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THE UK’S MOST READ GA MAGAZINE
Pierre Robin 1927-2020 ONE MAN’S ENDURING LEGACY
UK’S MOST UNIQUE FLY-IN? FIRST TIME TO LUNDY ISLAND
MICROSOFT FLIGHT SIM 2020 EDITION REVIEWED
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n between the showers and the high winds, I’ve been trying to get to know the RV-3 a little better. I’d got the seat position right from the start, but I’d noticed on a few occasions that I would catch an application of brake along with the required rudder input, often at an inopportune moment. Most recently it followed a bounce that came out of nowhere on landing (yes, honestly!), which grabbed my attention. Head down under the panel, it seemed that at least some of the problem was the wingwalk style grip tape, fitted beneath the pedals sometime during the aircraft’s life. From the way my feet rested on the pedals, the tape was catching at my heels, and to avoid that I had been angling my feet a little oddly. Out came the tape, along with the sticky it left behind. My footwear still felt at odds with the floor though. In the past, I had read about how Pitts Special expert Budd Davisson frequently chops down the chunky heels of pilot’s shoes when transitioning them onto the type. Heavy heels makes pilots clumsy with their feet, so I took a look at my own. Definitely chunky, and not rounded enough… a couple of minutes after working with a knife on an old pair I had rounded heels. BIG difference – my feet now sat perfectly, and slid back and forth with no more inadvertent brake application. On my next day’s flying all the landings felt great, until I got back to home… I thought I had it all perfectly dialled in, touchdown in the same spot, felt smooth, then here we go… bounced again. No inopportune brake this time at least. Combine these factors with the fact that there’s always someone around with a phone to record your ‘less than perfect’ landing, plus being editor of a flying magazine in an unusual aeroplane – and the videos of your bouncy landing will always find you… Luckily, it looked slightly better from the outside than it felt on the inside (I’ve been surprised how amplified things feel in a very small airframe). I think I’ve learned that my aiming point has had me finding a particular hump in the runway at just the wrong point. That’s my excuse at least. Now to test that idea out…
EDITOR Ed Hicks firstname.lastname@example.org NEWS EDITOR Dave Calderwood email@example.com PRODUCTION EDITOR Lizi Brown firstname.lastname@example.org ART EDITOR Ollie Alderton email@example.com CONTRIBUTORS Mark Hales, Ed Bellamy, Boyd Kelly Michael Smith, Matt Dearden Dave White, Yayeri van Baarsen FLIGHT SAFETY EDITOR Steve Ayres firstname.lastname@example.org PUBLISHER & MANAGING DIRECTOR Ian Seager email@example.com PRODUCTION MANAGER Nick Powell firstname.lastname@example.org SUBSCRIPTIONS MANAGER Kirstie May email@example.com ADVERTISING ACCOUNT MANAGER Zoe Yeo firstname.lastname@example.org EXHIBITION MANAGERS Darran Ward email@example.com Paul Yates firstname.lastname@example.org MARKETING COORDINATOR Joanna Woronowicz email@example.com FINANCIAL DIRECTOR Martine Teissier firstname.lastname@example.org
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Left If you see Ed wearing down-at-heel shoes, you now know why…
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Contents October 2020
Features 18 I Get Paid for This… Mindy Lindheim
Demo pilot Mindy Lindheim shows off aeroplanes to eager potential customers!
26 Special Feature Pierre Robin 1927-2020 Pierre Robin, who has died aged 93, will be
appreciated by light aviation enthusiasts worldwide. We examine his legacy
38 My First Solo Bradley Brockies
Bradley Brockies is the youngest pilot to solo with Aerobility. Was he scared? Not a bit…
40 Special Feature Lundy Sunday
This remote island plays annual host to one of the UK’s most unusual fly-in venues. Dave White made his first trip this year – and loved it
46 Accident Analysis Who’s in control?
Steve Ayres examines why it’s worth looking at the consequences of handing over those precious flight controls – and why it’s vital to get the cockpit ‘relationships’ right
52 Flying Adventure History makers…
Captain Michael Smith sets off in his Seabear seaplane to follow a historic trail blazed by his namesake – 100 years earlier…
Pierre Robin 1927-2020
64 Top Gear Microsoft Flight Sim: 2020 YouTuber AIRBOYD reviews the latest version of Microsoft Flight Simulator
Regulars 3 Editorial 6 News 16 Pilot Careers 21 Matt Dearden
23 25 48 68
Mark Hales Ian Seager Accident Reports By Association
SIX Free Landings!
74 FLYER Club Members Save £66 n Andrewsfield n Bodmin n Dundee
n Ince n Sandown n Strathaven PLUS Win a print or digital Pooleys UK Flight Guide July 2016 | FLYER | 5
Aviation news from around the world – for the latest visit www.flyer.co.uk
Brize/Oxford’s infringement trap Above The combined controlled airspace proposed by Brize and Oxford with no fewer than 16 separate pieces of airspace
Video Steve Noujaim, who led the response by the General Aviation Alliance to the Brize/ Oxford airspace proposals, says the current position is ‘set up for infringement’. Click the button above to watch our video interview with Steve
6 | FLYER | October 2020
This is the latest design for the combined airspace proposal put forward by RAF Brize Norton and London Oxford Airport, affecting a 40-mile swathe of middle England. The two airfields say the new airspace is necessary to keep safe aircraft flying IFR approaches. The proposal document from RAF Brize Norton, which has by far the bigger chunk of airspace, says they looked at the simpler airspace design put forward by the General Aviation Alliance, a group of GA organisations working together, but considered it unworkable. The proposal introduction from Brize says: “The final design that is being
submitted to the CAA for consideration incorporates a mixture of Class D airspace for the CTR and the airspace directly abutting Class A airspace in the en route structure. “In addition, some of the CTAs are now Class E CAS, with the addition of an element of conspicuity, provided by either a radio call or by displaying a transponder code. This makes it Class E + Radio Mandatory Zone (RMZ) and/or Transponder Mandatory Zone (TMZ).” London Oxford Airport’s proposal for a TMZ (SFC-3,500ft) to the north of the airport is approximately 6nm wide and 10nm long, and concentrates on the RNAV (GNSS) approaches and missed approach procedures.
It says it responded to the consultation period. “The objections and alternative suggestions emphasised the importance of reducing the perceived impact of establishing Class D airspace on the General Aviation (GA) community, and of giving more consideration to alternative solutions discounted during the initial airspace design. “The final Transponder Mandatory Zone (TMZ) airspace design reflects the compromise that LOA has made to minimise the impact on GA operations in the Oxfordshire area, while still ensuring an enhanced level of flight safety for traffic operating into and out of LOA.” RAF Brize Norton London Oxford Airport
New British battery to power electric Texas Colt A British company developing a new type of battery is working with aircraft manufacturer Texas Aircraft to produce an electric version of the Colt light sport aircraft. Oxis Energy, which has premises in Oxfordshire and Brazil, is producing a new Lithium-Sulfur (Li-S) battery, which has greater capacity and is lighter than current Lithium-Ion. The eColt is based on the Colt two-seater which is already being made in Hondo, Texas. However, Texas Aircraft Manufacturing is actually the offshoot of a Brazilian team led by Matheus Grande. The company announced last year at Oshkosh that it was going to work with Siemens on electric propulsion for the Colt but the plan has changed. Matheus told FLYER, “We have now established a consortium with three big companies for the eColt Project: Oxis Energy, AKAER and WEG.
“We are now in the final process of establishing the mission profile of the eColt, with a special attention to address all flight schools’ needs. The Colt S-LSA is ideally suited for the training of commercial pilots. “Despite the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, over the next decade there will be a growing shortage of commercial pilots throughout the world. Free from the high polluting effects of the lead-based fuel used in aircraft today, the Texas Aircraft eColt will provide an efficient, clean mechanism for new pilots, while decreasing training costs substantially. “We will use the LithiumSulfur technology owned by Oxis. The use of sulfur as a non-conductive material provides enhanced safety and is superior to current Lithium-Ion
technology. Its 90kWh battery system, which is 40% lighter than current Li-Ion technology, will be powered by its ‘High Power’ cell at 400Wh/kg. “All of the aircraft’s key airframe and power components will be manufactured in Brazil, but our goal is to supply this product to all regions of the world, including using our American facility for that. “The e-aircraft will be designed and developed at the Texas Aircraft Manufacturing facility in Brazil. The Li-S battery cells will be made at the Oxis factory in Juiz de Fora. The powertrain will be supplied by WEG of Jaraguá do Sul. The battery and its Management System (BMS) will be provided by AKAER Group of São José dos Campos.” Oxis Energy’s Mark Crittenden recently published an in-depth article on the website of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), explaining how his company’s lightweight high energy density battery ‘pouches’ work.
Main Texas Colt light sport aircraft Above Cockpit is roomy and modern Below New LithiumSulfur battery ‘pouch’ from Oxis Energy
October 2020 | FLYER | 7
CAA issues further extensions to medicals and ratings The CAA has issued further extensions for the validity of medical certificates and licence ratings because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Class 1, 2 and LAPL medical certificates that expire on or after 16 March 2020, but before 31 August 2020, are extended until 22 November 2020. The validity periods of certificates that expire on or after 1 September 2020, but before 22 November 2020, are extended for a maximum of 45 days but no later than 31 December 2020, whichever is the sooner. The full list of extensions: ■ Medical certificates of aircrew, cabin crew and air traffic controllers ■ Extension of validity and other time periods for licences, ratings, privileges, endorsements and certificates of balloon and sailplane pilots, instructors and examiners ■ Extension of validity periods for licences, ratings and certificates of aircrew, instructors, examiners, 8 | FLYER | October 2020
Main SEP rating about to expire? Keep flying with the latest extensions
aircraft maintenance licence holders and air traffic controllers ■ Extension of validity periods for licences, ratings, certificates and training and checking of aircrew and crew operating under a UK National or Police Air Operator’s Certificate ■ Extension of validity and other time periods for EASA licences, ratings, privileges, endorsements and certificates of aeroplane and helicopter pilots, instructors and examiners conducting flying operations other than within an organisation holding a National Air Operator’s Certificate, Police Air Operator’s Certificate or required to comply with Part-ORO ■ Extension of validity periods for medical certificates of pilots holding a UK licence ■ Extension of validity periods for national licences, ratings and certificates of flight crew ■ Extension of validity and other time periods for UK national licences, ratings, privileges, endorsements and certificates of balloon pilots, instructors and examiners For full details click here.
Cirrus opens European training centre for Vision Jet pilots Cirrus Aircraft has launched an EASAapproved Vision Jet SF50 type rating training course for European pilots at Aero Poznan in Poland. The type rating also includes use of a dedicated Vision Jet flight simulator – the only one in the world outside of Cirrus’ own Vision Centre in Knoxville, Tennessee, USA. The 200th Vision Jet was delivered last month and there are now more than 400 type-rated pilots. The new Vision Jet training programme at Aero Poznan includes recurrent training as well as the initial EASA Vision Jet Type Rating. Additionally, an Introduction to the Vision Jet course is also offered to prepare position holders for the type rating syllabus. More details here. The move is part of a wider push by Cirrus 10 | FLYER | October 2020
Main Cirrus Vision SF50 jet Inset Full simulator for the Vision jet at Aero Poznan, Poland
Aircraft to expand its services internationally, including purchase options through the launch of Cirrus Global Finance. “The expansion of Cirrus Global Finance offers our international customers unparalleled access to The Cirrus Life,” said Zean Nielsen, Chief Executive Officer at Cirrus Aircraft. “It brings an additional level of convenience and predictability as future owners seek out alternative ways to travel, with the added assurance of safety and security afforded by personal aviation.” Cirrus Global Finance is available to international customers in over 170 countries across the world through AirFinance, with support from the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM). This new partnership expands convenient ownership options for customers around the world.
British start-ups unveil new aircraft projects Two British companies have announced two brand-new aircraft projects. They are Vertical Aerospace with its VA-1X electric Vertical Take-off and Landing (eVTOL) air taxi, and Hill Helicopters’ HX50 five-seat helicopter. Both are to be built in the UK. Bristol-based start-up Vertical Aerospace had already shown a concept eVTOL, the Seraph, but the new VA-1X is a major step forward. It’s all-electric with four forward facing electric motors along the wing leading edge, which swivel through 90° for take-off and landing, aided by another four electric motors mounted horizontally at the rear of the wing. “VA-1X has been designed with noise reduction in mind,” said the company. “Using distributed propulsion and large open rotors that have significantly lower tip speeds than on a helicopter, VA-1X can achieve noise levels 30 times quieter than an equivalent helicopter, allowing it to blend into inner city life. “Inherently, VA-1X will be exceptionally aerodynamically efficient, able to fly with far less energy and power than a helicopter would need.
12 | FLYER | October 2020
Above The VA-1X air taxi from Vertical Aerospace Right Hill Helicopters’ HX50 Below Simulation of VA-IX in flying mode over London
“With cruise speeds of 150mph and a range of up to 100 miles, you could travel from London to Brighton in approximately half an hour, compared to two hours driving, or an hour by train.” The Hill Helicopters HX50 has a composite structure for light weight and is powered by a 500shp turbine. It was designed by aeronautics engineer Dr Jason Hill, whose company, Dynamiq Engineering, has received a £1.4m grant from Innovate UK. “The helicopter industry has long awaited an Elon Musk-style disruption that redefines the modern helicopter. The wait is over,” said Hill, founder and CEO of Hill Helicopters. The HX50 is currently in the advanced design phase, says Hill, with three prototypes scheduled to begin flight testing in 2022. The first deliveries are anticipated to take place in 2023. It will be built at a manufacturing base in Cornwall. The application for the Innovate UK grant said, “During this ambitious and innovative project, our consortium will develop a next-generation private helicopter that delivers reduced environmental impact, lower noise levels and unprecedented levels of safety, comfort and performance at a game-changing price point. “The project will result in a helicopter that will appeal to a new global market – private owners that are looking for a practical, luxurious, affordable and well specified five-seat helicopter with low running costs (£15k per year).”
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TMZ, RMZ and Class E Airspace change proposals talk more of RMZ, TMZ and Class E airspace. Ed Bellamy takes a look…
or those who follow the regular stream of ‘airspace change proposals’ (ACPs) made to the CAA, the recent final submission to expand the airspace surrounding RAF Brize Norton may have raised an eyebrow a little higher than normal. In addition to the existing CTR being expanded, Brize is proposing to add 10 individual fillets of controlled airspace around it. Oxford Airport is also asking for an adjacent transponder mandatory zone (TMZ). Whether the CAA will bless this complex proposal or not, it does raise some interesting points worth touching on, such as the proposed use of what Brize describes as ‘Class E+’ airspace. Class E is not common in the UK, although it is found extensively in Europe and the USA. The main feature of Class E is that it is only controlled airspace for IFR flights, for VFR there is no requirement for an ATC clearance. The idea being that ATC will provide an air traffic service and separation for IFR flights, but VFR can carry on autonomously. The catch for VFR flight in Class E is that when at or below 3,000ft AMSL the visibility and cloud clearance requirements are greater than that in Class G: 5km flight visibility is required as well as 1,500m horizontal and 1,000ft vertical clearance from cloud. At FL100 or above the visibility requirement rises to 8km. If you do not meet these minima you are IFR, which requires an ATC clearance. So even if appropriately qualified, there is no freedom for a bit of tactical IMC like there is flying in Class G. The term ‘Class E+’ from the Brize proposal is not an ICAO term but refers to the proposed use of Class E airspace combined with a radio mandatory zone (RMZ) and/or transponder mandatory zone (TMZ). The logic seems to be that Class E alone is not enough to address the perceived risk of IFR – VFR conflict and therefore a mechanism is required to ensure that aircraft are either visible on secondary radar or announce their presence on the designated frequency. The proposal at Brize is that aircraft could comply with either the TMZ or RMZ requirement. The use of Class E with a TMZ is not new – the airspace around Farnborough Airport that went live in February uses two such areas. A TMZ can also be designated as a standalone requirement – such as at either end of the Stansted CTR. In the UK TMZs by default require a mode S transponder to enter. Aircraft without mode S or no transponder at all must seek approval from the relevant air traffic unit before entering. In the case of RMZs, Part-SERA specifies that aircraft must establish and maintain two-way communication on the relevant frequency and that prior to entering a radio mandatory zone, an initial call with the call sign, type, position, level, and intentions, shall be made. The wording of the regulation for RMZs sometimes causes debate – on a busy frequency it may be difficult to get a call in and if met with a ‘standby’ reply, the two-way communication requirement may not have been met. In the Brize context there is probably an assumption that most aircraft would comply with the TMZ element, otherwise congestion on the
14 | FLYER | October 2020
frequency might become unmanageable. However, mode S carriage is by no means universal – most certified powered aircraft are equipped, but it is still potentially problematic and expensive for other GA aircraft. More than 10 years on from the first mode S requirements entering force and with lower cost ‘ADS-B out’ devices now a reality, it is frustrating that airspace regulations still only recognise the more expensive mode S and TMZ as the mechanism for applying a form of electronic conspicuity. Moving beyond this situation might alleviate a lot of airspace complexity, both existing and proposed.
