS?’. Which can only be for idiots who seem to forget. Gawd… There was also a tiny FLARM screen fitted top and centre. I thought it was utterly brilliant.

Muscle memory

After a period of trying to generate a bit of muscle memory for various controls (not sure I managed that), we pushed the aeroplane back into position. I

Pete Wells: voice of experience Pete Wells of Zulu Glasstek is the UK importer for Twister kits and also probably the world’s most experienced Twister pilot. I spoke to Pete when researching some background for this feature and his love, respect and enthusiasm for the aeroplane shows through. With something like 2,500 hours on type and about 650 displays in his logbook (plus a bunch of experience flying other aerobatic single seaters for comparison) Pete’s not only explored the corners of the flight envelope, but done it so often that he might as well have pitched a tent and moved into some of them. It was Pete’s thoughts about the aeroplane that gave rise to this article’s Love not Lust title. When he first flew the aeroplane he liked it well enough but after investing large amounts of time and effort into getting to know it well under all circumstances he clearly came to love the aeroplane. If there’s ever the likelihood of a Twister in your future, then talking to Pete will not be time wasted!

30 | FLYER | January 2022

checked the parachute straps, climbed in, did up the harness, closed the canopy and started the Jabiru engine, mentally reminding myself of the geared tailwheel steering and determined not to depart the runway in anything but a straight line. The Twister should be up and clearing that 50ft high obstacle within 300m. With about 800m to play with I figured I could afford to ease in the throttle very gently, and to be ready with my dancing feet to keep an arrow-straight line. I rolled forwards a bit to make sure the tailwheel was straight, made a radio call, took a final look around and got a thumbs up from Tim. Easing the throttle forwards gently we moved. Slowly. A bit more power. I was tracking pretty straight and wondering if the mighty Jab2200 would change that once I went to full power. I pushed the throttle forwards only to find that I was already at full power. This is not an aeroplane that will surprise you with its acceleration, at least not on the ground. The ground run was taking a bit longer than I expected, but as per the manual, holding neutral elevator would see it fly off somewhere just south of 50kt. There was no time to feel vaguely smug about keeping it in what passes for a straight line because I was consumed with embarrassment after having forgotten… the flaps. Bloody idiot. Lesson learned. I climbed away to the north for a bit of general handling where the Twister proved itself to fly every bit as well as its looks suggested. The view of that beautiful wing to the right and left was classic and I snapped a quick iPhone pic in case I needed to pinch myself later. Being a hot day I wanted to make sure the temps were kept within limits so I climbed out at about 600fpm – nice cooling air, great view over the nose, what’s not to like? The controls were light and responsive and the sluggishness on the ground replaced by harmonised eagerness. Not your 400° a second, smack you round the face with 300+ hp, kind of eagerness you get with the gyromonstervomit machines... no, this was a much kinder eagerness. Before going much further I wanted to take a quick look at the stall. I’d read previous reports of the Twister dropping a wing which it did with a bit of gusto. Nothing scary but we’re not talking Cessna mushing either. Flying steeper turns and a few wingovers I noticed a noise coming from the seat pan. As I mentioned earlier this just sits in the fuselage, and I was pretty sure that it was being caused by a little movement. I was pretty sure that it was OK but decided that this was another reason not to start exploring the aerobatic qualities of the aeroplane. If you want to know more about those

Above Hmm, I may be wrong about the no lust thing... Right Rudder and tailplane can be easily and quickly removed and fitted Below Honestly, I think the fixed mains look just as good as the retracts Left Tailwheel has geared steering as there’s no differential braking

January 2022 | FLYER | 31

Above Approach speed is 60kt with full flap. Some prefer a bit of forward slip Left With a bit of practice, the Twister can be single handedly rigged or de-rigged Below left Getting familiar with the cockpit during ground briefing Below Lovely Lydeway, flying somewhere familiar for a first flight reduces the variables

from people who know more than me, talk to Tim Dews or Pete Wells. Apart from Andy McKee’s epic cross-country (see boxout, p34), I can’t imagine there are many who would want to use the Twister as a regular crosscountry machine, although I guess there’s a fair amount of transit work involved in displaying the aircraft (do we have much of a display industry left after Covid?), so I thought I’d better take a quick peek at the cruise performance. To cut a long story short, the sweet spot for this particular engine seems to be somewhere between 110 and 120kt and that’ll see you burning maybe 12 to 15 litres per hour. Eight of the 80 litres are unusable and I’d want to be adding fuel and stretching my legs after three hours. There’s actually quite a bit of space behind the seat, so no reason not to take a weekend bag providing you respect the w&b. I’d followed two-thirds of Tim’s advice. I’d kept it straight and enjoyed my flight immensely, but we’ll gloss over the flap issue. Now all I had to do was get it back on the ground without breaking it. Taking a conservative approach I gave myself enough time to slow down and get the flaps out (I remembered). I lined up and flew a longer than usual but pretty stable final approach at 60kt. Visibility remained great, speed was stable and the flare came at the right time. The Twister settled and I let it roll out on the grass, only really using the brakes out of curiosity (you move the lever backwards while making sure to close the throttle with the heel of your hand). I taxied back, shut down and Ed took a picture, hopefully of me with a Twister grin.

Flying machine

Should you want to build one of your own, I’m going to estimate that you’ll have to spend £100k on it before it’s a fully fledged and beautiful flying machine. You could probably do it for a bit less if 32 | FLYER | January 2022

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Silence Twister FG

Twister to Oshkosh TECH SPECS

You read that right. Andy McKee flew his Twister, G-FUUN, from the UK to Oshkosh in 2017. Not put off by the experience of getting there, and after some local flying, he turned around and flew it back again! Andy wrote about the epic adventure in our November 2017 edition (available shortly online to FLYER Club members), but a few facts to put the trip into some kind of context… Cruise speed was 125ktas, fuel burn was 14.5 litres/hr with total fuel used being 1,737 litres. Andy flew for 120 hours which was split over 51 flights, travelling for 12,370nm (not including the local flights). There’s also an impressive collection of ‘firsts’. G-FUUN was the first Twister (and so far only) Twister to cross the Atlantic, it was the first Atlantic crossing powered by a UL engine, the first by a Hercules propeller and Andy was also the first Kiwi to fly a homebuilt they built themselves across the Atlantic. Oh yes, and he did all of that with a grand total of just 350 hours on his PPL at the time. You can take a look at Andy’s build by going to his blog here.

Silence Twister FG Single-seat aerobatic kitplane

It’s all about that wing...


Max speed (Vne) 165kt Cruise speed 110-120kt Stall speed (full flap) 44kt Take-off distance 300m Rate of climb 1,000fpm+

Weights & loading Seats One Max take-off 410kg Empty 269kg Payload 141kg


Wingspan 24ft 7in Wing area 93.6sq ft Length 20ft 3in


Airframe Honeycomb composite Engine Jabiru 2200A Max power 85hp


Silence Aircraft


Pete Wells Zulu Glasstek 01844 208157


Aircraft approx £100,000 complete

Yup, that’s the Twister grin. A bit like the RV grin…

you wanted to cut some non-essential corners, and you might find an older, perhaps less polished one on the used market for anything from £65k upwards. Either way the Twister can’t really be considered cheap, but as an old colleague used to say, cheap things are rarely valuable and valuable things are rarely cheap. The bottom line is that single-seat aircraft are gloriously selfish. The good ones concentrate and heighten the fun. They reduce the compromises. I can imagine how the Twister’s lack of raw power grows on you, challenges you to better manage your energy, better plan your routine, to become a better pilot and all with next to no fuel costs when compared to the fire breathers. Ultimately I understand lusting after a GameBird or a Spitfire, but I can also see how you’d fall in love with a Twister. 34 | FLYER | January 2022

Highish cost of acquisition offset by low DOCs (Direct Operational Costs)

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My First Solo

Rob Hughes

Every time he lands, Rob Hughes still gets a sense of achievement and relief. Interview by Yayeri van Baarsen

Solo stats After being Chairman for seven years, Rob Hughes has now been appointed as the new CEO of the British Microlight Aircraft Association (BMAA). When: 28 March 2001 Where: Shobdon Airfield Aircraft: Thruster T600N microlight Hours at solo: Approx. 19 Hours now: Approx. 400

How did you get into aviation? In 1995, as an adrenaline junkie, I went skydiving in Florida (USA). After breaking my ankle on my 31st landing, I ended up talking to the pilots and realised they had way more fun. That’s what started the dream. Six years later, my cousin John took me up in a flexwing microlight. About 20 minutes into the flight, he said: ‘I think you knocked the throttle with your knee’. Turns out there was water in the fuel, so we had to land in a field. I thought, ‘If this is the worst that can happen, sign me up…’, which I did, immediately after returning to the airfield. How did your flight training go? I enjoyed the whole experience of learning to fly, from the moment I reached the aircraft to the minute I drove home. At first it was overwhelming, flying this tiny 190kg microlight, but I soon got used to it. Although I felt flying came naturally, my instructor disagreed. He was a bit controlling, which made me nervous, so I switched and finished my training in Antequera (Spain) where I was the only person on the entire airfield. My new instructor, Graham Slater, was great. He corrected my mistakes without constantly interrupting me. After the first flight, he asked, “Why haven’t you already passed your test?”

