Light Aviation April 2022

Page 1

10,000, IN NICK CHITTENDEN’S FLYING LIFE LIGHT Aviation THE MAGAZINE OF THE LIGHT AIRCRAFT ASSOCIATION WWW.LAA.UK.COM Light Aircraft Association The LAA members who helped create a world record-breaking electric-powered kitplane ELECTRIC DREAMS





Engineering Director


Chief Technical Officer


Chief Inspector




Vice President


Engineering email


Office Manager Penny Sharpe

Head Office Turweston Aerodrome, Nr Brackley, Northants NN13 5YD

Telephone for engineering and commercial 01280 846786





Production Editor LIZI BROWN


Opinions expressed by the authors and correspondents are not necessarily those of the Editor or the LAA. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without permission.

Stunning work…

Ihave always enjoyed looking around a really well-constructed homebuilt aircraft. The quality of the whole machine is not just defined by just a well put together airframe that’s straight and true, but also the fit, finish and attention to detail. The latter is especially evident in areas where the kit components stop, and builder creativity has had to bridge the last few ‘gaps’. My recent trip to Gloucester to meet Roger Targett and Stjohn Youngman of Electroflight and take a look around the record-breaking Spirit of Innovation aircraft really had me picking my jaw up off the floor when I saw the incredible machine the team had created for the Rolls-Royce / Aerospace Technology Institute ACCEL project. Just on the airframe construction alone, the level of craftsmanship that has been achieved is staggering, and pretty much all of which was in the hands of LAA members. The battery and motor power unit is also truly exquisite, from the almost jewel-like beauty of the individual battery modules which are hidden within a case that’s also a structural element of the aircraft, to the very clever packaging of cooling and control systems.

I can think of only one other homebuilt aircraft that I’ve seen that is comparable, and that was the late Jim Wright’s incredible recreation of the Howard Hughes’ H1 racer. I’m sure some people will remark that it’s ‘easy’ to get a flawless finish with a composite kit, but trust me, after hearing of some of the challenges the team faced in bringing the airframe to life, which included having to modify it for the unique requirements of the record challenge, they have still produced something that goes far

beyond the needs of just being straight, true and safe. It is true testament to the capabilities of kit light aircraft builders.

When the project was launched by Rolls-Royce, as well as a plan to significantly raise the electric aircraft world speed record, there was also talk of the hope it would be faster than the pioneering Supermarine S6B that saw Schneider Trophy winning success in 1931 at 343mph. Well they managed that by just a few mph, but did so while retaining the same vein of British craftsmanship and innovative spirit. Though I think it’s fair to say that if the engineers and builders of that S.6B had been able to look around Electroflight’s creation, even they would confess that their machine was a little roughly finished in comparison!

Ed’s Desk
April 2022 | LIGHT AVIATION | 3
LAA member Stjohn Youngman’s beautiful Laser Z200 restoration sits behind the NXTe as a reminder of just some of the homebuilding spirit embodied in the record-breaking Spirit of Innovation aircraft



A small workshop wasn’t going to distract Ashok Thamarakshan from the task of building his Sling 4 TSi. As he says, it was just a case of being organised…


The LAA members that helped Rolls-Royce create a world recordbreaking electric-powered kitplane


In part two of his occasional series, Mike Roberts refines his simple aircraft design concept and considers some key aerodynamic and load considerations…


It’s great fun to visit new places, but whether it’s a new strip or an airfield, it’s good to be prepared before you arrive…


Including, LAA-issued instructions for continued airworthiness, fixing faults before flying, and a reminder that woodworm does not just inhabit furniture…


Globetrotting KR-2 flyer Colin Hales borrows an Emeraude and heads for Poland, picking up a friend en route


Nick Chittenden chats to Neil Wilson about flying a wide array of aircraft from a 36hp Aeronca to a 10,000hp DC-6…

April 2022 | LIGHT AVIATION | 5 Contents April 2022

Plenty more news is available on the LAA website at check it out every day!

LAA course range expanding

Following the announcement last month that a new Polyfibre Fabric Covering Course had been added to the range –which sold out very quickly – we are delighted to welcome TLAC onboard with its alternative revolutionary user-friendly Oratex covering system. They will be running a course at Turweston on Thursday 12 May commencing 0900 till 1700. Price is £125 per person.

We are also reintroducing the popular Aircraft Electrical Wiring courses hosted by Nick Long, with a Basic Level course on Thursday 28 April and an Advanced Level course on Tuesday 10 May. Price per course is £120.

To book a place on any of these

courses, please email or call on 01280 846786.

Another Fuel Injected Rotax 912iS/915iS course is being arranged for May, date to be confirmed. Price is £120. If you are interested in attending, please

leave your details with HQ and we will contact you as soon as a firm date has been finalised.

Course information is available on the LAA website at via a tab on the Main Menu.

New event for Kitfox pilots!

FoxFestUK takes place on 4 and 5 June 2022, at Pitsford Airstrip (by kind permission of the airfield owner). A weekend gathering for UK Kitfox owners and their aircraft, with overnight onsite camping available. For registration, and further details, please contact

Above Last year’s Rally at Sywell… this year will see a different venue for the event

LAA Rally move

For those of you who have been keeping the weekend of 2-4 September free to attend the LAA Rally, while we can still say keep that date free, it’s with regret that LAA won’t be holding the event at Sywell Aerodrome. For more information, read LAA CEO Steve Slater’s update on page 10.

6 | LIGHT AVIATION | April 2022 LA News News
Left and above There are more LAA courses to help you learn aircraft electrical wiring to create your perfect panel, or get the skills to cover with confidence using Oratex. Above Fly a Kitfox? Then put 4/5 June in your diary for FoxFestUK!

Dynon announces new FastTrack products for homebuilders

Until now, homebuilders had to decide where to locate each avionics module or component in their aeroplane, then design, fabricate and fit custom brackets to mount each unit. Dynon’s new FastTrack products aim to dramatically simplify those tasks.

The FastTrack product line introduces new module mounting tray kits, trays, and brackets specifically designed to receive SkyView modules and mount SkyView displays.

FastTrack also includes a wide range of electrical harnesses and cables already available to Dynon customers.

All these products are designed specifically to make the homebuilders job faster and easier.

FastTrack Essentials packages, available in both VFR and IFR editions, accelerate installation even further. In a first for Dynon, customers can now buy pre-assembled packages that deliver FastTrack mounting trays, SkyView modules, and SkyView Network Cables already mounted and connected.

Pooleys Dawn to Dusk awards

On 3 February, the International Pooleys Dawn to Dusk Competition Awards Dinner was held at the RAF Club in London.

Kai Barnett, who won the competition, was presented with the Duke of Edinburgh trophy. Air Commodore Neville Parton RAF Ret’d and his daughter, Hannah Parton, who

New LAA member discount

Crecy Publishing has joined the LAA Members Benefits scheme. Crecy offer a huge range of books on aircraft, historic aviation, railways, buses and more. Go to and use the code LAA22 in the designated area when buying to obtain the discount.

came second, were presented with the Coventry Trophy, Best Video Award and Family Trophy (Ed’s note – see LA March 2022 Flying Adventure). Finally, placing third and winning the Tiger Club Trophy were Mike Roberts and Nicholas Rogers.

More details of what the winners’ themes were, and what aircraft they

The fourth in the revised series of the CAA Safety Sense leaflets have been released. It’s an all new leaflet covering the handling and storage of fuel. https://tinyurl. com/ safetysensefuel

flew, can be found on the Dawn to Dusk website here – dawn-to-dusk/ – under the 2021 Trophy Winners tab.

Entries were received from the UK, Spain and Australia, plus included the first entries from a Gyro (the winner) and an electric aircraft.

Entries for 202t, record it, present it. Present it? Yes, you’ll need to write and submit a log which will be scrutinised by the panel of judges. They will be looking at the following:

·Planning: Originality, research of the subject chosen and flight planning.

·Flying: Airmanship and the difficulty of the chosen task.

·Safety: Threat & Error Management and appropriate equipment on board.

·The Log: Create an informative, accurate and engaging log of the challenge undertaken.

·Handicapping: Pilot and crew experience, ability, aircraft type and the weather conditions.

1st Prize is £1,000, 2nd Prize £500 and 3rd Prize £250.

New CAA Safety Sense for fuel handling Aeronca Club celebrates!

The Aeronca Club is 30 years old this year and still going strong, so to celebrate it has teamed up with Air Britain for an event on June 25 and 26, 2022. Aeronca Club chairman Pete White said, “The Aeronca Club of GB emerged from like-minded owners getting together at the Air Britain Fly-In at White Waltham in 1992, so on our 30th anniversary, it seemed only fitting to take up an invite to join them at White Waltham again.”