Part-SERA VFR Minima Altitude/level At and above 10,000ft AMSL/FL100
Class Flight ABC DEF G
Distance from cloud 1,500m horizontally, 1,000ft vertically
Below 10,000ft AMSL/FL100, and above 3,000ft AMSL, or above 1,000ft above terrain, whichever is the higher
ABC DEF G
At and below 3,000 ft AMSL, or 1,000 ft above terrain, whichever is the higher
1,500m horizontally, 1,000ft vertically
Clear of cloud & in sight of surface
1,500m horizontally, 1,000ft vertically
*5km: Where permitted by a Member State, this may be reduced to 1,500m if flying by day, in sight of the surface and at 140kt IAS or less. In the UK, this is permitted in Class G airspace. More info: Caa.co.uk/skywaycode
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Is ATPL ground school training heading online? Bristol Groundschool (BGS), a leading ATPL distance learning specialist, has made big changes to the delivery of its ATPL courses in response to the coronavirus pandemic – and will continue with full online delivery even if the crisis abates. “It’s a curiosity of the regulations,” said Alex Whittingham of Bristol Groundschool. “What EASA calls video-conferencing is specifically classed as ‘classroom tuition’ for only distance learning courses. It means the full course can be completed remotely.” Bristol Groundschool has added a complete suite of webinars (online classroom presentations) across all the subjects to the traditional computer-based training (CBT) software. “We run four or five webinars a week,” said Alex, “but we also have recordings of webinars in all the subjects, with a library of over 200.” The live webinars, approximately 90 minutes in length, count towards the required classroom time. The recordings are an asset that can be viewed time and time again alongside the rest of the computer-based training suite. Demo here Bristol Groundschool believes in ‘blended learning’, using a range of training techniques so individuals can find the pattern that suits best. “The webinars are revolutionising what we do,” said Matt Hayes, a BGS ground instructor. “We really enjoy them, and the student feedback has been phenomenal.” Alex Whittingham is clear 16 | FLYER | October 2020
Above Bristol Groundschool has made changes to its ATPL courses due to the COVID-19 crisis, and will continue with full online delivery
where this is going. “What was acceptable in an emergency in March will no longer be acceptable by September. We are getting better and better at this as the weeks pass. We now have a video suite set up to deliver webinars from our offices.
“The aim, when classes return, is that we will be able to create professional quality live videos of the instructors teaching in the classroom so that our customers can choose whether they want to attend classes or not.” www.bristol.gs
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I Get Paid for This…
Mindy Lindheim Fly before you buy. Demonstration pilot Mindy Lindheim shows off aircraft to prospective customers. Interview by Yayeri van Baarsen
How did you get into flying?
Actually I planned to get into aerospace medicine. However, the more I read about aerospace, the more interested in flying I became. No-one in my family flies but talking a neighbour, an airline pilot for Delta, really sparked my passion for aviation, so I went to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Tell us about your job?
I’m the regional sales director for Textron Aviation, selling brand new Cessna (the 172, 182, 206 and Caravan) and Beechcraft (Bonanza and Baron) aircraft. My job Flying CV includes going to airshows, flying the aircraft Mindy’s job includes demonstrating to customers and doing demonstration flights, Cessna and Beechcraft aircraft to and flying the aircraft together with someone potential customers. who’s interested in purchasing it. No day is Started current job: May 2016 the same and I get to interact with many Now flying: Cessna 172, Cessna 182, Cessna people. Based in Atlanta, Georgia, my sales 206, Beechcraft Baron, Beechcraft Bonanza CubCrafters Sport Cub territory includes Georgia, Alabama and Favourite aircraft: CubCrafters Sport Cub. Mississippi – I fly three to four times a week. “It’s my own plane so it’s definitely my These demo flights are all about fun and favourite!” showing the aircraft’s best qualities. With the Hours at job start: Approx. 300 Hours now: Approx. 1,200 Baron, for example, we show its speed, whereas with the 206, we focus on the short take-off and landing distances. We always talk about how a customer plans to use the aircraft and if it’s What’s been your favourite flight? feasible, that’s what we’ll show them. If they’ll mainly use it to visit Flying home the CubCrafters Sport Cub, a little two-seat their grandchildren one state away, for example, we’ll make that tailwheel aircraft my husband and I bought in April. It was just a trip together and look at the performance along the way. short flight, as our home is only a few airports away from where In other cases, we have a basic flight profile. However, I always we bought it, but it was the best. After selling aircraft for so many tailor this to the customer. With inexperienced pilots, I won’t go years, it’s awesome to finally be an aircraft owner myself! into detail about the avionics, I’ll focus on the aircraft’s easy handling qualities. Same goes for the flying itself. The customer sits And your favourite airfield? in the left seat and my coaching depends on their experience. With Our backyard! My husband is an air traffic controller working a student pilot, I might do the take-off and landing, whereas if towards getting his pilot licence, and we live in a hangar someone has lots of experience, I just guide them through the community south of Atlanta. We moved there in September 2019 aircraft’s features. and love it. Everyone here is an aircraft owner and the runway, a A demo pilot needs to be flexible, personal and outgoing. You grass strip, is literally our backyard. can be the world’s greatest pilot but if you’re a super shy person, you wouldn’t be right for this job. It’s all about communication. Do you get to fly much outside of work? The best part of my job is handing over the keys to the customer All the time! We regularly go for a spin in the evening. Leisure after a sale. They’re always so excited! flying is completely different from flying for work. I don’t need a customer or reason, I can just take our Cub up when I want.
“The best part of my job is handing over the keys”
What training did you have?
I have a single and multi-engine CPL and I’m a certified flight instructor. Textron Aviation offers internal training to become a demo pilot. You start by getting to know the aircraft, so you can answer any customer questions. Then you get comfortable with flying it in the right seat. Finally you do mock demos, with your colleagues pretending to be prospective customers. I first became a demo pilot on the 182 and then added the other aircraft. 18 | FLYER | October 2020
What’s the most valuable career advice you’ve had?
Don’t be afraid to move away for the right job. I’m from Florida and had to move to Chicago for my first position. If I’d stayed in my hometown I’d have been limited for a career in aviation. Follow Mindy’s adventures on Instagram: www.instagram.com/schmiiindy
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Back to work
he world is a strange and unfamiliar place at the moment. It’s even stranger when you start flying around in Europe. I am very grateful and glad to be back flying the PC-12 though after the longest gap in my flying since I began. The last few months have been unsettling, but I am very happy to be out of it, as far as I can be… For now I’ve put the plan for the RV-8 build on hold, as I figured spending a chunk of money with an uncertain future ahead might not be a sensible idea right now. So often in life, when you are rich in time you are poor in money and vice versa. My tail kit is stored pending better times, and time I had set aside for it has been spent working on an exciting aviation project – I’ll have more about that in a future column. The Cub engine saga continues to rumble on. Our group has just ticked over two years since we last flew it and things have got worse, not better. We finally managed to get all the parts together to rebuild the C-90 engine but the inspector due to sign it all off has now found a long list of other issues with the aircraft that the FAA wants rectified before it can fly again. It seems buying an old aircraft on the N-reg, with ex-military history and a peppered past, is proving more problematic than any of us ever imagined. It seems crazy that an aircraft that’s been flying fine for more than 70 years has, with the stroke of a pen, been deemed unairworthy and is currently nothing more than a collection of parts. If the to-do list is too long, we might end up having to sell it for parts, which will be very sad after all the time and effort we have put in so far (not to mention the money!). In a further blow, the LAA isn’t able to help us out as Cubs are still supported, so cannot be transferred to the Permit scheme from a CofA, unfortunately. More cheerfully, getting back behind the controls of the PC-12 after four months of no flying at all, felt like jumping on a trusty old bicycle. The muscle memory was still there and my mind worked through the checks as if I’d just flown the day before. It was wonderful to punch up through the clouds into the sunshine above, something I never tire of doing even after 12 years of having an instrument rating. There’s nothing quite like leaving the world and all its troubles behind once you are airborne. From the lofty viewpoint looking down, nothing looks any different. It was lovely flying through the Alps recently in beautiful VFR conditions, watching the trains, cars and people go about life in this strange world. GA traffic was as
busy as I have seen it with lots of folk enjoying being out of lockdown. I suspect for some people this enforced gap in their flying will either make them realise how much they missed flying and do more of it, or they’ll realise they didn’t miss it as much as they thought and perhaps give up on it all together. Hopefully it will be more of the former. When I got back to flying after lockdown restrictions, I was expecting the airways to be fairly quiet with the huge reduction in holiday flights, but due to various sectors all being combined and controlled by a single controller, they sound as busy as normal over the usual hotspots of London, Paris and Marseille. I do seem to get many more shortcuts than before and have not had any departure slots to contend with, which has certainly made the job easier. Often in summer the airways get congested and so aircraft flying on them under IFR are sequenced, which can result in having to wait before you are allowed to depart. Most airports are very quiet though, with some still not fully open and with reduced operating hours commonly notamed. Those that are operating more normally seem a
“It was wonderful to punch up through the clouds into the sunshine above”
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little friendlier and a little less frantic than I recall. I don’t think I’ve ever gone into Schiphol and been offered the GA runway immediately without having to shoot the approach into one of the usual runways and breaking off that approach or having to taxi halfway around the airport to the GA apron… While flying remains the great escape from what’s happening below, you do have to come down again and face the real world eventually. I have been experiencing this very real world upon each arrival, as I try to navigate each country’s COVID-19 restrictions. It seems the restrictions change almost hourly and with little warning. It has certainly made travelling around a little more arduous with extra paperwork. Oh, and I keep forgetting my facemask, which is still not part of my daily routine yet. At least the corporate travel world is on its way back to business as usual, which is comforting to see. At least until the next lockdown… Currently dividing his time between a Cub, a Catalina… oh, and a PC-12 email@example.com October 2020 | FLYER | 21
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y recent trawl through the memory banks in search of info on Robins fetched up a fair few memories, not least about the airfield of DijonDarois where most were made. It’s been a regular visit most years ever since I’ve had a pilot’s licence, because the other essential detail about Darois Airfield is the proximity of Circuit Dijon-Prenois. I’ve had a motor sport licence for even longer… Dijon hosted the French Grand Prix between 1974 and 1984 and it remains a gloriously old-fashioned switchback affair laid over the edges of the vast Val Suzon National Park. That and the wonderful old city of Dijon which lies down in the valley to the south and which the French see as the country’s gastronomic capital. Any one of these would be a good reason to visit, but all three have always offered a rare annual treat, sometimes two... Can’t contemplate it at the moment of course, but it’s obviously better whenever I’ve gone by air. Dijon is about 400 miles in total from North Coates to Darois, maybe a bit more if I don’t feel like routing direct from Clacton to Calais (which means about 70 miles over sea, and enough altitude to clear the danger areas east of Margate). A lot, as ever, depends on the weather, but the alternative is to thread the labyrinth between Stansted, Heathrow and Southend, a route which grows ever more complicated by the year. On the other side of the water, Lille is usually pretty helpful, then a slight kink to pass Paris and on towards Troyes and over the Burgogne region’s vast expanses of rolling green. Every time I do it I’m reminded of France’s sheer size – land at Darois and there’s still another 320 nautical to the Pyrenees and the Spanish border. Dijon-Prenois circuit is only three miles from Darois, and the scene of that fantastic head-banging, wheel-banging 1979 duel between French-speaking chargers Rene Arnoux and Gilles Villeneuve – the former in Renault’s new turbo V6, the latter in a naturally aspirated 3-litre Ferrari flat-12. Renault was the only adopters of the 1.5 litre boosted option in the then current Formula One, using brutal mechanically managed turbos the size of dustbins and lag you measured with a stopwatch, followed by power delivery like a Howitzer. The other teams would soon follow Renault’s lead though. The scrap is legendary and it’s easy to forget that Jean-Pierre Jabouille had already disappeared up the road to win the French Grand Prix… in a turbo Renault. I’ve had a few like that at Dijon, albeit at a slightly slower speed, but a lot has to do with the nature of a track, the likes of which they don’t make any more. Darois Airfield is out of a similar mould, only more on the level, or nearly... It’s still the home of Robin aircraft manufacture, even if the man has gone and the company which still bears his name is under different ownership. It’s a wonderful, rambling
place, 1,600ft above sea level (same as Spa), boasting a 750 metre hard runway that gently rises and falls along its length. At the eastern threshold is a big smart hangar, home to the Patrouille Cartouche Doré, the French Army military aerobatic team, which when I last looked, operated Pilatus turboprops. A bit further along, there’s less formal, more corrugated accommodation for numerous warbirds – there was a Sea Fury and a Corsair on the apron last time I was there. Then the line of hangars turns south, accessed through the houses of the village. Then there’s DynAero, Christophe Robin’s factory where Pierre’s son made the MCR range of composite aircraft. That’s Michel Colomban and (Christophe) Robin, to continue the moniker theme. Another undulating line of corrugated hangars runs to the west, bookended by a smart whitewashed clubhouse. There’s
“Dijon-Darois is a magical place in a wonderful part of France” a car park, then, situated on the other side of the main Route de Troyes, there’s the Robin factory and a showroom which would once have displayed shiny new DRs. Not so busy since the halcyon days of the 1970s. Aircraft leaving the factory still have to cross the busy main road via a large swing gate. Imagine that too… On one of my racing forays, I managed to blag a brief look inside the factory, brandishing a press card and using my best schoolboy French to tell a story of a visiting journalist and so on. There was a snapshot of an already bygone age, with men in brown smocks brandishing spokeshaves, the reek of glue and dope heavy in the air. Not so surprising, given a moment’s thought. The wooden Robins were developed from the 1950s original and structurally they haven’t changed, so neither had the method of construction. Ed the editor has found a picture of a metal-winged DR400, and the hundreds of pimply rivets just look wrong… Outside on the factory’s scrapheap lay the stretched metal fuselage of the 4+2 HR, which never went into production. It was later used as a test bed for the PRV V6 automotive conversion, which never went into production either. A magical place in a wonderful part of France. Maybe next year I’ll be able to fetch a bent-wing aeroplane back to its place of birth. We’ll just have to hope… Working vintage aircraft and cars make Mark particularly happy firstname.lastname@example.org October | FLYER | 23
Squawks Ian Seager
Airspace? Well, here’s the thing…
ormally I wouldn’t bother turning the first paragraph of a column into an executive summary, but combining a complex subject, some smoke and mirrors, and the paucity of my writing skills inevitably leads to too many hundreds of words of turgid text. So if you want to skip the detail and move on to something more uplifting, this column is about the opaque process that has been used to apply for additional airspace. It’s about the CAA’s inability to spot a pile of steaming rancid airspace poo when it’s dumped in its collective laps for approval. The CAA’s mysterious infringement process that will inevitably be brought to bear when someone infringes the cats cradle of controlled garbage they have approved. More importantly, it’s about all of us engaging in a current consultation. Finally the need for a Covid-enabled, wholesale rethink of lower airspace in the UK, so that we end up with something that’s simple, accessible and proportionate. Right, to the complex stuff. A few related and unrelated things got us to where we are now. Airspace in the UK, and particularly in the south of the UK, is all a bit of a mess. A whole bunch of it is predicated on outdated procedures, and some of it even relates to long-closed runways. On top of this complex and outdated airspace, thanks to the pre-Covid commercial aviation boom, some airports – and I’m looking at you Farnborough – applied for HUGE swathes of unbelievably complex controlled airspace and somehow managed to get it approved. More complexity, less access, less proportionality. Thanks. The ‘let’s all work together on airspace’ CAA ran a consultation called Airspace Classification Review. Everyone was invited to use the graphical data supplied to suggest two areas of airspace that ought to be considered for reclassification. Sounds cuddly and inclusive, but any nascent collaborative goodwill was crushed by the CAA’s use of, well, poor maps and data that delivered nothing remotely useful. I complained at the time and eventually received a reply that managed to say, well, more or less nothing. In July, the CAA published CAP 1935, which is 40+ pages detailing the outcome of the previously mentioned consultation. Incidentally, 91 respondents also pointed out the inadequacy of the illustrations, to which the CAA replied ‘blah blah platitude, blah, platitude, blah…’. The result of the CAP 1935 consultation is CAP 1934, a consultation on the CAA’s plans for implementing its airspace classification review procedure. This consultation runs for another couple of weeks, so you have a chance to make your views known. Granted it’s a 76-page document that you’ll need to digest, an optimistic precis would be: ‘Woohoo, we have a way of getting airspace changed (slowly)’, a pessimistic