How did your first microlight solo compare to your first GA aircraft solo? I wasn’t expecting my microlight solo, which happened on a beautiful evening. I said to myself, ‘If this goes wrong, you only have yourself to blame’ and did two circuits – all went well. After landing, I still couldn’t believe it. It was the most amazing day of my entire flying career. I recently chose to add the NPPL SSEA rating, as it’s one way to fly 600kg microlights. My first PA-28 solo was expected. It happened in September at Gloucestershire Airport, with business jets, helicopters, and a really busy ATC. I only had one hour and 45 minutes in the aeroplane and it still felt new to me. Flying a fixed-wing aircraft is all about speed and attitude – in a microlight, I’d come into land at 50mph, in the PA-28, at 65kt. Soloing it gave me the same sense of achievement and relief. I remember thinking, ‘I successfully got this aeroplane on the ground!’. To be honest, I still feel like that after every landing... How do you see the future of microlighting evolving? It’s a really exciting time now. I’m keen to expand at both ends. From the very lightweight and minimal aircraft in the sub-70kg category, which can be a step

“In the air you can get away from everything else because you concentrate solely on flying” 36 | FLYER | January 2022

into microlighting, all the way up to the very sophisticated two-seaters. We’re becoming a wider family and as CEO it’s my job to ensure these distinct categories all feel part of the BMAA. If you want to fly, microlighting has something to offer, whatever your budget or experience. With the new 600kg limit, there might be pilots who now fly PA-28s or Cessna 150s, both more expensive and less environmentally friendly aircraft, and may instead choose to fly a microlight in the future. In the past, microlights have been seen as somewhat inferior, but nowadays that’s certainly not the case anymore. What aircraft would you have in your fantasy hangar? The Silence Twister, a single-seater which looks a bit like a small Spitfire. I’ve longed for one for a very long time. It’s only 330kg, so it could now be approved as a microlight. I’d also like something faster and fully aerobatic, like an MX2 – I was lucky enough to be taken up in one by Nigel Lamb, which was incredible. Plus, of course, a Spitfire. Because of the whole vintage experience of noise, history, and romance, and because my uncle flew them in the RAF’s Battle of Britain Memorial Flights. What do you love about flying most? The physical sensation, combined with the travelling and the social side. Put all three together and I’m a very happy man. I feel so privileged to fly. For me, it’s a release. In the air you can get away from everything else because you have to concentrate solely on flying.

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Richard Vary reports on the trials, tribulations and ultimate triumph of building his award-winning Nieuport Baby SSDR biplane

Bringing up Baby


was quite happy flying AX3s at Popham. Popham, if you don’t know it, is a delightful airfield set in rolling Hampshire countryside. The landscape around it could satisfy a lifetime of low and slow summer evening flying, buzzing about over fields and streams, out over the scarp edge of Watership Down and above the valley beneath. If feeling brave, I might venture south, out over the blue waters of the Solent and across to the Isle of Wight. I was happy doing this until one day, there on the grass in front of the Popham café, appeared a thing of beauty: G-BUCO, an immaculate Pietenpol Aircamper built (I now know) by a gentleman called Alan James. Next to it my AX3 looked like, well, it looked like a flying tent. There was no choice. I had to get a better looking aeroplane. The UK’s Light Aircraft Association has a treasure trove of plans, particularly of the low and slow summer-evening variety of aeroplane. The problem was that the aircraft that I liked the look of – Currie Wot, Luton and Turbulent – were mostly wood and

38 | FLYER | January 2022

needed to be kept in a hangar. I could not see myself being able to find, let alone afford, an indoor hangarage near London. There was, however, a design being built extensively in the US which caught my eye: the Circa Nieuport. I have a particular weakness for anything that could be called a ‘flying machine’ rather than an aeroplane, and this almost perfectly scale replica of a Nieuport 11 (‘Bébé’) biplane falls close to that category. Particularly if one were to cover it in translucent doped linen and omit anything as war-like as a Lewis gun… As the design was made of aluminium tube, not wood, it would not mind being left out in the rain occasionally, at least during the summer. The only problem, and admittedly it was a pretty large one, was that it was not an approved design in the UK, so it could not be flown here. In April 2007, everything changed. The Civil Aviation Authority de-regulated single-seat microlight aircraft. I could build the Nieuport if the weight and stall speed fitted within the microlight category.

SSDR Biplane

The first thing I did was to send off for the plans from designer Graham Lee’s son. These arrived from Canada a week later. I was initially disappointed. Instead of beautiful draughtsman’s blueprints I received a photocopy of a handwritten and handsketched series of instructions. However, after reading through them, they were clear, easy to understand and talked the reader through each stage. Overall, it did not look too difficult. Finding a suitable engine was more of a challenge. The original had flown in the 1980s with a 25hp Cuyuna engine. No such thing existed 30 years later. Builders in the US had used a 36hp Volkswagen, an excellent engine, but too heavy if I was to keep the aircraft within the UK weight limits. The plans suggested a Rotax 447 as an alternative… these are no longer made. The 50hp Rotax 503 is available, but this was discounted in the plans as being too powerful. On the internet I had read about an engine called a Verner 3VW. With three cylinders, the empty weight was said to be only 36kg. It produced 36hp, or 42hp for take-off. Better still, it was a radial so it would look right – and a four stroke, so it would sound right.

Above Richard, right, receiving the Albert Codling Trophy at the LAA AGM

Learning to build

I needed to learn some aircraft building skills, so I signed up for two LAA courses. The first was about aluminium. In a Portacabin on a windswept and rainy airfield, I learned to use air tools to cut, shape and rivet aluminium, coming away from the day with an aluminium toolbox, and the realisation that I would need to buy a compressor. The woodworking course was hosted by LAA tutor Dudley Pattison at his house near Swindon. Duds is a famous name in the radio-controlled aircraft world as the founder of Flair models, and I had built some of his kits, so it was a bit of an honour to meet him. He had just completed an immaculate wooden Flitzer biplane. He taught us about glues, aircraft grade timber, making scarf joints and all the things one would need to build a wooden aircraft. But one particular piece of advice stuck in my memory – ‘move a bolt’. Building an aircraft is a very long and difficult project. With pressures of work and life, it is easy for progress to cease for long periods, or end altogether. The many unfinished aircraft projects advertised for sale are a testament to the difficulty that many builders come across in staying the course. Duds’ advice was simple, go into the workshop every day and do something. If nothing else, just ‘move a bolt’ from one hole to another. That way, you stay in the habit of working on the aircraft, and even if there are long periods when you do not have time to make any real progress, it always remains present in your mind.

Above Trial fitting the tailplane and rudder Above inset Applying the colours of number 594, allocated to the RNAS

First steps: building a rudder

As an experiment to see if I could actually do this thing, I ordered the materials for the rudder. These were various sizes of aluminium tube. The techniques for building a rudder are the same as are used in the rest of the aircraft, so this was a useful experiment. One Saturday morning, when I was home alone,

Above Home-made tube squisher, for turning round tube into oval spars

January 2022 | FLYER | 39

SSDR Biplane

I carefully cut a main spar tube to length, and filed the ends into a fish-mouth shape where it would meet the tubular frame that forms the outline of the rudder. That frame needed to be bent around a wooden former, so on a bandsaw I cut some scrap wood into a gentle curve, and screwed it firmly to the work surface. By clamping a long piece of the aluminium tube against this wooden former and pulling it around the bend, it was possible to bend the tube into the shape of the rudder outline, without the tube buckling. I slotted my spar into this frame, stood back and admired it. A couple of other tubes formed ribs, running from the front to the back of the rudder. To hold it all together, I cut diamond-shaped gussets from the thin aluminium sheet. These were easy to cut with scissors. One of these was clamped hard onto the spar and dented with a punch to form a dimple where the rivet would go. I then drilled a hole, and inserted a temporary rivet, called a ‘cleco’ to hold the parts hard together. The gusset was then folded over the outer edge of the frame and back onto the other side of the spar. More clamping, and I could drill and insert rivets to fix them together permanently. More of these gussets, and by the end of the day I had a rudder. It weighed less than my target weight. At this point my wife came to find me in the workshop. This was awkward. I had not yet discussed my idea of building an aircraft with my family. I had once built a kayak on the dining room table, which I Below Mounting the Verner 3VW engine and making the side panels for the forward fuselage

40 | FLYER | January 2022

now admit became something of an inconvenience. Worse still, my family had seen the fate of several radio controlled gliders. So I was concerned that the idea of me building an aircraft, and then flying in it, might not be encouraged. I had planned to introduce the idea gently, but now I was caught, red-handed, holding what was quite obviously a bit of an aeroplane. In retrospect I needn’t have worried, although she probably wondered why I couldn’t just watch sport on the TV like normal husbands…

Ordering materials

With things looking positive on both technical and domestic fronts, I ordered the aluminium tubes and sheet for the whole airframe, along with nuts, bolts and rivets from Aircraft Spruce and Specialty. It was a few weeks before the call came, and the voice on the other end said, “Delivery from the United States for you. You’ll need to come and pay the duty and get it.” “How big is the package?” I asked. “Thirteen feet long,” he replied. “And you won’t be able to lift it.” I hadn’t thought of that. Thirteen feet in length wasn’t a problem, it could go on my roof rack. But how would I get it up there? “We’re not supposed to, but if you can come this afternoon, I can help you lift it on,” the voice added, kindly. I’d figure out how to get it off again when I got home. I took the afternoon off work and drove to the warehouse. I had imagined that I would need to collect the package at the airport and pay the customs duty there, but in fact the warehouse was in an industrial estate in Slough, some way from Heathrow.

SSDR Biplane

Above top Making ribs for the upper wing in a jig Above Pulleys at an angle for the aileron cables

The warehouseman wheeled a long box out on a pallet truck. He and a colleague each took one end and assisted by a good degree of profanity lifted it onto the roof-rack. It was clearly heavy and a brief mental calculation showed why… about half of the aircraft weight was in that box. After paying, I strapped it down and drove cautiously home. It stayed on the roof rack on the driveway overnight. I figured the chances of it being stolen were fairly low. The next morning, I persuaded my neighbour Glen to help me lift it down. Glen is a large New Zealander and, like so many of his countrymen, is particularly useful to have around when it comes to moving heavy things. He was to prove equally useful a week later when a courier company left a second-hand lathe in the middle of the driveway. We lowered the box carefully onto a couple of dollies. Above it, I built sides and a top from an MDF sheet. This made a long, flat work table that could be

Above Brackets and gussets await priming

January 2022 | FLYER | 41

SSDR Biplane

pushed up against one wall of the workshop if needed, or wheeled into the centre so that I could get around each side. With the garage door shut, there was a foot spare at each end that I could squeeze around. After tearing my shirt doing this too quickly, I rounded off the corners of the table with a sanding block. On the surface I started to measure out and draw the fuselage sides. This took quite a few evenings. Inevitably I would make mistakes, and have to rub parts out and start again, but eventually I had the fuselage drawn out, complete with verticals and diagonal bracing tubes. I cut scrap wood into small blocks which I screwed in at critical points to hold the tubing in the right place. Over the winter, I gradually laid out the fuselage sides, to be braced with tubes and held together with thin sheets and rivets. With work commitments I might manage a couple of these per week. Eventually I had two identical sides I could then join them with cross tubes. I now had a fuselage frame.