LA News April 2022 | LIGHT AVIATION | 7


Skinner 1938 - 2022

John was an active Inspector with the PFA, then the LAA, for many years and provided support and advice for a lot of members in the Devon area. He was also a licensed aircraft engineer, and spent many years with Iscavia at Exeter before his retirement.

John started his career in aviation during his national service with the RAF. He was part of the Blue Steel project and helped maintain the Canberra spotter fleet that gathered data from the tests in Australia and Christmas Island. After demob, John spent a brief spell in the police before gaining employment at Exeter Airport, where he was involved with Intra Airways and helped establish the engineering that led to the creation of JEA (latterly Flybe) in Jersey.

While on Jersey John made lots of good friends, many of whom he stayed in touch with throughout the rest of his later life.

John was also actively involved in the Ethiopian drought crisis, where he travelled around the country looking after a Queenair aircraft delivering much-needed aid to rural communities.

Highly regarded in his field, John assisted many owners with issues around build and ongoing ownership, and he always gave good practical advice and maintained a good relationship with the LAA and CAA.

John is survived by his wife Christine, his daughter Alison and his son Tim, who followed his father into aviation (despite advice from him to be an accountant!) and is now an LAA Inspector as well as a licensed engineer based in Blackpool.

2022 LAA Armstrong-Isaacs bursary winners

Funded by legacies from former Association luminaries David Armstrong and John Isaacs, five young aviators have each received £1,500, as winners of the 2022 LAA Armstrong-Isaacs bursaries.

Applications for next year’s bursaries will open at the end of the summer, with applications made via the LAA website.

Matt Finch

Growing up with an aerospace engineer for a dad meant aviation was a constant presence in my life, with trips to airshows a staple of the summer. We lived about one mile along the extended centreline of the now closed Filton Airport too, so I spent half my childhood looking up. Life happened, and flying didn’t, but it was always in there somewhere. Then I moved house, to an area where low-level air traffic is again a regular feature. Just before the move, I had been trying to work out how to pay for flying lessons, eventually making a start last April.

I knew I’d enjoy flying. What I wasn’t really expecting was how much I’d enjoy the process of learning. One day I’d love to share that with other people as an instructor, something I didn’t expect when I set out!

Thanks to this award, I will be able to finish my PPL before my ground exams expire in July (which will save me a lot of time, cost and angst!). I would like to explore more of the UK, and in time, add a tailwheel conversion to enable me to get to grips with taildraggers (particularly to fly a beautiful 1966 Jodel I admire).

I plan to turn my hobby of aviation into a career and, wherever this leads me, I am determined never to leave my GA roots behind. I would love to become an Instructor so that I can pass on the enthusiasm, knowledge and inspiration that the GA community has shown me. I would also like to serve as a role model to inspire more girls to take up flying.

Nathaniel McMurray

My first memory of wanting to be a pilot was being shown around Barton Aerodrome at a very young age by my grandfather. I started my flight training in 2019 with a trial lesson. That was the first time I took control of an aircraft in flight, and I will never forget that feeling. To ensure that aviation remains an integral part of my life, I remain a keen member of the RAF Air Cadets which I joined in 2017. Once I’ve completed my PPL, I’d like to go on to add some different ratings, such as the night and instrument.

Sam Allison

Aviation is a huge part of my life. If you ask anyone who knows me to describe me they’d say ‘Sam is obsessed with aeroplanes and always has his eyes to the sky’.

As a child I grew up less than one nautical mile from Breighton Airfield, where I now fly. Every time I fly, whether it’s a Cessna or an Airbus, I love having the ability to view the world from a unique perspective, which along with the excitement and thrill makes me feel truly alive – smiling is the only option!

I started flying a little over three years ago, just managing to afford one lesson every two weeks working around college with a part-time job in my local chippy. This award will be a huge help to me.

Rares Turcu

My name is Rares Turcu, I am 21 years old and I am an apprentice Aircraft Engineer for Ryanair. In my spare time I work a lot with YES to promote aviation to the youth and show the young generation what aviation is all about.

A few years ago I began my PPL but when I was near the end, due to the lack of funds and time, I had to take a break. The LAA’s sponsorship will help me achieve my dream of becoming a pilot in the last steps of this exciting journey.

I hope that one day I can become someone’s mentor, in the same way I have been lucky to be mentored. ■

8 | LIGHT AVIATION | April 2022

We are always pleased to receive your letters, photos of your flying, and your feedback. Please email the editor at

Eric Clutton RIP Hello


It was with sadness that I learned of the passing of Eric Clutton. He was one of the leading lights of our movement in the early days, not only designing his own aeroplane, but several engines – and carving his own propellers.

I benefitted greatly from Eric’s advice and down-to-earth practical help when I was getting my FRED airworthy. I fly G-BWAP regularly from Seething and get a great deal of enjoyment from it.

Kind regards, Greg Shepherd.

Software updates

Dear Ed,

I am writing as someone who works for a Garmin and Trig agent, and the comment made by James Chapman (Project News, March 2022) concerning software updates on his RV-7 raised some interesting points.

The avionics in our aeroplanes can be placed into three basic categories; items which transmit on reserved frequencies to other air traffic and ground stations, items that transmit on open frequencies (Flarm, Pilot Aware), and then those items that receive only and interface within the aircraft. Most EFIS in Permit aircraft are uncertified, receive only GPS signals and interface only within the aircraft. Software updates can usually be carried out by the owner. Comm radios and transponders require certification by CAA or EASA and interface with other certified equipment in other aircraft. The dealers for certified equipment are held to high standards by the manufacturers and the certification authorities. Those standards are difficult to maintain if software updates are made freely available to be applied by anyone. It is in all of our interests that the integrity of these transmitters is maintained so we can all reliably communicate, by voice and data stream, over the reserved frequencies.

Different manufacturers provide the updates in different ways, some – e.g. many Trig devices – may be updated by the dealer. Yours sincerely,

Peter Pengilly.

UK LAPL validity in Europe

It was great news to hear that Permit Aircraft can once more fly in France with suitably licenced pilots, including those with UK LAPL’s. A very good negotiation by the LAA showing that sense can prevail.

My challenge is that I cannot use this concession as I fly a Robin DR 400, which is an ‘EASA’ aircraft not a Permit Aircraft, and so I still cannot fly in France using my UK LAPL.

I expect I’m not the only person caught in this anomaly and that somewhere someone is working to resolve this highly frustrating situation so that I can once more cross the Channel.

Michael Benson.

LAA CEO Steve Slater replies: While I sympathise with your predicament, there is little more that the LAA can do. The CAA and DfT are well aware of the issue and are working to resolve it. However, my understanding is that it is EC/EASA that are saying ‘non’, not the UK regulator. I’ll raise it again with my contacts.

Permit IFR

I read the March 2022 LAA magazine with interest, especially one of the letters regarding IFR approval.

Similar to your correspondent, I have hit a brick wall with IFR approval on my RV-9. I’ve even offered to become an ‘unpaid assessor’ for others in return for learning the approval process. After some 15 months all is silent.

Even though we bash the CAA, the one thing you can say about it is that the processes have at least ticked on, while their new leader took over just over a year ago. Rob Wendes.

PTFE and sealant on fuel fittings Dear Sir

The claim that PTFE is ‘not reacting well to fuel’

(Light Aviation, March 2022, p37) will be a surprise to industry! After reading that article, should everyone be worried? I think not!

PTFE is used in many fuel-related components including pumps, control valves, and gascolators. Steel braided hose suppliers (like Eaton Aerospace (Aeroquip) and Goodridge) claim their PTFE lined hoses ‘can handle any hydrocarbon fuel’. Andair also uses PTFE in some products and RAM Gasket Solutions state its PTFE components are ‘unaffected by lubricants, hydraulic fluids, aircraft and rocket fuel…’

Regarding the ‘offending’ tape in the article photo, RS Components states that PTFE tape is chemically inert and resistant to petrol. I have no reason to doubt the suitability of PTFE tape – provided it’s used correctly!

The aircraft maintenance publication AC43 does state that PTFE tape should not be used, but this has nothing to do with fuel incompatibility: tape can present a hazard if it is applied incorrectly due to poor skills or knowledge. Some liquid thread sealants, specifically designed for fuel systems, may be preferable to tape. However, some sealants (like Permatex® (supplied by Aircraft Spruce)) actually contain PTFE and, if incorrectly used, can still enter a fuel system!

PTFE is extensively used, without reaction, in multi-fuel environments – including rocket fuel!

Robin Braithwaite, LAA 625

Ed – Thanks Robin, you’ll see an update to the PTFE debate in Engineering Matters this month (p34) ■

April 2022 | LIGHT AVIATION | 9
LA member Greg Shepherd enjoying his FRED

Straight and Level

Rekindling the fun of flying

The recent spell of fine weather across the country has seen Flight Radar 24 awash with sport and recreational aviators taking back to the air. Hopefully a portent of a great flying summer to come!