alternative might be along the lines of: ‘Boo, loads of bloody work, almost certainly with no positive outcome with exceptions, restrictions and military vetoes getting in the way’. My view is somewhere between the two – although closer to team Boo. In all seriousness this is an important consultation and the hyperlink on P8 of the document takes you to the consultations website, so you can make your views known. Except it doesn’t. It might look like a hyperlink, but unlike the other (working) links in the doc this one’s broken. What an unfortunate coincidence… Luckily, this one works… Click here to add your views. Talking of all things military, I recently interviewed Steve Noujaim who is heading up the General Aviation Alliance’s (GAA) response to the Brize Norton Airspace Change Proposal (ACP). Watch the video by clicking here. Despite the dry subject matter, it’s currently one of the most popular videos we’ve published. ACPs used to go through an opaque process defined in CAP 725, but that was replaced by the far more transparent CAP 1616 process. In fact, you can go here and see details of every ACP that’s currently in progress, along with all of the
“We just can’t keep trying to fix our airspace needs in this piecemeal manner” supporting documentation. Well, I say all, but what I really mean is ‘most’. During the transition from the opaque CAP 725 to the clearer CAP 1616 the vast majority of existing applicants were transferred to the shiny new better process, but funnily enough Brize Norton and neighbour Oxford retained the opacity of CAP 725, probably another coincidence… The Brize entry for the ‘we submitted the most ridiculously complex airspace and got away with it’ award may give Farnborough a run for its money, but the serious point is that we just can’t keep trying to fix our airspace needs in this piecemeal manner. We need a holistic approach that delivers Simple, Accessible and Proportionate airspace. It’s not about the friendly team on the other end of the RT, we all know that frontline controllers are (mainly) great. This is about regulatory leadership, about vision, about all aviators, associations and regulators coming together under a common banner to get this fixed. COVID-19 provides us with the opportunity to start that journey, let’s not leave it to others, let’s get engaged. Publisher, pre C-19 often found flying something new and interesting email@example.com October 2020 | FLYER | 25
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Pierre Robin 1927-2020 Special Feature | The Legacy of Pierre Robin
Pierre Robin was one of the great names in general aviation and he leaves a remarkable legacy. We talked to his son Christophe, who shared an treasure trove of photos. Sit back and enjoy…
ne of the great names of light aviation, Pierre Pierre was also a successful racing pilot, winning the Rallye Robin, has died, aged 93. His name lives on de Sicily with Jodel DR1050, “Quietly modified with small with Robin Aircraft which continues to wheels and the help of a ground assistant to tape all the manufacture aeroplanes at Darois, near aerodynamic gaps before the daily task,” said Philippe. Dijon, France. Pierre sold Robin Aircraft in 1988, and left two years later. Robin’s best known aircraft is the DR400. His son, Christophe, launched his own aircraft company, Dyn More than 3,000 have been produced and Aero, and is now Head of Design at Daher-TBM. most airfields and flying clubs in France will have at least one We spoke to Christophe for a video interview (see link). on the fleet. It’s still in production as the DR401, with the same Christophe talks about growing up in an aviation-mad family airframe, enlarged cockpit and electronic flight displays. and later events when the company was sold to Apex Aircraft Avions Pierre Robin was founded in 1957 as Centre-Est and the Pellissier family. Aéronautique by Pierre Robin working with Jean Délémontez, One of Christophe’s earliest memories is taking a train for one of the founders of Jodel aircraft. Robin’s first aircraft were the first time. “I was 12 years old,” he said. “Otherwise, at the based on a Jodel design. Later, he produced a metal aircraft, the weekend, going on vacation or going to see friends it was two-seat HR-200, working with Chris Heintz of Zenair. ‘taking the aircraft’. It was a wonderful experience to take a Guy Pellissier, part of the management at modern day Robin train! Aircraft, paid this tribute: “Pierre Robin was an outstanding “Everything with my father and my mother was about flying entrepreneur. Jean Délémontez was an outstanding aircraft. There was no frontier between the family and the aeronautical engineer. We miss them both and it is a true factory. Our house was next to the factory. There was also the privilege to extend their legacy.” house of Mr Délémontez and the houses of the other engineers Philippe de Segovia, now a director at Daher-TBM, was an in the company. It was like a small village in which everything editor at Aviation magazine in France in the 1980s, meeting him was about aircraft. I grew up in this. for the first time in 1984. “I think my father would be proud that he did what he did “Pierre Robin didn’t speak much, but when he did he had after starting with nothing. He didn’t have any plan to be an some witty remarks with tongue-in-cheek humour, styling aircraft manufacturer. He was a flight instructor and he was himself as the country farmer,” said Philippe. good at wood manufacturing – his father was an ebonist (wood “In fact, he was definitely smart, being able to make a living carver) – so he started building aircraft during the winter. in light aviation where so many people lost fortunes. “They built a D12 for the aero club and when my sister was “When asked about his beginnings, he explained he was just a born he added two seats in that aircraft with the help of flight instructor who wanted to offer his students a three-seat Mr Délémontez. Most of the first aircraft were built in Saone in aeroplane for navigation training. Normandy and when that factory closed and stopped building “He started from the plans of the Jodel D-13. People who visited the aircraft, my father was left with about 100 orders for his the club in Dijon asked him if he could build the same for them, aircraft – and that’s why he became an aircraft manufacturer. pushing him to become an aircraft manufacturer and building “My father was the creative guy and my mother was the his first design, the DR-100. He admitted he was successful organisation. He was the optimist and she was the realist. They because he received a lot of help because of his ‘country guy’ style. always worked together in a very complementary way. In all the Even the French civil aviation authority was supportive.” difficult moments she was there, helping my father.” October 2020 | FLYER | 27
FLYER correspondent Mark Hales has owned and flown more Robins than most pilots. The perfect accompaniment to these amazing images from the Robin family collection…
Top Pierre was a keen glider pilot Above Just like his father, Pierre was a capable wood worker. Having visited Jean Délémontez and learned about the D10 three-seater Délémontez had been developing, Pierre used his skills to build F-PIER – a 90hp three-seater that meant he could fly with his wife Therese, and their son Christophe. Right The first Jodel Robin soon started to make headlines, and with some investment from members of the Dijon Aero Club, Pierre would create Centre-Est Aéronautique (CEA) to build aircraft in a Nissen hut on Dijon-Darois airfield
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ierre has left us, and there will be no doubt about the extent of his legacy. I leafed through my log book and in terms of hours flown, more have been logged between bent wings than anything else. Jodels and Robins are the kind of aeroplane I like to fly, and perhaps more important, can afford to own. Robins suit small and occasionally rough strips and they carry a good load – in many cases more than they should – and do so without protest. The visibility is great and they are simple to maintain. And they are nice to fly and look great – one of the aesthetic details to which the late Pierre first attended was ‘the look’. Compare a DR1050 with the earlier inspirations from the Great Originator Jean Délémontez (the ‘D’ in ‘DR’) and you’ll see what I mean. Bubble windscreen, wider track undercarriage, sleeker cowls, more interior space, better panels. Some of that was because Robin had become a volume manufacturer – the Délémontez originals were intended for amateur builders at French flying clubs, so the construction needed to be simple and the materials readily available. That’s why the wing is one piece and the brakes and door handles were borrowed from a Citroen. Some of Robin’s input was following fashion, sometimes even to the detriment of absolute aerodynamic efficiency – like the swept fin and all-flying stabilator. Robin definitely kept the Jodel’s essential practicality, but he developed the models and went on to create a market where wood and fabric was no longer a vintage curiosity. My first DR was a Continental-powered 1050 which I bought with flying best chum Geoffrey. I had already established that there wasn’t anything on the market within my budget that could perform as well, so Geoffrey and I flew to Etrepagny, a nice grass strip about 70 miles south of Le Touquet, to look at a French-registered Sicile. It had been upside down, the other side of hedge, but that proved to be only one of its best attributes. It meant that the local craftsmen had rebuilt and recovered the wing and made it look very smart. The panel was functional, and a bit like Trigger’s broom it showed the various radios and instruments that had been added and removed, plus the seats were a bit tatty, trimmed in
some kind of industrial plastic. Which is pretty much how it remained for the best part of 20 years. What seems now like a very small pile of euro swiftly changed hands, and I set off for Le Touquet to clear immigration. In the two decades since, whatever flight of fancy had tempted me towards something else, the faithful DR1050 remained an essential means of transport for both of us. The brakes were always a pain, but everything else remained a complete joy and it never seriously let us down. Geoffrey obviously felt the same, so when I discovered a Belgian-registered Robin DR400RP – the one with the Porsche Flugmotor and a big MT three-blade prop – it seemed like the obvious thing for him to purchase. Robin was ever the innovator, and always willing to try new things, and his Lycoming-powered DR400 Remorqueur glider tug was already a staple at French gliding clubs – large canopy, brilliant visibility, good lifting/towing ability, nice to fly – so when Porsche developed its Carrera car engine for the Mooney PFM, Pierre spotted an opportunity. The engine is super quiet, more so than the car from which it came, and because it retains its engine-driven cooling fan, it couldn’t be shock-cooled on the drive down from 10,000ft. It was a natural for noise-sensitive areas like Switzerland. Porsche engine The RP, which we duly fetched back from Wevelgem, was equipped with super-sleek extra long cowls (no need for cooling inlets) and single lever control for the engine and propeller, and with 39 litres per hour showing on the bespoke Porsche engine display, it would always cruise at a genuine 140kt in almost complete silence. Which is faster than the Mooney for which the engine was designed, and still remarkable for any 220hp fixed gear aeroplane. And… one whose engine would always start straight away, hot or cold. It felt heavier than an ‘ordinary’ DR400, mainly because it was, but it leapt off the runway with such ease, that nobody cared, well not in these parts anyway. The aircraft was still nicely
Top From the D10, the DR100 (Délémontez Robin) was born. In the cockpit with Pierre is Lucien Querey of the Société Aéronautique Normande de Bernay, which would build more than 400 three-seaters under license Above Pierre knew that racing would improve the breed and generate publicity. In 1960, at the 13th Rally of Sicily, he and Thérèse flew the DR1050 to 2nd place Above left Making a run past St Mark’s Square in Venice Left Race wins meant plenty of headline opportunities for Pierre and Centre-Est Aéronautique
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Above and right In 1963 and 1964, Pierre and Thérèse would take first place in the Tour of Sicily. In 1963 the top nine places were taken by DR1051 Siciles, while in 1964 DR1050 and 1051’s took the first 12 places. Pierre and Therese posted a winning speed that year of 147kt! Below With orders flooding in following the success with racing, a new building joined the original Centre-Est Aéronautique Nissen hut at Dijon-Darois Below right Great minds of French light aviation, Jean Délémontez and Pierre Robin
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responsive once in the air, and it’s still in the family, awaiting official certification from its eventual move from the ‘F’ to ‘G’ registers. Some things never change… Robin built about 50 RPs before Porsche ceased production of the engine, but if they had gone to Robin instead of being seduced by the apparent glamour of a link with Mooney, who knows what could have happened. The marriage was definitely a glimpse of the future, and I’d fly it any day in preference to a Lycoming, or anything of its ilk. I couldn’t afford an RP, and anyway, there weren’t any on sale, so instead I purchased a DR253 which appeared at an opportune moment. Yes, it has a nosewheel, but all three were extravagantly spatted and it had the wider fuselage which was more recently adopted for the DR500 President, and the diesel-powered DR401, more of which in a moment. The rare DR253 is a wonderful aircraft, boasting all the traditional Robin strengths, but with more room, more lifting ability, more range, and more power from a 180hp Lycoming driving a fixed pitch metal Sensenich. It was certified with a Hartzell constant-speed propeller so already good short field performance could have been even better, but Robin had embraced Jean Délémontez’ core value that if you make the design efficient enough aerodynamically, you can do without the expense of a wobbling propeller. They remain a ‘nice to have’ extra, albeit at a price. DR253 prices have also since gone up, so obviously, other people have discovered its virtues. About 100 253s Regents were made between 1967 and 1971. I then came across an HR100, which is most commonly equipped with a 200hp Continental IO-360 six and Hartzell constant-speed, with a fixed undercarriage. This one though, had retractable gear and a 285hp Continental Tiara engine, the company’s ill-fated attempt at a geared engine which spins at higher rpm and drives the propeller from the camshaft. Robin was certainly a great collaborator, but I’m not sure why he formed a partnership with Canadian-born engineer Christophe Heintz (the ‘H’ in HR). I’m sure
somebody does. Heintz already had an impressive CV by the time he became Robin’s chief engineer in the late 1960s and he was responsible for Robin’s first venture into aluminium, designing the Robin 100 and 200 HR series before he departed in 1974 to form Zenair, which is still alive and well today as popular makers of kit-built aircraft. The HR100 was based on the DR253’s fuselage, made in metal, with the thick-section wings which are still apparent on Heintz’s later designs, in this case containing huge fuel tanks which gave an enormous range. It also featured the large sliding canopy which was about to be a signature feature of Robin’s wooden DR400 (developed from the popular DR300 series, which had evolved from the DR200, mainly by the addition of a nosewheel). The HR100-285 ‘Tiara’ taking its moniker from the engine, was certainly stylish – mainly because of that sliding canopy – but it didn’t go as well as the
Top By the time he had developed the DR1050/51-M1 into the Lycoming O-320 powered DR250 Capitaine, that aircraft plus the duo of Pierre and Thérèse were unbeatable. Their long run of race wins was great for headlines Above Advert for the DR250 promises four people plus bags, for over 500nm at 135kt Below left The addition of the nosewheel-equipped DR253 Regent marked the transition to the familiar shape that so many pilots think of when they hear the name Robin. Further back in this 1965 Centre-Est Aéronautique line-up are the DR250, DR221, DR220, and DR1051M1 Below Famous names follow success. In 1967, the 500th aircraft to roll off the CEA production line, a DR253 Regent, was baptised with Champagne and had a ribboncutting by French aviation legend Jacqueline Auriol. Auriol had recently set a speed record in a Mirage jet of 1,149mph in 1963
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Left Updates on company developments could be found in the in-house newsletter, FLASH Below One hundred examples of the 180hp Lycoming O-360-powered DR253 Regent would be built Bottom In 1968 the use of the Lycoming O-235 of 108-115hp in the DR315 Petit Prince would maximise the efficiency of the classic Robin airframe Bottom right Pierre and Thérèse were extremely keen adventurers. This 1969 photo sees them leading other Robins on a tour in Africa
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power suggested it might and definitely not as fast as the fixed gear RP, which is 50hp shy and used a lot less fuel. Thirty-seven Tiaras were built, together with 24 Lycoming IO-540 powered HR100-250 models which were similar in most respects (including the retractable undercarriage) and were built mainly for the military as trainers. The volume model was the Continental powered HR200, of which 113 were made. Robin also experimented with a long fuselage 4+2 version, the fuselage of which lay outside the factory at Dijon for years, and I know he built an aircraft for an experimental but ultimately still-born V6 aero engine from a major French manufacturer. Well of course he did… I took a DR360 in part exchange for a Mooney (something else that didn’t go as well as the numbers promised) and in some ways it was back to normality, and in a good way. Similar to the 1050 in general handling and visibility, but with a sense of greater room in the cockpit thanks in part to a slightly wider fuselage than its forbear (only a few cm, but it felt like more), but mainly thanks to the absence of the fuel tank behind the panel, which moved forward under a bigger windscreen set further away. And of course more power thanks to a 180hp Lycoming. It was stable on instruments, fast enough to cover big distances and would carry pretty much whatever you could fit in. It went to finance a Jurca MJ53 (another story), but that didn’t last long, replaced at last by a Mascaret which I found in Mulhouse. Not strictly a DR, but almost, powered by a 105hp Potez which I liked and still do. Keeping it should have been the sensible thing… As long as you can manage with just the two seats, a D150 Mascaret has all the virtues of a Jodel/DR but with more speed and more range than any bladder can stand (Délémontez shortened the wings for speed, and the fuselage to match, and put a 107 litre tank in the back seat space), plus the 40 litre tank in each wing root. It carries a huge load which you can cram onto the large shelf over the fuel
“The DR250 Capitaine was the first real development of the DR1050, but the 250 is usually regarded as the ultimate DR, some say the ultimate Robin” tank and I flew it for many happy hours until my sensible head was turned by the discovery of a DR250 at a price I could almost afford. Numerical confusion The DR250 Capitaine was the first real development of the DR1050 which flew as early as 1965 (despite the numerical confusion, the smaller engined DR220 and 221 Dauphins came after the 250) but the 250 is usually regarded as the ultimate DR, some say the ultimate Robin. The 1050’s fuselage had been lengthened and was slightly wider round the cockpit and the wheels were further outboard along the wings, which gave it a more purposeful ground stance. The windscreen was more steeply sloped and the panel more distant, the nose was longer and the cowls were more streamlined. Range (always a Robin strength) was even greater, thanks to four fuel tanks (one in each wing root, one under the rear seat, and an auxiliary in the rear fuselage, switchable by the pilot). Engine was the 160hp version of the Lycoming 0-320, which in my opinion is the nicest of the Lycoming fours, driving a fixed pitch metal Sensenich propeller (they were certified with a wooden Evra, or a constant-speed Hartzell). It’s a spec, which on paper, and apart from the bigger engine, reads much the same as the 1050’s, but which adds up to so much more than the sum. I can even remember thinking as I cruised back Top Robin was always keen to experiment. Check out the riveted aluminium crankedwing on this experimental Regent. It didn’t make it to production Above Aluminium airframe construction would find success in Robin’s collaboration with Canadian designer Chris Heintz. The 1969 HR100 prototype would be the beginning of the metal Robin family line Left As demand grew, so did the factory. A new assembly hall, in green, was added to the Robin factory site in 1969