Wing spars

The lower wings on a Nieuport are quite narrow. The aircraft is more properly a sesquiplane than a biplane. They have a single main spar, with ribs slotted over it and riveted to it, and an external frame of thin tubing. The spar is made of a 9ft tube that has been ‘ovalled’, ie, crushed so that it is no longer a round cross section, but is taller than it is wide. Doing this evenly required some ingenuity. From a metals delivery website, I ordered two lengths of steel rectangular section tube, and a small size of square tube. The latter I cut into short lengths. Below A Nieuport makes an arresting lawn ornament!

42 | FLYER | January 2022

Using a cheap arc welder, I welded these short lengths to the side of the longer tubes at six inch spacing, so that the coach bolts could pass through them and draw the two long tubes together, squashing anything between. I put the halves together with some thin strip wood between the steel and the aluminium, and tightened the nuts. It was a long and slow process to tighten 20 pairs of nuts along the length evenly so that the tube formed a consistent oval, but it worked, and I had two long oval wing spars.

Ribs and more rib

s The wing ribs on the Circa Nieuport comprise a straight bottom piece of tube, and a curved upper piece. I needed 16 of them for the lower wings, and 24 for the upper. The plans called for yet more bending formers to be cut from scrap wood, and screwed down to the workbench. Once these were made, I could start to bend the ribs. I found it best to do these quickly, one after the other because then they tended to come out the same. If I took a break, the next ones would be very slightly different. Assembling the wings was an enjoyable task, because now they started to take shape. I spread the components on the flat workbench, and slid the ribs over the spars. At each point where the ribs met the outer frame, the leading or trailing edge, I used a clamp to pull the frame hard against the rib before drilling and riveting another diagonal gusset around the joint to hold them firmly together. Working only occasional days here and there, the wings took another two years of patient work. Eventually, I had four wings. My next project will be a monoplane…

SSDR Biplane

Above An old oak drawer front finds a new life as an instrument panel

Above Stitching the covering to the wing structure

Lockdown working

Verner Motors has a dealer in the UK based on an airfield near Selby, in Yorkshire, from where I could collect the engine. I was excited to see it as I had only seen pictures so far. I was impressed by how light it was. I could (just) pick it up and lift it with my hands. This was to prove useful later. Although I have an engine crane, I have to choose whether the crane or the fuselage is in my workshop at any one time. They won’t both fit. However, once it was in a crate, with accessories, I could no longer lift it. Glen, the New Zealand neighbour, was again to prove useful. From here the pace of building started to pick up. The coronavirus pandemic confined me to working from home. This meant that I had an extra two hours per day when I was not commuting. I would get up early and get a couple of hours of work done on the aircraft before starting my day job. On occasion I took long conference calls from the workshop so I could file or shape components while listening to the call. On one occasion I forgot to put myself back on mute and my colleagues were treated to the sound of me filing a turtle deck stringer to length… As summer came, I moved the work onto the patio. To make the cowl, I made a former of thick pine, and gently hammered a sheet of soft aluminium onto the former to achieve the shape. To find out how, I watched YouTube videos and replicated how custom motorcycle makers shape mudguards. Although I found the slow and careful process of shrinking the metal to form the nose bowl restful, my wife observed that the neighbours

Above left Electronic ignition coils of the Verner engine Above right Stainless steel tank holds enough fuel for 90 minutes flying

were probably growing tired of the tap-tap-tap of metal bashing. So once the cowl was almost dimplefree, I finished it off on an English wheel. On a glorious May bank holiday, stuck at home in full pandemic lockdown, I moved the entire aircraft out to be assembled on the lawn. With the engine installed, the fuselage was heavy and I nearly lost control of it as I wheeled it down the ramp onto the lawn. The aircraft ran away down the slope with me trying to slow it before it hit a cherry tree. That was very nearly its first crash. Eventually we had it fully assembled on the lawn. It looked so good that I didn’t want to cover it.

See-through covering

I chose to cover the Nieuport in a translucent covering so that the structure of the aircraft is still visible, particularly when the sun shines through the fabric The original would have been covered in doped linen. I cheated and used ‘antique’ Oratex, a heat-shrink fabric that needs no doping. The process is similar to covering a model aeroplane in heat-shrink film. January 2022 | FLYER | 43

SSDR Biplane

Flying the nest

Eventually the day came when there was nothing more I could do at home. I arranged a couple of days off work and hired a large trailer. I set off shortly after dawn, carefully towing the trailer around the M25. Even though this was a pretty uncivilised hour of the day, cars were pulling alongside me to look at the aircraft, before waving and accelerating away. One even rolled down his window to film on his mobile phone. I suppose it is not every day that an aircraft drives around the M25. The next couple of days I spent assembling the aircraft, and adjusting the turnbuckles to get the angles of incidence correct. With no brakes and no tailwheel, taxying the Nieuport is challenging. Some of the Stow Maries WWI pilots had told me the way to turn is to apply full down elevator, full rudder, and a burst of power. This sounded like a good way to stand the aircraft on its nose but it worked. I was just about able to turn. I taxied up and down the airfield, gradually getting faster and faster, with the tail lifting. The wind was not straight up the runway, so on one occasion as the tail came back down, I felt it break away to the right, the right lower wingtip touched the ground and around we went. A good inspection showed nothing broken, but I fitted some fiberglass rods under the lower wings as tip draggers. They are not very authentic, but they will help save the covering while I learn. Then, one evening as the sun was close to setting, I opened the throttle and let her run. The tail came up. There was a moment of calm as the bumping stopped

44 | FLYER | January 2022

Above The Nieuport fully assembled and looking very authentic at Damyns Hall, before taxi testing

and the air supported us. I thought for one glorious moment about letting the climb continue… but sense prevailed. I eased back on the throttle and the wheels touched again. We had flown! Ahead lies lots of tweaking and trouble-shooting before I dare try leaving the ground for more than a second or two. But all too soon it was time to take it all apart again, to trailer up to Sywell for the Light Aircraft Association Rally and 75th Anniversary, where the Nieuport had a place in the homebuilders’ tent. I have never been to a rally before and it was an overwhelming experience. I spent three fascinating days meeting other builders and pilots and talking about building. I had written up my build in a short book, optimistically printing 200 copies: I had to start rationing these as they proved very popular. It is now on Amazon as The Biplane in the Garden. The other displays in the tent were the front end of a Wright Flyer, a demonstration of blow moulding bubble canopies, a home-built seven cylinder radial engine, a full scale Avro 504, and Mr Alan James himself, builder of G-BUCO that started me down this route, showing us how to carve a propellor by hand. Just over the fence sat his latest gleaming project: a silver Isaacs Spitfire. Now there’s a thought… In truth, my baby Nieuport looked small and basic next to these immaculate exhibits. But the judges must have liked it, because I was surprised and very flattered to be awarded the Albert Codling Trophy for the best part-completed aircraft.

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Safety Accident Analysis

Make it Gruyere – not Emmental…

Accidents usually occur when a number of factors align - like the holes in the Swiss cheese. Steve Ayres thinks eliminating the holes before getting airborne has to be the best approach…

Accident 1

A Hartwig Air Beechcraft Baron 95-B55 departed Ceduna Airport, South Australia, for a night-time charter flight with the pilot and one passenger onboard. During the flight, the pilot noted that when the autopilot was engaged, the aircraft was ‘snaking left to right’ but felt that, overall, its tracking was not greatly affected (the aircraft’s slight left and right lateral motion during the flight was evident in the aircraft’s tracking data). The pilot had also observed the same behaviour on an earlier flight that day. The aircraft was cleared for a night visual approach and descended towards Parafield Airport for a downwind join. At the time, the pilot’s focus was on the autopilot, resulting in the pilot losing sight of the runway. The aircraft passed over the control tower, parallel with the downwind leg of

the circuit and descended to about 1,330ft. At the same time, another aircraft was at 700ft and turning onto the final leg of the circuit for Runway 21R, so the tower controller instructed the pilot of the Baron to maintain 1,500ft. At this time, the pilot believed (incorrectly) that the aircraft was positioned on the downwind leg for runway 21R. Seventeen seconds later, the controller instructed the pilot to make a right turn with the intention of repositioning the aircraft to join final for runway 21R via a teardrop turn. The pilot started a right turn, during which the aircraft proceeded outside both the circling area and Parafield control area close to high ground. During the right turn, the pilot could not see the runway and continued flying south-east at 1,400ft while looking for it. About 30 seconds later, the tower controller requested confirmation that the pilot was returning to the airport and informed them that the aircraft was no longer in controlled airspace. The aircraft continued tracking away from the airport and the controller instructed the pilot to track directly to the airport, maintain 1,500ft, and join the downwind leg. With the aircraft still travelling south away from the airport, the controller requested confirmation that the pilot could see the airport. The pilot acknowledged and turned the aircraft towards Parafield Airport, subsequently landing safely. The pilot stated that the behaviour of the autopilot led them to lose confidence in its performance and partly focus on the autopilot during the approach, and

“Downloaded data from the autopilot system revealed three in-flight error codes” 46 | FLYER | January 2022

that when the aircraft flew over the control tower in line with the runway, they believed the aircraft was positioned on the downwind leg.

Accident 2

The instrument-rated private pilot and passenger departed into instrument meteorological conditions in a Piper PA 46 with a 600ft cloud ceiling. Air traffic control data showed the aeroplane in a climbing left turn that continued beyond the assigned heading. After reaching 1,400ft amsl, the aeroplane continued turning left and its altitude and speed began to vary. The aeroplane continued in a left spiral, completing more than two full circles, then decelerated in a right turn and rapidly descended until impact with terrain. Examination of the flight control system revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions and downloaded engine data indicated normal engine operation. Downloaded data from the autopilot system revealed three in-flight error codes. The first error code, which likely occurred about one minute after take-off, would have resulted in the autopilot, if it was engaged at the time, disengaging. The subsequent error codes likely occurred during the erratic flight profile, with the autopilot disengaged. The mechanic who performed the aeroplane’s last annual inspection stated that the pilot told him that he was having intermittent issues with the autopilot system, such as it not following a selected heading or course. The aeroplane was scheduled in November 2018 for work on this issue, but the appointment was not kept. In January 2019, the pilot told the mechanic that the autopilot issue had not yet been fixed. The pilot’s girlfriend, who flew with the pilot on several flights during the months leading up to the

accident, stated the autopilot would frequently not engage after take-off.

