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Editorial Telephone +44 (0)1225 481440 Email firstname.lastname@example.org Website www.flyer.co.uk Seager Publishing, 9 Riverside Court, Lower Bristol Road, Bath BA2 3DZ
’m not sure I ever imagined there would be a time where between one issue of FLYER and the next, there would be a complete absence of what we’d consider ‘normal’ General Aviation activity. However, that has become a reality under the lockdown conditions of recent weeks as the world deals with the coronavirus pandemic. Recent weeks have shown us that a lot can change in a month, and that’s definitely been the case with the magazine. I didn’t realise that when we sent the June issue to the printers, it would become our last print edition. Talking to others in the light aviation industry, the big question has been, what will things look like in the post-pandemic future? I think we can be certain that COVID-19 worries will be with us for a while, but while so many factors will remain variable, there are reasons to be optimistic. While talking to one particular manufacturer, they touched on the fact that the personal nature of private flying could come to be seen by many as a way to travel without sharing space with hundreds of others on an airliner. A similar boost to GA occurred in the time following after the events of 9/11. Another mentioned how our type of flying will always offer an individual a wonderful opportunity to escape the regular world. One thing is for certain though, so many of the people within the General Aviation world are a motivated group, and for that reason I’m confident we’ll find ways back to enjoying our sport, even if the landscape is a little different for a while. As you’ll read in the pages that follow, FLYER’s change to a digital-only magazine in tandem with The FLYER Club has been a necessary step to keep doing what we do best – providing you with your regular dose of the thrill of flying, plus the inspiration to have fun and get great value out of your own flying experiences. It won’t just be about what you see and read on the pages of future editions, but also about what you watch and how you interact. I know that everyone on the magazine team would like to personally thank all those readers who have chosen to stay with us as we head into the next chapter of FLYER’s future. You are as much a part of FLYER as we are…
EDITOR Ed Hicks email@example.com NEWS EDITOR Dave Calderwood firstname.lastname@example.org PRODUCTION EDITOR Lizi Brown email@example.com ART EDITOR Ollie Alderton firstname.lastname@example.org CONTRIBUTORS Mark Hales, Ed Bellamy Paul Bass, Matt Dearden Peter Steele, Yayeri van Baarsen FLIGHT SAFETY EDITOR Joe Fournier email@example.com PUBLISHER & MANAGING DIRECTOR Ian Seager firstname.lastname@example.org PRODUCTION MANAGER Nick Powell email@example.com SUBSCRIPTIONS MANAGER Kirstie May firstname.lastname@example.org ADVERTISING ACCOUNT MANAGER Zoe Yeo email@example.com EXHIBITION MANAGERS Darran Ward firstname.lastname@example.org Paul Yates email@example.com MARKETING COORDINATOR Joanna Woronowicz firstname.lastname@example.org EXHIBITION & EVENTS MANAGER Aimee Janes email@example.com ACCOUNTS MANAGER Stuart Dobson firstname.lastname@example.org FINANCIAL DIRECTOR Martine Teissier email@example.com
CIRCULATION World-wide, free to download digital edition from flyer.co.uk
Left Get ready to join us when we can finally leave the hangar…
© Seager Publishing 2020
At FLYER we aim to produce the best possible magazine for our readers. All correspondence is welcome and will be read, but we can’t guarantee a written reply. We welcome contributions from readers, and guidelines are available from us. We take great care to ensure what we publish is accurate, but cannot accept any responsibility for any misprints or mistakes. Our reviews examine what we believe to be a product’s most important points, but readers are advised to check a product suits their needs before purchasing. No part of this publication may be produced in any form without permission.
July 2020 | FLYER | 3
Contents July 2020
Features 18 I Get Paid for This… Phil Green
Search & Rescue pilot Phil Green patrols the UK’s coastline in a King Air 200
26 Flight Test Vashon Ranger R7
A robust, great-handling aircraft that’s priced under $100k, Ian Seager wonders if the Vashon Ranger might be one of the best future trainers…
36 My First Solo Greg McDougall
On his first floatplane solo, Greg McDougall wondered if his instructor would swim to the rescue if something went wrong…
38 Special Feature GA response to COVID-19
How GA pilots are doing their bit in the worldwide effort to cope with coronavirus
46 Accident Analysis Attention to detail
Regardless of checklists, taking time to review the items that you can’t get along without is time well spent, as Joe Fournier reports…
52 Flying Adventure Mission to Moldova
Intrigued by tales of club members flying across remote lands, Paul Bass decided he would take a trip to Moldova…
Vashon Ranger 26
64 Top Gear Flying digitally in lockdown… As restrictions continue, Peter Steele suggests some easy ways to keep your flying sharp
Regulars 3 6 16 21
Editorial News Pilot Careers Matt Dearden
23 25 48 66
Mark Hales Ian Seager Accident Reports By Association
SIX Free Landings!
68 FLYER Club Members Save £44 n Brimpton n Chiltern Park n Longside
n Shipdham n Sittles n Skegness PLUS Win a print or digital Pooleys UK Flight Guide July 2016 | FLYER | 5
The FLYER C
Aviation news from around the world – for the latest visit www.flyer.co.uk
FLYER goes digital and launches The FLYER Club Airports and other travel hubs are We’re changing the way FLYER Benefits of The FLYER membership magazine is to be Club distributed in either closed or nearly empty of the future. From this issue, FLYER is to be a digital magazine, not paper. What’s more, it will be free to all who sign up to receive it – wherever you are in the world. Yes, FREE, and you can sign up right now to receive the next issue and others that follow. Register here: https://mailchi.mp/flyer/free There’s even more. We are also launching General Aviation’s best-ever club: The FLYER Club – more below.
people and that’s where FLYER – and many other magazines – sell many copies. This means all magazine and newspaper publishers are faced with the prospect of printing thousands of copies and seeing them end up being pulped as waste. That’s not good for anybody. To counter this problem, and to provide you with a better, deeper and more engaging experience, we have decided to go digital. It’s been something we’ve been thinking about for some time and we’ve accelerated the process. The result is that there will be two editions of FLYER magazine every four weeks (13 issues a year). The free FLYER will be much like
the print magazine and available as a free download for reading on most devices: desktop and laptop PC or Mac, tablets including iPad, and smartphones. The magazine for FLYER Club members will have the same content but much much more: extra photos, videos, the free landing fees (not available in the free magazine) plus all the benefits of The FLYER Club (see opposite). This first edition of the all-digital FLYER is just the start of our digital journey. We have started planning new ideas, new designs and better ways to read the magazine and enjoy its interactive elements. We’re sure that the FLYER magazine you see in a few month’s time will be even better than the current one.
13 great digital issues of FLYER every year Use of 6 free landing fees each issue Free digital copy of A View from The Hover, worth £9.97 Access to a rich content private lounge on flyer.co.uk Early access to twice weekly weather briefings by Dr Simon Keeling Additional editorial content Monthly online club meetup with special guests Exclusive member discounts Why have we done this?
The COVID-19 lockdown has meantto FLYER then you will be automatically enrolled If you are already a subscriber that significantly fewer shops are Founder Member. If you’re open, and those that are opennot are a subscriber and you’d like to join – great and w seeing significantly lower footfall.
6 | FLYER | July 2020
Join The FLYER Club for weather briefings, medical advice and more As well as the FREE magazine, we are also launching General Aviation’s best-ever club: The FLYER Club. If you are already a subscriber to FLYER then you will be automatically enrolled as a Founder Member. If you’re not a subscriber and you’d like to join – welcome! What does being a member of The FLYER Club give you? n 13 digital issues of FLYER n A free digital copy of John Farley’s book, A View from the Hover n Full use of FLYER’s famous FREE landing fees n Exclusive discounts
n A members-only zone on the FLYER
website where you’ll have access to: n Exclusive weather briefings from Dr Simon Keeling n Additional material n Virtual monthly meet-ups with the team and guests n Invites to real meet-ups when we’re all flying again All this for less than the cost of a cup of coffee every month. Yes, to become a member of The FLYER Club with all the above benefits is the same as our current subscription rate: £30 a year which can be paid in one go or as £7.50 per quarter.
Benefits of The FLYER Club membership 13 great digital issues of FLYER every year
Members Non-members ✓ ✓
Use of SIX FREE landing fees each issue
Free digital copy of A View from The Hover, worth £9.97
Access to a rich content private lounge* on flyer.co.uk
Exclusive twice weekly weather briefings by Dr Simon Keeling ✓
Additional editorial content
Monthly online club meet-up with special guests
Exclusive member discounts
*The FLYER Club lounge is currently under construction, it will be opening in the next couple of weeks, watch your email for an invitation and news of other membership benefits. Not a member and would like to sign up? Click here to join!
Benefits of being a member There are many benefits of becoming a member of The FLYER Club – and more will be coming as we develop the club further during the year. One of our first is the ability to have a free and confidential initial aeromedical conversation with our house AeroMedical Examiner (AME), Dr Frank Voeten, EASA and FAA AME, pictured above (inset). Frank, who is also a keen private pilot, will answer email queries from members. Small print: This is not a replacement for a consultation with your own clinical physician or AME. Another big benefit is early access to General Aviation weather briefings from Dr Simon Keeling. Get priority access to the weather forecast hours before anyone else with Weather School’s Dr Simon Keeling giving a twiceweekly weather briefing. Simon will also be heading three memberonly highly focused weather webinars, planned for this year: 1. Flying today: Making better weather decisions for the day ahead 2. Flying tomorrow: Reduce that pre-flying day stress. If you want to know whether to get up early, stay in bed or get ready for those household chores, this is the session for you 3. A longer term look: Want to know on Wednesday how likely you are to be able to fly on Saturday, or what the chances are of getting home from that weekend in Le Touquet? This will be right up your street, err, runway. Each mini-webinar will also have a Q&A session with Simon. July 2020 | FLYER | 7
Main Fly solo, and stay close to the airfield Inset Check your particular engine manufacturers recommendations – some may not need to be flown
Pilots allowed to fly GA maintenance check flights under strict conditions Pilots are allowed to fly their aircraft for essential maintenance including engine health flights during the COVID-19 restrictions, according to UK Government advice issued in April. The latest advice covers all non-complex aircraft including: ■ Microlights ■ Amateur built ■ Historic aircraft ■ Balloons ■ Gliders ■ Piston twins and singles up to 5,700kg max weight ■ Single pilot helicopters up to 3,175kg. Owners/operators of GA aircraft are permitted to conduct aircraft maintenance flights provided: ■ Maintenance flights ■ Post-maintenance check flights in accordance with CAP1038 are permitted but must be kept to an absolute minimum in terms of both the number and duration of flights. They must be conducted in strict accordance with the approved maintenance or flight test profile. ■ Ferry flights ■ Flights to or from maintenance facilities for essential maintenance are permitted if such a facility is not available at the aircraft’s current location. Flights are to be by the most direct practical route with transits flown at no lower than 1,000ft Above Ground Level. Engine health flights The main way of maintaining engine health during COVID-19 restrictions should be through winterisation or inhibition. Engine health flights are only permitted where required by the engine manufacturer or equivalent LAA/BMAA procedures for Permit-to-Fly aircraft. Flights must follow these procedures and there must be a four week gap between flights: ■ Each flight must be no more than 30 minutes (or as recommended by the engine manufacturer in order to prevent internal engine corrosion). 8 | FLYER | July 2020
■ Aircraft should aim to remain within the airfield circuit. Unless safety of flight requirements dictate, the aircraft should not travel beyond a 10nm radius of its departure aerodrome and no dynamic manoeuvring activity should be flown. ■ Each flight should be at the highest practical height to minimise the noise impact on members of the public maintaining social distancing, and not below 1,000ft AGL except for take-off, approach and landing. ■ If the engine manufacturer’s instructions indicate that the engine only needs to be run at idle or at low power while on the ground and no other essential maintenance is required, then no flight may be performed.
Movements While the UK’s social distancing policy is in place the owner or organisation operating the aircraft must maintain a log of all the aircraft movements. As a minimum, this must include the purpose of the flight, the aircraft registration, the pilot and their licence number, the flight’s date, time and duration. This log is to be kept and if required provided immediately in electronic form to the CAA. Only solo flights by fully qualified pilots are permitted. No other flights, including instructional sorties are allowed. Aircraft must not be rented-out or flown for financial gain. Aircraft must have a valid airworthiness certificate (CofA, Permit or Permit Flight Release Certificate) before a maintenance, ferry or engine health flight can take place. These provisions apply equally to UK-registered and non-UK registered GA aircraft operating in UK airspace. Any requests for exceptions to these provisions are to be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org a minimum of 10 days in advance. The measures outlined by the government to reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19, such as social distancing, personal hygiene and minimising travel remain applicable, and pilots must observe these. Aerodrome operators must ensure such flights are coordinated so that social distancing measures are not compromised at their location. https://bit.ly/CAAcovidflights
Take-off CAA extends validity periods for national licences
Blackwing tops 212kt for new two-seat microlight record How fast can a microlight aircraft fly? 100 knots? 150kt perhaps? What about 212kt? That’s the incredible speed claimed by Swedish manufacturer Blackwing for its top model, the BW600RG. Blackwing is claiming two speed records in the FAI’s RAL2T microlight category: 1. 377km/h (203.5kt) as an average speed over 15km, both directions in a straight line. 2. 348km/h (187.9kt) over a closed circuit of 50km. The aircraft that set the new records was a Blackwing BW600RG powered by a 141hp Rotax 915iS. It has a carbon fibre airframe with side-by-side seating, retractable undercarriage and meets the new European 600kg microlight max weight limit. “The combination (of Blackwing and Rotax 915iS) may well be described as a speed monster that requires a quick and educated judgment from the pilot,” said Niklas Anderberg, founder of Blackwing. He flew the record bid with co-worker Fredrik Lanz. “The turbocharged engine in combination with a single power lever, for the hydraulic MT propeller, accelerated like nothing I have tried before,” said Anderberg. “We decided to fly at 10,000ft. At the first turn, I climbed some 300ft, and returning to altitude she accelerated to 219kt (405km/h). I felt extremely tense and had a hard time keeping the ball in the centre. On the straight course, we got 212kt average speed.” www.blackwing.aero
Main The latest Blackwing fitted with 141hp Rotax 915iS engine Inset Company boss Niklas Anderberg, right, flew the record bid with co-worker Fredrik Lanz
The CAA has extended the validity periods for national pilot licences, ratings and certificates. Flight crew licence holders are exempt from the requirements to revalidate and renew Class, Type, Instrument, Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC) Ratings, and Class Rating Instructor (CRI) and Flight Instructor (FI) Certificates that expire before the 31 July 2020. They may be extended until 22 November 2020. The exemption has come about because training organisations and individual licence holders may have difficulties in completing training and checking during the period of COVID-19 infection. A United Kingdom Flight Crew Licence means: ■ National Private Pilot’s Licence (Aeroplanes) and (Helicopters) ■ Private Pilot’s Licence (Aeroplanes), (Helicopters), (Gyroplanes), (Microlights) and (Balloons and Airships) ■ Commercial Pilot’s Licence (Aeroplanes), (Helicopters), (Gyroplanes) and (Balloons) ■ Airline Transport Pilot’s Licence (Aeroplanes and Helicopters). A class and type rating means: ■ A single pilot, non-complex and non-high-performance aeroplane including TMGs and SLMGs ■ A single pilot helicopter ■ Any single engine gyroplane ■ Any balloon or airship. Full details of the exemption are in ORSA 1378 and can be downloaded here: https://bit.ly/CAAlicences The CAA has also issued an easier to understand notice here: https://bit.ly/ CAAlicenceseasy
Very fast VL3
Return to flying
Belgian company JMB Aircraft has
The LAA has prepared advice for owners
completed flight testing of the
to help return aircraft to service safely.
latest version of its VL3 microlight
It’s Technical Leaflet TL 2.32, available via
powered by a 141hp Rotax 915iS
the LAA website and Facebook page.
engine – and it’s fast, climbing to
Covered are: engines, fuel, airframes,
FL180 in 13 minutes and reaching a
propellers, documentation and initial
max speed just over 200kt.
flying tasks. Download it here: https://bit.