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Top left and above Busy scenes inside the Avion Pierre Robin assembly hall in 1970 Above left Sadly, that same assembly hall would be destroyed by a fire in April 1972. Rebuilding work, led by Pierre, would be swift Left By 1973, the HR series had evolved into the HR10 Tiara. A retractable long-range tourer powered by the unusual Continental Tiara engine Left The Robin experiment you’ve probably never heard of… In 1977 Robin would build just one example of the American Dyke Delta as a feasibility trial Bottom 1982 brought the most beautiful of the metal Robins – the T-tailed R3140
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from somewhere in the South West at a relaxed 115kt, that this was a properly ‘grown up’ 1050. It did of course have all that model’s virtues as well, but seemed to make so much more out of them. And it looked so good sitting on its tail, showing off its sleek cowls and big spats. In many ways, I wish I’d never sold it, but another less happy part of the Robin story is the sale of the company and the insistence of its new owners to hang on to all the DR200 Type Certificates. That’s its prerogative, of course, as is the freedom to charge the prices for spares, but it means a 1960s 200 series wood and fabric Robin is an EASA aeroplane, just like a 2020 Cirrus, and with all that entails… I have now at last found a DR1050M1, which was Centre-Est Aéronautique’s last development of the 1050 (CEA was founded by Pierre Robin as a production facility in the late 1950s). The M1 is really a prototype 250 (swept fin, all flying stabilator), but with less room in the cockpit for reasons already mentioned, and traditional airbrakes instead of flaps. And I’m sorry to say, lacking some of that subtle, hard to define coolness which enhances the 250’s chill. It’s not far off though, and my diesel engine, I’m hoping will make up for some of it… Talking of which, just after it was launched six or so years ago, I flew the Continental diesel-powered DR401 which represents the very latest in the DR line. It features another 10cm extra width in the cockpit (similar to the DR253’s), which in turn allows some subtle reshaping of the instrument panel – that and the presence of much Garmin glass and of course the main item, which is the 155hp diesel engine and the MT 3-blade propeller up front. It was all fantastically smooth and quiet – I wrote at the time that the big difference is not so much that it
Above in the late-eighties when car-manufacturer Porsche developed its own aero engine, it proved to be an excellent match to the DR400 airframe Right A foray into composites in the early 1980s, driven by a need for a simple low-cost trainer for French flying schools, saw the creation of the Robin ATL – Avion Très Léger (Very Light Aircraft) The two-seater was powered by 65hp JPX and 70hp Limbach engines Below right The Robin Twin-R, a twin-Rotax 912 derivative of the DynAero MCR 4S was a collaboration between Christophe Robin and his father. It would be the last aircraft in which Pierre would be involved Bottom To quote Christophe Robin, “My father was the creative guy and my mother was the organisation. He was the optimist and she was the realist. They always worked together in a very complementary way.” Pierre and Thérèse are seen here at a Jodel event with Jean Délémontez
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burns oil, but that it is a modern engine with modern refinement – the diesel bit is just a bonus. I’m not sure though that it’s that much more refined than the Porsche Flugmotor installation in the RP, and it definitely doesn’t go as fast. It is however still very much a Robin because the theme that runs through this and all DRs thankfully remains common. They all fly nicely, carry a good load, have brilliant visibility and so on. And they all have a stick, not a yoke. Did I mention that? Even the latest DR401 still has a stick. It’s part of the Robin DNA. Pierre Robin was first a racer, and there’s something about racers that gets things done quickly, and makes them open to new ideas. Think motorsport’s Colin Chapman, Jack Brabham, Gordon Murray, Jim Hall. Some have an eye for line as well (Sydney Camm, Beverley Shenstone and Reginald Mitchell, Rene Caudron). Pierre Robin was definitely one who possessed both. His DR line grew out of a set of plans offered to homebuilders (of which he was one) and which he developed into a wonderful and very successful line of aircraft. So, given that I’m clearly a Robinista, I’d still like to build my ideal Robin. It would have the fuselage of the 253 (or 401, or 500) and the third wheel would definitely be at the back. I’d probably have the forward sliding canopy for practicality, although it doesn’t look as good on a taildragger as the 250’s sloping screen, but I’d like to draw both and see. A bit extra on the gear legs might do the trick. I’m still not sure about the engine though. The Continental diesel is refined and economical (and modern) certainly, but the Porsche is just as refined even if it’s not so modern, and it’s much more powerful. Maybe I’ll just have to do my own engine. Now there’s a thought…
My First Solo
Bradley Brockies Scared on your first solo flight? Not Bradley Brockies, the youngest pilot to solo with Aerobility Words by Yayeri van Baarsen
Solo stats Thanks to Aerobility, Para World Taekwondo champion Bradley Brockies, who’s on the autistic spectrum, was able to fulfil his dream of soloing on his 16th birthday. When: 3 August 2020 Where: Blackbushe Airport Aircraft: Piper PA-28 Hours at solo: 30 Hours now: 32
How did you get into aviation? Aviation has always appealed to me. In 2009, my parents took me to Eastbourne Airshow, which I really enjoyed. We’ve been to many airshows since then and I got into photographing aircraft, and my parents would often drive me to Gatwick or Heathrow to take pictures. I had my first lesson aged 12, out of Headcorn Airfield. After take-off, the instructor let me take control of the Robin DR400. This was amazing, and I found the aircraft very smooth and easy to control in the air. The instructor took over for landing again, which looked quite hard to me at the time. How did your flight training go? I started flying with Aerobility in 2018, just after my 14th birthday. By then I had done several trial type flights. I’d also clocked up about 2,500 hours on the multiple flight simulators I have at home, which helped a lot with my training, especially with navigation. For me, landing the aircraft was actually one of the easier things to learn. I struggled with wing-drop in stalls and although my results up to now have been good, I’m finding studying for the exams difficult. My instructor, Steve Bradd, is amazing. He floods me with knowledge and I take it all in.
Did you plan to solo on your 16th birthday? Yes, it’s been my goal ever since I first sat in an aircraft. I feel very comfortable and at home in an aeroplane. My first solo flight went well. The aircraft took off a lot quicker without Steve in it, it climbed quicker too, and when flaring above the runway for landing, it didn’t want to come down. For the rest, it didn’t feel different from a flight with my instructor though. I was happy Steve trusted my ability, but I wasn’t scared or anything. My parents, who were watching, were nervous. What are your plans for the future? My short-term goal is obtaining my PPL I’m planning to do this on my 17th birthday – and afterwards get my aerobatic rating. I’d have liked to fly fast jets in the RAF, however, my asthma has squashed that plan, so now I aim to become a commercial pilot. My long-term goal is getting into the aviation industry. I’m hoping to get an apprenticeship, and become a Captain on the A350. I saw one at Farnborough Airshow in 2018 and love its look. Technologically a very advanced aircraft. What aircraft would you have in your ‘fantasy hangar’? It needs to be quite a large hangar as I’d have four, if that’s OK? I’d have a Kitfox
“I’m incredibly grateful to the people at Aerobility, who’ve been so positive and helpful along the way” 38 | FLYER | October 2020
Taildragger because of its short take-off and landing capabilities and good range. Also a Beech A36 Bonanza, because it has a good useful load, long range with tip tanks and looks comfortable. Number three would be an Extra 300 because it’s fast, fun and aerobatic. And I’d have a Typhoon, just because how cool would that be?! In 2017, I went to RAF Coningsby and was lucky enough to spend an hour in one of the Typhoon simulators with an instructor – I couldn’t resist doing a ‘Top Gun’ and virtually buzzing the tower. What does flying mean to you? It means everything. Flying relaxes me. I have anxiety, but in an aircraft I feel good and when I step out of the aeroplane, my whole body is relaxed. I really struggled during lockdown as my hobbies, Taekwondo and aviation, both stopped. Although I could train Taekwondo in my garden, I couldn’t fly and a simulator doesn’t match the feeling of being in the air. In fact, there’s nothing like flying a proper aeroplane. I’m incredibly grateful to the people at Aerobility, who’ve been so positive and helpful along the way. They’re fantastic. Same goes for my instructor, Steve, who has dedicated so much of his time and effort to make my dream come true. Without them, I don’t think I’d have reached my goal of going solo on my 16th birthday. What do you love most about aviation? Having control of what’s happening. From where you go to which manoeuvres you do. When you’re up there at 3,000ft you have the freedom to go anywhere you like, as long as it’s within reason.
This remote island is home once a year to one of the UK’s most unusual fly-in venues. Dave White made his first trip this year – and loved it…
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Main Lundy Island lies off the Devon coast and plays host to the annual Lundy Fly-in
or many years – call it decades – I have wanted to visit Lundy Island by air. I feel there’s something about islands that makes them perfect for GA (assuming there is a runway!), but Lundy has always had that extra bit of mystery and whiff of hazard about it. That’s probably because, at 400m long, the strip is quite short, the approaches come over a 400ft cliff, with all that brings for up- and down-draughts, plus the hump-backed strip is typically reported as having stones and rabbit holes along its length. Outside of organised events, the airfield is used for grazing, so there may be sheep to be chased off. If that wasn’t enough, there is a substantial stone wall right at one end…. The airstrip on Lundy dates back to at least 1934. Aircraft such as a DH84 Dragon (which lost its undercarriage on that threshold wall), GAL Monospar and Short Scion of Lundy & Atlantic Coasts Air Lines flew to Lundy from an airfield at Barnstaple – a site that’s now within the boundary of Chivenor. Tourist flights, post-WWII, flew to the Island by Auster, but apart from some Flying Farmers’ Association events in the 1960s/1970s there was relatively little use of the strip, until a team of pilots and enthusiasts changed that with a plan for a fly-in at the turn of the century. Every year since then, there has been a fly-in organised by Pete White, a stalwart of the Aeronca Club (he flies a beautiful Chief, G-IVOR), the LAA Devon Strut and the Feet Off the Ground flying charity. Pete first flew to the island in January 2000 on a whim from Bodmin. After his visit, in conjunction with the island’s owners and operators, he organised the initial fly-in for that August, which included ferrying people in from Eggesford Airfield during the day. The first decade of Lundy Fly-ins was under the banner of the PFA/LAA Devon Strut, but it is now organised by ‘The Lundy Team’, which comprises the Landmark Trust, the National Trust, plus Pete with John Colgate and their small team of volunteers. The only break in 20 years was during the Foot and Mouth outbreak of 2001. This year though, while the UK COVID-19 lockdown had been a threat, the situation improved sufficiently, which meant that a responsible, socially distanced event could take place. In previous years I had either been otherwise committed, or chickened out… or something else. This year, at last, the stars aligned and I was determined to October 2020 | FLYER | 41
Top Selection of visitors, with Old Light beyond Above One of the four visiting Tiger Moths Above right Stone marking arrival of Trinity House to construct the first lighthouse Below St. Helen’s Church tapestries and info board
go. My concessions to the challenges of Lundy were to take the spats off and practise short landings at my home strip. And so it came to pass. Having reviewed Pete’s excellent and comprehensive PPR briefing notes, we had a glorious trip down in blazing sunshine with my passenger Mark Saunders (born a local, and whose aircraft had gone tech the day before) acting as a tourist guide to North Devon and reporting the local gossip.
As we got closer we began to hear other aircraft calling up Lundy on SafetyCom and also see some of them on the SkyDemon/SkyEcho combination. It became evident that some weather was localised around the island and not quite so glorious as over the mainland. Sure enough, as we coasted out we could see there were rain showers ahead, precluding the planned overhead join. All the other inbounds were showing excellent airmanship reporting position and intentions concisely. So, we fitted in and announced that we were to join downwind for 24 at 1,000ft – about as high as we could get at that part of the circuit.
Scrappy join to final
As we came onto a wide base, to deconflict from two or three aircraft ahead, there was a small shower between us and the strip, which meant that I overshot the centreline a bit, resulting in a somewhat scrappy join to final. Never mind, we were far enough out to rectify that happily, although I do apologise to the aircraft behind me… I think the gap was enough not to cause him too much of an issue. As we came onto short final, a number of things became apparent: The white rocks marking the strip, the briefed up-slope at the 24 end, and the entrance to the parking area off to the left. 42 | FLYER | October 2020
But the thing that caught my attention most, as I had expected it would, was the low stone wall just at the 24 threshold. This was described very well in the briefing notes, and so I was prepared to pass low over it before touchdown on the up-slope beyond. As we rolled to a stop, my worries faded – the strip was fine. No massive rocks, no Godzilla-sized rabbit holes. I was glad I took the spats off, though. That said, Pete does point out that the far (06) end can be really quite rough, so my opinion may have been different had there been an easterly on the day. After booking in and paying a very reasonable landing fee (which included visitors’ contribution to the Landmark Trust), we watched a few arrivals. In total 80 aircraft flew to Lundy, including over 30 vintage types. As FLYER’s bossman, Ian Seager, pointed out, as probably the best-attended UK one-day GA event in 2020, it might be worthy of the name ‘LunkOsh’. One of the arrivals after us was a red Carbon Cub, built and flown by Mark Albery, a FLYER Forumite, and recently repatriated from California. My passenger Mark had last met Mark A and his Carbon Cub a year ago when they had bumped into each other at AirVenture. So, from Oshkosh to LunkOsh – who’d have thought? Some exploration beckoned while we were here, so we headed for the Marisco Tavern, the island’s only
pub, which is no distance at all from the strip. It does a mean lamb burger, after which we walked the short distance to St Helen’s Church, which dates to 1880, passing a blue postbox on the way. It is blue because the GPO pulled out of Lundy in the 1920s and Lundy Post is now run out of the island store. It claims to be the oldest private postal service in the world, and produces highly collectible ‘puffin’ stamps and franks. Inside the church are impressive modern tapestries
Top The Fly-in attracted over 80 aircraft Above left Quarter Wall Bay with MS Oldenburg at the landing stage Above Marisco Tavern Below Mark Albery’s Carbon Cub, just shipped from the USA
October 2020 | FLYER | 43
Below Spot the runway!
of local scenes and fascinating information boards about island history, wildlife, economy and other Lundy specifics. Carrying on down the hill leads to the landing stage at the south-east of the island, in Quarter Wall Bay. (There are three main walls constructed across the island, known as Quarter Wall, Halfway Wall and Three-Quarter Wall. None of them are the wall at the runway threshold.) The MS Oldenburg was alongside having delivered passengers and cargo on its rounds from the mainland. She previously operated ferry services to Wangerooge and Helgoland, both also have airfields so some readers may have seen her there! The lighthouse here is one of two, which replaced the much taller ‘Old Light’ by the airstrip – and appealingly is available to rent as holiday accommodation. Old Light is apparently disused because, being at the island high point, it frequently found itself hidden by fog and low cloud – somewhat defeating its point… Back at the airstrip, we spent some time enjoyably talking to many other friendly flyers including Ellie Carter who soloed on her 16th birthday, got her licence on her 17th last year, and since then has racked up lots of hours and experience in a fabulous Piper L-4 Cub in USAAF markings, generously supported by the Cub’s
owner Richard. She clearly has some excellent mentoring and is on track for a flying career, and with her enthusiasm and evident application I reckon she is bound to make a success of it. Then, sadly it was time to leave. At which point my pax realised he had lost his iPad. It could be anywhere, but luckily this is a small island… But he thought he’d probably left it in the church, so we retraced our steps there – no joy. Mark then walked all the way back down the hill again, checking walls and seats on the way. Still no joy. Back via the village store and the pub – nope – and finally, dejectedly, back to the strip. At which point a very honest chap walked up to Mark and asked, “Is this your iPad?” He’d found it in… the church. He wasn’t even one of the visiting pilots, he was a holidaymaker who had come across on the Oldenburg, found the iPad and searched the photos for clues then came up to the aircraft to find us. Top chap. The marshalled departure was very smooth. Taxying out, Pete White was checking that we had been reunited with the returned iPad – thanks again Pete. Climbing out clear of the circuit, an anticlockwise circumnavigation of the island allowed for a couple of photos of a truly gorgeous location! The island is full of fascinating little details, and since Lundy Sunday I’ve been looking up bits and pieces online. Naturally, we only saw a fraction of them. There are other things I would love to go back and see. I had hoped to see puffins on this trip but was unsuccessful. I believe they typically depart the island in late July, so we had just missed them. I plan to go back, including on a non-organised day, and take a longer walk to see properly such things as the Old Light, the remains of two crashed Heinkel 111s, and more of the wonderful wildlife. There’s plenty of accommodation should you wish to stay. To Pete White and his colleagues, along with The Landmark & National Trusts, thank you for making it such an enjoyable and safe day. I knew I’d love Lundy Sunday, and I did.
Inspired to visit next year? Click to watch the video of FLYER’s trip to Lundy 44 | FLYER | October 2020
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Safety Accident Analysis
Who’s in control?