Mark Mitchell


number of recent accidents had me reflecting on the ‘Swiss cheese’ model we often quote in aviation. We all recognise that there are lots of things that can challenge us when we go flying, but we strive to make sure they are minimised and don’t all align to culminate in an accident. Breaking the chain is often key. But in these recent accidents it occurred to me that a major factor was an aircraft fault which was already known about, and that it was while dealing with the consequences of that fault in flight that the incident occurred. Adopting a Swiss Gruyere rather than an Emmental approach to flying has to be the better way forward!

When this occurred, the pilot would focus on getting the autopilot to operate during the departure. On one of these flights, she became concerned when the aeroplane entered an unusual attitude.

Accident 3

The pilot of the retractable landing gear-equipped Cessna R182, reported that, after take-off, there was an issue with the alternator. He checked the circuit breakers, which were ‘in’ and decided to land at a nearby airport to have the alternator examined. During the approach, he placed the landing gear handle in the gear extended position. He said it felt ‘normal’ but that he did not remember if he heard the landing gear motor. He did not look outside the high-wing aeroplane to check the landing gear position, and he did not remember seeing the green landing gear position lights illuminate. He added that the landing gear warning horn did not sound. He reported that, during landing, the nose landing gear was down and locked, but the main landing gear was trailing behind the aeroplane and the aeroplane slid to the left side of the runway. The pilot reported that if he had known the gear was not extended, he would have manually pumped the landing gear down. The mechanic reported that, when he arrived at the aeroplane postaccident, the landing gear circuit breaker was popped. He jacked up the aeroplane and repositioned the landing gear and then turned on the power, pushed in the landing gear circuit breaker and raised the landing gear. He did not recall hearing the warning horn but mentioned that the throttle ‘may have been pushed in’. He successfully cycled the landing gear multiple times. The mechanic added that a previous pilot of the accident aeroplane reported that the landing gear circuit breaker would often pop and that he would lower the landing gear with the manual pump.

Accident 4

The pilot and student pilot-rated passenger were in a Mooney M20K and inbound for landing. Multiple witnesses saw the aeroplane on the downwind leg of the airport traffic pattern. One witness estimated that the aeroplane was lower and closer to the runway than a typical traffic pattern.

Witnesses then saw the aeroplane begin a left turn, and one reported that the aeroplane then rapidly transitioned to a nose-down descent. The wreckage location corresponded to an extended downwind-to-base turn. There was ample space available for the pilot to initiate the turn to final without excessive flight control inputs. The aeroplane appeared to be in the landing configuration, and debris distribution and damage indicated a near vertical, nose-down impact, consistent with the aeroplane impacting the ground while in a spin. Post-accident examination did not reveal any anomalies with the airframe or engine that would have precluded normal operation, and the engine appeared to be operating at the time of impact. However, evidence suggested that the aeroplane’s engine-driven vacuum pump had recently failed. Such a failure would have resulted in multiple visual alerts, caused the vacuum-operated instruments to become inoperative, and prevented operation of the aeroplane’s speed brakes. The aeroplane was equipped with a back-up vacuum system,

however, impact damage prevented an accurate assessment of its operational status at the time of the accident. The vacuum pump had exceeded its manufacturer’s recommended replacement life and had been subjected to multiple sudden engine stoppage events, each of which required replacement of the pump. However, there was no indication in the aeroplane’s logbooks that the pump had been replaced following these events. Although none of the systems that relied on the vacuum pump were critical for visual flight rules operation, such a failure would have presented an operational distraction to the pilot that would have competed for his attention while flying in the pattern. Based on witness reports and the location of the wreckage, it is possible that he extended the downwind leg to attempt to manage the failure or in an effort to slow the aeroplane further to land without the speed brakes. The presence of a systems failure may have exceeded the pilot’s capability to appropriately divide his attention between aeroplane control and systems management.

Ayres’ Analysis Distractions are never far away in our everyday flying and we have learned to manage most of them effectively. They can be responsible for holes in our piece of Swiss cheese but they are usually small. Training and experience being the best way to keep them that way, of course. However, the case studies discussed involve distractions that are arguably entirely self-induced. They effectively existed in the piece of cheese before the pilot ever got airborne. The particular fault had the potential on every flight to feature highly and as such would almost certainly align with other holes to become a factor in whether an accident would be avoided or not. How big a threat those known faults become is, of course, in part down to how competent the pilot is in coping with them. Experienced, current aircrew would hopefully do a better job than the occasional, inexperienced flyer. But some days, most of us fall into that latter category so having pre-existing known threats means the odds are stacked against us from the get-go. Not that I am suggesting a functioning autopilot should be an essential piece of equipment in order to fly safely, but it can release capacity to deal with other issues when your back is against the wall. An undercarriage circuit breaker that pops occasionally is probably manageable most of the time if you know about it and nothing else goes wrong like running short of fuel or, as in this case, an electrical emergency occurs. Finally, there is the issue of maintenance. Perhaps back-up systems exist but they too have to be functioning and reliable to get you out of a hole safely and there is a suggestion in the final example that it may not have been the case. Even if it was, why hollow out a giant cavity in the middle of your piece of cheese that sits there waiting to line up with other holes every time you get airborne? Often the consequences of a particular component failure are not well thought through and are rarely tested against every circumstance we are likely to encounter when flying on a particular day. So perhaps it’s time to get those old or temperamental bits of kit serviced and functioning correctly before next getting airborne? January 2022 | FLYER | 47

Safety Accident Reports In a right bind! Steve Ayres summarises and comments on accident reports from around the world and looks at a tank dipstick to help avoid running out of fuel

Brake bind

Left in the dark

Cessna 305 Bird Dog

Cessna 206 Stationair



Ellenville, New York

Apple Valley, California

Injuries: None

Injuries: None

The pilot of the tailwheel-equipped aeroplane was performing touch-andgo landings. During the third landing, the pilot noticed that the right wheel began to ‘drag’. During the next landing, the aeroplane veered to the right side of the runway. The tail of the aeroplane then lifted and the aeroplane nosed over. The fuselage, wings, and vertical stabiliser were substantially damaged. After exiting the aeroplane, the pilot attempted to rotate the right wheel assembly but it would not turn. After about an hour the wheel assembly freed up and was able to rotate. A post-accident examination of the brake system revealed that the brake master cylinder lock seal spring had broken into three pieces. Given this information, it is likely that the broken lock seal spring washer prevented the master cylinder from releasing pressure from the caliper. This malfunction resulted in the right brake caliper staying engaged after the pilot released the brakes. Comment This is quite a nasty failure and a tricky one to mitigate. It is probably the case that on most occasions, by the time a binding brake is detected it is almost too late to do much about it. If the option is available, choosing a crosswind from a more favourable quarter might help and giving yourself more landing space by picking a wide unobstructed runway and landing to one side are some of the things that spring to mind. Plan for the worst!

The pilot reported that, while taxying the aeroplane from the ramp to the runway in night-time conditions, he noted the location of the two sets of taxiway lights that indicate the location of the ramp entrance to taxiway alpha. The pilot then reached down to configure the radio and when he looked back outside to the left, he saw one row of two blue taxiway lights. However, he did not see the other set of taxiway lights to the left of the set he initially saw and believed that what he saw was the first row (north side). He immediately applied left rudder input to turn but the aeroplane suddenly stopped, as the aeroplane had exited the taxiway ramp and impacted a drainage culvert. The aft section of the fuselage was substantially damaged. Comment This was another costly distraction and a reminder that, particularly in the dark or in conditions of poor visibility going ‘head down’ even for a short while is risky and needs to be done as part of a visual ‘lookout scan’.

Nasty landing snag Texas Sport Cub N752T Longmont, Colorado Injuries: None

The pilot reported that, during the landing roll in the experimental amateur-built aeroplane, the heel of his shoe became caught on a protruding floorboard bolt and the aeroplane veered to the left. The aeroplane exited

“His shoe caught on a floorboard bolt and the aeroplane veered to the left” 48 | FLYER | January 2022

the left side of the runway, impacted a Visual Approach Slope Indicator light, nosed over, and came to rest upside down. The aeroplane sustained substantial damage to the rudder. Comment With winter now here it can be tempting to go flying in more substantial footwear than might otherwise be the case. Integration of clothing into cockpits is worth giving some extra thought as safety reports are littered with incidents of footwear, sleeves and headsets snagging on bits of structure and ruining an otherwise great day out!

Costly water Cessna 170B N2955D Curtis, Nebraska Injuries: None

The pilot reported that he took off from his private airstrip and flew for about 30 minutes before landing at a nearby airport for fuel. After fuelling with 24 gallons, he did not perform a pre-take-off run-up of the engine and departed the airport. About 1.5 miles from the airport the engine sputtered and lost all power. The pilot performed a forced landing to a small field. During the landing roll as the aeroplane was approaching the end of the field, the pilot applied heavy braking which caused the aeroplane to come to rest on its nose. The aeroplane sustained substantial damage to the left outboard wing. The pilot reported that after the accident he sampled the fuel from the wing tanks and gascolator. The fuel sample from the gascolator was about one-half water and one-half fuel. The wing tank samples contained all water. The pilot provided photographs of the airport above ground fuel tank including photographs of the interior of the tank. The tank interior showed a large amount of rusted metal in the bottom of the tank. The airport manager reported that the airport fuel tank was about 30 years old and was of double wall construction. Water had

entered the space between the inner and outer walls of the tank and the inner tank had rusted allowing water to enter the inner tank and fuel supply. The tank did not have filtering on the outlet. The airport ordered a new tank and planned to include filters on the outlet, including a water separating filter. Comment: This is a salutary reminder to us all that fuel is not always stored in the most reliable of conditions. That said, either an engine run-up pre-take-off or a water drain check should have been enough to identify the contamination.

Side-stick mistake Cirrus SR22 N678EC Lafayette, Indiana Injuries: One serious and one minor

During a cross-country flight, the pilot and a passenger in the rear seat unbuckled their seat belts to try to retrieve items behind the pilot’s seat. An adult passenger seated in the front right seat, who was unfamiliar with the side-stick controller in the aeroplane, grabbed the side-stick while adjusting their seat. The pressure on the control stick caused the aeroplane to violently climb and descend three to four times before the pilot was able to regain control. During the excursions the pilot and the backseat passenger bounced off the ceiling, resulting in minor injuries to the pilot and serious injuries to the unrestrained passenger. The pilot declared an emergency and went on to land without further incident. The aeroplane was undamaged. Comment It is hard to imagine such a serious outcome from what was quite an innocuous beginning. Moving seats (intentionally or otherwise) in an aircraft while airborne can have really dangerous consequences but few could have imagined this sequence of events. A lesson to us all and a reminder to constantly supervise a front seat occupant.