10 | FLYER | July 2020
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Find out more today, visit us online, call or follow us on social media! leadingedgeaviation.com +44 (0)1865 546300 @beleadingedge
Garmin unveils large screen portable GPS
UK’s Phil Harwood to train flying car buyers Flying car developer PAL-V has appointed the UK’s Dr Phil Harwood as Head of Training. Phil will be setting up flight academies for PAL-V at several locations. The PAL-V is a combination of a three-wheeled car that banks through turns like a motorcycle – or aircraft – and a gyrocopter. The main rotor and propulsion propeller unfold to convert the road vehicle into an aircraft. Dutch company PAL-V recently unveiled the final production version of the flying car and is going through the final stages of approvals with both motor vehicle authorities and EASA. It expects to deliver its first flying cars in about 18 months, according to Robert Dingemanse, CEO and founder. A video interview with Robert, plus action footage, is on FLYER’s YouTube channel here: https://youtu.be/W5Db7wqaktc Phil has more than 6,000 hours instructing on gyroplanes, making him one of the most experienced gyroplane instructors in the world. He is a Senior Gyroplane Flight Examiner in the UK and the Chairman of the International Association of Professional Gyroplane Training. “Eighty per cent of PAL-V’s current customers do not have their pilot licence yet,” said Robert Dingemanse. “Therefore, the availability of high quality pilot training is very important to our customers. “We are very happy that Phil Harwood is now part of our team and has taken responsibility for all our training activities. Training is provided through accredited PAL-V FlyDrive Academies. Becoming a car-flyer through our programme is a life-changing experience with a lot of fun and satisfaction.” www.pal-v.com
Main Production version of the PAL-V flying car Inset Respected UK instructor Phil Harwood is to set up PAL-V’s flight academies
Garmin has launched a large screen portable navigation device, the aera 760. It has a seven-inch sunlight readable touchscreen display complete with comprehensive chart options. Features include: ■ Option to load instrument approach procedures, arrivals and departures, and approach chart overlay on the map ■ Wireless connectivity ■ Option to integrate it with select Garmin avionics. Along the bezel, a USB-C connection is used to charge and power the aera 760, while a microSD card slot allows pilots to load topography and street maps or transfer user waypoints. The aera 760’s user-interface resembles that of many other popular Garmin products such as the GTN Xi series, G3X Touch and Garmin Pilot. It’s also been tested and hardened to meet stringent temperature and vibration standards, said Garmin. When connected to a navigator such as the GTN 650Xi/750Xi, GTN 650/750 or the GNS 430W/530W, the aera 760 can send and receive flight plan data that is entered into the navigator over a serial port so all products remain synchronised throughout the flight. The aera 760 is expected to be available from May with a list price of $1,599 USD.
LAA On YouTube
Call for cash
The LAA has launched its own
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on
YouTube channel, kicking off with
General Aviation has asked for
six ‘LAA Explorer’ videos featuring
government support for the UK’s
Arthur Williams looking at
aviation industry through the COVID-19
pandemic with temporary relief from
Preventative Measures, Engines,
business rates, corporation tax and VAT
Avionics and Flying for Fun!
as well as direct financial support.
12 | FLYER | July 2020
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Extending your rating Ed Bellamy explains how to stay valid for when we are allowed to fly again
s I write this towards the end of April, even a month ago I might have thought it unlikely that developments due to coronavirus would be a suitable topic for the Instant Expert column. But here we are. I hope by the time you read this, the prospect of some flying might be in the nearer future than it seems now. Welcome news in April was the publication of two CAA exemptions that allow the extension of pilot ratings and medicals beyond their existing expiry dates, until 22 November. This extension can be performed after a briefing with a suitable instructor or examiner. ‘Lockdown’ has made most GA flying off limits, but the aim is to buy us a bit more time to get our revalidations and renewals in place so when the time comes we can take to the skies again. Developments come week by week at the moment, but even if details have changed by the time you read this, the principles will likely remain the same. The two exemptions, ORS1385 and 1378 cover EASA and UK national licences respectively. The EASA exemption is based on an approach that has been agreed at European level and is issued under the powers to exempt from certain EASA regulations when there is an urgent operational need. The exemptions appear quite long and complicated. The main reason being, is that they cover a wide range of qualifications and other validities. The good news is that it’s not necessary to understand every detail – it just helps to know the principles. In practice examiners should have sufficient knowledge to ensure the extension procedure is correctly conducted and recorded. To be applicable, the rating or other validity must expire on or after 16 March this year but before 31 October. If you fall within those dates, an extension may be applied such that the new expiry date becomes 22 November. Note that if the rating has lapsed already you can still use the exemption, provided the original expiry date fell between those dates. Taking the SEP rating as an example. It may be that you are currently short of the necessary hours to revalidate by experience – by moving the expiry date to 22 November, this could buy some time once restrictions are lifted to gain more hours, although bear in mind that shifting the expiry date to 22 November also shifts the 12 month period in which the normal requirements must have been accumulated. Alternatively, if revalidation is to be by proficiency check, extending might allow the opportunity to fly a bit before taking the check with an examiner. If you have met the SEP experience requirements already, you just need to get your revalidation by experience signed off in the normal way.
For LAPL(A) and (H) holders, the exemption allows the ‘rolling validity’ period to be extended to 32 months and 20 months respectively. Again, this buys time to gain more hours. Bear in mind that as soon as the 22 November date passes, the normal periods apply again – for example for the LAPL(A), flights that took place between 32 and 24 months ago will no longer count. The LAPL validity extension can be signed off by an appropriate instructor and recorded in the logbook. In the case of ratings attached to a PPL or higher, the briefing can be done by an instructor qualified for the 14 | FLYER | July 2020
“If revalidation is to be by proficiency check, extending might allow the opportunity to fly a bit before taking the check with an examiner” rating, but the extension procedure can only be signed off by an examiner or in the case of the SEP rating, an instructor with EASA FCL.945 privileges (the privilege to sign off revalidation by experience) can also sign. The CAA anticipate that the vast majority of these briefings will be carried out remotely. In terms of the briefing content, the exemption specifies it must be based on the Examiner Report form – which essentially means the skill test schedule for the relevant rating. In the case of the SEP rating this would be the normal proficiency check profile. The CAA have not specified the requirements in any further detail but expect to be asked questions around the practical manoeuvres that would normally be in the proficiency check, as well as covering some pre-flight topics such as flight planning or mass and balance. For evidencing the extension, there is a form that the examiner can fill out (SRG1100F at the time of writing), which can be signed and then a copy carried at any time in which the extension is used. Having the certificate of revalidation page of the licence signed (for example by post) with the extension date is also an option but not a requirement. For national licences, affixing a statement in the logbook seems to be the preferred method. The exemption also covers a range of other validities – notably medicals and theoretical knowledge exams. For medicals there is no extension procedure, provided you do not experience a reduction in medical fitness and the expiry falls within the relevant dates, it is considered extended until 22 November. In these unprecedented times flying may not be at the forefront of many GA pilots’ minds, but if your rating or other applicable validity expires between 16 March and 31 October, tracking down an examiner and brushing up on the relevant knowledge could make life easier once we can take to the skies again. More information: www.caa.co.uk/covid19 www.caa.co.uk/CAP1913
Pilot Careers www.pilotcareernews.com The definitive source for pilot training, career and industry news
In Brief Q&A video with YouTubers and airline pilots Mentour Pilot and Plane Old Ben about the current training situation: https://youtu.be/ UgxG9vDK6lY
EASA ATPL Syllabus 2020 Q&A EASA has updated the theoretical knowledge syllabus for its ATPL training. We asked aviation theory publisher Padpilot what’s new:
What are the main differences between the old and the new syllabi? VA Airline Training has announced a series of measures to support trainee pilots during the COVID-19 pandemic. They include refresher training, bursaries and fee incentives. Full story: https://bit.ly/PCNvasupport 2FLY Group is offering a limited number of scholarships to aspiring pilots who enrol within the next few months on either a FAA or an EASA Pro-Pilot Airline Programme as part of the company’s response to the COVID-19 pandemedic. Full story: https://bit.ly/ PCN2flyscholarships Skyborne Airline Academy is marking the first anniversary of its EASA Integrated ATPL programme and one year of training for its first intake of cadet pilots. Skyborne has 38 students currently going through its Integrated ATPL programme, with 11 more planned to start in 2020. Full story: https://bit.ly/ PCNskybornefirst ATPL theory training company Cat3C is continuing to provide all current and scheduled TKI courses (theoretical knowledge instruction) via online video-conferencing. Full story: https://bit.ly/ PCNcat3conline
One Air Aviation has moved its entire theoretical knowledge catalogue online to allow its students to continue studying. Full story: https://bit.ly/ PCNoneaironline
16 | FLYER | July 2020
The Learning Objectives in the new syllabus are more up to date. A lot of unnecessary knowledge requirements are gone, and there’s more emphasis on new procedures and new technologies. For example, details about the separation rules applied to aircraft by air trafﬁc controllers have gone, making room for a more in-depth discussion of new avionics and new datalink communication procedures, and more about aircraft automation. You no longer need to remember all the qualiﬁcation criteria for a CPL or ATPL – EASA accepts that you can look it up in a book. The new syllabus still refers to some obsolete technology, but it’s a lot clearer, more focused and more relevant to modern airline operations than the old one. And of course, there is the new KSA100 area which aims to test a student’s attitude to training, not just his or her skills and knowledge.
When does the new syllabus come into effect?
The new syllabus is already in effect. Some pilot training academies in Sweden are already teaching it, and many more Approved Training Organisations (ATOs) will be starting soon. There is going to be an overlap period where both syllabi will be examined, but at the moment, the ﬁrst exams for the new syllabus are scheduled to start this summer. Individual ATOs can decide
Above EASA has revised the ATPL theory syllabus and is phasing it in over the next couple of years
when they switch to teaching their cadets the new ATPL syllabus. Many are changing over soon, and some will delay until the autumn. If you’re about to embark on pilot training, particularly if you’re a modular student, it may be worth checking with ATOs when they plan to move to the new syllabus as you don’t want to risk running out of time under the old syllabus.
How does the changeover affect trainee pilots studying the current syllabus?
Students currently studying ATPL theory with an ATO using the old syllabus don’t need to do anything differently and can continue on their current programme. The CAA recently extended the date for the ﬁnal exam sitting under the old syllabus to June 2022.
Will trainee pilots studying the current syllabus have to update their knowledge?
Keeping your knowledge up to date is an essential part of being a professional pilot. The job involves a constant process of learning, testing and updating. But for student pilots studying the old syllabus and sitting the old syllabus exams, you don’t need to update your
ATPL theory knowledge in order to gain your licence. If you’ve studied the old syllabus but plan to sit the new exams then, yes, you’ll need to ﬁll in the gaps in your knowledge and be aware that some topics have moved from one subject area to another, meaning that there’ll be changes to what you see in the exams.
Which syllabus should students study now?
If you have the choice, we would advise studying the new syllabus. It is far more up to date and will better prepare you for a career in aviation. There is also nothing to fear by taking the new exams. Although the online question banks won’t have captured all the new exam questions yet, by and large, the trivia has been removed. Any good set of ATPL books addressing the new syllabus will prepare you for the updated exams questions. And, if you’re using time at home to begin studying ATPL theory yourself, then reading the new syllabus books means you don’t risk running out of time. Padpilot has released new text books for the 2020 EASA ATPL together with a free distance learning guide: https://apple.co/padpilot
Ready to pursue your dream of becoming a pilot? Learn to fly with CAE and make your dream of becoming a commercial pilot a reality. Each year, we graduate and place 1500+ new pilots who are flying with airlines the world over. Are you the next one? Start your journey right, and right here. Contact us today at www.cae.com/becomeapilot Follow the global journeys of recent CAE graduates on Instagram @caepilot and follow #CAEpilot
I Get Paid for This…
PHIL GREEN Search & Rescue pilot Phil Green patrols the UK’s coastline in a Beechcraft King Air 200 Interview by Yayeri van Baarsen How did you get into flying? I’ve always been focused on flying. Aged 14 I had my first lesson, and at 16 I started working at my local flying school. I begged, borrowed and stole flying hours, doing whatever was needed to get in the air. Tell us about your job? I’m a King Air 200 Captain with 2Excel, an employee-owned company based in Doncaster, which provides Search & Rescue service for the UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency. We’re ready to respond 24/7, the aircraft is always prepped and its crew alternate between day and Flying CV night shifts. Sometimes there are pre-planned 2Excel’s King Air 200 Capt Phil Green tasks, but most of the time I’m on standby duty. is first responder on missions for the When the phone rings, the adrenaline rises as UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency. we have to be airborne very quickly. We’re a bit Started: September 2019 like Thunderbird 1, the first responders at the Now flying: Beechcraft King Air B200 scene. The King Air is a fixed-wing, so we can’t Favourite: King Air. “They’re as happy flying at 28,000ft as at 1,000ft, and land hoist people out of the water. However, we have as easy at big international airports as on a other capabilities, such as our extensive radar and grass strip. A King Air is the best combo of surveillance equipment. As we are able to cover a capability, challenge and reward.” large search area quickly, once we’ve located the Hours at job start: Approx. 3,500 Hours now: Approx. 3,600 targets in the water, we can guide in the rescue helicopters. Also, we provide a general overview, which is particularly important when more we’d often visit a destination, stay there for a few hours and then return. aircraft or ships are involved. Apart from SAR, we assist with fisheries As the aircraft was based in Exeter, I got to spend many evenings flying patrols and monitoring pollution levels. into the sunset with beautiful views over the West Country. As I grew up What I love most about my job is the variety: no two flights are the in Exeter, these return flights always felt like coming home. same. Even on a routine patrol, you’re always on the lookout for signs of trouble. As a single pilot, this means you’re always on edge. You can never And your favourite airfield? kick back, put on autopilot and read a newspaper. For me, this lack of Sleap Airfield in Shropshire. Having spent about six years there, it routine is what makes it interesting and exciting, being able to help out in became a bit of a second base. It’s a GA airfield with no security and no life-and-death situations makes my work incredibly rewarding. need to wear a high-vis jacket. Occasionally the circuit was crowded, but most of the time you had the entire area to yourself. The time I spent at What training did you have? Sleap is a part of my life that’s filled with many happy memories. I finished my ATPL studies in 2009, just after the financial crisis. It wasn’t an ideal time, but I knocked on every door until I got my first job, flying a Do you get to fly much outside of work? Cessna 150 for an aerial photography company. Then I flew a privately I haven’t flown privately for a few years now, but not because I don’t want owned King Air, and for the past nine years I’ve been flying private jets. to. In the future I’d like to get into aerobatics again, take family and I was offered this job because I had experience operating an airborne friends abroad on trips, and fly vintage aircraft, particularly a DC-3. I’d surveillance platform and plenty of flying time in the King Air. The also like to own a Starduster Too, but in order to afford one I might have training at 2Excel was very mission-specific with many scenario-based to sell a kidney first... exercises. Apart from flying the King Air 200, it covered working together with the sensor operator, who’s manning the radar equipment in What’s the most valuable career advice you’ve had? the back of the aircraft. This can be a challenge due to the numerous Actually, the best advice was encouragement more than anything. You different communication channels. You’re talking to each other and at get a lot of technical tips throughout your training, but what it really boils the same time you’re dealing with Air Traffic, while the operator is down to when getting into the aviation industry is your attitude. Freshly liaising with 2Excel’s headquarters and the Coastguard. qualified in 2009 when there weren’t many jobs around, I can relate to newly qualified pilots nowadays. Trust me, there’s still work and the What’s been your favourite flight? situation will get better. Just do what you can and stay positive. I can’t pick a specific one, but when flying the privately owned King Air,
“Being able to help out in lifeand-death situations is very rewarding work”
18 | FLYER | July 2020
Lost in Shangri-La
s we are not able to do any flying at the moment, I thought I would tell you all a tale from my Papua flying days along with a recommendation for one of my favourite aviation books, Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff. This isn’t your usual aviation book as it doesn’t feature much flying, but it’s well worth a read for some escapism. It’s a true story that features a USAF C-47 Dakota that was flying on a bit of a jolly towards the end of WWII from the US base at Sentani, Papua. Unfortunately it crashed while trying to enter the Baliem Valley in poor weather which is where I used to be based towards the end of my previous life with Susi Air. The story of how the survivors escaped is almost unbelievable and involves some of the most ambitious flying I’ve ever read about. I’m very surprised it’s not been made into a Hollywood movie yet. Of course, while I was based so close to the crash site, I just had to go and find it. I’ll try not to spoil the book for anyone reading this who’s not read it yet, but I was very fortunate to be able to add a little to the story in the book. You would think with the internet and a published book to hand it would be pretty easy to find the exact GPS coordinates of the wreck and simply go and locate it. However it turns out it has all but been forgotten and no one seems to have written much about it online. I did get a set of coordinates from another pilot which were within 300m of some I found on a website. The book also has some coordinates in it but these are quite coarse and came up around 7km from the ones I already had. Anyway, this was enough to give it a go and so at 5am on a Sunday morning, a small group of us borrowed a pick-up truck and set off from our house in Wamena to drive as close as we could to the coordinates. After around an hour-and-a-half, we had gone as far as we could, so we parked up and walked up to the first house we found to ask if anyone there knew about the aircraft that crashed in 1945. Hopefully this would confirm our coordinates were somewhere close! Eventually we lucked out as a chap there reckoned his parents had seen the wrecked Dakota and he claimed to know exactly where it was. We then bumped into another chap and he was able to confirm what the first chap was saying. He also suggested we might like to come to his village and meet a woman who was apparently alive at the time of the crash. She described how terrified their village was when the white people emerged from the jungle, and how they all ran away. She was only a child at the time so didn’t actually see the survivors herself but she