While we all love to share our joy of flying with friends and colleagues, Steve Ayres examines why it’s worth looking at some of the possible consequences of handing over those precious flight controls – and why it’s important to get the cockpit ‘relationships’ right
The Beechcraft B200 aircraft, equipped to perform medical evacuation flights, was conducting an instrument flight rules positioning flight, with two flight crew members and two flight nurses on board. While the aircraft was cruising at flight level 250, the flight crew declared an emergency due to a fuel issue, which the crew then realised meant they would not make it to the destination. It was at that moment that the First Officer (FO) remembered that he had forgotten to have the aircraft refuelled. The flight crew were ‘startled’ by the fuel exhaustion situation, and their management of the emergency subsequently deteriorated as they were faced with a higher and unexpected workload owing to the impending fuel
exhaustion and imminent power loss of one, and eventually, both engines. When the left engine lost power, the flight crew followed the procedure to shut down the engine. However, the left propeller continued to windmill at speeds between 1,300 and 2,000rpm. It is likely that the propeller control lever had not been moved completely into the feather position. The FO had earlier programmed the FMS to display a track to the diversion airfield on the captain’s FMS and he instructed the captain to turn right and fly the new track. However, only when the FO moved the heading bug on the FMS display did the captain turn the aircraft, some two minutes after his initial call. Still feeling the effects of the startled response to the fuel emergency, the captain quickly became task-saturated. The drag produced by the windmilling propeller explains the decaying airspeed and the difficulty the captain was experiencing controlling the aircraft. Although the captain was attempting to descend to intercept an acceptable approach angle, the windmilling propeller likely contributed to a rate of descent that was higher than expected, and at times approached 6,000fpm. Observing that the captain was encountering difficulty maintaining airspeed and controlling the descent rate, the FO took control. When the aircraft was at 2,800ft above sea level (asl), the left propeller stopped rotating, indicating that the blades had moved to the feather angle. The right engine then lost power due to fuel exhaustion when the
“It was at that moment that the FO recalled he had forgotten to have the aircraft refuelled” 46 | FLYER | October 2020
aircraft was one nm from the threshold. From that position, a successful forced landing on the intended runway was no longer possible and, as a result, the aircraft touched down on the ice surface of Stephens Lake, short of the runway. The aircraft was severely damaged but there were no injuries and the occupants exited the aircraft. The FO was a company line ‘indoctrination captain’, and on the occurrence flight he occupied the right-hand seat from where he was to perform the duties of a FO and provide line indoctrination training to the captain. The FO believed that the captain was the PIC, although in accordance with company policy it should have been the FO, as he was the one giving training to the captain.
The flight of the Cessna 172 was part of a three-plane, multi-day trip between Germany and France. The pilot (in the left seat) and the passenger, owner of the aircraft (in the right seat), took off from Dijon around noon for a flight to Tours. The accident pilot explained that he had met the owner of the aeroplane a few months before but that they had never flown together prior to this trip. As this three-day outing took place in several stages, they alternated in the role of captain. The day before the accident, the pilot flew one of the legs in Germany as a captain. On the day of the accident, he captained the Dijon-Tours leg from the left seat, while the owner provided radio communications in the right seat. On final for Runway 20 at Tours Aerodrome, the pilot said he had stabilised the speed at 70kt with the flaps configured in the landing position at 30°. After the flare and despite the reduced power, he had the impression that the aircraft was flying over the runway without touching the ground, as if it were floating on a
or all pilots making a bit of a ‘thing’ about ensuring they always know who has control of the aircraft at any one time, it IS really important. It’s obviously crucial in the instructional environment, but then it is usually quite obvious who should be taking control if things start to go wrong. It is the instructor, of course! But, is it always? And what if the aircraft owner is in the ‘command’ seat but his passenger in the other seat is much more experienced, more familiar or just ‘clear as day’ more capable! Add to this the stress of a serious emergency and the scene is set for some tricky decision making – even before the need for some nifty aircraft handling by the one left ‘in control’.
cushion of warm air. For him, this effect was caused by the high air temperature just above the paved runway heated by the sun. He then decided to abort the landing and applied full power. At the same time, the passenger told him ‘go-around’. He estimated the speed at about 65kt and the available runway length at 1,500m. The pilot’s intention then was to gain speed over the runway before gradually retracting the flaps. Seconds after the go-around, he perceived a change in nose-up attitude and pushed the yoke forward to maintain a level accelerating attitude. As that effort increased, he perceived a left turn and realised he was no longer above the runway. The pilot noticed that the passenger was also holding on to the controls. Startled, he stopped pushing the yoke and controlling the rudder pedals, believing that the passenger, the owner of the aircraft and more experienced than him, wanted to fly the manoeuvre himself. He thought that the owner might have wanted to make a quick left turn into the airfield circuit. He then passively accompanied the movement of the yoke without opposing it. The pilot stated that when he noticed the speed was slowing he yelled at the owner to stop pulling as they were losing speed, but got no reaction from him. The aeroplane suddenly rolled over to the left and collided with the ground. With both occupants unharmed, they evacuated the aircraft. He clarified that during the briefing given before the start of the trip, he and the owner agreed that if the owner was to take back control of the aircraft, then he should announce it using phraseology defined in advance. He did not hear this announcement during the accident flight. Testimonies show that the situation was confused in the cockpit and that the two people each assumed the other was in control, with neither of them actually piloting the aircraft. The go-around procedure was therefore partially applied with only the throttle properly actioned. Control of the flight path, management of the engine effects and flap retraction were not.
Two experienced pilots began a flight in a two-seat glider near Briançon. The front seat pilot considered the other pilot to be the pilot-in-command because he had an instructor’s qualification and
“Each assumed the other was in control, with neither of them actually piloting the aircraft” knew the area better than himself. The rear-seat pilot placed the flight in the context of a ‘mutual flight’, taking on the role of captain but leaving control and initiative to the other pilot. The two pilots did not, however, discuss the assignment of roles and functions before the flight. At some point, the front seat pilot continued the flight in conditions disapproved of by the rear seat pilot, but he did not express this clearly and, although stressed, he left the controls and initiative with the front seat pilot. When the front seat pilot could not find any lift, he decided to end the flight and land in the Rosier area. He prepared for the landing by commenting on his actions aloud. Thinking he was in difficulty, the rear-seat pilot took control and tried
unsuccessfully to gain altitude, so he too resolved to land. He flew a downwind leg that was too close – and consequently was too high – on final. Seeing that they had not descended sufficiently, he extended the spoilers fully, selected land flap and asked the front seat pilot to deploy the brakechute. Immobilised since the rear seat pilot had taken control and after a few seconds hesitation, he pushed the release lever through the gate deploying, and then accidentally, jettisoning the brake-chute. The glider flew over the entire length of the field and in an attempt to avoid a tree line, the two pilots simultaneously retracted the spoilers and applied up elevator. The glider struck a tree and came to rest on its back in a river, submerging the occupants who were able to evacuate.
Ayres’ Analysis Thankfully, it was mostly pride and airframes that were hurt in these accidents – but it could have been very different. And, although the relationships between crew members were not the principal cause, in each accident they certainly contributed. In the case of the Beech 200, the FO in his role as training pilot should have been the one in command and, given his greater experience, would most likely have been best placed to take decisions and to pilot the aircraft. As it was, confusion in the roles may well have compromised their ability to action the emergency drills correctly and then to reach the nearest airfield safely. In the case of the Cessna 172, the skills of the pilot flying were almost unknown to the owner-pilot in the right-hand seat and when things got a bit fraught on landing there was a lot of confusion in the cockpit, ending up with no one piloting the go-around. And this was despite the control handover procedure being discussed previously! In the final example, there was no defined scope for the flight and the precise roles of each of the two pilots was not covered. The flight took place based on presumptions around status (instructor/student) and experience (local knowledge/cross-country flights). This clearly had an impact on the ability of the two pilots to work effectively together. When things started to go wrong communication between the pilots suffered, they alternately adopted a passive attitude, which ultimately impeded their ability to carry out a safe landing. Guarding against these kinds of accidents can be difficult and as the C172 accident demonstrates, even a pre-flight brief won’t necessarily keep us safe. However, spending time discussing the flight profile and the roles each crew member is going to play during that flight is clearly important. Also, agree on who is going to take control if things go wrong and the role the non-flying pilot is to play (monitor speed, nav, radio etc). And finally, keep flying the aeroplane unless someone shouts very loudly in your ear: ‘I have control!’ October 2020 | FLYER | 47
Safety Accident Reports
When checking is key… Steve Ayres summarises and comments on accident reports from around the world and looks at a very handy pilot ‘breakout device’ and survival knife…
No greens, no horn Rockwell Commander 114 G-BFXS Little Snoring Airfield, Norfolk Injuries: None
The pilot was planning to complete two landings at Little Snoring Airfield, before flying to Old Buckenham Airfield to complete the required three landings in 90 days, prior to flying with passengers. He took off from Runway 07 and completed the first circuit without incident. As he was flying downwind in the second circuit another pilot asked him to extend his circuit to allow them to take off. He extended downwind then made his approach to land. He thought he had completed his normal downwind checks, which would normally include extending the landing gear, and on final approach he made his normal ‘red, blue, greens’ landing checks. However, on landing, the propeller and fuselage struck the runway and he realised the landing gear was not selected down. The landing gear warning horn did not sound. The pilot was uninjured and able to exit the aircraft unaided. The pilot had not flown for several months and he thinks that the lack of currency, combined with the distraction of extending the circuit, led him to forget to extend the landing gear. He believes that on final approach he glanced inside and saw the GPS green light and mistook it for the landing gear green lights. The landing gear warning horn did not sound because the pilot had
selected only partial flap, intending to complete a touch-and-go. The landing gear warning horn sounds when the landing gear is not down and, either the flaps are extended beyond 25°, or when the throttle is retarded below a position corresponding to a manifold pressure of approximately 14in. Comment Given the long lay-off from flying many of us have experienced, this sort of accident is perhaps unsurprising, but it occurred despite Rockwell’s designers doing their best to warn the pilot. Unfortunately, a decision not to use landing flap and a possible late reduction in power below 14in manifold pressure, denied the pilot any chance of that final warning. Forgetting the gear is the stuff of nightmares (for me anyway), but given a broad lack of currency it might be a good time to reflect on whether we are making full and proper use of all our safety systems. Plus a timely reminder of the need for that ‘last check’.
Fatal distraction Cessna 150M
Zenair Zenith STOL CH750
Bainbridge Island, WA
Injuries: One fatal, one serious
The private pilot and passenger departed on a pleasure flight over the water, and radar data showed that the aeroplane was at an altitude about 700ft mean sea level (msl). The passenger stated that she was concerned about how low the
“The passenger stated that she was concerned about how low the aeroplane was flying” 48 | FLYER | October 2020
aeroplane was flying, but the pilot reassured her that they were fine and able to fly safely 200ft above the water. The pilot then looked down at his tablet, which he was using for navigation, and the passenger saw him push the flight control yoke forward. The aeroplane descended and subsequently impacted the water and nosed over. The passenger was able to egress on her own as the aeroplane began to sink. However, the pilot appeared unconscious and did not exit the aeroplane. Neither the wreckage nor the pilot’s remains were recovered. Comment There’s a hint of bravado in the pilot’s comment to his passenger about being ‘able to fly safely over water at 200ft’ and, while it may be true, it cannot be accomplished when distracted. We all know how invaluable some form of electronic mapping/navigation has become, but make sure the device is mounted to promote lookout and not to detract from it. And when using it, make it part of your scan rather than let it become something on which to fixate.
The pilot/owner was conducting a flight in the experimental amateurbuilt aeroplane with a pilot-rated passenger, who was a potential buyer. The pilot reported that they flew in the local area for about 20 minutes, and then smoke entered the cockpit. The pilot declared an emergency and headed toward the departure airport. Within one to two minutes, the engine lost all oil pressure and then lost total power. The pilot initially attempted to glide to the airport, but because it was too far away, decided to land on a road on top of a nearby dam. The
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Safety Accident Reports aeroplane touched down normally, but due to wind the left wingtip struck the ground. The aeroplane spun, veered off the dam, and sustained substantial damage to the wing and fuselage. The engine exhibited some impact-related damage, but no external evidence of non impactrelated damage. The engine was, however, devoid of lubricating oil, and significant oil residue was observed on the exhaust and the lower fuselage. Post-accident examination indicated that the source of the oil was via the starter ring gear drive seal, located just above the exhaust All four pistons displayed evidence of significant erosion damage consistent with detonation. The damage was consistent with the use of fuel with octane rating(s) significantly below that required for the engine. At least one piston was eroded to the point that it allowed cylinder combustion gasses to enter and pressurise the engine crankcase, which would have forced the engine oil past the starter ring gear drive seal and out of the engine. Comment There can be no substitute for regular and proper maintenance. Had the pilot done so, perhaps the detonation-caused internal engine damage would have been detected before it got to the point where combustion gasses were able to force oil out through the seal in the crankcase. That said, running the engine on the correct octane fuel would have been the best preventative measure of all.
Phantom partial power VH-YPQ Diamond DA40 NG Port Macquarie Airport, NSW Injuries: Two serious
It was the student’s first time conducting night circuits so, once lined up on the runway, the instructor took the aircraft controls for the take-off. As the aircraft climbed, the instructor heard, and felt, the engine and propeller surging. Propeller speed and engine power fluctuations occurred from about 200ft and increased in amplitude as the aircraft climbed to about 400ft. Recorded data showed that the engine was, nonetheless, producing full power despite the fluctuations. 50 | FLYER | October 2020
“Damage was consistent with the use of a significantly lower octane fuel that specified” The instructor interpreted the fluctuations as a partial engine power loss and commenced a left turn, aiming to return and land on the runway in the opposite direction to the take-off. The instructor had considered landing straight ahead but assessed that there was power available to turn and that they would be unable to see and avoid trees or to be sure to land in a suitable clearing ahead. In the 10 seconds that the instructor was assessing and making decisions about a perceived partial power loss, the airspeed reduced from 75kt to 69kt due to the aircraft’s nose-up pitch attitude. Then, at the same time as commencing the turn back towards the runway, the instructor reduced engine power to 30 per cent, while maintaining a nose-up attitude, and the airspeed reduced rapidly. During the turn the aircraft
aerodynamically stalled, resulting in a loss of control. Although the aircraft pitched down and the instructor subsequently increased the power, control was not regained. The aircraft descended and collided with trees. The student and instructor were seriously injured, and the aircraft destroyed. Propeller speed fluctuations had occurred in other aircraft, and had either resolved without pilot input or by moving the power lever. Comment As it transpired the instructor failed to appreciate that he had sufficient power to fly the aircraft normally and that there was no need to plan for an emergency night landing at all. The distraction from pursuing his plan to land immediately unfortunately then led to loss of control when a few additional seconds of reflection may just have changed the course of action.
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History Makers… Captain Michael Smith sets off in his Seabear seaplane to follow a historic trail blazed by his namesake – 100 years earlier…
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n 1919 Australian Prime Minister Billy Hughes, sensing the important role aviation may one day have for his young nation, put up a challenge aimed squarely at the pilot service men waiting to return home from the Great War. A £10,000 prize was up for grabs for the first to fly from the UK to Australia. It was open to land and seaplanes, multiple parties set out and the Great Air Race turned out to be demanding, difficult and finished by few. Ultimately, no seaplanes participated in 1919, yet having taken delivery in Russia of my new Southern Sun flying boat, a Seabear, the chance to retrace the historic 1919 Vickers Vimy flight lead by Captain Smith, winner of the Great Air Race from London to Darwin, was an exciting opportunity which fitted perfectly with my love of historic routes. I had secured an original copy of the March 1921 National Geographic magazine, which covered the Smith flight in great detail, and which I could use as a guide to plan my retracing of their route. It featured many photos that had been taken by them, which I was keen to try and recreate. With time aplenty in Samara, we got the first one sorted. The original engineers, Shiers and Bennet, were replaced by my new Russian comrades, Dmitry and Slava. So, off to a good start indeed! I had planned to leave London on November 12, 2019 – the same day the Vickers Vimy had done 100 years earlier. We would arrive in Darwin on 10 December, giving us the same 28 days the Vimy crew had, visiting most of the same cities – skipping only Syria, Iraq and Iran. Some paperwork delays leaving Russia meant I needed to leave the UK as soon as arriving on November 19, giving me three weeks to still reach Darwin exactly 100 years after Captain Ross Smith and his crew. Even in a faster aircraft, it would make it a busy adventure with not much time for an important task I had given myself – not only visit the same cities, but try to take the same photos Capt Smith did in 1919, by, well, me, Capt Smith, in 2019 – and see how has the world changed over a century. As the first flight also carried the first international airmail to Australia, I had a sack of commemorative airmail to carry, which would need various stamps and postmarks along the way. I had certainly made what started as ‘I need to fly from Russia to Australia’ about as complicated as it could be!
Departure: White Waltham Airfield, West London
At the historic West London Aero Club White Waltham Airfield, there was a constant flow of people with various camera devices, and non-club members standing at the fence line with large cameras on tripods taking photos. The folks at the October 2020 | FLYER | 53
Previous page Flying south below sea level along the Jordan Valley towards the Dead Sea Above Southern Sun, resplendent in silver, often leaves people wondering if she is ultra modern or in fact an old classic flying boat... Right Flying over Jerusalem, in each fly the same position that Capt Smith did 100 years earlier for the same photo vantage point Far right Home on the grass field strip at Rothwell – we’re gonna need a bigger hangar! Below In flight catering – tubes of Russian space food!