Touching the void Taylorcraft BC12-D N43300 Palmer, Alaska Injuries: None

The pilot reported that, while departing from the off-airport, snow-covered

“The aeroplane dropped into an unseen crevasse” glacier, he was not comfortable with the acceleration of the tailwheel-skiequipped aeroplane and aborted the take-off. He then began a back taxi and allowed the aeroplane to make a wide radius turn. Subsequently, during the turn the aeroplane dropped vertically into an unseen crevasse. The aeroplane sustained substantial damage to both wing lift struts. Comment Hats off to all those who embark on this kind of pioneering flying! And I would love to know what the pilot’s ‘takeaway’ was from this accident. For my part, I shall be sticking to pre-recced sites for my take-offs and landings!

Too much screen time Pipistrel Alpha Trainer N227PF Rural Hall, North Carolina Injuries: None

The pilot reported that the aeroplane was at 5,000ft and an engine power setting of 5,000rpm when he began to pitch and roll to practice a chandelle. At the start of the control inputs for the manoeuvre, he looked down at his kneeboard and personal electronic device and readjusted its position on his leg and around the control stick. The pilot advised that during this

time, he may have released the back-pressure on the control stick but continued the turn. While focused on the kneeboard he heard the engine rpm increase, then looked up and realised that the aeroplane had entered an unusual attitude. At the same time, he became disoriented and tried to correct visually, instead of by reference to the instruments. As such, he inadvertently increased the rate of descent and was unable to determine the aeroplane’s position as it rapidly gained airspeed. He then heard a ‘pop’ sound and deployed the aeroplane’s ballistic recovery system (BRS). The BRS system’s parachute deployed successfully, and the aeroplane came to rest in trees without its left wing. Comment It is good to see open and honest reporting from this reasonably experienced (circa: 950hr) pilot who holds a Commercial and Flight Instructor Certificate. And it’s good to see that a BRS almost certainly saved his life. So far so good but becoming distracted by an iPad and a kneeboard during a wingover to the point where you lose control is worrisome. This was a CAVOK day and recovering to level flight on instruments would not necessarily have helped. A good call for some ‘Upset Recovery’ practice?

Safety kit Fuelhawk fuel gauge and fuel stop adaptor £20 Inc VAT: FROM Pooleys

Safety reports are always littered with accidents resulting from fuel exhaustion or poor fuel management so with stockings that need filling over the coming weeks (a little early for Christmas perhaps, but good to be prepared), it may be a good time to put on your safety hat and ask Santa to bring you a fuel tank dipstick! They can, of course, be fashioned from all sorts of raw materials but the selection from Fuelhawk has stood the test of time. They are widely available from

suppliers such as Pooleys and Transair and suit all tank sizes. Just make sure you get the Fuel Stop adaptor as well or you will spend all your time fishing the dipstick out of your tank!

January 2022 | FLYER | 49


Catch up with Pilot Careers Live on-demand



Flying past the Old Man of Hoy

52 | FLYER | January 2022


Islands in the sea…

As Paul Bass reports, the perfect post-pandemic pick-me-up consisted of him, together with his mate Darren Maybury, heading over the sea to the Outer Hebrides and the Shetlands…


e set off from Sherburn in Elmet on 28 August 2021. Darren in his Skyranger Nynja and me in my EV97 Eurostar, loaded with lightweight camping gear and folding bikes. The start of our journey took us, fairly rapidly, to the Lake District. However, it almost ended badly for Darren before it really got under way. We’d left Sherburn under a bright blue sky and hadn’t been airborne for long at 6,000ft, when some deep, towering clouds stood ahead. I climbed up and over the biggest of them, but couldn’t see Darren. “What’s your position?” I ask, to an empty silence. All the while I had been merrily snapping pictures of the cloud formations Darren had had a scary experience. I heard the full story later that evening. He said: “I made a huge mistake. I pushed full power to climb over the cloud but left it too late, thinking that my Skyranger would out-climb the distance between me and the cloud. I was in a total white-out before I could do anything about it, forgetting the difference the extra weight of the camping gear makes. “The airspeed indicator spun around like a rev counter, and the vertical speed indicator maxed out. The artificial horizon was at a radical angle. Yet, for some reason, I was completely relaxed and didn’t panic at all. “I levelled the wings and got the airspeed under control, but it felt like an age between backing off the throttle and getting into a level descent. I expected violent thermals, but it was calm. It felt like minutes before I came out of the bottom of the cloud, travelling 2,000ft vertically to reach the bottom. I didn’t feel like a hero, and only once everything was under control, only then I felt fear and a ‘code brown’ alert.”

Later that night, after topping up with fuel at Strathaven, from the generous Colin MacKinnon’s jerrycan supply, we biked into town for a celebratory ‘survival’ curry. The following morning it was foggy, so we took our time packing. Then the weather radar showed it was improving slowly out to the west coast, so we climbed into the low, breaking mist, hopeful that we could make progress… but we were soon on the ground again, 37 miles and 25 minutes further on at Bute Airfield. “What do you think?” I asked Darren. I could see the island mountains ahead, which were still tipped with clouds. The choice was in front of us – over the sea or over land. As we couldn’t see far enough ahead through the mountains from the ground, we decided to have a plan B, which was to hop along the coastlines of the islands on the way, just in case. Plus, we knew we were flying towards better weather. A few miles from Oban, the terrain climbed up, and the cumulus clouds seemed to sink lower as we broke into a bright blue Oban sky. As we flew out over the sea around the Hebrides for the 102-mile flight to Benbecula, on the Outer Hebrides, reality started to bite. In the distance, a line of ragged cloud edged South Harris. “Why don’t we just straight line it?” Darren said, his direct routing approach over the sea overcoming his initial yearning to hug every spit of land. “OK,” I replied. We arrived at Benbecula, the broken cloud line now down to 1,500ft. And, everything appeared to be locked up and closed. “Shall we try Stornoway?” I asked. And proceeded to ring the tower. “What time are you open until, please?” I asked, hopefully. “Five. So if you can make it by then, we’ll see you.” In short, as it was 63 miles and 45 minutes away, it left us a margin of only a few minutes. January 2022 | FLYER | 53

Flying Adventure

The Hebrides is a deeply religious place, and as it was Sunday, everyone seemed to be going to church. Women in their best dresses, while men wore dark, smart suits. We struggled to find anywhere open for food and ended up having a pizza after waiting for an hour outside a pub. The next day, we were on the way back to Wick near John o’ Groats on the mainland. We followed the wild west coast of Scotland, with the sun beaming through occasional holes in the cloud, lighting up the speckled sea. White beaches and picturesque blue-green, sea-lapped coves are everywhere. Equally as remote as the Outer Hebrides, the west coast of Scotland looked different again. The mountains are enormous, and cloud sits menacingly on the tops. There are very few roads, and the terrain would be the last place I’d want to make an emergency landing. We talked about taking the softer option of landing in the sea, near a bay.

North Atlantic

We zoomed off, crossing – what now feels like – real adventure terrain. Light-grey Lewisian gneiss (a high grade metamorphic rock) peppers the landscape, taking its name from the largest island area in the archipelago. We were flying over the oldest rock formations in Britain, at nearly three billion years old, and some of the oldest worldwide. A single road weaved through this apocalypticlooking landscape. Only a few bright, white houses dot the route. It crossed my mind how I’d love to ride my bike through this beautifully desolate place… A flock of birds flew across me from right to left as I came into land at Stornoway, landing in the northerly crosswind, making me jump, but they gave way. I just couldn’t imagine what it’s like here in the more ‘usual’ wild weather, so I asked the ground crew. “Well, 40mph is a good drying day. People don’t bat an eyelid if it’s 50mph… 60mph+ is when people start to get concerned,” came the reply, with laughter. They added that ‘houses are constructed on a completely different level. Every tile and fixture is nailed down’. In short, they’re just used to wild weather. Man-eating midges were ‘happy’ as we put up our tents at the nearby Laxdale Holiday Park campsite and unfolded the bikes so we could go and explore. There was even one woman sitting on a bench with a full netting regalia on her head, reading a book – and it wasn’t yet peak midge season.

54 | FLYER | January 2022

Above Isle of Harris in the Outer Hebrides with the oldest rocks in Britain Below left Recognise Strathaven from Grand Designs? Below right On approach to Oban Airport

We refuelled at Wick, where the staff couldn’t be more helpful. I’d just finished reading Ferry Pilot by Kerry McCauley. I learned that in an average year, three pilots die ferrying small aircraft over the North Atlantic. So, I enquired as to how many have had problems recently. Wick seemed more hopeful, saying that it hasn’t happened for a while… only a twin that made it on one engine 50 miles away from land a few months ago. We slid into our neck- and wrist-crushing dry suits, and I dolloped a powder of talc on Darren’s head. “You’ve got to talc up, or the seals break – and they aren’t cheap to replace!” I told him. We sipped a drink and paid our fees, and the chaps in the handling office seemed to smirk as we tell them our next stop is Shetland. Darren’s face started to look just very slightly uncomfortable, to which the guys commented that Darren ‘doesn’t look convinced’. “He’s his own man!” I protested, adding with a smile “We wouldn’t do it if he felt uncomfortable!” “We’ve got to do it, haven’t we…?” Darren ventured. And 15 minutes later, we headed out over 117 miles of ocean to Shetland. The sea stretched out to what looked like infinity, and I feel suspended in time, the occasional jet vapour trail high above in the bright blue sky. The sun beat down onto the surface of the silver and grey flecked mackerel sea, where barely a ripple showed, helped by the high-pressure weather system over the UK. Ahead, the wispy horizon didn’t give much away,

and there was no land visible in any direction. The rubber neck seal of the immersion suit squeezed my neck uncomfortably, but reassuringly. The Orkney Islands slipped out of view behind us, and we had another 50 miles to go until we got to Sumburgh Airport on the southern tip of Shetland. “That is a lot of water!” Darren exclaimed. Soon, Fair Isle came into view, one of the most remote communities in the UK. Getting there is a labour of love by boat alone, and dangerous north-westerly winds gusting over the large rising cliff can be treacherous for landing aircraft. We continued, and Shetland soon appeared out of the haze. The approach into Sumburgh’s 1,426m 33 runway is