It’s been a long winter and an even longer period in which the pandemic has constrained us from fully enjoying our flying, so as we look forward to the coming summer it’s time to put some fun back into our flying. Hopefully we have been able to put the winter months to good use, whether that has been toiling away to progress a build project, getting on with essential maintenance or ensuring our pride and joy receives some TLC.

But what of our flying plans for the coming summer? Some will no doubt have been planning an epic adventure, maybe not on the scale of Zara Rutherford, but nevertheless contemplating our own flying challenge. Others may be looking forward to returning to Europe or undertaking a flying visit for the first time, perhaps inspired by one of Martin Ferid’s articles in past editions of Light Aviation. There is also the welcome return of Schaffen-Diest’s Old Timers event which many members have regularly attended. Even further afield there is Oshkosh and whether you are going on the LAA organised trip or under your own steam it’s always

Updates from the Chairman and CEO

awesomely impressive and definitely has the ‘fun factor’!

Closer to home, the UK’s flying calendar is already packed with events from major airshows, to Strut organised fly-ins and Meet the LAA days, as well as many more informal activities. One event yet to be finalised is our own Rally. Regrettably, Sywell is not able to host us for 2022 but we continue to pursue options to hold an event in September and will update everyone on our plans as soon as we can.

It may be that it’s just about getting back in the air, just enjoying our freedoms with an early morning or late evening flight around the local countryside or simply getting back to the airfield, meeting up with old friends and chewing the cud about all matters aviation wise and more.

The fun and enjoyment we gain from our passion for flying also comes from sharing our knowledge and interest with others, be that in the air or on the ground.

Having participated in the recent YES annual conference, held this year over Zoom, I was struck by the many and varied ways in which members are sharing their skills, knowledge and experience, particularly with young people. Whether that’s introducing young people to the joy of flying, sharing technical skills through Build-a-Plane and STEM initiatives, to participating in a growing number of initiatives that recognise the value of our local airfield to the environment.

There are many ways to get involved and share our passion for flying with others. Whatever your plans are for the coming summer make sure you rekindle friendships and the fun of flying! ■

Spring is here at last!

At last, no more sub-zero, hypothermic aviation! (Neither my Cub nor Currie Wot have heaters). Lighter evenings may allow post-work ‘sunset flights’ and best of all, grass strips that are ceasing to resemble Everglades swamps. Yes, spring is definitely here and hopefully we can all get back into the swing of flying again.

Speaking personally, a combination of office workload, a soggy airfield and when the rain stopped, blustering winds, has meant that I actually flew less hours in the opening months of 2022 than I did last year – and that included the Covid lockdown! Needless to say, I’ve eased myself back in reasonably gently, taking some of the advice from our Head of Training David Cockburn about choosing benign conditions, pre-planning any trips and avoiding unnecessarily high workloads and distractions until I get back up to speed. Take a look at his latest advice in Coaching Corner on p32.

Looking ahead to summer, we’ve got a full programme of activities where we hope to meet as many members as possible around the country. We have extended our agreement with LX avionics to share branding and the use of its display trailer for events during the 2022 season. Among planned events look out

for our ‘Flying for Fun’ trailer at events including the 30 April-1 May Microlight Fayre at Popham and an associated VAC fly-in there on Monday 2 May.

The end of the month will see us at Old Warden for the British Rotorcraft Association gyros event at Old Warden on May 21, then we head to Scotland for the finale of the Scottish Tour at Perth on 27 May. We are also planning an en route weekday event on the way north! June will see us at Aero Expo at Kemble, while the first weekend in August will see us in Yorkshire for the ‘We All Fly’ and Meet the LAA event, celebrating ‘Yorkshire Day’ at Rufforth. Another ‘Meet the LAA Day’ will see us at Monewden on 17-18 September, for the Suffolk Coast Strut Fly In. Come and join us!

You’ll notice that the traditional Rally weekend of 2-4 September is missing from our list. That is because, with the deepest regret, I have to tell you that we won’t be hosting the event at Sywell this year. As many of you know the airfield struggled with CAA permissions in recent years, a situation not helped by the loss of staff during Covid. Currently Sywell is in the process of a transition from FISO to air-to-ground radio services and, as part of this an hourly cap on the number of movements has been agreed. Clearly the Rally is well over this cap!

After a successful decade of support from Michael BletsoeBrown, we wish him well with his restructuring, and meanwhile we are planning something different. Do please keep the date in your diary as we’ll be making an announcement in the coming weeks. Where? Well, I can’t tell you yet, but watch this space! ■

10 | LIGHT AVIATION | April 2022

Project News

I’ve been looking forward to receiving an update on a Sling 4 TSi for some time, and then hot on the heels of Paul Hennessy's report on his creation, G-HYPE, the first UK customer built TSi to fly, Ashok Thamarakshan has sent an update on his, the second UK customer-built Sling 4 TSi to fly.

If you read the Hot Kits feature in the March issue of Light Aviation you'll know this isn't a small, cheap or simple aircraft to build, Sling’s approach to providing a kit to such a high level of preparation for the homebuilder, certainly makes it a straightforward and uncomplicated one to construct. It is a sophisticated four-seater with good performance and for two examples to be finished and flown in less than two years, with others soon to follow seems to support that view. Clearly four-seat aircraft types are not that numerous in our world

and the TSi is most likely to be compared with the RV-10. The biggest difference I can see between the two is empty weight and engine type, the Sling is about 500lb lighter and consequently makes use of 141hp as opposed 260hp for a similar but lower set of performance figures.

This in turn translates to nearly a halving of fuel burn and a simpler one lever aircraft to fly as opposed to three levers. Dare I mention rivets? For the Sling builder they are all pulled as opposed to solid in the RV.

Ashok’s is a story of a low hours rental pilot building his first aircraft while looking ahead and dreaming big.

To get in touch with Project News, and tell your story, report a milestone or just to send a picture, please email: projectnews@ Please share your story!

G-DIYA (LAA 400A-15689) Sling 4 TSi

II began my flight training in 2018 and gained my PPL in the summer of the following year in a Cessna 172. Since then I’ve been flying a Pipistrel Virus SW 121 for about 20hr. So I’m a very new pilot and have only gained about 80 hours total flying experience.

Licence in hand, I started to consider where my flying was going, access to a four-seater would allow me to go touring with my wife and two young daughters. but I didn’t fancy flying with my family in the tired old aircraft that were available for rent. I quickly realised that to stay proficient enough to fly with passengers I needed to be flying a lot more hours in the same aircraft and that was not going to be viable in hourly rentals. I liked flying the Pipistrel because of its modern avionics and Rotax engine, but unfortunately it’s only a two-seater. I briefly looked at a new Tecnam P2006T which was available at my local airfield, but at nearly £350 per hour, it wasn’t really viable.

So it seemed to me that owning my own aircraft would be nice – and obviously that would need to be a fourseater. I quickly concluded that the best option was to build or buy a permit aircraft. My type shortlist came down to the Jabiru J430, the Van’s RV-10 or the Sling 4 TSi.

Van’s RV-10s are amazing aircraft but very rarely come up for sale, Slings were relatively new and the J430s that were available were quite old. Also I didn’t quite have the

money to buy an aircraft outright and thought it would be better to save up and buy each stage kit as it was needed and spread the cost. So, it was going to be a build and it was to be the Sling – YouTube helped make that decision. It was on Youtube where I first heard about the Sling TSi thanks to video makers Mojo Grip and Evan Brunye.

The long-term plan is to share the aircraft with two or three like-minded pilots to lower the overall financial burden of the project and yearly operating costs. I see the Sling as my aeroplane for the next 10 years for week-long family holidays and weekend recreational flights. Having flown the aircraft now, I’m glad I chose the Sling and I’m really looking forward to the adventures that lay ahead.

12 | LIGHT AVIATION | April 2022
Above Ashok’s workshop with the tail components taking shape.
Inspiring members to take on their own aircraft build or restoration project

We flew to South Africa in January 2020 to visit Sling’s factory and test fly the Sling 4 TSi. At the time there weren’t any finished TSi’s in Europe. It was pre-covid, when it was actually possible to travel somewhere as far as Johannesburg just over a weekend. Flying the demonstrator with a density altitude of over 8,000 ft, three people and a fair amount of fuel we were still seeing better than 1,000 ft/min climb rate. Suitably impressed, we ordered the empennage kit, deferring the wings and fuselage to later.