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club were friendly and very helpful, it was a great place from which to start the journey – especially as it’s an all-grass airfield, much like Hounslow Heath field where the Vickers Vimy (VV) departed in 1919. All was looking good until, just as I was ready to depart, there was a new ‘first’ in aviation for me – a flat tyre! With wonderful help from a local club member, we were fully pumped and off on the first leg. Flying over Tower Bridge wasn’t possible, immediately highlighting one of the changes in 100 years. However, I was able to find the buildings and foreshore at Folkestone in a photo taken by Ross Smith as they left England to cross the Channel. I flew through France landing at Lyon, on a glorious day for flying, and it felt so good just to finally be underway. There was a light tailwind and scattered fluffy clouds. The French countryside was green and scattered with gorgeous little (and not so little) old houses. Upon landing I discovered that all the hotels were booked. I felt pretty exhausted and so just walked to a café for a light meal and returned for an early night in the Southern Sun. Actually, I slept well, much better than on the last trip in the Searey, as this time around I have a bed! The advantage of staying in the aeroplane is you are immediately ready to go the next morning for some beautiful sunrise flying. I sadly had to accept not heading into Lyon as there was weather coming, and I could not risk being stuck for a couple of days. Consequently, I spent the next few days flying and looking around in Pisa and Taranto in Italy and Crete in Greece before heading for something I was very excited about – my first flight to a new continent , Africa’s Egypt.
I had an image in my mind of swooping low between the pyramids to capture an incredible photo from the air… alas, it was a dream set a century ago. The minimum height allowed for flying in Egypt is 8,500ft – and with the permanent haze above the city, the pyramids were indistinguishable, I didn’t even get the camera out. Ross Smith had great freedom wandering the pyramids, and was even able to get a photo with no one else in it! I made my best effort to take a shot just like his, and while I couldn’t get in the same position, my perspective was not too different to his… With an early start the next day for Haifa in Israel, I needed to get some rest. But, all too easily a plan collapses. I had been advised that flying from Cairo to Israel (direct) was not possible, so had planned via Aqaba, adding about 200 miles to the direct route, for a quick pit stop then onwards departure. So many delays due to paperwork and weather meant that I was really up against it. I not only wanted to keep moving as my Darwin-bound date
of 10 December loomed quickly but I was also to be a guest speaker at a dinner in Israel and I was determined not to let them down. And, I was also conscious of maintaining safe operations. Finally, I reluctantly accepted the longer route, and with a requested 9,500ft I got away, and was immediately told to climb to 11,000ft, then 13,000ft, and soon after, an impossible 23,000ft. Then I was to track due south to a new waypoint – changing my route and adding another 150 miles – and I have to tell you, I really started to worry, and I had images of having to ditch in the sea. So I pleaded with the controllers, explaining that both height and route were precarious for me… After the intervention from a captain of another flight, they relented and let me return to the planned route and descend to 11,000ft. Here, despite advising my maximum operational height was 10,000ft without bottled oxygen, having flown a lot at this height I knew I would be OK. As had happened on my round-the-world trip back in 2015, within 10 miles of the Israeli border, my GPS signals all died, and were erratic for the next 15 minutes. Luckily I anticipated it this time and was ready with good old magnetic bearings, stopwatch and my flight plan sectors – certainly reminiscent to navigating 100 years ago.
I landed in Haifa with an hour to spare before I was due to start my dinner talk. Alas, I was an hour late, due to a thorough search of the aeroplane, followed by my passport having some extreme scrutinising. Local friend Amir drove me over to Ein Vered airfield (LLEV) where more than 100 well-fed light sport pilots and members of AOPA Israel were waiting in the clubhouse. With the iPad plugged in, I jumped into the presentation, frankly high on adrenaline and low on energy, but so pleased to be back in Israel. It is one of my favourite countries –
Below Sea of Galilee, where Empire Airways alighted in the 1930s
October 2020 | FLYER | 55
Above The Dead Sea near Masada Right Airport staff would come for selfies, they obviously don’t get too many flying boats in the desert! Far right Luxury – a full lie down bed in the back of the aeroplane Below right Flying at -1200ft, just feet above the Dead Sea Below Capt Smith 2019 – pretty chuffed to be home
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the incredible history, sights and especially the people. We had a wonderful night with lots of chatting afterwards, and I found out that the guys had a surprise planned for me the next day. I wasn’t quite sure what was planned but in my talk I’d explained that I’d hoped to get an aerial photo of Jerusalem to match the one in the National Geographic magazine that I shared around the audience. They had so much more in store for me… A tour of Israel had been arranged, with special permission for me to fly an Australian registered aircraft VFR around the country at low levels for sightseeing. We ventured north to the Sea of Galilee, and flew right along the shore of Tiberias, which is where Empire Airways used to land back in the 1930s to refuel, and where I hadn’t been allowed to fly to in 2015. It was the weirdest feeling as we descended through sea level on the altimeter, ultimately skimming just above the surface of the lake at minus 600ft! That was seriously exciting and felt like unfinished business from my circumnavigation! Next we flew south over Jericho to the Dead Sea, down the valley of the Jordan River, which marks the boundary between Israel and Jordan. Lower and lower we descended, until we flew along the salt laden waters at minus 1,200ft, the water’s edge salt encrusted and many people in bathing. This was surreal. The water looked oily and heavy, the landscape stark but as we were cleared down to minimums we made the most of it. At the end of the sea we climbed to fly over the Masada, the rock-top fortified Palace built by Herod the Great, accessed by a cable car today but back then it must have been quite a trek! Overwhelmed by all that I’d seen in just a couple of hours of flying, we descended to land at the Masada Airfield – the lowest airfield on Earth at minus 1,240ft. We had a pitstop for coffee and a chat before heading north-west. Our route home took us past Jerusalem, positioned with reference to the original photo. It is amazing how the old walled city looks pretty much the same as it would have done for Ross Smith and his Vickers Vimy crew – it’s been built up for centuries – and the surrounding area has filled out substantially over the last century! It was simply one of the most memorable days ever. An incredible experience filled with so much history and striking scenery squeezed into such a compact country. It was time to leave Haifa and head through some troubled lands of the Middle East. I had tried to get permission to land in Syria, Iraq and Iran. I was keen to retrace the trip fully, and Damascus, Baghdad and Bandar Abbas were ancient cities I’d long wanted to visit. However, flight clearances for these three countries were only
“Lower and lower we descended, until we flew along the salt laden waters at -1,200ft, the water’s edge salt encrusted” available through diplomatic channels and I didn’t even waste their time asking. In the end, when a drone was shot out of the sky in Iran, I figured it might not just be the best time to pop in anyway… An early departure from Haifa sent me south of Syria and Iraq with an overnight tech stop in Bahrain, then over Dubai and along the edge of Iranian airspace for most of the day before picking up the Vickers Vimy route again in Pakistan, for a quick overnight stop, then on to wonderful India.
Landing in Delhi late afternoon, I got to know the dozen or so staff who came to greet the aeroplane and have their photos taken while we waited a couple of hours for fuel. It was an intriguing place to be parked, with more private jets than I’d ever seen. It was then explained to me that these are the small jets, the big private jets are on the other side. It makes sense. India is a big country with many large companies dominating nationwide in an enormous economy. With so many city centres it would be a great way to get a lot of work done efficiently. (Note: Interesting just how I so easily justified private aeroplane ownership!) There were some predictable delays on the tarmac throughout India, which was reminiscent of trying to go from Egypt to Israel. While I remained in the aircraft ‘cooking’, a steady flow of cars and people came to take their photos with the aeroplane, all seemingly oblivious to the fact that I just wanted to get going! From Kolkata the flight to Yangon was only five hours, and fairly easy, and we landed right at the end of the day. I was directed to Stand One, alongside all the Airbuses and Boeings, which I thought was pretty cool. I stopped for a day in Myanmar, as it was my October 2020 | FLYER | 57
Above Rangoon hospitality included a hangar for the night Right My new friends in Israel Far right Gold laden temples of Shwedagon, Yangon, Myanmar Below Down by the riverside – without a bridge for miles local boat traffic is manic, essential and colourfully fun!
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first visit and was unlikely to return anytime soon, with temples and river boat fun to be had! It was a day of much walking and wandering, in a city I hadn’t visited before, with some lovely discoveries along the way.
These are quick visits and I am aware that I’m not allowing enough time to really get into a place. But the way people take time to proudly show their city or share their time to make the most of the opportunity is constantly rewarding and reinforces the inherent good in people across this world. Just when I thought there was no chance of me finding a Thai cultural event to recreate Smith’s photo of three Thai women in cultural outfits, along came a wonderful modern incarnation – the same outfits, and all of the women using their mobile phones! What a great way to finish Bangkok. Singapore was going to be about an eight-hour flight. I was lucky the weather was going to be a clear run. The Gulf of Thailand can be a tough place when the CBs decide it’s time to dance. But in fact the flight was pretty dull, uneventful, and I was looking forward to two nights staying with a pilot mate, Brad Smith, and a day in Singapore. That was, until on landing, I took another look at the weather modelling for the next few days when it became clear that there was bad weather coming. If I didn’t leave really early in the morning, I’d be in Singapore for days and almost certainly not make it to Darwin on time. The following morning brought the toughest few hours I think I’ve had. I was determined to remain visual, I flew by hand and flew around many, many clouds, CBs and rain. I only got rained on a few times. It was demanding and taxing but I realised I’d matured a lot as a pilot since 2015 when I headed out from Australia in the Searey. I was incredibly focused, managing from a great platform and remained calm but not over confident. Having said that, boy, was I glad when I was clear of it, which took about four hours. I crossed into the Surabaya airspace 100 miles out, and experienced something I hadn’t had on the whole trip up until now. Something I had dealt with so often on my circumnavigation but by some freak of good luck on this trip had been foreign to me – a headwind. Yes, I hadn’t wanted to say it out loud along the way, but I had enjoyed a tailwind on EVERY flight since leaving London. A five knot headwind for the last four hours just didn’t seem so bad… I took a day off for exploring in Surabaya, Indonesia where one of my favourite stories from the trip took place. In the second half of the original trip many of the runways were hacked from farm fields, and upon landing the Vickers
Vimy became bogged in. They dug it out, moved it, only to become bogged down again. So, as they dug it out again, they put the wheels on some grass mats – and it worked. Consequently, they called on the entire village to bring their mats from home, and so many turned up overnight that they were able to lay a grass mat runway! What an incredible story of mass human kindness and the entire community coming together. The Vickers Vimy landed on 9 December at Atambua on the island of Timor, at the time part of the Dutch East Indies. Ross Smith wrote that they barely slept as they were so anxious and excited that the following day they would arrive in Darwin, and a return to Australian shores. And there would be success in their incredible endeavour, not to mention winning the Great Air Race and netting a tidy purse of £10,000 – around $1,000,000 in today’s money. Atambua is now part of Indonesia and a domestic airport only so while still of the island of Timor, my final stop before crossing the Timor Sea was scheduled to be Dili, just over the border in Timor-Leste. The planned 3.45pm landing time in Darwin had been chosen, as there was debate as some records suggested the Vickers Vimy landed at 3.40pm, others 3.50pm... In an old film posted at some point, which I had watched, I averaged it to 3.45pm and it stuck. I was determined to touch the runway at the exact minute. The good news, with a generous flight time of around four hours, was that there was no need for a crazy early start.
Above Flying the SeaBear was luxury, in comparison to the SeaRey circumnavigation
The usual flight plan fiascos – sorry, erm, entertainment – continued, but soon enough we were away. There were headwinds above 3,000ft so I crossed the sea at 1,500ft where I was surprised to find a small tailwind all the way! It became clear I was going to be a good half-anhour early, so with 150 miles remaining I started slowing down and made a plan with a nod to the past. I would fly the last hour at only 80kt, the speed taken by Ross Smith and his crew aboard the Vickers Vimy. By coincidence it was the same speed that I went around the world in a Searey, so while it was October 2020 | FLYER | 59
Above On the tarmac in Kolkata, a brief but jovial visit Right Distinctive boat hull shape didn’t get wet after leaving Russia until arriving in Australia Below The Darwin welcoming party, exactly 100 years since the first flight landed
familiar to me, it felt very slow and mushy in the new Southern Sun! I was soon in contact with Darwin controllers, which is operated by the RAAF, and who I think are the calmest, clearest, politest and most helpful ATC in all of the lands, right up there with the teams in Israel and the UK – world class and made for the start of a very warm welcome. Well, except for the thunderstorm and lightning at the end! The plan had been for me to land on Runway 29 where there was a convenient viewing area for the public but lightning saw me change to 36, which took me straight over Fannie Bay and Sir Ross Smith Avenue, the site of their original landing strip, before turning base. As I eagerly watched my GPS time, turning onto final, I saw 06:14 click around, 3.44pm local. With a few more knots than usual I focused on the runway, holding the wheels above it until I saw the four roll over to a five – and then touched down 100 years after Ross landed the Vimy. Hurrah! As I took my taxi directions towards the main terminal building, I noticed something that made my heart skip – fire trucks. They were either side of the taxiway and all facing each other. The water cannons were aimed high and towards each other. I felt very proud, emotional and wished my family were here. I later found out that my flight had been put on the arrivals board. So now I felt spoilt indeed.
So it was that an arch of water welcomed my arrival into Darwin after 21 days of flying from London, and four weeks of waiting in Russia! As I passed under the watery arch, the spray-laden windscreen obscured my view, but thanks to Russian ingenuity, I flicked the switch on the yoke and the windscreen wiper cleared the view ahead! I parked off to the side for quarantine and Border Force inspection and all was fine after spraying the cabin for critters. I then taxied in front of the terminal to Bay 4, between an Alliance Fokker 100 airliner and an Australia Post van – right in front of Dome Café and hundreds of people standing in the window waving and taking photos. I clambered out to be met by Andrew and Greg from Australia Post, absolute legends who had made it their mission to be part of the commemorative mail journey, even arranging a special postmark rubber stamp for my flight with the day’s date on it! They took my Gladstone bag with 364 items in it, a mix of postcards and envelopes, the same number of items the Vimy had delivered a century earlier. Speeches ensued, a quick Q&A session with a local radio host, then we cut a magnificent cake. When the dust settled, Southern Sun was put away for the night, and I arranged a quiet dinner with 60 | FLYER | October 2020
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Stef (@stef747), who had flown up to meet me from Melbourne, retracing the Wrigley & Murphy flight, who crossed Australia conducting an aerial survey for the Vimy crew also 100 years ago the same week. Stef posted a great series of videos on his YouTube channel which I highly recommend watching. I stopped in Darwin for a couple of days, did some talks and rested – but, there was still a continent to be traversed and being Australia, it must not be taken lightly – the remotest lands of the journey lay ahead.
Darwin to Rothwell
Above Capt Smith 2019 officially welcomed upon arrival in Darwin by the Honourable Vicki O’Halloran AO of the Northern Territory
Route Map 1 2 3 4 5
10 11 12 13
15 16 17
1 Waltham 2 Lyon 3 Pisa 4 Rome 5 Taranto 6 Souda Bay 7 Cairo
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8 Haifa 9 Bahrain 10 Karachi 11 Delhi 12 Allahabad 13 Calcutta 14 Rangoon
15 Bangkok 16 Singapore 17 Surabya 18 Dili 19 Darwin 20 Mt Dare 21 Rothwell
On leaving Darwin I still had a jolly long trip ahead but it was so much easier than the international legs of the last few weeks. It was so nice not to have to deal with Customs and Immigration, then lobbying around what flight route would be accepted then waiting in the cockpit while they found the flight plan, then be constantly in contact with ATC, providing reports on positions, intentions, and estimates. The Vickers Vimy crew removed their radio in London to save weight and didn’t communicate at all along the route! I continued on to Melbourne via Mt Dare Station, a wonderful oasis at the southern reaches of the Simpson Desert. The following day saw a stop in Wentworth and then finally arriving back at our home strip at Rothwell, at the northern tip of the You Yangs in Little River. I had a plan to drop down and do a splash’n’go on Lake Boga on the way home, in honour of the secret Catalina base there during WWII, a place my grandfather had visited when serving on board the Cats. Then I received a text from my wife Anne on my Flightcell sat device. ‘Be safe, don’t f* it up now’. She was right and I thought – don’t risk it! The last day of the trip turned out to be lovely, a few Pt. Cook flying club members and a couple of other aircraft decided to fly in to my home strip at Rothwell to welcome me. Most fun of all was being accompanied for the last 10 miles by an awesome Vietnam era warbird Cessna Bird Dog, taking photos and footage along the way! While it might have been a big trip completed, in many ways, it was just the beginning. The new Southern Sun may just be the greatest aircraft an adventurer can buy today, and I think we have plenty of exploring to do. I look forward to doing so with family and friends now rather than solo. Southern Sun, standing by… • The full journal for Michael’s trip, with many more photographs and numerous videos, can be found at www.southern sun.voyage/blog
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Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 From £59 | Manufacturer www.microsoft.com
ack in September of 2019 I joined a handful of journalists, sim pilots, aviation influencers and #AvGeek buffs who were invited to a secret preview for the next generation of Microsoft Flight Simulator. Along with the standard non-disclosure agreements there were other secrets like, ‘what kind of computer does it take to run this?’ and ‘how on Earth are you doing all of this?’. We were all provided with our own station with yoke, throttles, rudders and the mysterious classic black PC case, which we weren’t allowed to open. It would be almost a full year before Microsoft and Asobo, the developer, would release the specs needed to run this amazing world at home. I was floored from the outset. The entire world appeared in front of me, rendered in a mix of satellite and 3D data gleaned from Microsoft’s Bing database and rendered offline using its Azure Cloud Computing. We had free reign to
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go wherever we wanted. Go see where you grew up, they suggested. Find some landmarks that you’ve always wanted to see, and so on… As my commercial flying job takes me around the world, I dived right in trying to find some of the more obscure airports that I’d flown into or seen around the world. Mongolia, Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai, Lukla, Guatemala City and even Area 51. They were all there. Every single one of them. The data wasn’t complete yet, but I could travel anywhere and see every corner of the planet. Not only could you fly anywhere, there’s actually enough ground level detail to taxi almost anywhere. At one point I even found myself taxying out of Heathrow Airport and onto the Old Bath Road where I continued right past the familiar line of hotels, among the cars and buses. Fun like that aside, a lot of time was spent with the developers talking about how they were mating the concept of the virtual world as seen through Bing with a truly modern flight simulator program.