Top left Over Benbecula in the Outer Hebrides Top right Approach to Sumburgh, Shetland Above left Handa Island, on the west coast of Scotland Above right The boys on tour wearing immersion suits for the over-water stretches

nothing short of breath-taking. The spectacular high cliff on final is only equalled by the spectacular downdraughts on the lee side, as G-JG and I get battered. “Maintain a five-mile separation,” ATC announced, as I managed to push the PTT button, while simultaneously being tossed around like a crash-test dummy on a rollercoaster. I bet the controllers haven’t been to the LAA Rally or Popham Microlight show… “It’s a bit turbulent down here off this cliff,” I tell Darren, who is behind me, on the other frequency. It seems he’s not taking any chances with the rotor. I spot his Skyranger speck almost in the stratosphere. Really, Sumburgh is a commercial operation, with January 2022 | FLYER | 55

Flying Adventure

helicopters, Loganair and rig traffic using it as a hub. I feel sure we’re a bit of a curveball for them. On the ground, as we let out a fist-bumping ‘yeeha!’ of achievement and adrenaline at having got this far, a Loganair aircraft came into land but turned base to final inside the cliff. We asked the ground staff if that is what we should have done. “Well, to be honest, we don’t use Runway 33 much, as the wind is usually the other way,” came the reply, as the Loganair goes-round to land on the longer R27 instead. Having missed the bus to Lerwick we ended up shelling out an eye-watering £50 for a hair-raising taxi ride, with the driver spending most of the time cornering on the wrong side of the road like a F1 driver. 56 | FLYER | January 2022

Top left Leaving Shetland for North Ronaldsay, Orkney - all photos on this page are North Ronaldsway: Top right Tied down Above left Phew! Airfield in sight Above centre Spectacular lighthouse Above left Camping Above right Paul on the rocks

While we sped along, we heard a story of a couple who wild-camped in a bothy (a small building where remote workers, farmers and walkers can take shelter). They had pitched up for the night on the most northern Shetland Island, Unst, during a hurricane of more than 150+ miles per hour. Unfortunately for them, the wind picked up while they were sleeping, taking the Bothy over the cliff edge with them inside, never to be found again… As for us, we pitched up at The Grand Hotel for the night in Lerwick and I read up on the Orkney Islands’ airports. It seemed we’d have to jump through a few Orkney Council hoops. The following day, we both decided that we’ve got such comfortable camping set-ups that we are more

Flying Adventure

comfortable in our tents with the aeroplanes – and for a lot less money. There’s something magical about waking up to the fresh morning air. We caught the far cheaper £2.90 bus back to Sumburgh Airport, laughing as Darren pushed his bulging transatlantic-looking trolley through the gate to get to our aeroplanes.

Getting it right…

By morning I had called Orkney Council’s tonguetwisting ‘development and infrastructure’ department, as I wanted to be sure we did everything right. Susan, who answered the phone, couldn’t do enough to help. We had electronic indemnity and PPR forms to complete, which we did messily, scribbling on them with our fingertips on the iPad. At £16 per landing, though, it seemed a good deal and all part of the adventure. Since we left Wick fully fuelled up, we’d also got a good three hours of fuel left each, which was one less worry. Darren went first, rolling onto Runway 33, with the obligatory five-minute head-start with the spacing rules. It was a bit tricky, as it meant one of us would be a few miles ahead over the sea, and Darren’s Pilot Aware had stopped working. We were flying blind to each other’s position. (We later found out his Pilot Aware licence had expired.) I flew over the most amazingly smooth, lenticularlooking cigar-shaped cloud on take-off, and opened the throttle to 120mph to catch up with my wingman. I scoured the vast area of sea for him, but to no avail, and my mind turned to relief that at least we were wearing our immersion suits. Finding a submerged person in this infinite ocean would be like looking for a grain of rice in the desert. Thank goodness for my PLB locator beacon, which I hoped wouldn’t get damaged if it ever got to ditching… I imagine that finding a person out here 50 miles from land in this calm sea would be difficult enough, never mind in a swell. I followed the straight line on SkyDemon to North Ronaldsay, hoping we would find each other soon. “Is that land in front of us?,” I asked Darren expectantly on the radio. He was still several miles ahead of me. “No, it’s a cloud shadow,” he said. And he’s under it. “Oh,” I say, anxiously chewing the inside of my mouth. We’re almost on top of North Ronaldsay before it appears out of the high-pressure haze. The black shale-like surface nearly wrong-footed me as the nosewheel touched down in the stiff northerly 10kt crosswind from the right. It tried to steer me off to the

Above Departing North Ronaldsay for Sanday Island – a six minute flight! Below White sands of Sanday Island on Orkney

left and I wonder what happened. When I climbed out, I noticed that the surface gently slopes away either side – seemingly for water drainage, as we later find out. “We should have landed into wind,” Darren says. “That was quite a crosswind!” “I agree!” I admit. It was my idea. With the sea psychologically at the end of the runway I didn’t want to take any chances. David, the airfield manager, met us. He has an unusual dialect which I can only describe as a combination of Norsk, Scottish, Irish and English rolled into one. In fairness, this is the most remote of the Orkney Islands, 57 miles from the mainland, so anything is possible. Seals laid lazily on the rocks only a few metres away from the local campsite, while flocks of semi-feral North Ronaldsay sheep wandered around, strangely outside the island boundary wall. We learn that this 5,000-year-old breed is unique to North Ronaldsay and has evolved from eating seaweed. In fact, the distinctive-tasting dulse (seaweed) is sold as far away as Hong Kong. That evening, the Milky Way painted a dazzling collage across the pitch-black sky above us. We’re so fired up with the adventure that it seems such a waste to go to bed, so we set off on an 11pm bike ride to the other end of the island towards the alluring North Ronaldsay lighthouse, lit by Darren’s slowly dimming

January 2022 | FLYER | 57

Flying Adventure

Coleman Sportster stove to make some outdoor fajitas for the first time. I cannot imagine being stuck in the Orkney and Shetland islands in ‘typical’ autumn or winter weather, with even average wind speeds. Without hangarage, we relied on our trusty tie-downs and parked in the lee of buildings to reduce the wind. The next day, we pedalled a mile over hard, bright white sand to the dunes to see what was happening at an archaeological Neolithic tomb dig. We were there for a good couple of hours, taking in the crystal-clear sea and tramping around the dunes and taking pictures. We hedged our bets the next day and set off for Lamb Holm to be met by the animated owner, Tommy Sinclair. He passed us the keys to the clubhouse and we pitched our tents with a panoramic view of the sea, which was like a mill pond – something that Tommy told us only happens twice a year.

The Old Man of Hoy

shared headlight. Thirteen beams from the lighthouse pierced the darkness with a brightness that would be right at home in a sci-fi movie. Just as we started to pedal back to the campsite, a huge, bright red meteorite flamed across the black sky. It was so low it left a visible smoke trail at about 1,000ft. The next morning, I’m onto the council again to cover our bases. We want to hop from North Ronaldsay to Sanday Island. We could see it from the ground – it’s just about visible out of the murk to the south, just two-and-a-half miles away. Our packing was now down to a fine art. We could have the tents and gear folded up and packed away in about 25 minutes flat. The wind was calm as we powered away for the six-minute flight, getting nosewheels off the ground as soon as possible to avoid shale chips on our propellers. Low mist hung in the air, and we were barely airborne at 400ft before we were over the Caribbeanwhite beaches of Sanday. Even without the sun, the bottom of the blue-green clear sea is almost luminous. Having been given the lay of the land by the owner, we were soon pedalling to the one shop a mile away, Sinclair General Stores, before it closed, but its tills had crashed. “Oh, don’t worry – we can sort it out tomorrow,” the woman serving told us. Now that’s old-fashioned trust, and it meant that I finally got to try my unleaded

58 | FLYER | January 2022

Above Sanday Island Below Camping at Lamb Holm

The next morning, a fog bank sat menacingly off the coast to the east but was kept at bay by the westerly wind, and we just couldn’t resist a fly-by of the towering rock sea stack, The Old Man of Hoy. Sometimes when things don’t go to plan, it gives unexpected experiences. Leaving Lamb Holm and stopping at Easter Airfield for a break, we set off for Glendoe on the bank of Loch Ness, a seductive 20-minute flight and 33 miles away. The problem was misty, damp skies in the unmoving air. We calculated that we’d only have 40 minutes before sunset. If the Loch Ness valley mist closed in, we might get trapped in the mountains with nowhere to go… and in the dark. We jokingly came up with a catchphrase: ‘Without a plan B, there is no plan A’. We turned back and landed again at Easter Airfield to talk through our options. We just wanted to get ahead a few more miles, safely. We spotted Knockbain Farm on the first attempt a bit further on from Easter Airfield at the end of the Cromarty Firth. It has a three-degree upslope from one direction and a rollercoaster-like six-degree upslope from the other – and it’s perched on a 600ft hill. It sounded challenging, so we jumped at the chance. The next morning, we sipped a cup of Colemanstove-created coffee and admired the perfect view. The air was damp, and the forecast for low cloud wasn’t great and we finally got airborne by 11 o’clock, zooming down Loch Ness looking for Glendoe, which can be tricky to find. We tracked down the valley, following the gentle contour of the mountainside, which

Flying Adventure

is only a few metres away on the problematic approach into Glendoe. We only had time for a pit-stop to get the airfield in the logbook before flying to out-climb the 2,000ft mountains ahead, on our way to the next stop. “Caution severe wind shear and turbulence,” Oban’s tower announced. G-JG’s nose was going up, down, left and right. It was a bit rough but I managed to film it. John from the ATC tower appeared, and the staff all seem to get along hilariously and have fun winding each other up. “Do you fly, John?” I ask. “Not a chance, you wouldn’t get me in anything smaller than a big jet!” he says, with a smirk.