The next challenge was finding a local LAA Inspector. Inspectors are able to oversee certain types of airframe, wood, composite, metal, gyro but four seats is also a category. It transpired there were no four-seat inspectors nearby. Fortunately, Peter Richbell was local and happy to upgrade to this new airframe type. Fortunately, Pete only had to go through a small administrative exercise to add 4SA to his list of approvals as he was already a very experienced engineer in the certified world.

As a build location, I settled upon a 3m x 5m metal shed/single garage in the back garden. On the upside there was no travel time, but it was a little cramped. While waiting for the first kit stage to arrive, all effort went into building the shed and kitting it out with benches and any specialist tools that may be needed. The builders’ forums were a great help in identifying what was required.

Building commenced in April 2020 and it was my intention to have others help but the first covid lockdown obviously changed that plan. I haven’t any experience with other kits, so can’t make a comparison, but I found the Sling kit to be well organised and it came with everything you need including all hardware and the various loctite adhesives for specific applications. The kit also contains jigs to get accurate alignment of certain key sections of the build. All solid rivets on the wing spars and main spar carry are already set, leaving pulled rivets for the builder.

I set about building the empennage and very much feeling my way, taking inventory, seeing if any parts needed deburring and so on. The factory had done a pretty good job and all of the components were preformed, drilled and free from significant burrs, but there was still a little cleaning up to do. Once this had been done and following considerable handling, I washed and degreased all the parts in low profile box baths lined with a

1 A wing under construction, filling the workshop and with supplied alignment jigs either end and limbo opportunity underneath.

2 The inhouse storage rack to keep the workshop clear.

3 Workshop extension to accommodate the aft end of the fuselage.

4 Aft fuselage under construction.

plastic sheet. I used the same method to then go on and Alumiprep and Alodine bathe all of the components.

It was time to assemble the frame of the horizontal stabiliser and elevator, then pausing to allow the inspector to check my work before skinning. The skins and underlying structures required dimpling for pulled flush rivets using a large deep-throated bench dimpler (a DRDT2 borrowed from an RV builder) and smaller hand-held dies for the smaller limited access parts. Once inspected the stabiliser could be skinned, surprisingly there is only one skin for each side, left and right. Each skin is pre-formed running from the spar around its curved leading edge and back to the spar again. Amazingly, most of the pre-drilled skin rivet holes lined up perfectly with only a few needing a little assistance from the drill. When completed these finished components were all moved to the house to maintain space in the workshop.

I had a delay beginning construction of the wings as my next shipment of Alodine was held up, but in the end I needed to make progress and proceeded without it, considering I may just dip the wing tank components and wing skins. The printed A3 manual instructions were good and clear with excellent exploded drawings and the wings were not difficult to build. The main spar is really a pre-built sub-assembly with all of the solid riveting already done and the root end of the main spar is two hefty U-shaped sections riveted together to make a very sturdy I-beam. Both ends of the spars are supported on special jigs / end plates supplied with the kit and the whole structure just floats in mid-air meaning a 5m long bench is not needed. Beneficial, as the whole assembly only just fitted into the workshop lengthways and I had to limbo underneath to work on the opposite edge of the wing.

Although pre-built, the main spar had what seemed like thousands of holes along its top and bottom length that needed countersinking for the skin-flush pulled rivets.

Then it was just a case of building up the wing ladder style, fitting ribs between the spars followed by the fitting of belcranks and torque tubes etc. The pre-drilled holes all lined up reasonably well. Sometimes, especially where there were more than two components being riveted together, it was a case of juggling the assembly order of a joint to get everything to align nicely. The skins are all pre-formed with any bends and again all of the rivet holes

April 2022 | LIGHT AVIATION | 13 Project News
1 2 3 4

pre-drilled. Only the leading edge of the wings, horizontal stabiliser and forward section of the fuselage use flush rivets, the rest are standard domed rivets. All of the flush rivet holes need dimpling, these holes are slightly undersized and the dimpling process brings them up to size. As much of the wing assembly as possible was put together ‘dry’ at first with Clecos to ensure I’d understood the manual and to maximise the hole alignment. Once satisfied I’d go ahead and rivet. Mistakes were kept to a minimum with only a few rivets having to be drilled out. Once completed, the wings were stored with the empennage in the house to make space in the workshop.

The fuselage delivery was delayed by two months and this resulted in a period of no building. It was a slow build fuse, but a quick build would have been delayed a further six months due to high demand. By the time I finished, the QB still wouldn’t have arrived. It is made up from a number of bulkhead type frames that are themselves riveted up from a number of component parts, these are then assembled onto the lower skin and a number of side and lower longerons. This is the manner by which the rear fuse is assembled and the whole assembly fitted onto the workbench. Again much Clecoed ‘dry’ assembly was run through before pulling rivets.

The rear fuse extends aft from the back of the passenger compartment and, once complete, construction of the main fuse centre section can commence and is joined to the aft section in the process. This is where the length of the fuselage becomes an issue and at that point I had to make a hole in the rear shed wall, build a temporary structure outside and push the rear fuse down this new tunnel to enable construction of the centre section on my build table.

By the start of 2021 the fuselage was ready to have the canopy installed. This isn’t a canopy in the conventional sense but the whole roof of the passenger compartment and carries the two gull wing doors, aft glazing and windscreen, a huge piece of GRP. A lot of care and test fitting, and it was ready to bond and rivet in place.

My strategy for the corrosion protection of the airframe ended up a mix of many. Empennage, fuel tanks and all skins were alodined. Duralac was applied between all mating surfaces during assembly. Fuel tank sealant used as a barrier when using stainless steel rivets on aluminium

5 The nearly complete fuselage with its tail end in the shed extension.

6 The panel is wired in and fired up.

7 TAF supplied interior is very professional and plush looking.

8 This is where it all comes together –final assembly at the hangar.

parts. Sikaflex used to seal off any water entry points. Outside surfaces were all etch primed and painted while interior surfaces were given the Corrosion X treatment upon completion. The final empty weight ended up at 521kg, so not much weight was added in the name of corrosion protection.

Instrumentation is a Garmin G3X with IFR capabilities for later use. I ordered the panel from the US as I wanted a quality product and didn’t have the expertise to build one myself. Midwest Panel Builders in Michigan specialise in Sling panels and have made more panels for the TSi than TAF. It supplies panels to all US Sling kits and its customer support has been nothing but amazing. They provided all the metalwork and an extensive pre-made wiring loom.

The upholstery is a standard kit from the factory and looks very nice when fitted. The interior quality and the seat fold for rear access makes the whole interior just like a modern car in use, appearance and quality. The front seats, even for a tall person, are very comfortable with plenty of fore and aft travel, the rear seats are a little more snug but there is plenty of legroom.

Painting took a lot longer than expected, the amount of preparation on the fibreglass parts was considerable with sorting pinholes and general filling required. Fuse prep was considerable as that’s where the bulk of the fibreglass components are to be found. The colour was chosen by my wife and is pearlescent, so the quality of spraying had to be good. I did most of the prep and a custom body shop did the actual spraying taking two people several months to complete. A complete respray of a classic VW beetle was happening concurrently and they had painted aircraft components before but never a complete airframe. I worked with them to perfect the process of priming etc.

There was no point having the engine at home as there wasn’t the room, so that was sent straight to the airfield. Equally, I couldn’t fit the undercarriage at home due to space reasons. As it was, it took four able-bodied people to extract the fuselage from the shed and into a 7.5t lorry for the trip to the airfield. And so the aircraft went to the airfield for final assembly and engine fit.

The tricky parts of the project were; building the fuel tanks, getting the flight controls nice and smooth and fitting of the windscreen, windows and doors. Speaking of challenges, the first covid lockdown imposed delays to

Project News 14 | LIGHT AVIATION | April 2022
5 6 7 8

parts and tools, full-time working from home and homeschooling the kids kept me away from the build. The same also allowed more time on weekends and evenings as there was no commute, no school runs, no weekend birthday parties and no family visits.

Build up to the final inspection was in the two months leading up to Christmas 2021 and the paperwork was sent to the LAA immediately after the break. The Permit to test was issued on 1 February and by the end of the month four test flights had been completed in a month of short days, very poor weather and three named storms in one week, with some of the highest wind speeds seen for a long while. The test flights have gone well revealing a few snags but nothing serious.

The first person to thank is my wife who agreed to this craziness and even helped save up for the project. Secondly, Nick Crisp a colleague and fellow LAA member for assisting at key stages and being my aircraft electrics mentor. James Bentley and team at Ventura Aviation for final assembly assistance at Top Farm Airfield. Tim Hardy the UK Sling agent and my test pilot. Tony Kay and Peter Richbell my Inspectors, Bob and Frey from Customs &

Below What a splendid looking flying machine.

Classics for the slick paint job. Steve and Adam from Midwest, USA for their amazing support. Hitesh Sanganee and family… this wasn’t just a ‘one man in a shed’ build!