Trees, water, volumetric clouds, rain that produces rainbows and even individual blades of grass. It all seemed impossible, but yet I had just seen and flown it with my own hands. I took a Cessna and flew a stall, spin and recovery. As near as I could tell the aeroplane responded just like the real thing, reflecting the development time they had taken to model the physics of flight over the wings and control surfaces.
It was a frustrating wait. We were provided with full 4K clips of some of the more amazing parts of the program and sent home. I made a few videos for my YouTube Channel AIRBOYD and basically waited for the next step. Fast forward to mid-2020 and Asobo and Microsoft were well into the Alpha Program. I was waiting desperately for the NDA to allow me to use video and show the world what I had seen. Microsoft released three versions of
Opposite Fly through Tower Bridge or even under it… location markers can be toggled on or off Above Take mum on an adventure to the Pyramids Above right We should all have a 'Take your XCub to Heathrow Day!' Right See where your home PC fits in the minimum, recommended and ideal specifications suggested by Microsoft Below right One of a few scenery errors – the Mirny Mine (the world's biggest man made hole) glitch makes Devils Tower pop out of the pit mine lake bottom Below Stop on the lawn at Angkor Wat for a virtual picnic
low, mid and high spec computers recommended to play MSFS. As I was hoping to get straight into streaming and showing off what I could, I purchased a higher mid-end gaming PC with an AMD Ryzen 7 3700X and an Nvidia RTX 2070 Super, 16GB of Ram and an SSD. Microsoft was kind enough to send Logitech, Honeycomb and Thrustmaster products to help round out my growing collection of PC gear, which was staged unceremoniously in our living room. Being at home because of COVID-19 had meant I had to use our 4K LG TV instead of buying a dedicated 4K monitor. Microsoft and Asobo kept saying I’d be able to play using 4K60 HDR and you can, but only if you have the top spec computer. With many of us able to watch 4K HDR programmes streaming over the internet, that’s a bit of a let down, but that’s marketing for you. From the outset I had problems achieving the ‘best’ looking version of the software, called Ultra. My brand new
gaming rig couldn’t keep up with the huge graphics demand. Disappointed, I kept on and decided to approach my reviews as someone who had basically got the game and wanted to get flying. If you weren’t aware, there’s an enormous world of true sim pilots and ATC sim controllers. They’ve got dedicated rigs, monitors, headsets, joysticks and yokes. But that wasn’t me, I was a real pilot going back to basics. Sure, I’d played Microsoft Flight Simulator on my Apple IIc in the 1980s, but this was now a simulator as powerful as the full motion simulators I fly at work for my annual checks and training. I was jumping back into this nearly as new as someone playing it for the first time. The current iteration of Microsoft Flight Simulator finds its roots in the 1982 origins and has at least three levels of keyboard commands to control every aspect of the aircraft operation. For example, to adjust the seated view looking over the front panel can take a combination of Left ALT -or- Right ALT buttons.
Every Shift, CTL and F-Key leads to something new. This is in addition to the almost infinite mapping ability available to all the peripherals. This adds quite a layer of complexity for someone entering the sim world at home. Even in 2020 this is still not just a simple ‘plug and play’ exercise. Control panels for monitor resolution, driver resolution and then yet another resolution control inside the game make tweaking the software great for an expert and intimidating for the novice. From the wide array of aircraft available, I found myself using the XCub and the Boeing 747 for most of my flying. I have over 10,000 hours in Boeings and figured I could jump right in and get going with limited trouble. Beyond the technical issues of my new PC I was now dealing with the technical issues of the preview software. I fully expected this, but was still disappointed that basic functions like the Flight Management Computer (FMC) and Mode Control Panel (MCP) didn’t work yet. For an aeroplane like an Airbus or October 2020 | FLYER | 65
Left Pilot a 747 with real time traffic and weather (it’s always nice in LA) Below Who hasn’t wanted to fly right down the ChampsÉlysées?
Boeing these are vital to operating the aircraft – and I immediately defaulted to not trying to fly from the cockpit. Using MSFS from a first-person point of view who is sitting in a virtual cockpit, I didn’t feel like I had enough of the same field of view that I was used to in the actual cockpit. For me, I prefer flying using the Head Up Display version, as I can still physically fly and see the graphics outside as intended. While this ‘gamers’ view had me at odds with the sim community pilots, I did find it closer to a typical cockpit view at home. This is where the current iteration diverges for many. The future version for the Xbox gaming system will allow a simplified experience that will appeal to many first-timers. The dedicated sim pilots are going to find the deep customisation familiar, but will also be frustrated with cockpits that don’t fully work yet. This will all be fixed in time and even the full release version still has issues, but it really doesn’t matter to the average user. I ask myself, how many 747 pilots are downloading this and giving up because you can’t load the FMC?
Visual mapping data
Just like previous versions, third-party content packs are going to enhance this FS2020 world along with Microsoft and Asobo expanding on the visuals. It’s the simulator for everybody. If you just want to scream around at 50ft and fly around buildings without crashing, you can do that. And, you can also make a full flight from Los Angeles to Sydney using real-time weather and in real time. It’s a masterful way of using Bing’s visual mapping data to create an Earth viewer that also has practical uses – at least for pilots. For ‘real life’ pilots, the future support for virtual reality headsets will help open this up for more flight training and practice purposes. I showed my son how to fly across Salisbury Plain in search of Stonehenge using just dead reckoning and a basic map. There’s a built-in instructor and training program that works fairly well. The frustrations of the PC world mean that you can’t easily just move your head and look outside, you can’t see the runway edges in your peripheral vision without using third party add-ons like TrackIR/ DelanClip/TrackHat or becoming adept at using the throttle, yoke, keyboard and mouse all at once. For many of us who fly for pleasure the ability to go out and fly VFR or practise IFR approaches at home in full colour and with real weather is going to be a game changer for training. The ability to ‘chair’ fly in the flight school or at home isn’t new, but now there’s a real-time 66 | FLYER | October 2020
visual database with real weather. There’s constant ATC chatter in the background with radios that can be tuned. It’s not all new, but it’s significantly updated. Microsoft is including the base version with Xbox Game Pass and that’s an everyman version and a great way to introduce people to flying. In the middle of COVID-19 restrictions, it’s also an amazing way to travel and see the planet. Will mum want to sit around the telly watching dad fly around the Great Pyramid? Probably not, but you can truly fly anywhere and see anything that’s visible. The bugs will get worked out and the data will be fixed, but that’s not to say there won’t be frustrations in set-up and preparation, starting with the 100 GB game download and talk of thermal cooling units for your PC. For just about anyone interested in flying, I’d recommend starting with the PC that you have, then adding on as you decide what is worth it to you. The computing power required to truly experience 4K 60 HDR visuals is on the high end for even the most determined sim pilot. As to the controls, I preferred using the Honeycomb Aeronautical yoke and a mix of Thrustmaster devices. I found that manufacturers’ Airbus Edition
sidestick to be a great all-in-one device as it has a built in throttle and really is my favourite right now, and that’s coming from a Boeing pilot… If budget allows, then I’d also recommend the Thrustmaster Pendular Rudder for that true control feeling. It really is quite an achievement and I find myself turning it on just to fly somewhere new. If you have the budget then the add-ons are a brilliant addition. It’s not perfect yet and it’s got some glaring issues with commercial aircraft flight systems and scenery glitches, but I truly believe these will be sorted out by Microsoft and Asobo or by third-party vendors. That may come at an added cost to truly spec this program out, but that cost will be a level of realism that’s going to be hard to achieve outside of an actual airline flight simulator. Boyd Kelly. • Check out the AIRBOYD YouTube channel for the full experience of Boyd’s aviation and aerospace content. Verdict Graphics and real word data are amazing, bugs will get sorted out. Downloadable content, controllers and new graphics cards could get expensive. Fixing the aircraft issues and virtual reality will make this hard to beat as a simulator.
Pilot portrait From £350 | Website grahamhendersongava.co.uk
hotographs are great, particularly really good ones. But in today’s world of digital photography, what options are there for a gift that goes beyond what a photo can offer, when you'd like to create something really unique? Well, like many things, investment in the craftsmanship in the creation of an image can really help make a difference. So with an idea to make something a little different to celebrate the first year of operation of the RV-8 that I share with FLYER’s safety editor Steve Ayres, I took the opportunity to work with a UK aviation artist who specialises in offering a unique pilot and aircraft portrait. Graham Henderson, a Full member of the Guild of Aviation Artists, has been painting aircraft for many years, and has been commissioned by the Royal Air Force, Royal Navy, and the British Army. Since 1999, he’s also exhibited annually at the Mall Galleries in London – as part of the Guild’s annual ‘Painting of the Year’ exhibition. Graham likes to work from reference photos, so I supplied him with a number of shots of our RV and Steve, and gave him a some time to consider how it might come together. Graham sent me a few ideas
about how the aircraft might appear with the portrait of Steve, until we agreed on one we thought worked particularly well. Then it was just a case of choosing a size – A3 or A4, and he could start. Painting, like any form of art isn’t quick, and Graham, working in his preferred medium of gouache, took around four weeks to complete the painting, taking an opportunity to contact me before it was complete, to see what I thought. I suggested just one minor tweak to a detail on the aircraft which Graham made – and a week later, the artwork arrived in the post. As someone who has always worked
Above Seeing double… a very happy portrait recipient Below The level of detail captured in the brush work is remarkable, and Graham's skills in capturing the 'spirit' of the portrait subject really shines through
heavily in the visual world of photography, I was really stunned by the detail Graham was able to capture. And Steve, well he was completely blown away by his personalised portrait. It’s not as low cost as simply printing a photo, but it’s unique, and that’s hard to put a value on. Ed Hicks
October 2020 | FLYER | 67
By Association Looking after General Aviation The UK’s flying associations at work
AOPA Staying positive in the face of adversity The end of the EU/UK transition period on 31 December 2020 is fast approaching. From 1 January 2021 the CAA will continue to accept EASA licences until 31 December 2022, which means your EASA licence will remain valid, and as it meets ICAO Annex I requirements you will still be able to venture beyond UK shores. In respect of commercial licences, from 2021 these will be issued by the UK CAA, with no automatic acceptance by an EU State. It is understood that the CAA/DfT
are participating in high level talks with EASA/EU discussing a Bilaterial Air Safety Agreement to seek mutual recognition of licences between the UK and the EU. However, we are also being told that the EU is not yet willing to discuss licences. There is likely to be an impact for some flight school’s business models when deciding whether to opt for an EASA approval, including unknown costs, which are not insignificant from what we have been hearing. They may also need to continue with their CAA approvals if they
are providing training for UK citizens and so incurring two lots of approval fees. Instructors and examiners will also need the ability to hold dual approvals, which adds to their costs and as with any business all costs get passed on to the customer. This change is not likely to make the UK more competitive in the world for flight training. Martin Robinson Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association www.aopa.co.uk
BMAA Looking towards recovery Recovery from the economic effects of COVID-19 is a major consideration in all walks of life. Certainly in aviation there has been a significant impact, with major airlines and airports releasing staff, coupled with a general feeling that it will take until 2025 before we see anything like a full recovery. In our part of the aviation world the recovery has already started and while probably still not complete, we are seeing schools becoming active once more and applications for microlight pilot licences starting to appear at our office. We have had a steady stream of airworthiness work as
owners have their aircraft inspected for annual revalidation of the Permit to Fly, as well as seeing significant interest in the potential for new designs taking advantage of the change in the microlight definition, raising the Maximum Take-Off Mass (MTOM) to 600kg. As an association we are fortunate, in that we own our own premises and have invested over the past few years in technology that has allowed us to carry on working from home without having to satisfy significant overheads during the lean times between March and June. Hopefully we won’t go through another national lockdown and that businesses
within our sector will survive and prosper. We continue to support our members’ interests and remain engaged with matters affecting our sport. As the UK leaves the EU and EASA there are great opportunities for regulation review. However, it works both ways. For our already nationally regulated sector we also need to look and learn from others. We must not accept that the UK is ‘always right’ and others ‘not as right’. Geoff Weighell British Microlight Aircraft Association www.bmaa.org
LAA Young blood One of the most gratifying reads in recent weeks has been the Facebook entries and blogs from Ellie Carter, who has been steadily amassing hours in a Piper L-4 Cub in order to qualify for her future commercial pilot training. Since gaining her PPL aided by an LAA Armstrong-Isaacs bursary, she completed her tailwheel conversion, and as well as flying the classic military spotter aircraft she’s been gaining experience in everything from a similarly classic Auster to a Van’s RV-12. Oh, and by the way, she’s still just 17 years old!
Ellie is one of those fortunate to be able to fulfil her dream, which is why this year’s round of scholarships is so important. The Armstrong-Isaac’s fund, funded by legacies from former Association luminaries David Armstrong and John Isaacs, is this year offering five bursaries of £1,500 to post-solo students, providing additional funding to help pilots complete their courses at a time when money often starts to run out. The final date for applications is Friday 30 October 2020. Similarly LAA associate, the Vintage Aircraft Club has launched its 2020 Liz Inwood Scholarship, which enables a PPL
holder under the age of 35 to gain five hours of tailwheel conversion instruction. The scholarship is named in memory of the late Tiger Moth instructor Liz Inwood and potentially opens the door to flying vintage and classic types. It might also enable access to a wider range of fun-to-fly aircraft, which are often much cheaper to acquire than contemporary nosewheel GA types. Check out Steve Slater
Light Aircraft Association www.lightaircraftassociation.co.uk
Aviation associations Got something to say? You’re welcome to contribute to this page, email email@example.com 68 | FLYER | October 2020
Aeroprak A32 Vixxen iS
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Join us, save money, fly more… For the tiny sum of £2.50 a month, The FLYER Club provides access to a whole host of ways to save money towards your flying
utumn already? Who switched that on? But, of course I want to say ‘Hello’ again to all of our esteemed members. As you know, when we launched The FLYER Club just four short months ago, we set out to create a very special and different flying club. That’s going to be an ongoing task, and it remains a large chunk of the FLYER team activity. Of course we want you to join us, and frankly we really need your support, as without you there’s no club. As you read on through the following pages you’ll find details of the FREE landing fees (an exclusive member benefit), plus all of the other savings that membership brings. In the coming months there will be details of additional exclusive discounts, plus news of our series of events and meet-ups. Look out for news of a
member exclusive weather webinar from Simon Keeling, and, fingers crossed, a livestream with Rachel Gardner-Poole, head of the CAA’s GA Unit. If you’re reading this, and you are not a FLYER Club member, you’ll also be missing our weekly update emails where we take a behind the scenes and less public look at the news. So why not join now? For the many of you who are already members, we can’t thank you enough for coming with us. Your membership helps us bring you and others what is now the UK’s most read General Aviation content.
October 2020 | FLYER | 71
The FLYER Club
Out & About
Tam Carr Me and my five-year-old grandson on his second flight in my new Eurostar over Fife
Paul Kiddell Meeting John Seed (Cub owner for 41 years) and Dave Unwin at Castle Bytham, with my mates Roger and Mark
Andy Torkington Britannia Bridge Anglesey heading to Caernarfon Airport
David Nichols Aeros training camp at Compton Abbas
Richard Tyler Great trip to Charlton Park
Steve Clark Helping Stephen Doherty collect his rescued and refurbed Cherokee from a Notts strip
Tim Cook Flying some friends over the Humber Estuary
Peter Steele LeTouquet for lunch
72 | FLYER | October 2020
Chris Cooper Me and my RV-3 at Glenforsa
Jonny Salmon Went looking for the NHS Spitfire when it visited Cotswold Airport
Ian Fallon Curry Night at Leicester
Mike Newall Formation flying RV-7 with mate Derek in an RV-6A
Rory Auskerry Taking one of Helicentre’s Cabri G2s on a Dambusters Reservoir tour
Nick Stone Found a brilliant new strip at New Farm, Piddington in Northants
Jeremy Winder Me and my daughter flew to Beccles in our Jabiru
Stuart Truman Circuit bashing at Cotswold Airfield
Richard Pike Our Chipmunk project, returning to the skies after 18 years at Eshott
Derek Cowan A trip to see St Kilda
Michael Peare Just landed at Saskatoon
October 2020 | FLYER | 73
Free Landings In association with
If you’re a member of The FLYER Club, go to https://bit.ly/2DBaGmo to print your personalised vouchers and save £66 by claiming one FREE landing at each of these airfields valid for October 2020, 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 six new free landing fees every four weeks plus other Club member benefits, then click here to join!