described them exactly as told in the book. We knew we must be close so headed off into the jungle with our guide along a tricky, slippery and at times quite treacherous path along a thick, jungle-covered ridgeline constructed mostly of fallen trees covered in wet moss. Eventually, after around three hours of wandering we found what we were looking for. I can only speculate that almost no one had been there in the last 70 years. Very little had been taken, which is unusual as normally when an aircraft crashes in Papua bits tend to be removed to be repurposed by the locals. Interestingly our guide did say that this aircraft was the first metal any of them had seen. I did take a small piece of the aircraft’s fabric that was loose on what remained of one of the control surfaces, as I figured it would make a cool bookmark. What I didn’t realise at the time was how this story was going to develop further. A few weeks later a pilot friend of mine, who came to the wreck on the first mission, was showing the wreck to a couple of fellow pilots who were interested in seeing it. While exploring, they came across a large gold ring bearing the inscription ‘Kentucky Military Institute’. Of course this had to be from one
“A small group of us borrowed a pick-up truck and set off to find the lost C-47”
20 | FLYER | March 2020
of the victims from the crash and so I sent out a Tweet to Zuckoff to see if he could find out who it might have belonged to. After some research he came back to me and said that it would have belonged to a Major Phillip J Dattilo, and while he died a single man, he did still have a surviving niece who remembered her uncle fondly. Apparently she broke down in tears when Zuckoff broke the news to her that her uncle’s ring had been recovered. After various correspondences with Zuckoff, the ring was couriered back to the US and reunited with the family, and in return Zuckoff sent me a signed copy of his book, which was unexpected and very kind of him. Inside the inscription reads: To Matt Dearden: You are now part of this story! With deep appreciation – Mitchell Zuckoff FLY SAFE! July 2016 Boston. And the bookmark? A green piece of fabric from the very aircraft the book is about. Currently dividing his time between a Cub, a Catalina… oh, and a PC-12 email@example.com July 2020 | FLYER | 21
Making use of the time…
solation and its many implications is clearly something we must get used to, and nobody anywhere can now be unaware of the need. Before the reality though, I’d have found it hard to predict any benefit to personal aviation. No driving to the airfield, no maintenance, no flying… A tiny burden when compared with some, but a burden nonetheless. Or maybe not… For the last seven weeks, almost every day I have walked the 10 yards to my workshop where I have spent the following eight hours. Better still, I have been there guilt-free, having my intellect tested by a constant diet of Radio 4. A while back, I designed and built an automotive engine conversion based on a 2.0 litre VW turbo diesel. It ran on the test bed sufficiently well, and for long enough that I would have been happy to sit behind it there and then. Sadly that proved almost to be the easier part. Finding something uncertified which needed the power and could carry the weight, turned out to be more difficult. I should have seen that before I started, but the zeal which is essential to any project tends to narrow the focus. The engine and reduction drive is still in storage, and still largely complete. If my numbers ever come up, it will emerge, blinking into the sunlight, and be installed in a Jodel D140, assuming I can find one. Meanwhile, in its place in my current ‘second home’ is what I might have done in the first place, which is to build a smaller, simpler and lighter 110hp version. There was some rationale – there were a number of options already in that segment, and any bonus in fuel saving in return for a lot of labour and expense is less. You can always work out what that saving might be, and then divide into the latter and reveal a much smaller fraction than you hoped – but, and as I intend to discover – fuel saving is not the only bonus. The Mk1 experience did at least make me think a bit more beforehand about the Mk2. The current intense focus on electric/hybrid aviation had yet to gain real momentum when I started, so an emerging consideration was to go down that route. I didn’t, partly because I know a little bit about piston engines but not much about electric motors and their drivetrains, but more because the aircraft really needs to be designed for them in the first place. The electric motor is much lighter than a reciprocating engine, and then you need somewhere to put the batteries, manage the cooling, design the electronic control and so on. It’s not insurmountable – Tecnam is working on a plug-in Rotax 915-based engine and battery power egg – but something similar is outside my means or skills. Like an electric car (which I would also like, but are not yet a feature in Bangernomics) what I need is something that works now, and that I can just about afford. Languishing in a workshop deep in France, I found a 1.6 litre
all-aluminium diesel engine from a Citroën C3, complete with the basis of a belt-driven reduction, destined apparently for a putative Jodel D11. Part of a negotiating tactic was to point out that a D11 had been designed for a VW engine, which was already lighter than a Rotax. A track coaching experience at Hautes-Saintonge, near La Rochelle, then provided an excuse to visit, during which the engine was finally exchanged for cash and loaded first into a hire car, then the transporter bringing the exotics back to Blighty. I then realised that this was the engine which Ian and I had flown to France in the Seager Air 182, in order to see it running. Negotiations had foundered on the question of purchase price, after which I resolved to do my own. Hard to believe that was back in 2011, which only makes stark the realisation that it would have been cheaper to pay the asking price and slash the fuel bill for the best part of 10 years…
“Deep in France, I found a 1.6 litre allaluminium Citroën diesel engine with beltdriven reduction, destined for a Jodel D11”
22 | FLYER | February 2020
Inspection revealed a few rough bits – like holes drilled next to holes and the like – but the concept was sound, and best of all, it should fit nicely in the space currently occupied by my Jodel’s Potez. It could also be mechanically injected, so no electronics, in fact almost nothing electrical. The answer to LAA Engineer Ben Syson’s question about the electrical installation was simple, just two wires should do it, plus any electric gauges… One for the starter button, the other to connect the alternator to the battery – modern automotive stuff doesn’t need a separate box. I’d designed a mount (with the help of John the stress wizard) and the motor sport men at Lola Parts had welded it all together. They had also knocked up a stand, and I had the local furniture makers rout out a plywood firewall, all before 23 March. The timing was almost perfect. I now know that it would have been better to make a proper plug and lay up some new cowls with all the many ducts in the right place and a neat swoop towards a slimmer nose, rather than modify the existing ones. If you’ve ever tried to stretch a compound curve, get everything to meet and look almost presentable without industrial quantities of body filler, you’ll know what I mean. And air ducts… Where to site and how to make them look as if they should be there. Focus on all this might not have been the plan at the beginning of the year, but it has certainly brought progress. There’s a bit to do, but I’m hoping I might fly to the LAA Rally. You’ll note I didn’t say which one… Vintage aircraft and cars make Mark particularly happy firstname.lastname@example.org July 2020 | FLYER | 23
Squawks Ian Seager
Something very special
n 21 March 1994 I signed the contract to buy FLYER magazine from my then employer Future Publishing. My boss, and Future’s owner at the time, Chris Anderson, had just gone to the US where he would later set up TED. Chris lent us his personal office, rent free, for a couple of months while we sorted out our own, and worked our way through the hundreds of small jobs that need doing when you start a business, all while publishing FLYER. There were just four of us at the time, and for the first couple of years it wasn’t unusual to work six days a week from 10am to very, very late. I am humbled that many of the readers and advertisers we had back then are still with us today, and quite a number of both have become good friends. Before buying the magazine I’d finished my PPL with Archer Flight Training at Gloucester, where I had a share in a PA28, having sold my share in a Dart 17R sailplane, which I flew with Bath Wilts and North Dorset. Ironically, at least in the early days, owning FLYER magazine meant less, rather than more, flying. A month or so after buying the magazine I found myself on the way to my first Sun ’n Fun to meet our US sales rep Paula Raeburn who introduced me to our US advertisers. The event was a lot bigger then and the experience was a bit overwhelming. FLYER contributor Geoffrey Boot showed me the Sun ’n Fun ropes, and I got to better know the inimitable Austin J Brown, our photographer. Paula’s now retired in North Carolina, Geoffrey is a member of the House of Keys on the Isle of Man and Austin sadly passed away in May 2004 having got through thousands of rolls of Fujichrome Provia 100 on behalf of the magazine. That summer, all four team members attended the PFA Rally at Cranfield, all of us camping in order to save a bit of money and get the full PFA experience. The charismatic Ivan Shaw was launching the Europa, a great handling aeroplane that was capable of providing a challenge or three when it came to getting it off of or back onto the ground. Along with FLYER’s then technical editor, Miles McCallum, I figured that building the FLYER Europa would be a good idea. It may have been, and it resulted in a mostly enjoyable experience with foam cores and composites than I’d imagined, but it didn’t result in an aeroplane. We sold the kit and the Europa eventually flew, just not in our hands. Somehow we managed to stay in business (it was all a little less structured in those days), we introduced free landing fees, brought out the annual Learn to Fly Guide and got into exhibitions, successfully building a pan European series of events called Pilot Careers Live.
Although as you might imagine, they’re currently not running! Over the past 26 years there have been a few sad times, a few challenging times, notably 9/11 and the 2008 financial crisis, but the overriding experience has been one of amazing aeroplanes, amazing flying, and above all amazing people. We’ve also seen a lot of change. To print the magazine we used to send page film to the printers via something called Red Star, a sort of train-based parcel service; we launched our first (and now somewhat embarrassing website – you can still see pages from 1997 on the web’s ‘WayBack’ machine) and gradually the digital world seeped into the publishing business, which brings us in an oversimplified leap to the current day and more importantly the future. For all publishers the newsstand has been in gradual decline for at least 10 years. COVID-19 pretty much stopped it in its tracks, all publishers have seen sudden and dramatic reductions in sales down to unimaginable levels. For us that wasn’t sustainable. It wasn’t serving the needs of readers, advertisers or indeed us the publishers. Personally I think changing habits will mean that we won’t see a quick recovery of newsstand habits, so we took the decision to go purely digital from this, the July issue. But that one momentous change wasn’t enough, more
“Over the past 26 years the central experience has been one of amazing aeroplanes, amazing flying, and above all amazing people” was needed, so we decided to make the new digital FLYER available to anyone. Free of charge. Alongside that we’ve created The FLYER Club. Membership’s £2.50 a month (payable quarterly), and members will get not only the magazine, but access to the free landing fees, exclusive content, early access to weather briefings, exclusive webinars and much more that we’ll be adding over the next few months. There are a few things that are better in print than digital, and yes we’re sad about the loss of the print magazine, but there are many things that you can do with digital that just aren’t possible with paper and we’re hugely excited by the world of digital publishing that’s opening up ahead of us. In many ways it feels like the adrenaline fuelled days of 1994 – we’re loving the challenge of live streaming, of creating videos and podcasts, of bringing you content in ways that are a pleasure to consume on desktop or mobile, and perhaps best of all of creating The FLYER Club, a new type of virtual organisation that will bring you – the past, current and future flyer – something very special. Publisher, pre C-19 often found flying something new and interesting email@example.com July 2020 | FLYER | 25
FLIGHT TEST | Vashon Aircraft Ranger R7
Rugged Ranger If you want to know what the LSA dream was about, and if you want to know what a good low cost light aircraft can be like, take a look at Vashon’s Ranger WORDS Ian Seager PHOTOGRAPHY ed HIckS
26 | FLYER | July 2020
July 2020 | FLYER | 27
Vashon Aircraft Ranger R7
“The Ranger looks and feels solid, and isn’t the sort of aircraft where you wonder if something’s going to come off in your hand”
28 | FLYER | July 2020
Y Opposite Flush riveted airframe is clean and well detailed Above Fixed pitch composite Catto prop turns Continental O-200’s 100hp into burbling thrust Left Both wing fuel tanks feed into a 2.5gal header tank Below 600kg max all up weight and castoring nosewheel makes single-handed ground handling easy
eah yeah yeah, another test of an aeroplane that you can’t buy in the UK or the rest of Europe, I mean what’s the point? Hang on a minute, take those blinkers off, grab a chair and listen up, let’s see if I can persuade you otherwise. This one’s important for a few reasons. For starters it’s the first aircraft to come out of Vashon, the company owned by John Torode, founder and owner of Dynon Avionics – and definitely not the bloke from Masterchef. Then there’s the fact that it was designed by Ken Krueger. Ken spent 17 years at Van’s Aircraft and was the chief engineer on the RV-7, -8, -10, -12 and -14. Van’s (hold that email grammar police, that’s the name of the company) has more aircraft flying than any other kit manufacturer in the world. Ever. If that’s not reason enough there’s the price. The base model, called the Yellowstone, is being sold for just $99,500 and unlike most other base models this one comes equipped with glass (Dynon, obviously), a two-axis autopilot, ADS-B out and all sorts of other features that other manufacturers leave in the options list. When was the last time you saw a fully kitted-out, factory-built, two-seat aircraft being sold for that price? Vashon is based in Woodinville, Washington, in the far north-west of the USA. However, happily for us, early Ranger owner Kurt Bosshardt has his example based in Pompano Beach, Florida, and during our last pre-covid US trip we arranged to meet up and go flying. I wouldn’t normally lead with the negatives, particularly as I’ve just made a case for it being an important aircraft, but there’s no getting away from it, the Vashon Ranger is not the best looking aircraft on the apron. It’s boxy, it’s got a big tail and a huge up and over windscreen, which from certain angles looks like it’s the love child spawned from a Chris Whitty/Dominic Cummings liaison. If you want to see it at its best you’ll either have to fly when it’s dark, or lay flat on the floor with the front of the aeroplane at your 10 o’clock. Admittedly, that may not be enough to turn it into a stunner, but it is an improvement. OK, maybe that’s being a little harsh. I have to admit that once you become a little bit more familiar, you start to appreciate the aeroplane in a ‘function over form’ no-nonsense kind of way. If you’re looking for aesthetic positives, I quite like the clean lines you get with a high cantilever wing, and the main gear and chunky 600 x 6 tyres look like they’d not be overly troubled if you took the aeroplane into the backcountry, or even if the wheels occasionally got to the ground before you managed to flare. Its rugged simplicity suggests any long-term relationship would be based on strength of character, long after others have lost their cosmetic beauty. July 2020 | FLYER | 29
Vashon Aircraft Ranger R7
Ten with Torode FLYER interviewed Vashon Aircraft founder John Torode shortly after the Ranger was revealed to the General Aviation world in 2018… How did Dynon Avionics come to be? Having had my own aircraft since 1967, I was astounded by how ancient the equipment in aeroplanes was, and in most cases still is. With my background in physics, engineering and computer science, I thought: let’s see if we can build something that’s useful for the average pilot. We produced a 4in EFIS which displayed all the primary flight instruments and introduced it to the market for $2,000. It really got the attention of home-builders and caught on in a way that even surprised me. Now, seven per cent of all planes in the world use our avionics. Why start Vashon Aircraft? It was my goal to produce an aircraft that’d cost about the same as a fancy car: the Ranger R7. I think cost is an important parameter that’s keeping young people from GA. The price of a new basic aeroplane, like a Cessna 172, is $400,000. How many pilots can afford this? Back in 1960, a brand new aircraft would cost you about a year’s salary, but today $400,000 is 10 times as much as a fresh-out-of-college kid earns in a year. Add to that the rising costs of training, fuel and maintenance, and it’s no surprise GA is dying. Currently, only about 1,000 new factory piston aircraft are sold a year worldwide. In 1976, it was 17,000. This is a shame, as flying is such a great hobby. There’s still a lot of work to do, but we’ll get there. A big part of it is volume: if we sell 25 Rangers every year, we won’t make any money, but if we sell 250 a year, we will. What are your hopes for the future? I hope that with Dynon Avionics and Vashon Aircraft we can positively influence the future of GA. There’s an ongoing revolution, both at the FAA and EASA, to reduce the bureaucracy of aviation regulations, while keeping safety on the same high level. We fit into this shift with our affordable aircraft & avionics – because safety that isn’t affordable, isn’t safety. When I’m gone, I want to leave this planet a little better in at least one area – private aviation.
30 | FLYER | July 2020
To better understand why the Ranger ended up looking like it does, it’s worth going back to its design goals, I spoke to its designer, Ken Krueger (see video) and he explained that a key requirement was that it should be able to be put on floats. It turns out that Vashon (and Dynon) founder John Torode is a bit of a seaplane fan, and so the float thing had to be so (there’s one float-equipped Ranger so far, and it is on the water outside Torode’s house). Although it’s technically possible to have a low-wing seaplane, nobody really does that, hence the high-wing. Most float conversions need to find a way to add tail area, so Krueger built the tail for floats from the outset. In addition the Ranger had to meet the LSA requirements for max weight (50kg more for seaplanes), max stall speed (45kt clean) and max speed in level flight (120kt). There were two other requirements – it had to be able to be manufactured easily so the cost could be kept to below $100,000, a level that was judged affordable to many individuals and flight schools, and it had to be powered by the Continental 0-200-D rather than a Rotax. Say what? Yep, there may be a Rotax in the vast majority of LSAs, but this one was going to have the old-school, newly lightened Continental, which nonetheless is about 20kg heavier. I imagine that the Continental, built in Mobile, Alabama, may appeal more to traditionalists. Mind you, knowing a few of them I’m not sure how they’ll now react to Continental’s Chinese ownership, but I digress, that’s politics and this is about aeroplanes. Let’s just say that it’s tough to build an aeroplane to a weight budget, and I can’t imagine that is any easier when you add a heavy engine up front.
Walk up to the Ranger (properly known as the Ranger R7) and once you see past the ‘beauty’, the details start to make themselves known. The pitot static is a curved structure that sits high above the wing. In addition to being a pitot static, it’s the AoA probe and it also carries the fuel vent, its height is another one of the seaplane things… when docked it’s less likely that anyone will add to the world’s population of one-eyed pilots or passengers. The Ranger is assembled with pulled rivets, but rather than them sitting proud they’re flush. It turns out that not only are all of the panels pre-punched, but that the turret punch press can also dimple, meaning that there’s next to no cost or complexity added if you have flush rivets. While we’re talking aluminium panels and rivets, it’s worth mentioning that plain sheets of aluminium arrive at the factory pre-painted in white, as do the rivets. Take a look at the doors and many of the interior panels and you’ll see that they’re double skinned or closed out, meaning things are that bit stronger, while there are fewer ways of losing your keys, phone or other bits of
Above Functional interior could be described as spartan, but you get Dynon Skyview EFIS and a two-axis autopilot Right Huuuuge doors Below right Enormous baggage compartment becomes sleeping space if you remove the cushions and fold the seats flat Below left Adjustable rudder pedals and dual brakes are standard Left Cabin is wider than a Cessna 172 and there’s oodles of headroom
July 2020 | FLYER | 31
Turbine Maule Grumman Widgeon M-7-420AC
Above So many LSAs have had dull handling, luckily the Ranger is light and nimble and will excite pilots Left Details like the flat metal wingtip helps reduce parts count and cost, and makes the Ranger quick and easy to build Below Designed for the beating that’s typical in the flying school environment, Ranger’s undercarriage is rugged
pocket shrapnel. Talking of doors, they’re huge, again, another seaplane thing where being able to jump in and out quickly is a good thing. Not only are they massive, but when open they lay flat against the cowling where they’re secured with a pin arrangement, meaning that unless it’s jolly breezy, you don’t have to worry about your door beating itself into a big maintenance bill. Despite that big door opening, you still have to do a bit of manoeuvring to get in – thanks to the stick. Basically, you have to get your leg over, which as you know is often easier said than done, but backing yourself in before swinging, while pivoting from the hips did the trick. Practice would, I’m sure, make things easier. Once you’re in, you close the door like you would in a car, i.e. without the need for the three-handed multi-latch fumble.