Al Seymour (G-SLPC) , Steven Lamb (G-TSII), G Holford (G-HTSI) and Paul Hennessy (G-HYPE March 2022 Project News) were all a great help, as was the UK Sling builders WhatsApp group of around 20 members. They shared parts, tools, information and expertise. Sling Aircraft has been particularly helpful in the latter stages of compiling documentation to support the permit application. Apart from some quality issues, delivery delays and an average two to three day turnaround on emails, Sling can’t be faulted.

The first flight was carried out by Tim Hardy at Top Farm on 7 February, there were no real problems, maybe a slight tendency for the aircraft to roll to the right but that’s about it. Testing and debugging continue.

A comprehensive video diary of the whole build in much more detail can be found at slingbuilduk

I also found this basic comparison of the Sling TSi with the RV-10 here n

New Projects

If your aircraft has been featured in the New Projects list, please let Project News know of your progress at:

n Replica Blackburn Monoplane (LAA 429-15816) 25/2/2022

Mr A J Smith, Ash View, 5 Park Meadows,

Gateforth Hall Estate, Selby, N Yorks, YO8 9RG

n Bristell NG5 Speed Wing (LAA 385-15814) 16/2/2022

Mr K Faint, 7 Posthorses, Ashington, West Sussex, RH20 3QF

n Sling 4 TSi (LAA 400A-15813) 8/2/2022

Mr G Davies, Sayonara House, Common End Lane, Lepton, Huddersfield, HD8 0AL

If your aircraft has featured recently in the magazine and has subsequently completed its maiden flight, Project News would like to hear from you at:

n G-EKTP Saab 91D Safir (s/n 91.464) 23/2/2022

Name & Address held by LAA Engineering

n G-DIYA Sling 4 TSi (LAA 400A-15689) 1/2/2022

n Van’s Aircraft RV-12iS (LAA 363A-15812) 3/2/2022

Name & Address held by LAA Engineering

n Bristell NG5 Speed Wing (LAA 385-15815) 22/2/2022

Name & Address held by LAA Engineering

n KFA Safari (LAA 402-15817) 28/2/2022

Name & Address held by LAA Engineering

Inditu Air Services Ltd, 6 Beverley Rise, Billericay, CM11 2HU

n G-PEVA Aeroprakt A32 Vixxen (LAA 411-15767) 14/2/2022

Name & Address held by LAA Engineering

July 2016 | LIGHT AVIATION | 2 3
April 2022 | LIGHT AVIATION | 15
Project News Cleared To Fly


Ed Hicks finds out more about the LAA members who helped Rolls-Royce create a world record-breaking electric-powered kitplane

Photography: Rolls-Royce, Electroflight and Ed Hicks


Plenty has been written about the Spirit of Innovation aircraft built by Electroflight under UK E-Conditions for Rolls-Royce, especially since the aircraft successfully set five world records at the end of 2021. What you may not have realised though, is that lots of the people involved in the project were also LAA members. Homebuilders, engineers and pilots, they all played various parts in the record-breaking programme success.

Electroflight grew from LAA Inspector Roger Targett’s idea to create an electric racing aircraft, which started to take shape around 2010. Having worked on Red Bull racer Steve Jones’ aircraft, Roger thought the idea of an electric-powered racer would be a natural evolution, given

the very short flight times – around 90 seconds – of race aircraft around the course. Steve agreed, and before too long was an founding investor in Electroflight, along with Nick Sills. As funds allowed, the development of the P1E slowly progressed, and Electroflight quietly began making a name for itself in the emerging market of high-powered electric propulsion for aerospace.

When Rolls-Royce needed a partner for its ACCEL (Accelerating the Electrification of Flight), they turned to Electroflight. The plan? To create an electric-powered aircraft that could beat the existing 213mph electric record set in 2017 by Walter Extra’s Siemens powered Extra 330LE, and hopefully take it to beyond 300mph.

Stjohn Youngman had been working in automotive engineering for a number of years on start-ups mainly

Special Feature
New world records set – a very proud Electroflight team and their fantastic creation

Stressing the NXTe LAA member John Wighton kept

close eye on the stresses throughout the NXTe airframe

Way back when in 2010, Roger Targett asked for some support with his visionary project for a single-seat, electric, pylon racer. Some initial engineering work was completed early on and the P1E later emerged as a static prototype airframe, Roger having learned many lessons on the way.

Wind forward to 2018, and I had decided to reinvent my aerospace consulting business that I started in 1988. The 250 projects we had contributed to included everything from a new SSDR, through many LAA/GA types such as the Speedtwin Mk2, Centaur Seaplane plus many modifications. Excursions into larger aircraft projects also came and went.

The call came in from Electroflight’s Stjohn Youngman. He had seen our advert in LA, and wanted to speak about the Rolls-Royce ACCEL programme. It was clear from the start that this was a well-managed and properly funded project. The objectives were clear, milestones defined. What it needed matched Acroflight’s core competency –that being experience with lightweight composite

structures, stress analysis and compliance validation. The NXT airframe needed modification to facilitate transport. The choices included a removable wing or a fuselage joint. After trade studies and risk assessments the split fuselage was chosen. Dr Bill Brooks undertook much of the analysis. Verification of the analysis-based design was achieved via tests conducted at TWI.

Right Stress analysis of the end plates of the motor stack.

Below right Analysis of the battery case under thrust, torque and gyroscopic loading. Contours show stress distribution, arrows show interface loads.

Below Mapping the aerodynamic pressures on the cowling.

18 | LIGHT AVIATION | April 2022 Special Feature

Far left top Purchased from France, NXT kit 10 and the crashdamaged Big Frog

Top left Rob Martin working on the bottom wing skin. The team found inconsistencies in work already done, and had to check and rebuild the structure.

Far left bottom Jigging and bonding the horizontal stabiliser into position. The empennage was re-used from the Big Frog airframe after careful inspection and repair. The fin is the only piece of structure not to use carbon fibre.

Left Rob Martin working on the mounting of one of the new, lighter undercarriage legs which were made for the project.

around electric vehicles, but loved flying and did his PPL in a Pitts (yes, really!), and he’s been rebuilding a Laser Z200.

Having moved to the area near Electroflight HQ, he called up Roger after looking at its website. “While they still weren’t ready to employ people, we kept in touch. Then one day I had an email mentioning they had got a meeting with Rolls-Royce. The P1E was designed to be a race aircraft, very small, very light, and consequently used a small power train, around 100 kilowatts. From Rolls-Royce’s perspective that was too small a step. I had some thoughts around electrifying different aircraft and the Nemesis NXT designed by legendary air racer Jon Sharp was one of those that I thought was ripe for conversion to electric. With it, I thought we could look at 400 kilowatts or even a little more.”

The NXT was optimised for high-speed flight, with a thin Natural Laminar Flow wing. The aircraft also used a single 340 litre fuel tank in the fuselage right over the main spar (and CofG), offering plenty of space for batteries.

Stjohn, who went on to manage the programme for Electroflight, adds, “We knew that the programme was tight, and soon realised that if we didn’t have an NXT airframe, there would be no programme. So for three months, we scoured the globe for the remaining kits, and found kit number 10, which was relatively untouched, in France. It came with the crash-damaged remains of another NXT which had raced with a diesel engine under the name Big Frog. We bought both before the programme was officially launched, which was a gamble that paid off.

“But, there was also only one set of paper drawings. We had begun to 3d scan the kit parts, when luckily we were offered help by Colin Boyd, who had bought the rights to

the NXT and had all the design CAD files. Suddenly we had every single part in its initial truest form, as it was designed, and it transformed what we were able to do, especially as a huge element was packaging the powertrain to fit the airframe. It probably saved us a year of effort. It also helped reassure Rolls-Royce that the kit parts conformed to the original design. It also helped us undo some of the construction work that had been done to the aircraft, some of which had been modified.”

Roger continues, “We soon realised we needed more help with the construction, so I asked Andy Draper at LAA Engineering for some people I might contact to see if they’d help us and he suggested Rob Martin. Rob is highly experienced in composite manufacturing, and after I kept pestering him, he finally caved in and joined us.

Stjohn adds, “We still needed a build manual though. Rolls-Royce had asked us what documentation were we building the aircraft to – conformity was an important factor to them. There was a series of 14 or so DVDs, made by Jon Sharp where he’s effectively being filmed as he builds the first one, and sometimes you’d get to a point where he says, ‘Oh, by the way, such and such point on the last video wasn’t right, so you should do this instead’. From a conformity point, that made people a bit nervous! So Rob sat down and watched probably 100 hours of video from start to finish and used that to create a build manual for the aircraft.