01371 856744 | EGSL | www.andrewsfield.com Andrewsfield Airfield is home to Andrewsfield Aviation, a friendly, professional flying school offering a selection of training options. The airfield has a 799m grass strip and is located just to the east of the Stansted CTR. The club café is open but with limited refreshments available and limits on numbers due to COVID-19 Safety. Avgas available. The airfield is strictly PPR. Strictly telephone PPR only. Further information can be found on the website.
Nearby attractions include the market town of Great Dunmow, Blake House Craft Centre and Freeport Braintree factory outlet. PPR 01371 856744 Radio 130.555
01208 821419 | EGLA | www.bodminairfield.com Bodmin Airfield is situated on the edge of the picturesque Bodmin Moor in Cornwall and has excellent facilities, including two grass runways and a lunchtime bar and restaurant. It’s operated by the Cornwall Flying Club, which will arrange accommodation, car hire and Customs, if requested in advance. CFC has a long training history and offers wing walking and vintage flights. All visiting aircraft strictly PPR. Light refreshments are available.
Nearby attractions Bodmin Airfield is only 20 miles from the Eden Project. The rugged beauty of Poldark Country awaits you. PPR 01208 821419 Radio 122.700
Radio Accepts non-radio light aircraft, but PPR
PPR Prior permission is required
74 | FLYER | October 2020
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 six 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!
01382 662200 | EGPN | www.hial.co.uk/dundee-airport Dundee Airport boasts stunning estuary approaches and is operated by Highlands and Islands Airports, but GA is handled by Tayside Aviation. The airport’s GA parking with Tayside Aviation is at the eastern end of the runway, and avgas and Jet A1 are available during operating hours and by arrangement out of hours. PPR with ATC 01382 662220.
Nearby attractions Scott and Shackleton’s ship, the RRS Discovery, and the new V&A Museum of Design. PPR 01382 662220 Radio 122.900
0151 929 3319 | www.wlms.co.uk Ince Airfield is on the Merseyside/Lancashire border, under two miles from the coast, just north of Liverpool and south of Southport and Blackpool. It’s a private and predominantly microlight strip but all suitable types are welcome. There are three grass runways, 07/25 (410 × 20m), 11/29 (396 × 20m) and 18/36 (380 × 20m). Use of the clubhouse, which has tea/ coffee plus cooking facilities, is complimentary. Mogas available by arrangement. PPR please.
Nearby attractions Formby’s National Trust woods, the Antony Gormley statues on Crosby beach and Liverpool, a short train ride away. PPR 0151 929 3319 Radio 121.075
01983 716926 | EGHN | www.eghn.org.uk Sandown Airport is on the Isle of Wight, a mile from the town itself, and is operated by its owners, Sandown Airfield Ltd. The Air/Ground radio frequency has a radius of 10nm and a max altitude of 3,000ft. If the station isn’t manned, please make blind calls on that frequency. For PPR, contact the cafe on 01983 716926 or Dan on 07900 894044.
Nearby attractions The beautiful Sandown Bay and town are very near, with their golf course, pier and sandy beaches. PPR 01983 716926 Radio 119.275
07979 971301 | www.strathavenairfield.co.uk 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, 10,000 sq ft hangars. Self-service drinks in the clubhouse. Since June 2015, Strathaven has operated as a not-for-profit company, run by volunteers, to promote GA and training in the area. www.facebook.com/StrathavenAirfield
Nearby attraction Strathaven Castle, the town’s Edwardian Park with its steam train rides, 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 Dundee and Ince in nautical miles? To enter, post your answer, name, address and email details to Pooleys October Competition, FLYER magazine, PO Box 4261, Melksham, SN12 9BN or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org The closing date is 7 October 2020.
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. The winner for August 2020 is: Kim Hampshire, Gloucester.
1 Andrewsfield 2 Bodmin 3 Dundee 4 Ince 5 Sandown 6 Strathaven
4 1 2
October 2020 | FLYER | 75
The FLYER Club
Flown West On 4 August, an accident in Sussex took the life of Richard Warriner. One of the UK’s most enthusiastic aviators, Richard was also an active FLYER Forum member known as Whiskey Kilo Wanderer. Here’s a few memories of Richard posted by forumites…
J Rob P
ust as it was for many of us in the FLYER orbit, I had bumped into, passed the time of day with, nodded to Whiskey Kilo Wanderer and Champ Chump at fly-ins, ad-hoc gatherings and Bourn’s Burned Children’s Day. I make no apologies for using forum names, you get to know people well over the years, and I am still having difficulties with ‘Richard’. He’ll always be WKW to me. It was a rather sad meeting, this one. The December weekend the restaurant at St Omer closed for good. A few St Omer fans had proposed we fly-in for the last night. “In December?” I had queried. “Sure,” said Hatz. It wasn’t a bad flight over, needless to say I was the only one stupid enough to fly there. Hatz came on the ferry, Richard and Nic by camper van. It was a memorable, boozy, chaotic night, tinged with sadness. The next morning I walked up to the aerodrome, it was deserted, windswept, intermittently raining. The forecast had given a slight promise that it might clear, so I stood there with my luggage wondering what on Earth I could do while waiting, when I was hailed. Richard stomped across, “No use standing in the cold, come and have some tea with us,” he said. The start of about five or six hours of conversation, reminiscences, funny stories and occasional supremely hopeful glances out the window at the ‘definitely-notclearing’, leaden sky. I recall there were biscuits, too. Eventually, possibly early afternoon, I binned it, said my goodbyes and trudged back to the Ibis, hoping they had a room free. There are a lot better things to do than sit around St Omer aerodrome in December. I am sure that Richard had plans for that day. But he never mentioned them, simply devoted his day to providing me with warmth and shelter. We have nodded to each other since, fly-ins and chance meetings. I always assumed we’d sit in an airfield café one
76 | FLYER | October 2020
Richard and ‘WK, his Rans S6. As a duo they accumulated over 5,700 hours flying together
day and reminisce about the foolishness of flying to Northern France in December, and then being surprised when the weather took a turn for the worse. Now we never will. It makes me profoundly saddened to realise it.
I first bumped into Richard (and Nic) at an impromptu fly-in that Jeremy Atkins and I arranged at Peterborough Conington, back in 2007. It turned out to be quite a gathering, and I was impressed they made it in the Rans, as there was a stonking headwind northbound! Over the years I always valued Richard’s postings on the forum, and in the end we had quite a lot of chatting offline. He had a knack of getting people to push themselves. He persuaded me to go and do the CRI rating at Andrewsfield in 2010. In fact, I am pretty sure he had written a magazine article about his experience. That was the beginning of regular chats and discussions and many meet-ups at various fly-ins and events. I always admired his aircraft – the number of GPS devices and systems he had installed on the aircraft was simply
impressive. Even more exciting that you could see all the wiring and gubbins through the panel and the RO Bear in charge of comms at the front. Richard was always just so very laid back, calm and knowledgeable, he would listen intently and then offer sage advice. Such a wonderful guy to talk to. Our last discussion was a few weeks ago and we talked for, well – I looked it up on my phone – two hours nine minutes! Mostly because I can talk for England, but also we just talked about all sorts of things, our aircraft, our flying, my work… you name it, we covered it, and he helped me immensely. It was his nature. He revalidated my SEP rating a few years ago. We did it in the Rans. He knew that aircraft so well, he was at one with it when he took control (after my hamfisted attempts!). Together we explored all edges of its flight envelope. It was a great learning experience for me, in a much lighter airframe aircraft and we had a great time. The Saturday before the incident, we had been picnicking at a fly-in at a farm strip, with the ladies. Richard’s was the very last aircraft to leave. Shortly before
this, myself and Richard had walked down to help push a Jodel out of a rut, each of us either side pushing on the walkway. It was just how he was. Rather than leave when other people did, he stayed and helped. Richard left the farm strip shortly after, the usual short ground run (it was an amazing machine in his hands), waving to us alongside the runway as he climbed and departed. Up into the overhead he went and as we waved goodbye from down below, he waggled his wings at us, fixing his course homewards. Bye-bye Richard, you are missed so very much, by many, many people. I believe the kindness and knowledge that you instilled in people lives on forever, within everyone that knew you.
I first knew Richard in the early 1990s, as the neighbour of a friend of my late husband. We all used to go to the pub on Friday night where Richard always had something quietly witty and funny to say, and of course he talked about his flying. I wasn’t interested in aeroplanes in those days but took up the offer of a flight in ’WK’ as a means of getting me into Goodwood Festival of Speed without queuing in traffic. Having made the trip to ‘Narnia’, as I always call the route into the Heathfield strip, I was alarmed at how small the aircraft was, but decided to go anyway. I was absolutely hooked on flying from about 50ft up after take-off, and thereafter spent many, many happy hours in ’WK’. I threw up over Richard several times (still get airsick sometimes) and we had lots of adventures. I decided to have a go myself and Richard bought my first 10 hours of tuition. His thought was if something bad happened while flying with him, he wanted me to know what to do. I got my PPL and progressed. I flew to Tempelhof two days before it closed and Richard was with me on that trip, offering advice and reassurance. Over 20 years we continued to discuss flying experiences that went wrong, and also those which went right, and I learned much from his wisdom and experience. Away from flying, he was also incredibly supportive when Pat became ill. On Monday this week I had the rear seat controls of the two seat Spitfire from Biggin, and purposely, and with prior warning, flew over the Heathfield strip, where Richard and the farm owner were watching and waving. On Tuesday morning I spoke with him and he was giving me some advice about elderly family care. As usual he said, “Just call me, any time of the day or
night.” And then just a few hours later the news came through. Absolutely devastating, and I’d lost a true best friend. I forgot to mention earlier, but it was Richard who introduced me to the FLYER forum, which has led to meeting many delightful forumites on different occasions over the years.
Never knew the guy (I’ve only ever met four of you forumites – and even those I don’t know at all well), but some of what has been written here has brought a tear to the eye. Certainly read a lot of his posts. They were a sort of constant on this forum. Constantly pleasant. Blue skies.
I worked offshore and I was due to return to a ship which Richard had joined. I knew he was a pilot through offshore connections. However, I managed to wreck myself and my aircraft on my leave so obviously could not join the ship. Richard, whom I never had met, sent me a ‘get well’ message and that stayed with me for a long time. I then moved south and started to meet Richard at various fly-ins. He thought nothing of flying for two or three hours for a few hours chatter or, as others have said, flying disadvantaged kids. A thoroughly decent bloke who will be sadly missed.
I came to realise that if we were at a fly-in, and Richard and Nic weren’t there, then that was likely for only one of two reasons. Either we’d just missed them, or their joining calls were minutes away. Actually, there might be a third reason: I needed to attend a better class of fly-in. And when they did arrive, Richard would quietly get on with… being Richard. Chatting, helping out, advising on things like PAW installations, confirming that, ‘Yes, I do have enough GPSs in the cockpit, thanks’, and being tranquil. Others have already drawn a link with when we lost Keef, and the similarities are so close for me. I knew immediately both were much wiser and more level headed than me. Both I knew, first mainly from here, yet when I did meet them IRL they were – gratifyingly – exactly as their online personas suggested (not always the case, as we know!). And both, to quote a fellow forumite, ‘brought tranquility with them’. I suspect each would be pleased, but protest, at being compared with the other like that. (Partly why they are, of course.) Richard, I am privileged to have known you.
Jim and Pat Dalton
When organising an event like the Bourn Butty or the Burned Children’s flying day, there was a list of key attenders that I could rely on to actually get in on the day and make it a success. So, it was always a relief to see Richard put his name down immediately when I published the details. One particular Burned Children’s flying day the weather was pretty rubbish first thing. Richard was able to get in as the local viz improved and lots of others also made it later in the day as the general weather improved. We had a fabulous day and Richard as usual flew the pants off his little red and white flying machine smiling the whole time. I once asked him why he liked the Rans so much, to which he replied, “Well we did 220 hours in it last year and had money for more. Wouldn’t have been able to do that on the same budget in a Cessna.” He lived for flying that’s for sure. Richard was an absolutely fabulous bloke. It always lifted our hearts when we saw him. He was always great to talk to and one of the few that lived his dreams. I mean, blimey, that man lived in the air and was always a great person to be around. He was a real live Aeronaut.
Two years ago Richard and I went flying in Cloudhound for my revalidation flight. Although I’d met him before, it was our first flight together. He suggested we did something instead of bimbling and asked me what I was rusty on. Practice forced landings! So we climbed overhead Kittyhawk Farm and I demonstrated just how rusty I was! After a few with some hints from Richard we were happy. I’d mentioned not knowing where his strip at Heathfield was, so he suggested we go and find it. The ruddy gert big mast adjacent made the NavEx easy and I did a low approach and go-around. I was a bit tardy applying power and raising the nose so the trees at the end started to loom. Richard pointed to the escape route and all was well. After landing, doing the paperwork and one of Jack’s cuppas, we went our separate ways. It was only that evening I noticed he hadn’t signed the entry in my log book. I called him up and he said, “If all else fails I can always do it next time.” So today was a nice day and a friend and neighbour had asked me to take him for a jolly. We took off and didn’t fly over Heathfield but instead went round the coast from Eastbourne to Seaford passing a two-seat Spitfire along the way. I did look over to the mast and thought of that day and hoped he liked my better landing today. October 2020 | FLYER | 77
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For the funny, the weird, the wonderful and the just plane strange…
Buccaneers take to the high roads
Winners announced in 2020 FAI Young Artists Contest
hese amazing images could be the work of major league artists, but they are actually the winners of the 2020 FAI Young Artists Contest. It’s an international air sports-themed art competition for youngsters between the ages of six and 17. American artists in particular have distinguished themselves this year, with three artists out of the nine winners. The winning international paintings were chosen among the national winners from 13 FAI member countries: Canada, China,
Main Looking like something Jules Verne would be proud of, the Senior winning entry
Finland, Great Britain, India, Japan, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, South Africa and the USA. This year’s theme was ‘Flying yesterday and tomorrow’. All the winners will be presented with FAI Gold, Silver and Bronze medals, as well as diplomas. Winners Junior (6-9 years old) 1. Fay Fay He, USA 2. Lucas Peike Yan, USA 3. Milena Bak, Poland
Intermediate (10-13) 1. Wenqing Feng, China 2. Jialing Yu, China 3. Alina Sadkova, Russia Senior (14-17) 1. Airidas Mikelaitis, Lithuania 2. Petra Camovic, Serbia 3. Kelly Huang, USA Next year’s competition has the theme ‘A Friendlier World With Air Sports’. Entries must be sent to the local FAI organiser, which in the UK is the Royal Aero Club. Deadline is 1 April 2021. You can find out more details here: www.fai.org/yac
Two Buccaneer military jets created a social media storm last month when they were transported by road in a police escorted convoy from Bruntingthorpe Airfield to Cotswold Airport by The Buccaneer Aviation Group (TBAG), which has decided to relocate there. The move was aided by a mystery donation back in June which turned out to be from the Royal Air Force Historical Society, which said, “The preservation of these two Buccaneer aircraft, in working order, secures an important piece of British military aviation history. Thanks to the dedicated team of volunteers, future generations will be able to admire these iconic aircraft. The RAF Historical Society is pleased to support this worthy venture.” Although the Buccaneers, produced as a fighting aircraft for the Royal Navy in the 1950s and 1960s, are no longer flying, they are used for ground demonstrations which TBAG plans to continue at Cotswold – itself a former military base, RAF Kemble.
Heroes & Villains HERO Captain Amol Yadav, a professional pilot, is on the brink of launching a new aircraft manufacturing company in India, Thrust Aircraft, after 30 years of build-up. His aircraft is the TAC 003, a six-seater, that’s similar to a Cessna 206 in capability. He designed and built the first prototype himself, on the roof of his house where he had a workshop. VILLAIN COVID-19, what else? It caused carnage all over the world, but one area that hasn’t
hit the headlines is charities, in this case the Bader Braves Young Aviators Days, run by the Douglas Bader Foundation. Children aged 6-18 with limb deficiency and other disabilities are given a flight in a light aircraft. This year five events were planned – all so far cancelled. HERO A different sort of rescue for the Scottish air ambulance at Perth Airport – a near frozen and starving
hedgehog. Airwing paramedic Julia Barnes is reported as saying, “It’s obviously a bit of a different challenge for us, but we ended up using the same skills. We asked ourselves what the patient needed – warmth, darkness and some peace and quiet.” The hedgehog, now named Chopper, is recovering. VILLAINS The LAA reports news of recent tyre tracks near hangars at a small airfield in Bucks, which a few years ago was also targeted for the theft of several Rotax engines and propellers.
Above Buccaneer in happier days
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