Stretch out… and snooze
The seats are comfortable, at least for the hour or so that I was sitting in one, and the backs will fold completely flat if you remove the cushions, consequently giving you loads of room should you wish to park up, stretch out and snooze. Apparently some people like the idea of sleeping in an aircraft – Ken certainly does. Personally I can think of little worse than spending a night in your sleeping bag in an aeroplane, but hey, if it works for you. If sleeping inside doesn’t appeal, Vashon does offer a tent that fits over one wing giving a more conventional camping option. The cabin is wider than most four seaters, and thanks to that boxy shape it’s cavernous with loads of headroom (both Torode and Krueger are tall, so it’s a good bet that headroom wasn’t going to be a problem). Given the weight 32 | FLYER | July 2020
Turbine Maule M-7-420AC
budget the interior was never going to be dressed with the finest leather, and spartan rather than sumptuous would be a better description. Spartan is definitely not a synonym for cheap. It looks and feels solid, this is not the sort of aeroplane where you wonder if something’s going to come off in your hand, or succumb to an early demise after multiple students have done their worst. Kurt’s aeroplane was the sub $100,000 base model to which he had only added an iPad in a Guardian Avionics panel mount on the right-hand side. In front of me was a single 10-inch Dynon SkyView screen with integrated engine monitoring, There was a two axis autopilot, ADS-B out and Dynon’s radio. More kit and more capability than you find in the majority of the legacy fleet, and lacking, well pretty much nothing important. The aeroplane even comes with five point harnesses! The Continental’s an old tech engine, so depending on conditions you might have to use the primer prior to start (yes, even in 2020), crank over the Continental and you get that satisfying air-cooled, four opposed cylinder burble. I’m a signed up Rotax fan, I like the lightness, the smoothness, the frugality and the reliability. I like everything (except perhaps the price), but I’ll take the sound of the little Continental over the Rotax all day long. Pulling away from our parking spot, the aeroplane’s easy to manoeuvre thanks to its fully castoring nosewheel. There are toe brakes on both sides and visibility is great thanks to acres of perspex. There’s a maximum of 25.5 US gallons split between the two wing tanks with another 2.5 gallons in a header tank fed from the wings. Useful load is 445lb or just over 200kg, so not huge, and certainly
Above 100kt might not make it the fastest cruiser, but it’s stable and has enough range to go places
Ranger as a kit? Ken Krueger spent 17 years of his working life at Van’s Aircraft, so he clearly knows a thing or two about kit aircraft. During his time working for Van’s, he was awarded the August Raspet Award for his contributions to the matched-hole production processes that have made metal kit aircraft so accurate and buildable. I asked if the Ranger would ever be available as a kit, and the short answer is ‘no’. The wing’s a single piece with a span of nearly 30ft (9m), so that’s a challenge for most, but even if you can resolve that problem, the fact is the Ranger costs under $100,000 dollars ready to fly, so by the time you buy the kit, the avionics, the engine, the prop and the hundreds of bits and pieces that go to make up an aeroplane there’s not going to be much change from the original purchase price, so why bother?
July 2020 | FLYER | 33
Vashon Aircraft Ranger R7
Top Great visibility, but the tall windscreen might be its least attractive feature Above Big tail has been sized for floatplane use Left Frise ailerons help reduce adverse yaw, while small tabs at inboard ends give better force feedback – ‘centring’ – which gives nicer handling Below Easy to taxi with fully castoring nosewheel and excellent brakes. Dihedral-free wing makes it easy to manufacture
34 | FLYER | July 2020
not enough for Kurt and me to take anywhere near full fuel. Happily with a consumption of around 5usg per hour you don’t need full tanks unless you’re heading off for a long trip, and we had just over two hours’ worth as we lined up for departure. The flaps are electrically operated and set at either 20˚ or 40˚,but for our take-off we went with no flaps. Even the shortest runway at Pompano is at least 10 times longer than we need, but I prefer first take-offs in type to be a gently progressive affair rather than a hurried leap into the air. Even taking things slowly we were up and flying away within a few hundred feet, rotating at about 50kt and settling into a climb at about 75kt. As soon as there’s enough air going over the surfaces it’s obvious that this is a very nice aircraft, there’s no tendency to lurch to one side, nicely weighted controls and responsive when you need it to be, stable when you don’t. Despite the lack of sound insulation (remember that spartan bare metal interior?) cabin noise levels were fine (I had my Bose headset on). Settling into the cruise you’ll see a comfortable 100kt in return for a 5usg/hr fuel burn ( just a bit under 19lph), which is comparable to the numbers that you’ll see with almost all side by side LSAs. While the look is maybe a little more Transit than Testarossa, the handling isn’t. What a sweet, sweet aeroplane… want to chuck it about while playing with clouds? No problem. Want some slow flight (who actually wants that by the way?) no problem, stalls are (blissfully) dull and anything in between is, well exactly what you’d expect. I know it shouldn’t come as a surprise. Ken’s already proved that he can design superbly handling and performing aircraft, but the experience was kind of reaffirming. If LSAs were meals, quite a few of them would be cold tapioca puddings, a couple would be custard with a few random chillies thrown in, most would be meat and two veg but a small number would be perfectly cooked fillet steak (insert appropriate vegetarian or vegan alternative) with a side of
Vashon Ranger R7 Low-cost, robust, great handling…
Finally, a trainer that can rival the Cessna 152? We think so…
perfectly cooked chunky chips. The Ranger is definitely at the top of the perfectly cooked steak section of the menu. With this particular meal drawing to a close I called Pompano. There was a lot going on, and it seemed prudent to remain high and just off the coast, enjoying the handling, the glistening sea and some of Florida’s well-to-do coastline. Sadly it all quietened down, and I reluctantly made my way back. There was a bit of turbulence and a bit of a crosswind but the Ranger shrugged it off, a nice speed stable approach finished by a firm landing thanks to yours truly. I was full, but I would have happily gone back for seconds, and thirds. Who said you can have too much of a good thing anyway? This aeroplane is exactly why we need a 600kg category in the UK. Happily, the responses to the CAA’s recent consultation on the matter were overwhelmingly in favour, there was even mutual support from the BMAA and LAA (hopefully that’s as strong as ever, despite them no longer dating with a view to marriage), so it’s now down to the Department for Transport to give the nod, and for everyone to get on with it as quickly as possible. Being able to buy a factory-built aircraft like the Vashon Ranger can only be a very good thing for General Aviation in the UK, for its post-covid recovery. Hopefully that’ll include a mini-boom as people realise flying themselves and their family somewhere quickly and efficiently is much more enjoyable than arriving at a crowded airport two hours ahead of departure, just so you can share a busy commercial flight that will generally take you a lot further from your destination than you’d like. If the right levers are pulled then General Aviation, and great aircraft like the Ranger, can be part of a flexible, efficient and environmentally friendly mode of transport, and can play an important role in getting the economy back on its feet. As they’d say in Vashon Ranger land, let’s get it done!
Max speed (Vne) 131kias Max cruise speed 114ktas Stall speed (clean/full flap) 45kt/41kt Take-off distance 149m (ground roll) / 363m (over 15m obstacle) Landing distance 87m (ground roll) / 329m (over 15m obstacle) Rate of climb 833fpm Range 501nm @ 75% power Fuel burn 22 litres/hour @ 8,500ft @ 114ktas
Weights & loading
Seats Two Max take-off 600kg Empty 401kg Payload 199kg Payload with 3hr fuel 182kg Baggage 45kg Fuel capacity 107litres (106 usable)
Airframe Aluminium Engine Continental O-200-D Max power 100hp Prop Two-blade Catto composite, fixed pitch Avionics SkyView by Dynon Undercarriage Fixed, tricycle
Vashon Aircraft 19825 141st PL NE Woodinville, WA 98072 USA www.vashonaircraft.com
Base price $99,500 Including a one-year, spinner-to-tail warranty
Wingspan 9.00m Wing area 12.6 sq m Length 6.7m Height 2.8m
Above If there’s any justice in the world, UK regulation will change with the 600kg opt-out so that we can enjoy this kind of progress…
July 2020 | FLYER | 35
My First Solo
Greg McDougall On his first floatplane solo, Greg McDougall wondered if his instructor would swim to the rescue if something went wrong… Words by Yayeri van Baarsen Solo stats In 2019, founder and CEO of Harbour Air, Greg McDougall, flew the world’s first commercial electric-powered aircraft, a DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver with a 750hp (560kW) magni500 propulsion system When: October 1974 Where: Pitt Meadows (BC, Canada) Aircraft: Fleet Canuck Hours at solo: Approx. 6 Hours now: Approx. 10,000
How did you get into aviation? We used to spend the family holidays in a very inaccessible summer cabin, which was located on a lake that was on an island about 65 miles off the coast of Vancouver. Seeing floatplanes flying in and out, I set my heart on becoming a floatplane pilot from a very early age.
instructor, I always made sure a boat was nearby. My helicopter solo happened only 15 years ago. In the middle of a field, the instructor unplugged his headset, hopped out and told me to fly around. Soloing in a helicopter was exciting, but since I had nearly 8,000 hours of flying time in aircraft by then, I felt quite confident.
How did your flight training go? I started straight out of high school in a tailwheel, a fabric-covered Fleet Canuck that would now be considered vintage. I chose the Canuck instead of a Cessna 150 as it would give me more chance to develop skills needed for flying floatplanes. With the intention of becoming a commercial pilot as soon as possible, I obtained my PPL in about a month and my CPL in three months. I spent virtually every day at the airport, learning to fly was my full-time occupation. Having no distractions and being only focused on flying helped hugely.
What inspired you to go electric with your all-seaplane airline Harbour Air? We’ve already been fully carbon neutral since 2007, so why not zero-emission propulsion? I’ve always been an early adopter of technology, which is ironic considering lots of the aircraft we operate are quite old, and I was one of the first Tesla owners in Vancouver. Tesla impressed me with its power, engineering and reliability, it would be amazing in an aircraft. Battery systems had improved to the point where electric flying became viable for a single-engine aircraft with payload. I thought, why not pioneer it? With our short stage length we could make it work, especially with magniX as our partner.
Do you remember your first solo? Vaguely. When my instructor pulled over on the tarmac and got out of the aircraft, for a couple of moments I felt very lonely in the aeroplane. Then I just got on with it. I was probably excited and thrilled, and I don’t remember being scared during that flight. During my first floatplane solo, I remember dropping the instructor off on a deserted beach somewhere and thinking, ‘What would he do if something went wrong? Swim to the rescue’? Afterwards, when I became a floatplane
How did your first electric flight go? As it was a quick flight and I had some radio issues, I didn’t have much time to focus on the aircraft’s performance. However, I did notice more power and torque. The aircraft got off the water much quicker. I actually had to throttle it back to lift off at the proper spot in front of the audience. It was also way quieter. Taxying into the dock, I realised how many
“E-flying is a natural move, it makes sense technologically, economically and environmentally” 36 | FLYER | July 2020
spectators there were. People were clapping and treating it as a big very deal. It was almost like a Wright brothers’ moment. What are your plans for the future? We want to convert our entire fleet. Electric flying has so many advantages. The amount of maintenance that needs to be done on an electric motor is virtually nil, there’s no jet fuel to purchase and no carbon footprint. The operating economics are radically different. We’re currently in the very first stage of the certification process. We have to prove our system is as safe, or safer, than the technology that’s currently in a piston engine, but we don’t exactly know what the goalposts are or how long it’ll take, as nobody has done this before. Aerospace is notoriously slow in its developments, but because of the support and media attention, we believe we’ll get it done in two years. So we’ll all be e-flying in 2030? Yes! There’s way too much research and investment being done into this technology for this not to be the case. It’s unstoppable. We’ll probably go hybrid first on long range flights, but in 10 years’ time there’ll be commercial electric flights everywhere. All major firms have programmes for electrified flight and the urban air mobility movement is huge. Eventually we’ll have automatically operated vehicles taking off vertically from rooftops. We’re already doing harbour-to-harbour with our airline. E-flying is a natural move, it makes sense technologically, economically and environmentally. What does flying mean to you? It’s my passion. Some people, like me, are genetically programmed to be drawn to aviation. In summer, I fly out to that same cabin my dad built in 1947, to be in the wilderness. I love this aspect of getting away from it all.
The all carbon high performance DA50
available soon from Gemstone Aviation
Sole distributor of Diamond AircraA and Stemme in the UK and Ireland Gemstone Avia6on Ltd
+44 1777 805 001
GA Response to COVID-19
Flying’s fight to help beat COVID-19 General Aviation pilots aren’t allowed to fly, in the main, but that hasn’t stopped the industry doing what it can to help the world effort in a bid to cope with COVID-19. From private pilots making emergency deliveries to manufacturers switching to produce PPE…
hen pilot David Whitcombe took a call from Neil Boyles, operational manager at Horizon Aircraft Services at St Athan, asking whether he was up for making an emergency delivery of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to Belfast, he didn’t hesitate. Neither did Neil, Jason Davidson, Arron Jones and Nathan Mahoney. The pilots convened at St Athan, where David keeps his Piper Seneca 3 twin, and the five pilots loaded their aircraft with PPE that had come from a local NHS warehouse.
38 | FLYER | July 2020
First though they removed all the seats bar the pilot’s – of course, they all flew alone – and carefully loaded to keep the weight & balance within limits. Horizon, as well as being a flying club is also an EASA-approved maintenance organisation so they checked over the aircraft thoroughly. Neil also checked with the CAA and secured approval for a one-off flight. “The flight was very quiet – no traffic at all,” said David. “Belfast stayed open until 3pm for us, three hours later than its current closing time under C-19 restrictions, and a NHS van met us to collect the PPE.” There’s a very good reason David said ‘yes’. Earlier this year he almost died from C-19. David, who runs a refrigeration business, said, “I was the ideal pilot for the flight. I’ve had the virus so I’m
Above David Whitcombe and his Piper Seneca 3 at St Athan
hoping I can’t catch it again. It started with flu-like symptoms, then I had no sense of taste. I’m never ill usually so I thought I’d just sail through it, but no. “One night I could hardly breathe and I started to get chest pains. My wife calmed me down and I went to the hospital where I was given oxygen. I didn’t stay in, although I could only walk three of four paces at a time. Even in my dreams I thought I was dying… it was a nightmare. But I gradually got better and fitter.” David has 4,000 hours flying, holds an Instrument Rating and is a member of PPL/IR and AOPA. He admits to being a super-keen pilot. “I fly all over the place, he said. “I sold my last aeroplane to a chap in Israel and flew it there for him.”
Sky Watch to the rescue
A former Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm pilot flew an urgent mission in his Van’s RV-7 aircraft in April to support the national battle against coronavirus. Paul Stone, 53, and now a civilian pilot, recently joined the Sky Watch Civil Air Patrol, a national charity that comprises pilots, observers and supporters who provide air support to UK agencies. Responding to a short notice request, Paul flew his RV-7 from Blackpool Airport, close to his home in Lytham, to Oxford Airport and then on to Beverley Airfield, near Hull. The flight was to provide urgently needed parts to a ventilator manufacturer. From phone call to delivery completion, the task was completed in 3 hours 30 minutes. “It was an incredible piece of teamwork,” said Paul, a test pilot and former Director of Flight Operations at BAE Systems. “Today would not have been possible without the exceptional support from Eddie Clare at High-G,
Blackpool, Manchester, Birmingham and Doncaster Air Traffic Services, Oxford Airport and Colin Hazel who opened his grass runway at Beverley Airfield at short notice,” he added. With the minimum number of people required to prepare and fly the aeroplanes, the Sky Watch Civil Air Patrol believes its fleet of aircraft is a cost-efficient and effective way of supporting the C-19 emergency effort. Paul added, “I think this provides the government with another solution on how to transport smaller loads around the country at pace.” Sky Watch is also helping deliver C-19 test materials around the Highlands & Islands of Scotland. They had a practice flight in late April, again with CAA permission and oversight, with a Cougar GA-7 twin flying from Stornoway to Barra and Benbecula, delivering the essential materials. Sky Watch chief pilot Archie Liggat said, “The operation was a very straightforward flight for this aircraft. It follows a significant amount of planning in the background between Sky Watch, local resilience forums and NHS planning teams. “It’s important to note that all Sky Watch flying activity involves a high degree of preparation and planning, with all crews and aircraft appropriately certified and insured. As a result of this, today’s operation was also specifically agreed in advance with the Civil Aviation Authority and involved additional safety measures.” NHS Western Isles chief executive Gordon Jamieson, said, “As we face the unprecedented challenge of COVID-19, we have had to rapidly develop and implement new ways of working. Sky Watch is another fine example of one of the many organisations and individuals stepping forward to assist us.”