“In the end, that helped us pick up some non-conformity in some key areas of construction done by builders of the airframe before we got our hands on it. We were looking at the lower wing half, and realised that the ribs had all been

A functional aspect of electric aircraft is the need to land at the take-off weight. The regulations often allow a max landing weight of 95% of the MAUW for IC-powered aircraft. The NXT main gear is retractable and tightly faired for low drag. We undertook a loads analysis using CS-23 requirements. As the NXT has a high-wing loading, the ground reaction load factor (ng) was high with a decent rate of 10 ft/sec. However, the 4130N steel main gear felt heavy, possibly over-designed. Some weight-saving measures were identified and a full FE-based analysis was conducted to identify how much material could come off.

This analysis was done based on the MAUW of 1,379kg. Around 12kg reduction was deemed acceptable, with the caveat that all landings should be wheeler-type (no 3-pointers). The irony of this work was that the MAUW was later raised to 1,450kg, requiring a further round of FE/ stress work using non-linear techniques to show compliance with Limit loads and to predict where failures might occur should those loads reach Ultimate levels.

Moving on (beyond the original remit), we next tackled the energy storage system (ESS). We had already looked at the electric motor mounting structure. The ESS is a structural box supporting a combined mass of around 750kg. It needed to be demountable to allow development and maintenance work on the ESS systems. Structurally, it penetrated the firewall taking up the space previously occupied by the fuel tank. A unique mounting design was imagined, simulated and optimised. This was done in conjunction with MGI Engineering, whose F1 and Formula-E experience proved invaluable.

The ESS is highly complex and proved tricky to manufacture, it is made from carbon fibre with embedded metallic hardpoints for the mountings and motor frame, etc. The tooling face is the inside – to ensure the battery cell modules, cooling, monitoring systems, etc have an accurately defined space. The manufacturing task was undertaken by ATLAS Composites who also had to cope with Covid-19 lockdowns.

The aerodynamic shape of the aircraft was changed at the front, the wide cheeks (for IC engine clearance) were gone. Paulo Iscold, the renowned expert credited with many ‘fast’ achievements provided input for the cowling cooling inlet, internal ducts and outlets. He conducted CFD work on the fuselage to determine if the static margin (yaw stability) had been affected and to generate surface pressure that we could use after mapping in our cowling FEM. Roger and the build team translated our designs into the beautiful shape of the NXTe.

The beauty of working on an E-Conditions project is the speed at which things can be achieved. We were unable (or willing) to forgo peer checks and oversight from our highly capable R-R counterparts.

The final stress and design reports went through the ‘ringer’, a critical review is an important element, especially when the Competent Person is, effectively, self-certifying the aircraft.

Proof of the theoretical performance capability manifested from the successful early flights to the record-breaking runs. A great achievement, one that the whole team should be proud of.

Special Feature
April 2022 | LIGHT AVIATION | 19

F lying the NXTe

LAA member Steve Jones takes us through a typical sortie…

One look at an NXT is likely to raise the eyebrows, if not the heart rate. When I first saw one in the flesh I remember thinking ‘crikey, is this a good idea?!’

A conventional walk around reveals a very serious piece of aeronautical artistry. All pretty standard until you get to the propeller. Grab hold of it and spin it to check for freedom and lack of play. No ignition system is present, so it cannot fire. This takes some getting used to. Cooling is critical so, while around the front, have a good look into the cooling ducts to the radiators.

Arriving back at the cockpit carefully strap on the parachute then throw a leg over the side, and with a bit of a hop you are standing on a bit of foam – the seat. Carefully shimmy down without connecting with any knobs, switches or the small side-stick. You are aiming for what I would call the ‘Lotus position’, sitting reclined on the floor, legs outstretched, with pedals touching the balls of your feet through your soft shoes. It’s very comfortable and sporty, but tight around the pilot, so make sure you have everything connected and stowed. The cockpit is another work of art, but more Star Trek than General Aviation. The systems are beautifully designed but quite complicated, so a checklist is essential. Turning things on in the wrong order will cause bad things to happen internally. Carefully working through the checklists ends with ‘Inverters 1,2 and 3 to Run’. Until now there has been complete silence, but these switches also control three cooling pumps which you will now hear. The ‘throttle’ (or torque lever or whatever you fancy calling it) is completely closed, so the propeller is stationary, but we are ready to taxi.

We call the Tower for taxi clearance. Normally, they reply with something like ‘how can you taxi when you haven’t started!’ We gently open the ‘throttle’ and the propeller starts to slowly rotate with a faint swishing noise, and we are off. Visibility from the cockpit it extremely poor with nothing available between the left side of the cowling and the right wing tip. The secret weapon is the view from the under fuselage camera which can be selected on the pilot’s instrument screen. Bizarrely, the safest way of taxying is to spend most of the time looking at the screen. This feels very unnatural. If you wish to stop, close the throttle and the propeller will stop rotating, allowing you to coast to a halt. ATC will normally ask if you have a problem because of the stationary prop!

The take-off needs some care. Hold the side-stick back to stop the tail lifting while setting about 10% torque. Check that all three powertrains are delivering the same torque,

then smoothly increase to 30% to escalate speed. The power delivery is turbine-smooth. There is no forward view, so concentrate on keeping straight by sighting down the left side of the cowling. Once nicely straight increase torque to 70% and smoothly swap the pull on the stick to a moderate push. The tail will start to slowly rise and a forward view will appear. Now pause – do not be tempted to drag the aeroplane into the air. It has a very abrupt wing-drop at the stall and that would be a disaster near the ground. So relax and wait for 100-110kt of airspeed before positively rotating to convince the aircraft to fly. At a decent height select gear up. It probably will not retract completely, so be ready to do a hefty ‘bunt’ when passing 1,000ft to extinguish the green lights.

The whole point of this project is to go as fast as possible so we won’t bother with any cruising! Once the gear and flaps are retracted increase torque to 100%. The aeroplane will continue to accelerate to about 300kt (345mph). Directional stability is poor so a continual effort is required to keep from side-slipping in either direction. It’s quite labour intensive to fly accurately but not unpleasant. Be careful not to stray too far from the runway because you will need to be landing in 8-15 minutes.

Because of the very poor view out the front, the approach is best flown from 1,500ft on a very tight left Base. Idle power early, to slow down to 130kt to select gear down. A firm yaw left and right quickly gets the two green lights to illuminate, then select full flap. The aeroplane is now extremely draggy, so all that excess height we had a few seconds ago can be used to fly a very steep approach at 130kt, in a moderate left-turn, aiming at the runway numbers. This all sounds like madness, but it is a marvellous way of improving the forward view. Still at idle power, raise the nose a tad to reduce speed to 120kt. As we pass about 200ft, adding 5% or so of torque reduces the rate of decent a bit, but is not essential. What is essential is to concentrate on running the main wheels gently on to the runway at between 100 and 110kt as the throttle is closed. The trailing link undercarriage is nicely soft and after touchdown the tail can be held up, with increasing forward stick, to allow an excellent view ahead. At about 60kt the tail will start to fall and with it the view. Now be careful, the only reference to maintain direction is the left side of the runway, so concentrate as we are still travelling pretty fast. Do not brake until at very low speed. Once the speed has reduced, select the taxi camera to help with the tricky return to parking.

20 | LIGHT AVIATION | April 2022

bonded in the wrong place, plus the layups on the main spar web hadn’t been correctly carried out.”

Another key figure on the build was homebuilder Andy McKee says Roger. “Andy emailed us just at a time when we really need to push on, and with his beautiful Silence Twister build as his CV, he was definitely in. Andy worked throughout the airframe, but was particularly involved in all the canopy work which included a jettison system modification that Rolls-Royce asked to be created and installed. At the peak of construction efforts, there were four of us on the airframe – Dan Lamb, Nigel Lamb’s son, joined in too.”

Stjohn adds, “When it looked like we’d need stress work done, I had remembered seeing an advert in the LAA mag for John Wighton at Acroflight. John, was brilliant in that he was a light aircraft builder and flyer, but had also been a stress signatory for big aerospace manufacturers. There are very few people in the world whose experience covers such a huge range.”

While Big Frog wasn’t going to fly again, it did donate it’s aft fuselage to the NXTe. Stjohn continues, “Our new kit’s rear fuselage and fin had been assembled and modified. We talked to Colin Boyd about building new parts, but that was clearly going to take time. This was also when we were figuring out how to make the aircraft easy to transport by road – with such limited range and E-conditions restrictions to comply with, flying it was not an option! World-renowned aerodynamics professor Paulo Iscold suggested making the tail removable, and when we looked into the design, Jon Sharp had made provision for a transport joint in the fuselage mouldings. So we cut it in half and added a lap joint to connect the two parts. Once the old tail had been

Below Cowlings were modelled in CAD. Side seams use the same piano hinge method for the join, which is popular with homebuilders.