Top left Flying over the Scottish Highlands Top right Flying down Loch Ness Above left Glendoe airstrip Above centre Departing Glendoe Above right Foldaway bikes proved useful

“Have a look at what your words ‘severe wind shear and turbulence’ look like out of the front when we landed. I bet you’ve never seen the words translated to in reality,” I added. He watched the video. “Wow! Your mate dropped about 100ft on final, too,” he said, resolving to stick to ground-based hobbies. As we passed 35 miles north-west of Newcastle, Darren says, “Do you realise we’ve still got as far to go back to Sherburn from here as we flew over the sea 117 miles to Shetland? Crazy!” We had flown 1,200 miles over 12 hours of flying and cycled about 30 miles on the fold-out bikes. The perfect rejuvenating post-Covid adventure. Watch: Oban windshear and turbulence video. January 2022 | FLYER | 59

Top Gear

The latest aviation kit, impartially tested and evaluated

Aerotion AS2 and PS2 headsets £379.75 and £199.75 |


efore I get into this review, I’d better fess up. I’ve been flying with Bose A20s for many years. They’re super comfortable, do a great job of noise reduction and plug into the Cessna 182 for both power and audio, which means that I don’t even have to worry about batteries. They suit my flying, my head and my ears. They are also the most expensive

60 | FLYER | January 2022

headsets out there, and I understand some will not want to invest a large part of their annual aviation budget in top-of-the-line headsets. And that’s where companies like Aerotion come in with a lower cost range of headsets. We were recently sent two of its carbon fibre headsets to evaluate. The AS2 Active Noise Reduction headset sells for £379.75 and the PS2 Passive headset for £199.75. Electronics and a couple of

small details aside, the two headsets are pretty much identical, and very much part of the school of classic headset design. The company says that they’re ‘Designed in the UK – Assembled in China’, which initially struck me as a bit strange given that you can bulk buy what looks like identical headsets from I asked Aerotion about this, and MD Joe Fogel replied, “We made various design

Below left Traditional design, modern materials Below top AS2 battery box takes two AAs, houses on/off and 3.5mm jack input Centre Headband comfortable Bottom AS2 ANR headset has volume controls on both ear cups

Top Gear

changes such as the mic boom design and housing, upgrades to the main structure of the headset to create a more comfortable fit and upgrades to the audio components, which often fail on the cheaper, Chinese-made headsets.” Both headsets sport the carbon fibre look, with Aerotion’s website referring to them as ‘featuring ultra lightweight carbon fibre technology’. I’m not entirely sure what that means, or if the carbon fibre goes deeper than the look, but I don’t think it really matters. Nobody needs structural headsets, and weight-wise these are pretty light, weighing in at 380gm for the PS2 and 492gm for the AS2 (including two AA batteries). A pair of Bose A20s weighs in at 576gm (including the same two batteries). Both headsets feature a microphone boom that can fully swivel, meaning you can wear them with the cable/mic boom on the left or right. The AS2 has volume control on the ear cups, while the PS2 has the volume control on a control box. The control box on the PS2 features a screw that adjusts resistance, meaning they should play well with other brands in the cockpit, particularly those that might be green in colour. Without any ANR circuitry, the PS2 cuts external noise by clamping the ear cups to your head, and given that the two headsets look identical, the AS2 exerts the same amount of force. I did a crude measurement for comparison, so while a Bose A20 applies 756gm of clamping force, the Aerotion headsets apply 1,162gm. I plugged in the AS2, turned on the ANR and taxied out. You can certainly feel the pressure on your head, and while I imagine it would be OK for an hour or so at a time, I’m not sure that I’d like to be wearing them for a long day of flying. Switching the ANR on and off (a rocker switch on the battery box)

shows just what the ANR does, and it certainly makes it considerably quieter, but to be honest I found the sound tinny. It didn’t get in the way of understanding RT but if you happen to be flying a James Brown tribute singer, he’s not going to be impressed! I switched over to the passive headsets and, blimey, I wasn’t expecting that. I was both impressed

and confused. Confused because although I cannot understand why, I thought the sound quality was better and while perhaps not technically as good, it reduced external noise well. The bottom line is that if I wanted an ANR headset I’d save hard for a top of the range model, but if I wanted a passive headset or two, I’d be more than happy paying out just under £200 for the PS2. IS

Top PS2 shares design, good value at under £200 Centre left Ear cup seals work well Centre right Head clamp pressure noticeable Bottom left PS2 control box Bottom right Nice bag but no instructions

January 2022 | FLYER | 61

By Association Looking after General Aviation The UK’s flying associations at work

BMAA Light Sport Microlights The term ‘600kg microlight’ is misleading as many of the new types are being introduced at a lower MTOM. Instead, we refer to the new breed of ‘somewhere-between-450kgand-600kg’ aircraft as Light Sport Microlights, or LSM for short. Friday, 19 November 2021 was a very significant day for British microlighting as we issued three permits to Eurofoxes with a MTOM of 560kg. The era of Light Sport Microlights has officially begun. Less than three months since the Air Navigation Order was amended, and while

the updated design code, BCAR Section S, is still to be agreed by the CAA, the BMAA Technical Office took a pragmatic approach, using existing design codes and then collaborating closely with suppliers to eliminate delay. More types will follow very soon… the Skyranger 600kg version may well be in the air by the time you read this. We are working with other potential suppliers, though this may be to offer advice only. Those who are new to the UK market must gain CAA’s A8-1 manufacturing approval and then submit their first of type to the CAA who issue the permit.

CAA somewhat optimistically indicated – nine months ago – that A8-1 would be achieved within two weeks, yet importers are still waiting for progress and also for clarification on costs. We will continue to engage with CAA to reduce delay, charge reasonable fees and fulfil the government’s declared aim of supporting a thriving and vibrant recreational aviation sector. Rob Hughes British Microlight Aircraft Association

CAS Support when needed Civil Air Support (CAS) is the largest charitable air support organisation in Europe. Our growing membership features an extensive fleet of privately owned aircraft, which includes fixed-wing aeroplanes, helicopters, and gyrocopters. Our crews include appropriately qualified and experienced pilots, many coming from military, police, and commercial aviation backgrounds, as well as trained observers. We also have a dedicated team of operational support staff, administrators, and fundraisers. CAS’s primary mission is to provide humanitarian air support to agencies,

organisations or individuals who have an urgent need and would not otherwise have access to it. We can offer a broad range of support services nationwide because our members are all volunteers who donate their time and aircraft free of charge. We do not charge for our services, and we never compete with established airborne resources. We only operate when the alternative is no air support at all. Recent missions have included search, photography and survey work, communications relay, environmental monitoring and the transportation of wildlife and time-critical medical samples.

Civil Air Support is always ready to respond to those who might benefit from our humanitarian assistance or emergency support. If you feel you might have something to offer and would like a chat, please email us at or visit our website. Flying a mission for CAS might just be the most rewarding thing you ever do in your aeroplane! Will Ingleby

Civil Air Support

LAA Teamwork at its best For me, one of the highlights of the LAA AGM, as well as meeting so many members from around the country, was the annual LAA Service Awards. There isn’t room to name all the worthy recipients, but in every case they have worked with LAA HQ staff to help deliver events, activities and initiatives that even a good-sized member organisation like ours would otherwise struggle to fulfill. Thank you all! Teamwork is increasingly important in other areas, too. Our entire Permit to Fly system couldn’t function without our

nationwide team of LAA Inspectors and, while the CAA has been in receipt of the odd brickbat from our direction in the recent past, there has been a genuine commitment to greater teamwork in past months, in areas including airspace, airworthiness and new technologies. With environmental issues at the fore, we are also working to develop greater use of unleaded UL91 avgas. It is estimated that more than 80% of the GA fleet could transition to lead-free fuel with no issues. Indeed, UL91 is generally better for most lower compression engines. However, many airfields simply

don’t have an infrastructure to allow UL91 and 100LL to be stored and dispensed separately. The LAA and AOPA have therefore been working with the Department for Transport, to suggest funding similar to that offered to pilots for 8.33 radios or Electronic Conspicuity, to support smaller airfields in investing in additional infrastructure. If we succeed, it will be teamwork at its best! Steve Slater

Light Aircraft Association

Aviation associations Got something to say? You’re welcome to contribute to this page, email 62 | FLYER | January 2022

Don’t be lonely RV-8... someone will be along soon to fly you

Let’s get digital As the days get shorter it can be easy to loose touch with fellow flyers at the airstrip or hangars. So, come and join us in the Flyer online world… all are welcome!


ne of the things that GA is good for, besides the actual act of flying, it’s bringing people together, both metaphorically and literally. I’ve been fortunate enough to meet lots of great people who have become friends, of all ages and all aviation ‘persuasions’ and a lot of that was brought about by the FLYER Club. Now that I’m more involved in the industry, what’s struck me this year more than any other is how winter time really gets in the way of not just flying, but the social aspect attached to flying. Be it waterlogged runways or shorter days, I’m seeing fewer faces around the hangars and more effort has to be made to stay connected. This is the second winter where our Livestream has played a part in keeping many people entertained, (some have even said ‘keeping them sane’), and we know the positive impact that it can have on the community. So if

you’re missing life at the airfield, maybe join us on a Thursday evening from 7.30pm and at the very least you’ll stay up to date on the news. At the most, you might even laugh… For any pilots out there wanting to build their ‘network’ and improve their flying, then joining the FLYER Club would definitely be beneficial to that. We ran a great first fly-in at Sleap this year with many members and Forumites meeting for the first time. We will be tweaking the model and hopefully doing more in 2022. We’re also working to introduce some safety-themed online get-togethers with experts including our safety guru Steve Ayres. These webinars will likely continue post-Covid. They enable us to reach YOU wherever you are across the UK or further afield. January 2022 | FLYER | 63

The FLYER Club

Out & About We’ve had some mixed weather as the days grow shorter, but it looks like you’ve been having fun all around the country – and beyond! Thank you… and keep the photos coming!

Ben Wyatt with his group’s new C42 Thomas Curry Autumn soaring for my first flight in the Schempp-Hirth Duo

Greg Garnett Over Spitzbergen

Jamie Ewan Night flying over Leicester

Martin Handley Mountains almost reaching cloud across Snowdonia

Chris Hall Flying over Southport 64 | FLYER | January 2022

Paul Goffin Sunset seen from a Piper Cub and taken by Paul’s daughter, Jen

Eman Al-Hillawi over the Malvern Hills

Ross Houston getting his floats wet

Keir Williams parked at Sleap

Maciej Kulaszewski Watching sunset from a Fairchild Argus

Finn Catling with his newly acquired share

Laura Parry took this wheely good photo over Trentham Gardens

Patrick Jenkins who passed his NPPL test and is now waiting until his 17 birthday for his licence to arrive. January 2022 | FLYER | 65

Free Landings In association with

If you’re a member of The FLYER Club, click here for your personalised vouchers and save over £42 by claiming one FREE landing at each of these airfields valid for January 2022, although not at an aircraft’s home field. No jets. Please contact the airfield before setting off. If you’re not currently a member of the FLYER Club, but would like to receive new free landing fees every four weeks plus other Club member benefits, then click here to join!