Top left Paul Stone who flew his Van’s RV-7 to transport muchneeded ventilator parts Top David Whitcombe’s Seneca being loaded with PPE Above middle Sky Watch trials with the Scottish NHS meant landing at Barra Above Four of the aircraft that made the PPE delivery flight from St Athan to Belfast
July 2020 | FLYER | 39
GA Response to COVID-19
OEMs swing into PPE production
any of the OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) in aviation have diverted resources towards designing and producing equipment to help hospitals deal with C-19. One of the first to rise to the occasion was Piper Aircraft which is making PPE to help support its local hospital, Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital. The manufacturing engineering team at Piper Aircraft designed a prototype face shield with off-theshelf materials such as plastic, industrial tape, foam and elastic. With the prototype approved, the team sourced necessary materials and created a manufacturing line in the Piper factory. Piper has the ability to produce thousands of face shields daily. “This is a critical time for our community, our country and the world,” said James Funk, Piper’s chief operations officer. “It is a time for action, co-operation and collaboration. “As a team, we can make a difference for people in need and directly support those fighting the battle on the front lines of this unprecedented crisis. This is just one small way that we are trying to help.” In addition, Piper is donating a further 1,300 approved masks to the hospital.
Italian aircraft manufacturer Tecnam has also designed a face shield for Italy’s Phase 2 of the lockdown, where certain activities are permitted only when using adequate protective devices. 40 | FLYER | July 2020
The Tecnam Research and Development team created an innovative face shield (the Tecnam Face Shield, TFS) with a multipurpose solution to protect the eyes and airways against droplets and sprays of fluids containing biological agents, while also protecting the nose and mouth from direct inhalation of biological matter that may contain the coronavirus. Tecnam is also developing a range of variants to provide protection for the company’s pilots, passengers, flight instructors and flight school. The main features of the TFS are: ■ Full protection for face: eyes, nose and mouth ■ Reusable and recyclable ■ Comfortable and ergonomic ■ Able to be used while wearing spectacles ■ Latex free and solvent free ■ Washable and can be sterilised using ethylene oxide ■ A surgical or FFP mask can be accommodated beneath the device. Tecnam’s managing director Giovanni Pascale said, “In difficult times like these, companies such as Tecnam need to do their part. Protecting our first responders and healthcare workers has never been more important. “We are also pleased to provide a transparent device able to let everyone’s smile be visible once again! “Last but not least, we hope this will contribute to a quick return to flight activities for our pilots, passengers and flight-training organisations.”
Above A Piper worker demonstrating the PPE that the Florida company designed and started manufacturing within days Below Tecnam also responded by designing and manufacturing this transparent face shield for Italy’s Phase 2 of lockdown
Left Helicopters across the UK’s military are on standby to deliver urgent supplies. This is an RAF Puma Below middle right Loganair Twin Otter converted to take an isolation pod Bottom right Airbus helicopter fleet in action across Europe Bottom left Exeterbased Capital Air has portable isolation units for its air ambulance fleet Middle left Cirrus delivering PPE to local hospitals
Cirrus gets pure
Cirrus started with donations of PPE to its local hospitals while it was developing not only an easily-assembled face shield but also an air purifier, working with a local manufacturer, Frost River Trading. “Over the last few days, our experimental team has assembled 31,500 face shields for the local medical community,” said a company spokesperson. “These face shields were made possible from materials provided by Frost River Trading and our team’s steady work. As a disposable shield, they are a critical need and a simple and effective tool to protect healthcare workers.” “Of even greater need are Powered Air Purifying Respirators (PAPR) – battery-powered blowers that provide positive airflow through a filter to a hood that protects healthcare workers from contaminated air. “At the moment, these units are in extremely high demand with traditional medical supply options limited. Our team, along with Frost River Trading, quickly got to work prototyping equipment to meet this need, with 850 hood and coupler assemblies to be created in the next week. “At the heart of creating full PAPR units, is a project to recreate the blower units available at area hospitals, which are in short supply. Our engineers have designed, prototyped and tested a replacement assembly using computer aided design (CAD) software as well as 3D printing. “The design our team came up with costs a fraction of
the typical unit supplied to hospitals. The newly prototyped design will be tested in the coming weeks. If approved, Cirrus Aircraft is set to provide nearly 200 blower assemblies.”
Many other aviation companies have also pitched in, including: Loganair: Working with the Scottish ambulance service, they converted a Twin Otter into an air ambulance with Epishuttle isolation pods for the safe carriage of C-19 patients by air. It will be used to service remote islands such as Barra. Capital Air Ambulance: The Exeter based specialist now has a Portable Isolation Unit (PIU) fully operational. The PIU is a self-contained negative pressure device for safe transfer of patients with contagious, infective diseases, such as C-19. Textron: Face masks. Honeywell: N95 face masks. Airbus Helicopters: Working with other companies including Rolls-Royce, Ford, BAE Systems and GKN to produce 10,000 medical ventilators for the NHS. Ministry of Defence: The Joint Helicopter Command ( JHC) has established an Aviation Task Force which is on standby to provide aviation support to civil authorities. Royal Navy Merlins, Army Air Corps Wildcats and RAF Pumas and Chinooks will provide medical evacuation as well as deliver essential equipment and personnel across the UK. July 2020 | FLYER | 41
GA Response to COVID-19
learly, social distancing in the cockpit of a light aircraft between a student pilot and instructor simply isn’t possible – and anyway, current government restrictions on General Aviation prohibit non-essential flights. That hasn’t stopped flight schools coming up with innovative ways to continue to train pilots, albeit not in the air but the ‘virtual classroom’ or via distance learning. Among the GA manufacturers, Pipistrel has made all of its computer-based training courses free of charge and online for anyone to use for three months. “We hope this will motivate non-flying pilots as well as student pilots and flight instructors to stay connected to their passion and learn more every day,” said the Slovenian company. “Anybody, whether student pilot, pilot, flight instructor or aviation enthusiast, flying clubs or flight schools can apply and join the online course free-of-charge for a period of three months, from April 2020 until end of June 2020. “This unique offer is available worldwide to all, including to non-pilots who are interested in aviation.” The online courses will help to refresh and revise the theoretical knowledge required to fly and learn the specifics about modern the Pipistrel aircraft series, including the Alpha Electro electric aircraft. Normally the online course fee is €147.30 for 14 days or €247.30 for a permanent subscription. Courses can be accessed from anywhere in the world by laptop, tablet or mobile phone. You can register for an online course here and create a new account: www.pipistrel-online.com As an incentive, anyone who successfully finishes an online training course will receive a voucher for a free demo flight in a Pipistrel aircraft.
Cirrus Aircraft has its own online training portal called Cirrus Approach where it offers courses on all its aircraft 42 | FLYER | July 2020
and their systems, as well as pilot training. As you’d expect with Cirrus, it’s highly professional, slick, fun and well illustrated with stills, video, animations and technical images. They’re also running a series of webinars and ‘bite-sized flight training shows’ called ‘Flight Fix’ which are free here: www.cirrusapproach.com/flight-fix/
For Approved Training Organisations running training courses for would-be professional pilots, it’s an especially difficult time. They have students part-way through both integrated (full-time) and modular (part-time) courses, students about to graduate, students taking their first
Above Skyborne’s Diamond DA42 simulator Below Pipistrel is offering free online training but you’ll have to wait before being able to use the company’s X-Alpha simulator
steps and, of course, students who have just shelled out a huge sum of money, many taking out loans along the way, now facing a difficult job future. For many, the answer is to offer distance learning using materials such as the courses offered by Padpilot and Bristol Ground School, while others, such as Leading Edge Aviation and Cat3C, are offering online classroom instruction using video-conferencing such as Zoom. The benefit is that students can ask questions of the instructor during the lesson and thus avoid getting stuck on a particular point. CATS Aviation Training has launched its own TV station using YouTube which works with its existing web-based training. Skyborne Airline Academy, which has just reached its first year of operation, is launching a Skills Continuation Training programme to support graduates should they experience delays in securing an airline job. The refresher training provides continuous support and mentoring by an experienced flight instructor and two hours of instructor-led training in Skyborne’s Diamond DA42 simulator every three months. Skyborne will also cover the cost of its graduates’ first Instrument Rating (IR) revalidation (required one year after completing original IR). Lee Woodward, CEO of Skyborne, said, “We want to ensure Skyborne is doing everything it can to help the aviation industry in this current uncertain phase. “Our Skills Continuation Training policy is designed to support graduates by helping them to maintain their skills and keep them fully prepared for airline selection, which will resume. Trainees entering our Integrated ATPL course today will be supported until the end of 2022.” Cambridge-based VA Airline Training (VA) has also announced a series of measures to support its trainee pilots which include competency refresher training free of charge, a number of bursaries and flexible start dates. Anthony Petteford, MD of VA Airline Training, said, “The current situation is difficult for everyone. We empathise with those pilots who are nearing the final phases of their training but facing flight training delays and additional financial challenges. We will do what we can to support and help them achieve their APS MCC certificate so that they are genuinely airline ready when the recovery does come.”
Left and below Cirrus offers online training for all its aircraft and has also started ‘Flight Fix’ on its Cirrus Approach portal
Left Padpilot offers ATPL training through distance learning Below Skyborne’s 737 simulator Below left Cat3C is one of several ATOs offerng virtual classrooms using video-conferencing
July 2020 | FLYER | 43
The right stuff
he 30-minute maintenance flight that’s now allowed (see news p8) comes with a set of rules and conditions. However, there have been a couple of instances reported where pilots have, er, stretched the letter of the law. Going off for an hour to write ‘NHS’ on FlightRadar24 might seem like a good thing to do but you can expect to hear from the CAA afterwards. No such digression from Dom Wilkinson of Swindon, who took out his absolutely stunning 1962 Beagle Auster Terrier for an essential maintenance flight from Oaksey Park Airfield where it’s based. The Terrier is fitted with a 145hp de Havilland Gipsy Major 10 engine which, for obvious reasons, Dom is keen to keep in prime condition. “G-ASCH had not been flown for six months, but it had a six-monthly service in March, so it was essential that it had an engine run and 30-minute maintenance flight,” said Dom. “The flight was carried out in line with the CAA directive for GA maintenance flights, which means I stayed within 10nm of Oaksey Park Airfield and the flight only lasted 30 minutes. “I had a fantastic time, so great to finally get flying, if only for 30 minutes. We need to be grateful for little things these days. Can’t wait for things to get back to normal.”
44 | FLYER | July 2020
The maintenance check flight is just one of a number of regulatory issues that have been prompted by C-19, with behind-the-scenes work by the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) to make it happen. There have also been extensions to licences and ratings which are quite confusing to understand given the official language they are written in. So AOPA has come up with a couple of useful online aids. The first is the Online Simplified Guide Tool. “These documents are not easy to follow for the typical pilot, and even test the professionals at times,” said Martin Robinson of AOPA. “To assist your understanding we have created this simplified guide tool on the AOPA website: https://bit.ly/AOPAtool “Some extensions require you to have a briefing with an instructor or examiner, qualified to give the briefing, which can be carried out remotely. We can offer this service if you have no other options. Other than asking for a charitable donation to the good causes mentioned in the guidance notes it is free.” Here’s the webpage: https://bit.ly/AOPAbriefing
Top Dom’s absolutely stunning Beagle Auster Terrier, based at the equally stunning Oaksey Park Above Dom Wilkinson took care to stay within the CAA rules Below Dom’s flight on FlightRadar24 – exactly as you should do it Left Great to be flying again!
Safety Accident Analysis
Attention to detail
Even with a checklist, all pilots are susceptible to mistakes. But as Joe Fournier reports, regardless of checklists, taking time to review the items that you can’t get along without is time well spent…
The pilot reported that, before the accident flight, he repositioned the aeroplane uneventfully from an airport about 20 miles away. Before take-off, on the accident flight, the pilot performed an engine run-up and verified that all flight controls were free and correct. The pilot then initiated a soft field take-off procedure on a bumpy grass runway. The aeroplane became airborne in ground effect at about 45kt, and it then began to climb out of ground effect at 60kt. At that time, the aeroplane’s nose pitched up abruptly, and the pilot pushed the yoke forward as hard as he could, while engaging nose-down electric elevator trim. However, the aeroplane continued to climb at an excessive angle of attack and subsequently stalled. The aeroplane then rolled left, descended to the ground and came to rest inverted. Neither passenger could recall whether the pilot conducted any type of control check or engine run-up before take-off. Examination of the wreckage did not reveal evidence of any pre-impact mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation. The elevator trim tab was found in a midrange, nose-down position, consistent with the pilot’s statement that he was trimming nose-down in an attempt to
recover from the loss of control on take-off. The ‘before take-off, run-up’ checklist stated that the elevator should be trimmed to 2° nose-down for take-off. Given that the aeroplane pitched up abruptly as it began to climb out of ground effect, it is likely that the pilot landed after the previous flight with a nose-up elevator trim setting and that he did not properly reset the elevator trim before take-off for the accident flight in accordance with the ‘before take-off, run-up’ checklist, which resulted in an exceedance of the aeroplane’s critical angle of attack during take-off and the subsequent aerodynamic stall.
Air traffic control tower personnel saw the aeroplane lift off the runway and attain an altitude of about 100ft. A pilot approaching the runway for landing saw the aeroplane lift off and noticed it was not climbing. He saw the aeroplane ‘lagging’ and ‘wallowing in the air with flaps extended’. Shortly after, the accident pilot advised an air traffic controller that he was ‘a little overweight’ and would need to return to the airport and land. The air traffic controller cleared the aeroplane to land on the parallel runway or the grass area surrounding the runways. The pilot did not respond. Several witnesses near the airport, including the pilot in the landing aeroplane, saw the accident aircraft hit the ground and burst into flames. A post-accident examination revealed that the wing flaps were fully extended (40°). Weight and balance calculations indicated the aeroplane was slightly under maximum gross weight. Postaccident examinations revealed no
“The checklist stated that the elevator should be trimmed to 2° nose-down for take-off” 46 | FLYER | July 2020
evidence of pre-impact mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation. The pilot received his private pilot certificate almost two months before the accident and had flown a Cirrus SR20 almost exclusively. He reportedly had flown the Cessna 172, the accident aeroplane make and model, for a few hours, but this report could not be confirmed. Cirrus SR20 take-offs are normally made using 50 per cent flaps, whereas Cessna 172 take-offs are normally made with the flaps up. The pilot most likely configured the aeroplane incorrectly for take-off and the aircraft was unable to climb due to the pilot’s lack of familiarity with the aeroplane make and model.
The commander intended to fly the aircraft from Anguilla Wallblake International Airport (AXA) to the neighbouring island of St Maarten (SXM) to await cargo inbound on another flight. The cabin of the aircraft was configured for cargo operations with no passenger seats fitted, as the only other planned occupant was the operator’s chief engineer, who would be sitting beside the commander in the right-hand seat. However, the commander asked the operator if he could take a family member with him to SXM. The operator agreed and fitted an extra seat. Witnesses stated that the commander appeared ‘rushed’ prior to departure. The commander stated that he partially carried out the normal pre-flight inspection. He then started the engines. Before taxying he realised that the nose landing gear chocks were still in place so he shut down the left-hand engine, removed and stowed the chocks and then restarted the left engine. The aircraft took off from Runway 10 at 1415. At between 100ft and 150ft, the commander initiated a left turn but after some initial movement, the ailerons jammed. When he discovered that he was unable to straighten the ailerons he attempted to return to land on
ur before-start, run-up and pre-take-off checklists more than likely have dozens of items on them. While we may need to accomplish a great number of items to operate perfectly, there are just a few things that are nearly guaranteed to end a flight only moments after starting it.
Runway 10. The other flight controls did not appear to be restricted. With the ailerons jammed, the aircraft continued to turn to the left, losing altitude as it flew over a settlement to the north of the aerodrome until pointed directly at the Air Traffic Control tower, causing the Air Traffic Control Officer (ATCO) to abandon the tower. The commander judged that the aircraft was too fast and high to attempt a landing and therefore initiated a go-around, applying full power. He continued the left turn, losing height and speed to position the aircraft for another approach but, as the aircraft descended over the northern edge of the runway, its left wing struck the perimeter fence. On impact, the aircraft spun about its vertical axis with its wings level and continued sliding sideways on its right side for about 80ft before coming to rest facing north-west. The commander made a radio call to inform ATC that everyone on board was safe. The aircraft was substantially damaged but there was no fire or obvious fuel leakage and no serious injuries to the three occupants. On vacating the aircraft the commander noticed that the left aileron gust lock was still in place between the inboard section of the aileron and the fixed trailing edge of the wing. Examination of the left aileron and trailing edge revealed damage that was inconsistent with the impact sequence, indicating that the aileron and trailing edge had been deformed by an external object. There were no indications of an internal defect that would have contributed to jamming of the aileron. A review of the technical logbook and previous aircraft scheduled maintenance work pack covering the previous 12 months did not reveal any irregularities. Further inspection of the aileron gust lock revealed that it was not the type supplied by the aircraft manufacturer, which comprises two plates that clamp the aileron from above and below to prevent movement. The gustlock in use was a triangular metal cap positioned over the trailing edges of the wing and aileron and secured with a bungee cord. A hood on the opposite end of the bungee cord formed the pitot/static head cover. As the aileron gust lock had remained in place, so had the pitot/static cover, rendering the altitude, airspeed and rate of climb instruments unreliable.