Below right Three stacked motors, inverters, a structural battery case and an integrated cooling system make up the powertrain. There’s half as much battery again inside the airframe that’s hidden from view.

carefully stripped and repaired, we were able to screw it back onto the newer forward fuselage.”

Big Frog also donated all it’s control surfaces. Roger adds, “All the control surfaces were missing from kit 10, and all of Big Frog's had been lightly damaged. While we tried scanning them to verify the integrity of their internal structure and the security of the various control surface mounts, in the end we had to carefully take them apart, checked the structures, then rebuilt them.”

Roger confessed that when it came to fitting the custom carbon cowling for the NXTe, he was sceptical of Stjohn’s instructions. “The final powertrain was still far from being ready to be mounted, but we needed to get on and complete the cowlings. Stjohn just said to cut it to the CAD

Above left Adding the lap joint structure to make the tail section removable.

Above Roger and Rob inside the fuselage during an epic 14-hour work session to fit the powertrain mount tubes and reinforce the firewall.

Below Carefully ‘cooking’ the completed airframe.

April 2022 | LIGHT AVIATION | 21 Special Feature

Above right The cockpit was originally designed for two, but for this project, it was built as a single-seater. Note the centre stick.

dimensions and it will be fine. Now, I’m a pencil and paper guy, and I thought there’s no way this will work once the powertrain is fitted, but to be fair, it really did.”

The powertrain is an astonishing combination of motors, inverters and batteries. The motors, three YASA 750 R units, were low-speed, high-torque units that could be ‘stacked’ one on top of the other. A single shaft slots through all three, and onto that fits an MT electricallycontrollable pitch propeller. The result is a maximum total output of 400kW or about 530hp.

To power the motors there’s Electroflight own battery system. It’s packed inside a case, the ‘energy storage system’, which is a structural element that is split into three individually sealed units. Each battery unit is about 700 volts, completely isolated, and connected to its own inverter, which in turn is connected to an individual motor. In total, over 6,000 individual cells connected together using Ultrasonic wire bonding, are used. Each is a little bigger than an AA battery, and are the sort of thing you’d find in high discharge, fast recharge device like a Dyson vacuum. Keeping everything cool, is nine individual cooling circuits that have full redundancy across the three powertrain systems. Custom radiators were fed air from two small NACA inlets on forward are of the lower cowl.

The biggest modification that was made to the airframe was to allow for this very large powertrain unit to attach into the airframe. Stjohn adds, “What used to be a standard firewall is now a complex piece of preg-preg composite, it looks like the same shape but with a big hole that allows the battery to pass through it. Four carbon tubes are laid up close into the sides of the airframe, at the end of which are large steel pins that the battery slides on to. The whole lot creates a stiff structure, that we think is superior to the original design. It was a massive task for Rob and Roger though, and it was completed in one very long 14-hour day as the all the elements had to be installed in one single, wet lamination.”

Once the composite fabrication was completed, the team built a box around the airframe while it sat in its construction jig, and then cooked the airframe overnight at a carefully controlled temperature to perfectly cure everything, ensuring optimum structural strength.

In the cockpit, you’ll find some pretty standard homebuilding kit, Garmin G3X Touch, Trig radio and transponder and an ASI and altimeter.

Roger adds, “Manuel Queiroz was a big help with configuring the Garmin systems after installation. The airspeed indicator was Steve Jones’ request – he just

wanted a simple, single sweep unit that went from 0 to 500 miles per hour. The only one we could find was a from a WWII American fighter, a Thunderbolt I think it was. Ray Hillyer, who designed and built instrument calibration equipment for Smiths, calibrated our ASI and altimeter set up. In action, the pitot static system proved a little troublesome, and we eventually switched to using cockpit static as a number of the NXTe’s internal pressure sensors showed that internal static was very suitable to use. While I remember, another LAA’er that helped in the later stages was John Eagles, who was the programmes CAA licensed signing engineer."

Goals achieved, records set…

By the end of the programme the NXTe had flown 30 times, totalling just under seven hours flight time and covered 2,200km. In that time the systems proved to be amazingly reliable throughout, something that Stjohn credits to the motorsport influences that were strong throughout the development of the powertrain and its systems. Only the undercarriage proved challenging, refusing to fully retract on the first flight. Not a fault per se, just aerodynamic loads on the gear doors proving to be a challenge. The solution on later flights was just to work with it and ‘bunt’ to assist it into the up position. The first landing, which was made flapless and used the full length of Boscombe Down’s runway, used a complete set of disk and pads. Stjohn adds, “We picked Beringer units during the build as they were lighter and we knew they'd give us greater stopping power. We were glad we did, else we would have probably been off the end of the runway!”

Roger sums it up well. “For me, as an LAA Inspector, to have been involved with the ACCEL NXTe programme, has been very special. To develop and build probably one of the fastest kit planes this side of the Atlantic and an all electrically propelled one at that seems remarkable. The whole team has done an incredible job. The icing on the cake is to have come away with five world records.”

Those records included a top speed of 345.4mph over 3 kilometres, flown by Rolls-Royce test pilot Phill O’Dell, and in the hands of Steve Jones, 330mph over a 15 kilometre course, and also a time to climb to 3,000 metres of 202 seconds – that’s over 3,000ft per minute!

Goals achieved, the Spirit of Innovation has retired. It's heading to the Science Museum where it will share space with the Supermarine S6B. Another Rolls-Royce pioneering collaboration, it's not quite as fast as the NXTe, and used that old technology petrol stuff… ■

Special Feature
Above Stjohn Youngman, left and Roger Targett, right.
22 | L IGHT AVIATION | April 2022
LAA Permit aircraft OR BMAA Light Sport Microlight (600Kg) See See our full range at Popham 30 April/May 1 0800 5999 101 stein pilot insurance
specialist advice fixed wing and rotary pilots can often face significant premium increases when applying for life insurance. We can usually secure standard rates with no aviation exclusions. Your insurance will provide 24/7 cover including whilst flying.
Life insurance for your family, mortgage or business.
We help recreational, commercial, instructor and student pilots.
Cover can be arranged over the phone.
Our insurance advisor holds a PPL.
Online quotes. life cover FOR PILOTS

Rolling your own…

At the end of part one, having come up with our design concept I mentioned we would move on to coming up with a detailed specification. First, I have to confess to having made a few changes… Why, you ask? Well, for a number of reasons, but it goes to show how quickly things can change when designing an aircraft, especially this early on!

The new concept

What are the changes I have made? Well, numerous, but the most notable is in the choice of powerplant. What has become Concept 3 is now designed around the use of an industrial V-twin engine of approximately 28-32hp, rather than the previous idea of a VW engine. I have chosen this powerplant as, while the VW is a very proven conversion (in most of its flavours), the industrial V-twin has had great success in the Luciole and SD1 Minisport as well as several other one-off aircraft that appear to be doing well. The industrial V-twins have enough flight time to show merit in their use as an aircraft engine. Not to mention that a brand-new Briggs & Stratton engine will only set you back £1,500 or so… double it, by the time it is configured for flight. The industrial V-twin also benefits from excellent

Above Some changes since last time, gives us Concept 3.

Right Briggs and Stratton V-Twin.

fuel economy, if you design an aircraft to fly on 25hp, it should prove economical, right? We will investigate that at a later date when we do our performance estimates.

So, for the other changes? Well, the aircraft is smaller, lighter and generally looks prettier (in my mind). It won’t meet the 140kg payload target, but I am happy to accept that as it will be designed for a 130kg payload instead, meaning bigger fellas like myself can still fly it… It’s also not much of a hindrance as V-twins in this power range typically burn 5l/h… as opposed to the VWs 12-16 L/h.

In part two of his occasional series, Mike Roberts refines his simple aircraft design concept and considers some key aerodynamic and load considerations…
Technical April 2022 | LIGHT AVIATION | 25

You may be wondering if there are any drawbacks? Well, there are. First and foremost, we now need the aeroplane to perform on not much more than half the power we were previously contemplating, so we’ll need to be more focused on minimising weight and drag to make it viable. I’ve also decided that this design will have a bubble canopy. I initially planned on a canopy that used three single pieces of acrylic that are only being bent in one plane which should, in theory, make for a much cheaper and simpler canopy. The reason I decided against this simpler canopy was that I could not get the single-curvature canopy to fair in where it met the curved fuselage sides and turtledeck. It would work just fine, but it looked ugly, and I didn’t like it.

this is where we can make some educated guesstimates on our empty weight and balance. Should any problem areas arise, we can go back to our concept and make some tweaks… If the CofG becomes very sensitive to pilot weight, maybe we can move the pilot forward, or shift the wing back. Can the tail be made larger? Can we increase our payload should our estimates come out heavy? Will we need a bigger wing area? Usually, the first step is making a scale drawing on graph paper from which accurate measurements and areas can be taken to form a basic and detailed specifications.