01964 544994 | EGNY | Beverley Airfield hosts Hull Aero Club which is a thriving mix of enthusiasts who fly light aircraft, helicopters, microlights, paramotors and model aircraft. The airfield is situated in quiet Yorkshire countryside, where you can relax, meet friends and enjoy the fun of flying. Qualified pilots, aviation enthusiasts and those who just pass by are all welcome. Avgas 100LL and mogas available during operating hours. Overnight parking is available.

Nearby attractions Beverleytown, minster and racecourse, Hornsea, Scarborough, Bridlington, Withernsea and Humber Bridge PPR 01964 544994 Radio 123.055


07886 264992 | EGTW | Cromer (Northrepps) is located 2.75nm SSW of Cromer. This friendly airfield has two grass runways, 04/22 (615m) and 15/33 (385m) and ample parking space. Cabin Crew Diner is open at weekends. There is mogas on site, free wifi and a website providing weather data and webcams. The airfield is situated on the lovely North Norfolk coast and just a few minutes’ flying time from the Norfolk Broads.

Nearby attractions Cromer seafront is just a five-minute taxi ride away. PPR 07886 264992 or 01263 513015 Radio 118.265


Radio Accepts non-radio light aircraft, but PPR

66 | FLYER | January 2022

PPR Prior permission is required

Refreshments Including restaurants and cafes etc

Microlights are welcome



Fuel Aviation fuel available A avgas, UL UL91, M mogas

While you’re there When you visit these airfields, why not show your support by enjoying a meal in the cafe or filling up with fuel? It’s good to support GA in the UK.

Free Landings are for FLYER Club member use only – click here to join!


01909 475233 | EGNF | Netherthorpe is home of the Sheffield Aero Club and believed to be the shortest licenced runway in the country. The club supplies training in the Cessna C150, C152 and C172 plus flexwing microlights. Strictly PPR by telephone and please note that the upper limit of the Netherthorpe ATZ lies within the Doncaster CTA.

Nearby attractions Clumber Park, the Welbeck Estate, Rother Valley Country Park and Lindrick golf course. PPR 01909 475233 Radio 123.280


01780 450205 | Spanhoe airfield is on the site of former RAF Spanhoe and lies underneath the western stub of RAF Wittering’s MATZ, just outside the ATZ. Two runways are available, 09/27 with 700m of asphalt as well as 14/32 with 500m of grass. 100LL is usually available. PPR is essential so please call on the number provided, non-radio aircraft may be accepted.

Nearby attractions Kirby Hall, Rockingham Castle and the market town of Uppingham are all within reach by taxi. PPR 01780 450205 Radio 135.480


07979 971301 | Strathaven Airfield is south of Glasgow and east of Prestwick, with three grass runways, the longest east-west at 530m. Home to a busy three-axis and weightshift microlight school, it has over 30 aircraft based in two modern 10,000sq ft hangars. Self-service drinks in the clubhouse. Since June 2015 the airfield has run as a not-for-profit company, run by volunteers, to promote GA in the area.

Nearby attractions Strathaven Castle, the town’s Edwardian Park with its steam train, the Strathaven Ales brewery and Scotland’s oldest bakery, Taylor’s, founded in 1820. PPR 07979 971301 Radio 135.480


Win! A print or digital Pooleys UK Flight Guide QUESTION: What is the distance between Cromer and Strathaven in nautical miles? To enter, post your answer, name, address and email details to Pooleys January Competition, FLYER magazine, PO Box 4261, Melksham, SN12 9BN or send an email to The closing date is 11 January 2022.

The winner’s name and address will be passed to Pooleys, then deleted from Seager’s database. Pooleys will send the winner their prize and, in order to do so, also offer to supply them with further information about the company’s products and services.

1 Beverley 2 Cromer 3 Netherthorpe 4 Spanhoe 5 Strathaven

5 1 3 4


The winner for November 2021 is: Mike Ross, Wirral.

January 2022 | FLYER | 67

Reach new heights with FLYER Club The FLYER Club isn’t just for pilots, aviation businesses can get involved as well

Could your airfield or company get involved with the FLYER Club?


o you run a general aviation business? If you do, you’re probably aware of the advertising opportunities in FLYER as well as online through and We’ve got huge levels of traffic returning to both sites on a daily basis as we strive to deliver new content everyday.

Digital presence

We’re also growing our digital presence year-on-year and our livestream is now the only regular General Aviation news broadcast in the world. It is broadcast every Thursday evening from 7.30pm. It’s developed over the past 12 months to include some really useful things, like our SkyDemon Top Tips (SkyDemon kindly sponsor the livestream), as well as segments like RA(T) Watch. But it’s not all serious stuff, we like to provide entertainment with Fantasy Hangar and, where appropriate, have a laugh or two with our interview guests. We’re also very active across our social media accounts and have an audience who love engaging with us on a daily basis (just look at pages 64-65!).

Engaged audience

Why are we telling you this? Well, we’ve worked hard to develop the most engaged audience across our industry, or hobby, however you view it. So, if you’re a business offering anything that might be of use to the general aviation community, and our FLYER Club members in particular, we’d love to hear from you.

We’ll be developing things further throughout 2022 and if you want to join us on this journey, just get in touch via email: and we’ll get back to you.

How to join the FLYER Club If you’re not already a member, we’d love to have you join! The previous pages have hopefully given you some insight into what we do, so how do you join? It’s pretty easy. Just follow this link and complete the form, decide your payment method and you can start enjoying the benefits right away.

Current member benefits

■ Twice weekly weather briefings from Dr Simon Keeling ■ Save 5% when you shop at Pooleys (excludes Bose headsets) ■ Save £10 when you spent £40 at Transair (excludes Bose headsets) ■ Save 10% on a Spitfire Simulator experience with ■ Save 15% on a Jane Pearson ‘Plane Portrait’ ■ Download a free copy of A View From The Hover ■ 20% discount on the Learning To Fly documentary series ■ Webinars with experts on topics like IFR and flying abroad ■ An initial medical conversation with AME Dr Frank Voeten ■ Get your Club membership paid for by Stein Pilot Insurance ■ Free landing vouchers (hundreds of pounds a year!) ■ Back issues – there are several years already uploaded and many more to come ■ Fly-ins. We tried our first in 2021 and really enjoyed it, so more will follow!

What do Club members love?

Well worth the money. Anyone who flies should join. It’s worth it just to get Simon’s forecasts

68 | FLYER | January 2022

It’s been keeping me going for the last few months! The Forum and Thursday Livestreams are worth the money alone!

The FREE landing vouchers are probably the main benefit, and cover the cost of membership on their own

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Get in touch with the team 70 | FLYER | January 2022


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For the funny, the weird, the wonderful and the just plane strange…

Fenland Airfield for sale Fenland Airfield is for sale. The owners, the Wright family who live nearby to the Holbeach airfield, have put it up for sale via Facebook. The reported price for the entire property is £2.5m, though that can be broken down into various elements. Dino Wright said, “Due to moving abroad/retirement, a 35 acre, licensed airfield is for sale with five to six bedroom country Manor House with 2.5 acres of grounds and industrial yard comprising two buildings and approximately five acres of industrial land in three separate lots possible. “Two separate runways and three hangar buildings housing approximately 50 aircraft with a fourth building under construction for an additional five to seven aircraft. Private sale by

Big cats in flight…

Above First you have to find it! Fenland Airfield Left Clubhouse and tower at the popular East Anglia airfield

FLYER contributor Paul Kiddell spoke to the owners and reported what was said during a FLYER Livestream. Watch that segment here

owner. PM for details.” As well as via Facebook, Dino Wright can be contacted between 0900 and 1800 on 01406 540294.

Heroes & Villains HERO A prestigious Master Rearcrew Certificate has been presented to Kevin Weller, Chief Technical Crew at HM Coastguard Search and Rescue base, Caernarfon, to recognise his near 50 years in rotary aviation. Kevin joined the Royal Navy in 1973, flew the Wasp and then became an instructor, clocking up 7,000 hours. Then in 2014 he joined Bristow and played a key role setting up the Coastguard SAR helicopter service and introduction of the giant Sikorsky S-92 helicopter.

VILLAIN A drone pilot, so far unknown, who flew so close to an incoming Boeing 737 landing at Leeds Bradford Airport that the pilots instinctively ducked as it whizzed past the cockpit. The incident was moments before touchdown and left the Jet2 aircraft on an ‘unstable’ approach, so the pilots went around. A second approach led to a safe landing. HERO Andy Wilkins, a flying instructor who was on holiday in a caravan next to Bodmin Airfield, raised the alarm when a nighttime fire broke out in a maintenance hangar, then

“Would the passengers in rows 10 to 15 please stop roaring?” Two big cats, Simba the lion cub and Eva the leopard had a private jet to themselves on a flight from the Russian city of Chelyabinsk to Moshi, northern Tanzania... in special cages, of course. They were being repatriated after being rescued and rehabilitated – in Simba’s case as a prop for tourist photos with her legs broken to prevent escape. The jet was operated by KlasJet who not only had to work out how to reconfigure the aircraft but also negotiate a minefield of permits and logistics.

single-handedly moved three aircraft out of the hangar to create a fire break, saving another five aircraft in the process.

VILLAIN Ohio state officials launched a new number plate design to celebrate the Wright Brothers who built their first flight aircraft at Dayton. However, the image of the Wright Flyer shows it towing a banner from the front!

WorldFlight returns

WorldFlight is an annual event when 12 full-sized sims are flown in unison for a week, 24 hours a day, circumnavigating the world in 42 legs. It had to be cancelled in 2020 because of Covid, so this November’s event was important. The UK part is run by Team Velocity which said, “The event tests both the crews and the simulators to the extreme and is all for the purpose of raising money for each of the individual sims charities of choice. This year our goal is to raise £5,000 for the Great Western Air Ambulance Charity.” In fact, they raised more than £7,000, and if you’d like to donate click here.

Send your QSY submissions to QSY, PO Box 4261, Melksham, SN12 9BN or to 72 | FLYER | January 2022

Join us, save money, fly more... For the tiny sum of £2.50 a month, The FLYER Club gives you access to a whole host of ways to save money on your flying and get out to meet other pilots.

The Benefits

* for full terms and conditions visit

• Free landing vouchers • Live webinars from experts • Exclusive content • Discounts with aviation retailers • Twice-weekly video weather briefings • Plus lots more! Find out more and join at