A Beechcraft D35 was substantially damaged during a forced landing after
“Witnesses stated that the commander appeared ‘rushed’ prior to departure” take-off from the Vine Grove Airport, Vine Grove, Kentucky. The private pilot was not injured. The pilot reported that he intended to conduct some ‘pattern work’. He conducted a pre-flight inspection of the aeroplane, visually checked the fuel in the left and right fuel tanks and estimated that they each contained 15 gallons. The aeroplane was equipped with a 20-gallon auxiliary fuel tank but the pilot reported that its fuel quantity could not be checked visually. The pilot started the engine, taxied to the run-up area and performed the before take-off checklist items, with no anomalies noted. He then taxied to the active runway and configured the aeroplane for take-off. During the climb-out, about 150ft above ground level, the engine ‘quit’. He did not have enough altitude to return to the airport, or time to attempt an engine restart or make any radio calls. He subsequently performed an emergency, off-airport landing on a road. Examination of the aeroplane revealed that the right wing and firewall were buckled. The left main wing fuel tank had an undetermined amount of fuel. Fuel samples were taken from the left main wing tank and the fuselage auxiliary tank. The samples appeared to be clear with no water or debris noted. The right wing fuel tank was breached
and the fuel quick drain valve was jammed. The smell of fuel in and around the aeroplane was noted. The fuel selector was moved from the off position and back to the auxiliary position, and when the fuel supply line was removed from the carburettor, very little fuel exited. The fuel strainer was removed and a very small amount of fuel came out, it was inspected and found to be free of debris. The auxiliary fuel tank drain valve was removed and about one gallon of fuel drained out. After the examination of the aircraft, the pilot reported, “The D35 has only one fuel gauge and two switches used to select the tank indicated. The fuel selector has four positions, left, right, auxiliary and off. You can have the fuel selector on the auxiliary tank and the fuel indicator on a different tank. It is possible that I mistakenly verified the fuel level in the auxiliary tank with the indicator set to one of the main tanks.” The pilot stated that he did not remember which fuel tank he had selected before take-off. According to the limitations section of the D35 POH: ‘Use auxiliary fuel in level flight only and do not use for take-off or landing. Use at least 10 gallons from the left main tank before use of auxiliary fuel or right main tank’.
Flight controls, fuel, trim and flaps. As long as those items are sorted, the average or even below average pilot can probably manage most of what a typical flight may have in store. These items are so critical that transport category aircraft, as well as many newer turbine aircraft types, check some or all of these items early in the take-off roll. Forget one and the aircraft will sound a warning reminding you to pay attention to the things that matter. Of course, as it usually is on the lighter side of aviation, we are left to sort these items out for ourselves. One approach might be to say that the closer one gets to the runway, the less important the details are and the more important the overall picture. As one co-worker from long ago was fond of saying, “Measure with a micrometer, mark it with chalk, cut with a Boeing.” Which I took as him saying that we spent too much time fretting over details that didn’t amount to much. If you are of the opinion that a checklist must be detailed to the nth degree, I won’t try to change your mind so much as to remind you to not lose sight of the forest for the trees. We are all human and even with a checklist we are vulnerable to errors. Regardless of what checklists may or may not have been done, and regardless of their detail, a couple of moments reviewing the items that you can’t get by without is time well spent. July 2020 | FLYER | 47
Safety Accident Reports
Maintenance matters Joe Fournier summarises and comments on accident reports from around the world and looks at Aithre’s Smart Monitor, which helps safeguard the health of the pilot
Where there’s smoke… Guimbal Cabri G2 G-CILR Wycombe Air Park Injuries: None
The helicopter had flown from Dunkeswell, Devon, to Wycombe Air Park, Buckinghamshire. As the pilot was shutting down the helicopter, he noticed smoke emanating from the left side of the rotor mast. He evacuated the helicopter and tried, unsuccessfully, to extinguish the fire with the helicopter’s on-board fire extinguisher. The helicopter was destroyed. Examination of the wreckage identified that the electrical cable connecting the alternator to the starter relay had short-circuited against the aluminium baffle that surrounds the engine, probably as a result of the cable clips being incorrectly fitted. As a result of this investigation, the helicopter manufacturer issued a service bulletin to instruct operators to inspect for correct installation of the cable clips and has also completed a redesign of the clips to ensure they cannot be fitted incorrectly. Comment When we think of maintenance errors, our mind often jumps to inadequately rigged controls, fasteners improperly torqued or other gross errors. But a 10p clip can be as important as a major structural component in some circumstances.
… there is fire Cirrus SR22 N818GM Addison, TX Injuries: None
The private pilot and flight instructor were conducting a cross-country instructional
flight. During departure and while climbing through 2,800ft mean sea level, the pilot and instructor noticed multiple avionics malfunctions and initiated a turn back towards the airport. While the aeroplane was turning, the engine lost all power and the pilots noted indications of a fire. Because they were unable to find a suitable area for a forced landing, the pilot activated the aeroplane’s parachute system. The aeroplane descended under the parachute into a parking lot. Examination of the engine revealed that the engine exhaust muffler attachment hardware was not secured correctly, which allowed the exhaust collector to freely rotate. A hole near the lower right engine cowling was consistent with escaping hot exhaust gas. Several components in the right forward side of the firewall were thermally damaged, and both magneto p-leads were shorted against the engine’s metal mount frame. The thermal damage interrupted both magnetos’ function, which resulted in the loss of engine power. During a pre-buy inspection of the aeroplane, the No 1 cylinder base O-ring was replaced. The work order, dated three days before the accident, required removal of the muffler. During the muffler reinstallation, maintenance personnel likely did not correctly install the attachment hardware, which resulted in the muffler separating in flight, thermal damage that interrupted the magnetos’ function and the subsequent loss of engine power. NTSB Probable cause Maintenance personnel’s improper installation of the muffler attachment hardware Comment After any maintenance, anything that may have been moved,
“Thermal damage from escaping exhaust gas interrupted the magnetos’ function” 48 | FLYER | July 2020
adjusted or otherwise touched should be treated with a bit of suspicion for a time. Over the next few flights, an extra careful pre-flight inspection might just be time well spent.
Unscheduled departure Pitts S2-B F-GEAL Meaux Esbly, France Injuries: None
The pilot of a Pitts S2-B took off for an aerobatic flight during which he performed several figures, leading to a rapid variation in the orientation of the axis of rotation of the propeller. Returning from the flight, on the downwind leg, the pilot felt vibrations which increased in intensity. He reduced engine power and declared an emergency. The assembly formed by the propeller and part of the crankshaft separated from the engine and struck the fin. Observing the appearance of smoke and the presence of oil on the windscreen of the aeroplane, the pilot shut down the engine and performed a forced landing. The accident resulted from progressive fatigue cracking and then the rupture of the crankshaft due to the propeller applying rotational bending loads to the crankshaft during certain aerobatic manoeuvres. The investigation showed that the combination of Lycoming AEIO-540 engines and Hartzell two-blade metal propellers, when used in aerobatic flights comprising certain manoeuvres with a strong gyroscopic effect, constituted a higher risk factor of crankshaft rupture. In 1988, the engine manufacturer, Lycoming, issued a Service Bulletin (SB) recommending a visual inspection of all the crankshaft area situated between the oil seal and propeller flange. This inspection, which must take place every 10 hours of aerobatic flight including figures in the ‘unlimited’ category, requires the removal of the propeller, starter ring gear and oil seal. The complexity, frequent repetition and time required to carry out the tasks specified by this SB make its application
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Safety Accident Reports restrictive and the operators consider it unrealistic. This SB did not give rise to the publication of an Airworthiness Directive (AD) by the FAA, primary certification authority of the aeroplane, engine and propeller. The Australian and New Zealand civil aviation authorities imposed compliance with this SB by issuing an Airworthiness Directive. The BEA has recorded several accidents similar to that of F-GEAL, concerning aerobatic aeroplanes equipped with a Lycoming engine and two-blade metal propellers. It is probable that their operators were not aware of this SB. The inspection specified by this SB was not carried out on F-GEAL. BEA Recommendation Without waiting for action by the FAA, EASA inform the operators of aeroplanes equipped with the engines concerned by Lycoming Service Bulletin No 482 and Hartzell two-blade metal propellers of the risks of crankshaft rupture associated with ‘unlimited’ type aerobatic manoeuvres.
Soft planning Piper PA38 N6400A Taylor, TX Injuries: None
The flight instructor and student pilot were conducting a training flight, which included touch-and-go landings. During the landing rollout and with about 2,000ft of runway remaining, the instructor directed the student to transition to a soft-field take-off. The student conducted the take-off and attempted to climb with a high pitch attitude, but the aeroplane settled back to the ground off the end of the runway. The aircraft subsequently impacted a ditch, which resulted in substantial damage to the fuselage. The instructor reported that the pitch attitude during the climb out was too high and that he should not have directed the student to attempt a soft-field take-off given the runway distance remaining. NTSB Probable cause The flight instructor’s poor supervision of the student’s soft-field take-off, resulting in an excessive pitch attitude, settling effect and impact with a ditch off the end of the runway. Comment When training, it’s worthwhile to ask if what you are doing represents a situation you might experience. Soft-field take-offs are certainly a skill we all need to practise, but doing it from a touch-and-go isn’t terribly representative of how it will occur in real life. 50 | FLYER | July 2020
“Instead of going around, the pilot decided to try and save the landing” Laid back
Fight or flight
Arlington, Washington, USA
Post Mills, Vermont, USA
The pilot reported that he had the seat all the way back and that he was checking the weather, as he planned to perform a 10-minute-long engine warm-up. After five minutes, he noticed that the engine rpm increased from 800 to 1,200. He recalled that when he noticed the increase in engine rpm, he was about to adjust the throttle, but the aeroplane began to roll and collided with a hangar. The pilot added that the accident could have been prevented by keeping his feet on the brakes during the engine warm-up. The aeroplane sustained substantial damage to the left wing. NTSB Probable cause The pilot’s distraction during the engine warm-up, which resulted in the aeroplane’s collision with a hangar. Comment Some pilots learn to not trust a parking brake from their instructor, others learn by watching others and some learn for themselves.
The pilot of the tailwheel-equipped aeroplane reported that, during landing on a grass strip, the aeroplane bounced and he subsequently performed a successful go-around. On the second landing attempt, shortly after touchdown, the aeroplane bounced again and instead of going around, he ‘decided to try to save the landing’. Shortly after the aeroplane stopped bouncing, it veered left, exited the runway to the left and impacted trees. NTSB Probable cause The pilot’s failure to maintain directional control during landing, which resulted in a runway excursion and subsequent impact with trees. Comment Bounced landings rarely get better with a lot of fixing. The earlier that the decision is made to go-around, the easier it will be and success more likely.
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Intrigued by tales of club members flying across remote lands, Paul Bass decided he would take a trip to a small country wedged between Ukraine and Romania – the seldom visited Moldova…
Mission to Moldova
52 | FLYER | July 2020
nder a bright blue sky in August 2019, I climb out of G-JG, my silver-winged EV97 Eurostar, at Vadul lui Voda Airfield in Moldova. The air is dry and warm and the airfield, perched on a plateau, has 360˚ views. I feel a mix of mental exhaustion, exhilaration and amazement at how far I am from home. I have six different currencies in my wallet: Transnistrian rubles, Hungarian forints, British pounds, euros, Romanian leu and Moldovan leu. Two years previously, my airfield’s doctor told me that some club members flew to Romania. He relayed the stories of their flight, and the non-existent infrastructure for light aircraft at that time. I was intrigued. My imagination became infused with thoughts of selfsufficiently flying over remote, relatively inhospitable lands. In June 2019 I started planning a route to Moldova, taking in France, Germany, Austria, Hungary and Romania.
Day 1: Sherburn-in-Elmet Airfield to Speyer (Germany)
Fair-weather, puffy white clouds drift through the sky in a light wind. The sun warms my face while I distribute my belongings between the footwell, parcel shelf and passenger seat. Two hours and 23 minutes later, I am pulling up in front of the newly revamped art deco restaurant at Calais-Dunkerque Airport. I grab a quick coffee while planning the next leg. In just over an hour, I’m airborne again. I’ve decided to blast across France and directly to Speyer in Germany, 331 miles away. A 24mph tailwind carries me to the German border. Below me, the Palatinate Forest stretches for miles and miles… I scan for emergency landing areas, but they’re few and far between. At last I clear the edge of the mountains. When I approach Speyer’s gigantic 1,677m runway, the Romanesque-era cathedral passes beneath my right wingtip. Underneath me, an almost drinkable-looking blue-green river winds through the city, its surface sparkling in the sun. As I land, it’s exactly 6.25pm, and within minutes I’m on a pleasant 2km cycle into Speyer on my Brompton in the warm evening air.
Days 2 & 3: Speyer (Germany) to Wels (Austria), day trip to Heidelberg
I fly low on the approach into Wels and have a fantastic view of coloured houses and rolling valleys. When I touch down, it’s very murky to the east. Church bells chime in the distance as the sun slips lower in the sky. I stay in a guest house with yellowing walls... Consequently, the following day, it is 6am when I leap out of bed, and before too long I am at the airfield gates waiting for them to open. I ring Szeged Airfield, 314 miles away in Hungary, on the Romanian border, to check that I can land. July 2020 | FLYER | 53
Previous page Carpathian Mountains, Romania Above Speyer Airfield Right Heidelberg Castle behind me Below left Arad Airport Below right Following A1 / M43 through Romania
54 | FLYER | July 2020
Day 4: Wels (Austria) to Szeged (Hungary)
As soon as I cross the Hungarian border, I feel as if I’m in another world. Countryside stretches as far as the eye can see and there is barely a village in sight. It’s even sparser than I imagined. Very occasionally, I pass an airfield, and I feel glad that I got everything triplechecked before I left. The further east I travel, the warmer and drier the air becomes. Then, like a shimmering mirage, Lake Balaton appears. Even in the distance it looks more like the sea than a lake, and after a quick finger measurement on SkyDemon, I determine that it’s six miles across. After a pit-stop in Siófok, I arrive in Szeged, on the Hungarian border with Romania, rocked by gentle thermals. The voice on the radio asks, “What is your next destination?” “Arad in Romania,” I reply. “I’m flying there tomorrow.” There is a pregnant pause before the man replies: “You probably won’t be. We can speak in a minute, off the radio.” I’m wondering what I might have done wrong and go to the ATC tower. The man I’ve been speaking to, Szabo, tells me that I should give 72 hours’ notice to the local police as I’m leaving a Schengen area to fly into Romania, a non-Schengen country. A quick phone call to the police and I’m in luck – they have time to do their checks tomorrow at 11am, meaning I can leave for Arad.
Day 5: Szeged (Hungary) to Arad and Sibiu (Transylvania, Romania)
When the police arrive at 11am prompt, I’m already fuelled-up and ready to go. One of them taps my passport details into an app on his mobile phone. This is the first time on the trip that I’ve had to show my passport. I climb away in 31°C heat and even with all the vents open, it feels like a sauna as sweat drips off my eyelids. Peering down, I see that the police wait until I’ve gone before they leave. I wonder what the Hungarian/Romanian border might look like, but then it becomes startlingly obvious. The only road I can see for miles has a long traffic jam on the Romanian side in the truck lane. The chart tells me that the road in Hungary is called the M43, on the Romanian side it’s called the A1. I’m astonished at how beautiful a treeless countryside can be. The kaleidoscope of varying shades of burnt yellow and brown fields is dazzling. As I approach Arad, Communist-era apartment blocks pepper the skyline to my left. Even though I land like a feather, the tyres squeak in the heat. I peer down, and my engine oil is a sizzling 110°C, which is the first time I’ve seen it that hot. The team comes out and greets me. Everyone is so friendly and energetic that it already feels like we speak a common language. After I’ve filed my flight plan, the team tells me that there’s an annual medieval festival at the weekend in Sibiu, which is one of the seven original medieval citadel towns of Romania. When I set off again, I’m clear of the city and flying
“As soon as I cross the Hungarian border, I feel as if I’m in another world. Countryside stretches as far as the eye can see. It’s even sparser than I imagined” above open spaces in no time. The smell of manure and the countryside wafts in through the vents. I switch to Bucharest Information on 136.385. I haven’t seen another aircraft in the sky since I left Austria, and the air traffic controller I speak to seems relieved when she hands me over to Sibiu tower. The bright, chalk-coloured runway of Sibiu Airport stands out from the green and scorched brown fields. I expect something dramatic with my landing. Perhaps crosswinds, or at least swirling thermals, but I’m down without drama and parked on the apron in minutes. Viorel, my friendly marshaller, is there in no time. G-JG is quickly surrounded by several skilfully placed cones, which mark the wingtips and my personal spot on the tarmac.
Below Lake Balaton
July 2020 | FLYER | 55
Above Landing at Chisinau Right Sibiu at sunset Far right Sibiu Airport. Ready to leave for Moldova Below Over the Carpathian mountains. Storm looming
56 | FLYER | July 2020
While I’m grappling with my new heavy-duty Velcro tie-downs, Viorel and I discuss Moldovan airfield options, just as a Lufthansa jet swoops in to land and parks next to me. When we step through the main terminal security area doors straight from the apron, I’m surrounded by passengers. I’ve never been on this side of a large international airport on my own steam before and it feels strange. Twenty minutes later, after heading into the city on my Brompton, I find a decent place for only £26 a night. There’s a stone staircase leading up to my room, which is flanked by colourful potted flowers. By the time I head out, the air is cooler and when I round a corner, I’m in a cobbled town square teeming with festival goers dressed in medieval costumes. There’s a stage billowing with smoke, and folk singers are illuminated by neon green lights. I race to get a seat on a table in the square and then tuck into a dish of potatoes and bright red paprika chicken called ‘Vlad the Impaler castle meal’. One area that appeared on my radar when I was looking for unusual places to stop en route was Transnistria, bordering Ukraine to the east and Moldova to the west. Officially, it’s seen by the UN as part of Moldova, but military conflict in 1992 escalated until a ceasefire was reached in the same year. Transnistria has its own government, postal system, police, military and currency, the Transnistrian ruble. A tiny Russian enclave and unrecognised state in Eastern Europe, it still portrays a hammer and sickle on its flag. While I’m having a glass of local wine, I decide that visiting by bus will be the best (and safest) option.
followed by long silences. If I declared a Mayday or Pan-Pan, nobody would be able to hear me, apart from airliners high above. It’s the most alone I’ve felt in as long as I can remember. The densely tree-covered mountain terrain rises around me to more than 6,000ft in places. There are two growing storm clouds either side of my track – still at a safe distance, but they’re drifting slowly towards one another, directly into my path, and then rain pours out of the one to my right. Hail is my biggest fear, and it feels like I’m running the gauntlet with a choice of either speeding up to get past the mushrooming storm clouds, or slowing down in case I get caught in any dangerous up-draughts. It’s the first time I’ve felt fear on the trip. There are no airfields to land at close by and so, gripping the control stick, I sit it out. Thirty minutes later, as the mountains give way to flatter terrain, the sky opens up as if nothing has happened, my view ahead now clear. I try Bucharest Information again, still no luck. Then I try a different frequency to the one Sibiu gave me, and dial in 136.385. A voice – the female controller I spoke to earlier, and she sounds even more relieved than I am to have made contact. I send a quick message to Oleg, my contact in Moldova, telling him I should be with him in about 30 minutes. I can see Chisinau runway in the distance. When I’ve parked, a shiny white Pipistrel appears next to me – I realise that it’s Oleg. Soon, Oleg and I are en route to Vadul lui Voda, a grass strip only 12 miles away to the north-east, and the home of the Moldovan aeroclub.
Days 6 to 8: Sibiu (Transylvania, Romania) to Chisinau (Moldova)
Day 9: Moldova
It appears that last Friday the Moldova CAA changed its rules. Oleg, my contact in Moldova who will be my flying buddy, relays this information by WhatsApp. Now I need to fill in a new application form, which is all in Romanian… While I’m sipping a strong coffee in a cafe down the street I ask for help and a cafe visitor, Radu, comes to my rescue. We have the form completed in no time, and then I’m able to contact the Moldovan CAA and Oleg. Back at Sibiu Airport, however, things aren’t as straightforward. Sibiu tower tells me: “I can clear you to the border, but then you might have a problem. There’s an issue with your permission to enter Moldova.” I email the Moldova CAA office again and then wait in G-JG. My plan was to be in Chisinau, Moldova, by midday but already it’s 1.30pm. The sun is beating down on the canopy, and even with the sliding sunshield, it’s stifling. At last, I get a call from the Moldovan ATC to say I’m good to go. Before long I am rolling down the white Sibiu tarmac. I have a two hour and 45-minute flight ahead of me. Briefly, I make contact with the same (husky-voiced) female controller (on Bucharest Information) that I spoke to a few days ago, but then I lose contact. The radio flickers into life with teasing, distant, voiceless clicks,
Today is Moldova’s Independence Day from the Soviet Union: 27 August. Oleg rings me at midday and says: “Let’s go to the airfield – I’ll be at the hotel in 15 minutes to pick you up!” We’re off to a place called Crocmaz, a winery on the Ukraine border. Sergiu, one of the other Vadul lui Voda pilots joins me in the passenger seat, while Oleg’s gleaming white Pipistrel and another aircraft fly ahead. Flying internally seems complicated in Moldova. First, we have to get permission to take off. Next, we need confirmation that Crocmaz has given us permission to land, then we have to send a form to the CAA. Moldovan airspace is a vast area of Class C airspace that covers almost the whole of Moldova. I call air traffic control as we climb upwards to 1,500ft, leaving the picturesque, gently sloping plateau of Vadul lui Voda Airfield behind. While I’m watching the golden-domed monasteries and countryside slip past, the controller comes on the radio – he’s speaking to another aircraft in the group. “Turn right 20 degrees to remain clear of the restricted area,” he says abruptly. One of the pilots is straying a bit too close to the disputed Russian territory of Transnistria, which is marked with a thick red line. Sergiu, my passenger, points to the towns on our left: Bendery and Tiraspol, July 2020 | FLYER | 57
Above Brasov, Romania – the Carpathian Mountain trees from the ground Left Tiraspol Below Oleg (left) and Mihai (right) who helped me with the Moldovan permissions
the capital of Transnistria. I’m fascinated. Rows of Soviet-style apartment blocks visibly mark the start of this disputed territory. I’m only 1.9 miles from the Ukraine border now, it feels like a large circuit could put my wingtips into Ukraine! We swoop into the winery’s finely mown grass strip. There’s not a breath of wind. There’s just enough time for a first-time experience: roasted rabbit with vegetables, followed by a tour of the winery, where I buy two bottles of wine. As we head back to Vadul lui Voda, houses have grown taller in the now lengthening afternoon shadows, the hilly terrain more accentuated. The whole experience feels like I just dreamed it. I leave the Brompton and all my flying gear in G-JG, lock it up and then we head back to Chisinau, where the Moldovan Independence Day celebrations are in full swing. Sergiu’s wife is a TV presenter and one of his friends is a famous drummer. I find myself backstage, watching the televised show as a VIP. Conservatoire-educated drummer Petru looks the double of Robbie Williams, albeit slimmer. I’ve never seen anyone command drumsticks quite like this; fast songs, folk songs, rock – he does it all. From backstage, I watch the crowd filling Parliament Square. At the end of the night I thank all the pilots for running me around and making my Moldavan experience a memorable one. Everyone is so warm and friendly.
Day 10: Transnistria
While I’m semi-jogging to the bus station, I ask various people in my very limited Russian: “Where does the bus to Tiraspol go from?” I can just about read Cyrillic – I filled the dark winter nights a few years ago with beginner Russian language classes. I try and read the handwritten signs in the front of each bus before rolling the dice and boarding one reading Тирасполь. It’s 34°C outside. The bus air conditioning appears to be broken, and my knees are jammed against the back of 58 | FLYER | July 2020
the seat in front. Everyone sits gently cooking for the next 1.5 hours as the bus bumps along. On my phone I follow my dot on Google Maps to be sure I don’t miss my stop as I’ve arranged to meet Andrey from a tour company. The woman sitting next to me has been looking at my iPhone screen in the most discreet-indiscreet way possible. To see what reaction I get, I ask her if there’s far to go. She bursts into life, waving her arms while discussing my question with the other occupants of the bus. We’re nearly there, it seems. The bus circles outside the Tiraspol train station for its last stop. Two people who were on my bus turn out to be an Italian detective who works in Rome, and an older gentleman. During the next three hours, the four of us see Lenin and Stalin monuments, tanks and an Afghanistan war memorial, courtesy of Andrey. We stop for refreshments at the House of Culture but within minutes of entering, we’re mysteriously told by our guide that the Museum Director says we must leave the building. We move on to the Bendery bus station where an old-fashioned, but working, lone telephone hangs on the wall. Next, we follow a staircase up to the first floor. Two big white doors with USSR written above them lead into a cafe inside. As I tuck into the most amazing Borscht red cabbage soup for 50p, I notice there is hardly an empty space on the wall – it’s festooned with Soviet memorabilia and photographs of historical leaders.
6,000 bears. The sun is setting and mountains give way to the now familiar ironed-flat farmland. BraşovSânpetru Airfield is nestled at the foot of a mountain to the south. When I flare to land on the grass runway, I’m greeted by a pair of dazzling eyes lit up by the burning orange sun. I stretch the glide a bit, and a very surprised cat darts out of the way.
Days 12-15: Romania
I fill the next few days with as many ground-based adventures as I possibly can, including my highlight – Bran Castle.
Day 16: Braşov to Arad, Romania
Day 11: Vadul lui Voda, Moldova to Romania (Bacău and Braşov)
Yesterday, I had a big problem that I didn’t expect. A famous Russian rock group was in town, and rooms anywhere less than £300 per night were sold out. I had a gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach that I might need to get a taxi to the airstrip and sleep with my bags on the grass. Thankfully, Oleg came to my rescue with a guest house right next to the airfield, nestled down a country lane and surrounded by a forest. This morning I’m keen to get flying on my next leg back through Romania. I’ve loved Moldova, but I’m ready for Dracula’s Bran Castle. Sergiu and Oleg are already at the airfield when I get there and we say our goodbyes. The airport manager at Vadul lui Voda puts in a flight plan for me from the ground, but as I’m approaching the Chisinau control zone, the tower tells me they don’t have it. I spend the next 15 minutes circling over the city, while Oleg makes a call on my behalf. Suddenly my flight plan has been found and I’m cleared to enter the zone and route straight in on final approach. The journey from Chisinau to Bacău in Romania goes more smoothly and I’m on my way to Braşov. For 20 minutes, I feel like I’m hovering over the peaks of the Carpathian Mountains, barely moving over the sea of green below. The air is eerily smooth. I’ve learned that below me, in dense forest, is a population of more than
Below Orbiting over Chisinau waiting to land and clear customs for onwards journey back to Bacău
G-JG is already outside when I arrive at the BraşovSânpetru Airfield. I ring the Bucharest Control telephone number, and they ask me to ‘squawk’ 7001 when airborne. I’ve become adept at packing swiftly now, and I’m ready to go on the dot of 1pm for my flight plan time. “G-JG, you are about to enter an active military area,” Bucharest Information tells me, soon after I’ve taken off. I recognise the voice at once, it’s the controller I struggled to contact when I was flying over the mountains on the way out. She doesn’t say anything else, and I wonder what to do. “This is G-JG with flight plan – could you provide vectors to route around the military zone please?’ I ask. A deafening silence then follows and I shift uncomfortably in my seat. They didn’t reject my flight plan, so I can’t imagine that they would make me turn around. A gentleman with a calm voice then comes on the radio. “G-JG, turn onto heading 300 degrees.” I comply, and a minute or so passes. “G-JG – we have spoken to the military, continue west and maintain 5,000ft,” he tells me. I’m not sure if it’s low-level flying or rocket-firing the military is doing, but I’d rather not know. Another ghostly silence ensues as I re-check the
July 2020 | FLYER | 59
Above Romania, west side, not far from Arad, while going home Left Landed at Bacău to clear customs back into Romania Below left Decision made, I’m going to land at Schärding-Suben after setting off from Wels Bottom left My host Peter Panholzer at Schärding-Suben Bottom right Schärding-Suben diversion before landing
60 | FLYER | July 2020
scrolling chart. Ahead of me is a vast area of controlled airspace 65 miles wide east to west, and 115 miles north to south. In the centre of it, Câmpia Turzii Airport sits like a sun at the centre of the universe, hosting the Romanian Air Force’s 71st air base. For the next 20 minutes of silence, I wonder if I’m meant to call someone. Minutes away from me entering the airspace, the radio bursts into life. “G-JG, change to NAPOC Approach on 119.680.” I’m not far from the Romanian/Hungarian border now. “G-JG, the wind is 12kt gusting 18kt,’ Arad tower tells me, and I spot the windsock fluttering around in the 20° crosswind. A silvery sheen coats the shapeless and drizzling sky while I’m sheltering G-JG in the aeroclub hangar, out of the wind and rain.
Day 17-22: Romania to England Leaving Wels
As I fly from Arad in Romania, back through Hungary and into Austria to roll onto the familiar tarmac of the Wels Airport again, curtains of rain drape in front of me. It clears after a couple of hours and I soon believe that I’m on my way to Speyer in Germany, the weather not stymying my trip even once – so far. My personal locator beacon is dangling around my neck, yellow and available. The weather chart shows me the weather isn’t pretty – but flyable. Twenty minutes in, the cotton wool clouds start to change into shapeless, ragged mist. It swirls gently down from the mountaintops into the green valleys below, like steam spilling over the edge of a witch’s cauldron. I look behind me to where I’ve just come from – the clouds are closing up and thickening fast. I scan for airfields. I decide not to leave it any longer, and contact Langen Information. “Um, G-JG is going to divert to Schärding-Suben due to the weather,’ I say. When I call Schärding-Suben Airfield a friendly voice answers. I do a tight circuit and land in cold, drizzling rain – it’s the sort of weather that eats into your bones.
Peter Panholzer, one of the resident flyers, is manning the tower today. Not only has he found me space in the hangar, but also gives me the keys to the club ‘villa’ where I get a room, bedding and a hot shower for only €15. Fog keeps me here for three days, but it’s a fantastic experience and Peter looks after me well. He takes me to an Oktoberfest down the road – for local food and beer from the tallest and widest beer glass I’ve ever seen – and I’m surrounded by deer and wildlife in my forest villa. By midday of the third day the fog is clearing fast, but I wait an extra hour for good measure before I’m on my way to Speyer again.
Above Return, lower Austrian Alps Right Back in England. The White Cliffs of Dover
Goosebumps run down my arms and neck when I see the White Cliffs of Dover illuminated in brilliant white. The blue-green sea reflects mirror images of the white clouds above. Over Lincolnshire, I climb to 6,600ft above the scattered cloud, the patchwork quilt of coloured fields stretching out before me. I think how strange it is to be back – it feels as though I’ve only just left. I’ve been on an incredible 3,200-mile journey, and done 31 hours of flying over three weeks and across seven countries. My mouth is dry in the British summer sun, and I can’t wait for a cup of Yorkshire tea.
Just some of the stops… 1
3 16 4
15 14 5
Outward 1 Sherburn-in-Elmet 2 Calais 3 Speyer 4 Wels 5 Siofok 6 Szeged
62 | FLYER | July 2020
7 Arad 8 Sibiu 9 Chisinau 10 Vadul Lui Voda 11 Crocmaz
9 10 11
Homeward 11 Crocmaz 10 Vadul Lui Voda 9 Chisinau 12 Bacău 13 San Petru 7 Arad
6 Szeged 17 Charleville Meziers 14 Balaton-Keresztur 2 Calais 15 Voslau 1 Sherburn-in-Elmet 4 Wels 16 Schärding-Suben 3 Speyer
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ow does a grounded PPL pilot fill the days during lockdown? Certainly not with the dreaded DIY or daytime TV. Pilots are always learning and honing their skills. So, I wondered, could I take advantage of all this unexpected free time to brush up on part-remembered knowledge or even learn something new? I’ve recently installed X-Plane 11 on my PC and also bought Just Flight’s PA38 Tomahawk, but have had little time to play around with it. I bought some UK scenery for X-Plane – Taburet Mesh XP which, although not ‘photographic’ scenery, had enough recognisable landmarks to help VFR navigation. I also bought scenery of my home airfield, Elstree. My first challenge was a spot of VOR navigation. The Tomahawk has the advantage of clickable areas on the Nav and GPS. They open into pop-up panels, making changing frequencies much easier. X-Plane also allowed me to use it in conjunction with SkyDemon, as long as my PC and iPad were on the same Wi-Fi network. My route was from Elstree to the BPK VOR, then onto the other airfield I fly from, Fowlmere. I intercepted the Brookmans Park VOR 055 TO radial, then followed the 010 FROM radial to overhead Royston, turned to 065˚ and flew the 3.5nm to land at Fowlmere. I’d set X-Plane’s weather to mimic actual conditions, which meant I had to add a 10˚ correction angle to keep on track. Changing
64 | FLYER | July 2020
Left There’s an amazing range of lessons available in X Plane – here’s one on an iPad teaching the use of VOR Above Flying the Just Flight Tomahawk in X Plane 11, practising VOR Nav and use of Garmin GNS530 navigator.
the weather and repeating the exercise in IMC was challenging after I’d added a bit of turbulence and stronger winds to the weather. SkyDemon helped by setting up approach chevrons for Runway 07 – a feature very useful in poor visibility as Fowlmere can be very hard to spot in anything less than 10k visibility. I’d spent the last year mostly flying with Modernair at Fowlmere and hadn’t flown much recently at Elstree, so practising Standard Overhead Joins, while avoiding the many noise sensitive areas around Elstree, was my next challenge. Once airborne, SkyDemon’s display switched to a Pooleys plate, with the noise abatement areas and departure routes highlighted, a great feature. Adding to the challenge I then lowered the cloudbase and visibility and practised bad weather circuits. One unexpected bonus of flying X-Plane was how much it taught me about using SkyDemon. I’d mostly used it as a planning tool, but now was able to hit that pause button and experiment. Tapping the top left SkyDemon logo gave me a list of nearest airfields. Choosing one changed the display to a ‘direct to’ route. Pressing the diversion airfield itself called up more information, distance, ETA and direction, frequency and field elevation. The information section gave approach info and access to Pooleys or AFE plates (with a subscription). This led me to spend an afternoon on YouTube, searching ‘SkyDemon tutorials’
and practising my learnings on X-Plane. Just like real-world flying, SkyDemon produced a log of my sim flights, which I could analyse later in SkyDemon or Google Earth. I also tried X-Plane Mobile on my iPad. The free version has three free aircraft and limited flying areas. I used the C172SP to practise the lessons in the ‘Flight School’ section. Any PPL students who are lessonstarved can learn VOR navigation and ILS approaches. It really does work very well, using the mobile device’s built-in motion detectors.
One feature I enjoyed very much was the ‘General Aviation Challenges’, which is within the ‘Challenges’ section. These included landings on a mountain top in a Piper Cub, short-field landings in Alaska, engine failures, engine fires, bad weather landings and even dealing with a bird strike! If you want to explore further afield beyond the ‘free’ areas, you can subscribe to whole-world scenery, airports and aircraft for £5.49 a month. I think we’re going to need a bigger iPad! Much as I enjoyed X-Plane mobile, I really wouldn’t want to try this on anything smaller than an iPad Air. Changing frequencies, switches and flying a single engine prop aircraft was difficult. The rudder control is a thumb-activated circle on the right of the screen, along with similar trim and flap control areas, but the overall experience was surprisingly positive. Plus, it’s free! Having had enough of simulators, I took a
Above Using Radio Nav Sim on an iPad Pro Top right Gyronimo Piper Archer III app for iPad Far right middle Garmin offer a free trainer for a wide range of their equipment – tinyurl.com/garmintrainersuite Far right below Review old flying videos if you have them – they can be great memory joggers for procedures Right Peter recommends the Barry Schiff trilogy of books, and the CAA’s Skyway Code
look at some of my IMC apps on the iPad. A free radio navigation app, Radionav Sim, has always struck me as a beautifully simple way for students to visualise how RBI/RMI/ VOR/HSI instruments work. I wish it had been available 14 years ago when I was studying for my PPL. The full version is available for £1.99, which adds far more options, including the ability to draw a course on the screen and have the aircraft follow it while tracking two VORs, plus a ‘where am I?’ quiz. Another series of apps I’ve found useful are the Gyronimo Performance ones for individual aircraft. They are very cleverly designed, allowing input of weight and balance, runway elevation, temperature, pressure, runway conditions, wind components etc. They also give performance information on take-off, climb, cruise and landing. There are two modes: ‘Individual’ and ‘Plan’. ‘Individual’ allows calculations to be performed separately from each other, ‘Plan’ takes into consideration data added from previous pages, allowing complete performance planning from departure to landing. I fly a Piper Archer II from Elstree and two Archer IIIs from Fowlmere. I had already set up weight and balance profiles on the Archer II, so I also set up profiles for the IIIs. It’s very interesting to change the conditions, using the sliders, to see what difference is made to the landing or take-off distances. The app also includes links straight to the relevant section of the operating handbook on each page.
They aren’t cheap at £17.99 for an Archer II app but I like them a lot. Both aircraft types I fly have Garmin GTN 750 or 650s, and I thought it would be worth learning more about them. Garmin have a free app trainer, just search for ‘Garmin GTN Trainer’. You can choose between the 650 and 750 on the start-up screen. I used this to learn how to set up a flight plan, edit it by dragging the route line around, change map settings etc. I’ve only just scratched the surface with this app, but delving deeper into it is on my To Do list. Somehow, I think I’ll find the time… There is also a free trainer for the newer GTN Xi series.
One free publication well worth reading is the CAA’s Skyway Code. It is a concise publication and contains quick access to key information that pilots need. It was updated in 2019 and can be downloaded free from: www.caa.co.uk/General-aviation/Safetyinformation/The-Skyway-Code/ A long-standing hobby of mine has been video, and since action cameras became available I’ve used them to record my flights. I’ve been fortunate to fly with some excellent instructors, among them John Baines MBE at Elstree and Derick Gunning at Fowlmere. I always make a point of recording video and audio on check rides. Reviewing the video footage of flights of these vastly experienced
teachers inevitably leads to even more learnings. I flew with John on a short-field lesson in a 172 seven years ago and watched the video recently, picking up some lost tips on short field techniques. A year ago I had a lesson with Derick in an Archer III, which is equipped with a GNS 530. I’d not flown the aircraft since then, but watching the video means I’m now familiar enough with the GNS to feel comfortable using it next time round. All of which leads me to YouTube again… There are so many videos out there – if you have a problem, there is a video with the answer. Searching for GNS 530 or GTN 750 tutorials gives so many options, including free training videos by Garmin. There are also some excellent subscription channels such as The Flying Reporter, which is definitely worth a watch. I’ve a pretty large library of aviation books, but one trilogy sticks in my mind as the best collection of flying ‘wisdom’ I’ve come across: The Proficient Pilot series by Barry Schiff. If I was only allowed three aviation books on my desert island, these would be the ones. They are still available from Flightstore and Amazon. Certainly worth reading. There is so much information, on many different platforms, for grounded pilots to soak up and apply in practice once we are all back in the air. Stay safe and see you in the skies… Peter Steele July 2020 | FLYER | 65
By Association Looking after General Aviation The UK’s flying associations at work
AOPA A rational procedure The old adage, ‘It’s better to be down here wishing you were up there, rather than up there wishing you were down here’, is for some aviators back to front, given the good weather we have had – and I share their frustration. However, I’d like to say to all aviators thank you for complying with the government’s guidance by staying at home and accepting the challenge to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19. The CAA’s guidance in relation to the conduct of maintenance/engine health check flights has helped to reduce the concern that many aircraft owners had, in not following the recommendations of manufacturers and the
potential financial impact that may have created. I know many decided that they didn’t need to use the CAA’s guidance, as staying at home was a higher priority – and that decision also deserves our thanks. We are living through an extraordinary period in our history and we hear that there will be a new ‘normal’, meaning that for some time to come we will have to live with various forms of social distancing, a subject that AOPA has begun to explore. The government has determined that recreational flying is a non-essential activity. AOPA believes using the term ‘recreational flying’ rather than ‘General Aviation’, which embraces all activities, has weakened the image of GA in public opinion. I wonder how that may
play out in future discussions around issues such as access to airspace? Will the recreational flying tag backfire on GA at some point? Right now, our concern is focused on how GA businesses get back on their feet again. As and when the restrictions ease, we will need to figure out what GA will look like if the restrictions on gatherings remain in place. No one knows for sure what the right answer is but we will need to adopt a pragmatic approach, while continuing to follow the guidance. Keep well. Martin Robinson
Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association www.aopa.co.uk
BMAA Work as normal It’s difficult to be too upbeat about the current situation, but at least the weather has been good for sitting in the garden and enjoying the quiet skies. OK, so that’s not much of a compensation for being up there looking down, but at least for most of the last month it hasn’t rained and the wind has been reasonably kind. I’ve noticed that the sky seems a little clearer of late. Is that because there are less aircraft polluting the atmosphere, or just my imagination? While we are in enforced isolation and flying has been discouraged, we have been in discussion with the CAA and they have issued various extensions to pilot licence, instructor
and examiner validity periods. This is great as it means that when flying commences again we will be able to get back up in the air without having to wait until normal renewal procedures have been carried out. A briefing before flight is required and we are putting together briefing guidance for our instructors so they can carry this out ahead of time. The briefing can be done remotely, via phone or video link, so travel and close contact is not needed. At the BMAA we have been able to carry on with most work as normal, although with no flying demand is understandably low. The Board has met twice so far using a video conferencing link which has worked really well.
We have had a similar meeting with GASCo, who have also developed an online airspace awareness course. Perhaps some good will come out of all this? Finally, our Young Person’s Flight Bursary for 2019 closed at the end of March and we are going through final selection. The 2020 is now open. If you are between 15 and 20 and as keen as mustard to fly microlights visit the BMAA website and search Bursary. Geoff Weighell British Microlight Aircraft Association www.bmaa.org
LAA Rebooting recreation aviation It is hard to lose our privilege of flying, not least because of the stunning flying weather we have had to watch go by. To keep us going during the lockdown we’ve been running a range of activities including aviation art competitions for bored kids and their parents (and grandparents) and we’ve even launched our own YouTube video channel. Click on www.laa.uk.com for the link. However, I’m an eternal optimist and believe sometime soon that the restrictions will start to be lifted, so we’re starting to make plans accordingly. We’ve published, available via our website,
advice to all owners on planning the eventual return to service of aircraft from their lockdown, and in addition, along with the other ‘alphabet’ organisations, we’ve been working with the CAA to enable extensions to licence validity and medical requirements, meaning that pilots can restart flying as soon as possible after restrictions are lifted. Don’t forget though, we’ll all be a bit ‘ring-rusty’. The LAA has a cadre of pilot coaches who can advise or help boost pilot confidence after the lay-off. Also, we’ll do well to limit our flying to simple sorties initially, and avoid tricky crosswinds and difficult navigation
until we’re fully back in the groove. Looking a bit further ahead, we’re continuing with plans for the LAA Rally at Sywell on 4, 5 and 6 September. With the cancellation of events around the globe, we could even find ourselves hosting the world’s biggest flying event this year! Told you I was an optimist! 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 66 | FLYER | July 2020
Free Landings In association with
If you’re a member of The FLYER Club, we’ll send you personalised vouchers to save £44 by claiming one free landing at each of these airfields during July 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!
0118 3246 888 | EGLP | www.brimpton-airfield.co.uk Brimpton is an unlicensed airfield in Berkshire with 80 members, 20 aircraft at the strip and a newly extended grass strip that now measures 620m. The airfield is expanding, with polytunnels planned for the future, and welcomes new members and aircraft. There’s a friendly clubroom with teas, coffees, snacks, toilets, a covered veranda with picnic tables and barbecue, while the Hind’s Head hotel is just under a mile away.
Nearby attractions Newbury Racecourse. Visit Reading’s Museum of English Rural Life. PPR 0118 3246 888 Radio 135.130
01491 875200 | www.chilternairsports.com Chiltern Park Aerodrome is a grass GA airfield situated just at the end of the Chilterns. With two runways, 15/33 and 04/22, it offers a warm welcome to GA pilots as well as students looking to learn to fly. Do please note that the airfield is also home to active wingwalking and skydiving activities, with parachuting at weekends and some weekdays March-October.
Nearby attractions The Perch and Pike pub, Chilterns. PPR 07739 802010 Radio 134.030
Radio Accepts non-radio light aircraft, but PPR
68 | FLYER | July 2020
PPR Prior permission is required
Refreshments Including restaurants and cafes etc
Microlights are welcome
Fuel Aviation fuel available A avgas, UL UL91, M mogas
While you’re there When you visit these 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!
07749 384366 | EGPS | www.buchanaeroclub.co.uk Longside Airfield is situated 2.5nm northwest of Peterhead, Aberdeenshire. An unlicensed WWII airfield with a rich heritage, it’s home to the Buchan Aero Club, which operates a diverse range of GA aircraft, including microlights, SEPs and gyroplanes from the 500m tarmac runway. There’s a clubhouse with good facilities, on-site avgas and mogas by arrangement. PPR essential. All aircraft are assured of a warm welcome.
Nearby attractions Aberdeen PPR 07825 811111 Radio 118.280, callsign ‘Longside Radio’
01362 820709 Shipdham Airfield opened in 1942 and part of the original north-south runway survives, designated 21/03 with a displaced threshold on 03, 770 x 20m. A short grass runway of 285m, 33/15, is available during suitable weather. Outside parking and hangarage available at competitive rates. Clubhouse open weekends for light refreshments 1000-1400. Radio not always manned, visiting pilots PPR for briefing. Open weekends and Bank Holidays only.
Nearby attractions Shipdham was home to the USAAF 44th Bomb Group, flying B-24 Liberators, during WWII. Bomb Group Museum on-site. PPR 07785187827 Radio 132.255
07773 777160 | www.sittlesflyers.com Sittles Flying Club was formed 22 years ago and has a new management committee which has invested several thousand pounds into a total renovation of the clubhouse with new decking and a sparkling new toilet. The kettle, coffee and tea are to hand in our luxurious clubhouse where you can make yourselves at home. PPR is required if you have not visited before and are not familiar with the site.
Nearby attractions The club is well situated in the heart of Staffordshire just a couple of miles from both Lichfield and its beautiful Cathedral, and also the National Arboretum. PPR: 07773 777160 Radio: 129.825
07957 595835 | www.skegnessairfield.co.uk Skegness Airfield is situated two miles north of Skegness and just a 10 minute walk from the beach and Butlins. With two grass runways, 11/29 and 03/21, this friendly airfield welcomes singles, twins, microlights, gyrocopters and helicopters.The Clubhouse is open at weekends April to October. At all other times, the radio may not be manned, so if you are flying in, please look at the windsock, make your traffic calls and land on the appropriate runway.
Nearby attractions Nearby attractions include water park, fishing lakes and beach. PPR: 07909 843314 or 07714 899600 Radio: 132.430
Win! A print or digital Pooleys UK Flight Guide QUESTION: What is the distance between Shipdham and Skegness in nautical miles? To enter, post your answer, name, address and email details to Pooleys July Competition, FLYER, 9 Riverside Court, Lower Bristol Road, Bath BA2 3DZ, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org The closing date is 17 June 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.
1 2 3 4 5 6
Brimpton Chiltern Park Longside Shipdham Sittles Skegness
The winner for May 2020 is: Jonathan Webb, Thames Ditton, Surrey.
July 2020 | FLYER | 69
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For the funny, the weird, the wonderful and the just plane strange…
Sandown gets a rocket
Spitfire flypast for Capt Tom Moore
flypast by a Spitfire and Hurricane from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight was the highlight of celebrations for the 100th birthday of Captain Tom Moore who has raised more than £30m for NHS Charities. He also had personal messages from the Queen and the Prime Minister and was promoted by the British Army to Honorary Colonel, bypassing the in-between rank of Major.
Main A flypast by a Spitfire and Hurricane from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Inset The one and only amazing Capt Tom Moore
The two aircraft took off early morning from RAF Coningsby and made three passes over the Captain’s care home. The flypast was the suggestion of The Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar (BHHH) which had offered to fly one of its aircraft, Spirit of Kent, over Capt Tom’s care home but were
unable to secure permission to break the General Aviation restrictions. “Luckily the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight is not bound by the same restrictions and are permitted to fly,” said Alex Monk of the BHHH. “Getting a Spitfire overhead for Capt Tom was always the primary goal and we’re thrilled that this was still be possible. “We have invited Capt Tom and his family to visit Biggin Hill for a Spitfire flight when it is safe to do so.”
Heroes & Villains HEROES Aviation charity Aerobility took part in a nationwide event on Sunday, 26 April, to help save the UK’s charities hard hit by the COVID-19 crisis. The 2.6 Challenge took place on the day when the 26-mile London Marathon was due to take place. Aerobility asked people to take part in a fund-raising activity based around the numbers 2.6 or 26. Aerobility boss Mike Mille-Smith had his own Mega Mastermind 2.6 Challenge – answering 260 quiz questions from 26 quizmasters, live on Zoom. www.aerobility.com/ twopointsixchallenge
HERO OR VILLAIN? Pilot Dominic Cross used a maintenance flight in his group-owned Grumman Tiger to write a message of support for the NHS on SkyDemon – his wife is an NHS worker. Dominic began with a heart shape then the letters N, H and S before returning to his base airfield. “She loved it,” Dominic told the Swindon Advertiser.
HERO Quebec pilot Florent Gagné, 74, a retired civil servant, became a social media star when video footage of him making an emergency landing on a motorway on 16 April went viral. Suspected carb ice caused the Piper PAS-28-140’s engine to start running roughly with a maximum of 1,600rpm. Gagné worked through the emergency checklist, including mixture full rich and carb heat on. “I did everything that they teach us,” he said.
The Wight Aviation Museum (WAM) at Sandown Airport on the Isle of Wight has just completed a two-year project to build a full-size replica of the Black Arrow Rocket. It was made on the IoW and was the only British rocket to launch a successful communications satellite in 1971. The project was devised by Island-based designer Rich Curtis, a keen space rocket enthusiast, with help from local specialists in aluminium construction and composite moulding, and colleges. Four Black Arrow rockets were made before the project was cancelled by the government on economic grounds. Only the third, R3, successfully orbited the Earth, releasing its satellite payload. The final rocket R4, did not fly and is in the Science Museum. www.wightaviationmuseum.org.uk
Art competition for kids extended
The Light Aircraft Association (LAA) has extended its Aviation Art Competition for bored, aviation-minded kids to allow entries to be made online. The entries, in three age categories, 5-8, 9-12 and 13-15, can be drawn, painted or computer generated, with hard-copy versions being scanned, before being sent to: email@example.com Entries can also be posted to the LAA’s Turweston HQ by Tuesday 30 June 2020. Selected entries will be displayed on the LAA’s Facebook page. Later, they will be judged by experts from the LAA, Shuttleworth Collection and the Guild of Aviation Artists.
Send your QSY submissions to QSY, 9 Riverside Court, Lower Bristol Road, Bath BA2 3DZ or to firstname.lastname@example.org 74 | FLYER | July 2020
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