Basic specification: The specification that is given on nearly all aircraft manuals typically include wingspan, wing area, chord (or aspect ratio) length, height, MTOW, number of seats, powerplant and sometimes fuel quantity. If you look on Wikipedia for any aircraft design, it usually shows a very good basic specification for the type.

Also, once I put the model in CAD, I found that the pilot could not turn his / her head to look over the wing without grazing their nose on the Perspex. Making the sides of the canopy more nearly vertical to give the pilot’s head more room, only created a very boxy looking aircraft. Again, it looked ugly. The PIK-26, a lovely single-seater created by the Finnish aircraft designer Kai Mellen, has achieved good looks with an angular canopy by having a splice in all four fuselage longerons, meaning rather than a curving fuselage down to the tail, the fuselage angles change dramatically at the back of the canopy. While longeron splices can be accounted for in calculations, it’s not something I wanted to do for a simple structure. So, while the aircraft looks slightly different now from how it did before, the goals are still being met. Considering most LAA aircraft have compound curvature canopies, I’m guessing it won’t be too much of an issue to make or find something to suit.

Preliminary design

Now that we have a promising looking concept, we can now continue towards the preliminary design that essentially forms the basis of a number of key aerodynamic and load considerations. Equally important,

Technical 26 | LIGHT AVIATION | April 2022
Above Kai Mellen’s neat Pik-26 single-seater

Detailed specification: Working beyond the basic specification to include areas for the tailplane, fin, and their centre of areas. The distance between the wing’s 25% Mean Aerodynamic Chord (MAC) and the centres of areas of the tail surfaces, the dihedral angle, sweep angle, wing and tail incidence angles, control surface dimensions and G-loadings. A good detailed specification should basically give a very good representation of the aircraft’s geometry.

The detailed specification is also used to determine volume coefficients and spiral parameters which give an indication as to a design’s stability, and latterly, are used to determine the aerodynamic loads on the airframe. For now, we’ll focus on the criteria for W&B and work our way through populating our detailed specification.

When you are first working on the concept and coming up with the basic specification, most likely you will estimate / guess the aircraft’s weight based on a knowledge of the weights of similar sized aircraft using an engine of the same or similar type. For the detailed specification you need to take it to the next level by doing a W&B estimate, adding up the projected individual weights of the component parts and calculating what the weight and CofG would be based on these target estimates.

Adding up the component weights is of course easy, but to work out the empty CofG we need to determine all the moment arms of the components. To do this, we first must assume a datum point. For those unfamiliar, the datum can be literally anywhere lengthways (perpendicular to the longitudinal axis), though placing it ahead of the aircraft makes things easier as it avoids having to deal with both positive and negative signs. In our case I’ve arbitrarily set the datum one metre ahead of the firewall. So, let’s start by finding the arm lengths for the following.

Powerplant Fuel Tank Battery


Estimate fuselage CG (structure only)

Estimate wing CG (structure only)

Estimate horizontal CG

Baggage (Considered how much you want)

Having determined the arm lengths by measuring our three-view, we must now estimate what the weights of the above items will be – this is a little harder. You could determine the approximate weight of the fuselage by determining the amount of material being used and account for landing gear, hardware and so on, which is basically what I have done. This will give us an approximate empty weight which we can then compare with our payload requirements to give a gross weight. Similar-sized aircraft have been built around the 100120kg range (this is where research really helps). It will be in the detail design that I can then work on various parts and pieces to possibly bring the empty weight down.

This is one method of doing it. I know through studying similar aircraft designs that for the wing area this aircraft will have, a 250kg gross weight would give a sensible wing loading and stall speed. Another approach would be to start with an intended stall speed and a projected max gross weight, and use these to work out the wing area I need, based on a realistic value of the max lift coefficient. Of course, the weight, the wing area, aspect ratio, and overall drag will have a major effect on the aircraft’s performance with a given powerplant. You may need to go around the design loop several times over before you find a combination that will work for you.

Have a look at table 1, below, where I have added up the various items from our list above. This is where I could oversaturate the article with maths, but as mentioned above, to determine things like fuselage weight, I simply determined the approximate amount of material being

Technical 28 | LIGHT AVIATION | April 2022
3960 770 1000 1275 2200 2300 2040 2770
Above Centre of gravity calculations. Below right Table 1: Centre of gravity estimates.
0800 5999 101 stein pilot insurance There’s just one specialist on radar Life Insurance FOR PILOTS

used, calculated the volume, and then multiplied by the density of the material. As my design develops within Solidworks, I can assign a material to each component which will help me keep on top of my W&B, this is one of the benefits of computer aided design. You can make manual calculations to get a pretty good estimate though.

For example, I know I will need four longerons in the fuselage that will be produced from sitka spruce. From studying various similar designs we know that 20x20mm longerons will provide more than adequate strength for an aircraft of these dimensions and weight. I anticipate that when we begin the stress work, later, I will probably find that the 20x20mm spruce is over generous and we could come down to something more like 15x15mm, which will reduce our empty weight. It’s better to overestimate our weights at this stage than to underestimate them, otherwise we risk building an aeroplane that turns out much heavier than expected and consequently are either understrength or short on performance.

So, from our drawing we can see that each longeron will need to be about (remember these are estimates) 3.8 metres in lengths, so:

Longeron Volume = (0.02m x 0.02m) x 3.9m = 0.00156

Sitka Spruce Density = 347 kg/cubic metre.

Thus, one of our longerons should weigh approximately 0.00156 x 347 = 0.54 kg, or 540 grams.

In a similar way we could work out the weights of the ply fuselage sides, the uprights, firewall, bulkheads, nuts and bolts, and the control system.

The much simpler and less accurate way would be to assume the weights of the components. In that case, for example, we’ve assumed our aircraft has a gross weight of 250kg with a 130kg payload. The empty weight is therefore 250-130 = 120kg. If the planned engine installation weighs 35kg that would mean that ‘firewall aft’ our aircraft must weigh only 250-35- 130 = 85kg.

Given this total for the airframe, dividing out our 85kg, let’s estimate that our wings weigh 20kg each, our tail weighs 5kg, and our fuselage weighs 40kg. Pretty wild assumptions, but quite possibly within a good enough ballpark to give sensible estimates on W&B. Of course, these assume ready-to-fly weights, meaning that the fuselage is fully equipped with instruments, seats, fuel tank, undercarriage etc. This method will only work well when you try and design the sub-assemblies to your predicted weights, i.e., if your wing design looks like it’s

target 20kg. That could mean, for example, sacrificing a folding wing idea and going for a one-piece wing, or substituting a strut-braced wing for a cantilever job.

Weight & Balance

Now that I have determined my arm lengths and my estimate on the design’s weight, I can now go on to determine the estimated location of my empty weight CofG. Basically, you have to multiply the weight of each component by the distance from the centre of gravity of the component from the datum, to give the moment of the component about the datum. Add the moments from all the components together, then divide the total moment by the total of the weights of the components to give the distance of the aircraft’s empty CofG from the datum line. Aircraft owner / operators should know how to do this already, so I won’t go into this further here!

Having calculated this through, I have determined that my empty CofG is just aft of the main gear. That’s good, as it’s about where I needed it to be. Now that I have a good estimate on my aircraft’s empty weight and CofG, I can use the LAA’s W&B spreadsheet (see LAA website > Engineering > Designing Aircraft > Preliminary Design) and have a play around and see how far forward and aft I can get the CofG by changing pilot, fuel and baggage weights for worst fore / aft CofG cases. As a first shot, these need to be within 20 to 33% of the wing chord. You may notice if you check my calculations that I also check the situation with the aircraft with a full fuel tank and no one in the cockpit. This is to be sure that even with a full tank, the aeroplane won’t tip on its nose without a pilot on board! Details like that are important and easily missed. You can also see that while I assumed a design gross weight of 250kg, my 116.5kg empty gives just over my 130kg target payload. This is through a combination of educated guess work and accurate measurements and predictions of weight. I hope to bring down my empty weight slightly to account for the added weight that is inevitably gained during most aircraft builds.

I hope you are enjoying this simplistic approach to aircraft design. There are a number of books which go into much greater detail than I can here for these articles. Hiscocks’ Design of Light Aircraft is a good starting point, as well as Bud Evans’ Lightplane Designers Handbook Next time, we will populate our Detailed Specification and determine some basic stability parameters. ■

Technical 30 | LIGHT AVIATION | April 2022
Below More detailed design… coming up!

The Alpi P300R sub 600Kg High Performance Light Sport Aircraft

Probably the best in class and made from sustainable materials Fun, Fast and Affordable. Book yours for 2022! Find out more at:


Having built a reputation for excellence in the design and manufacture of light aircraft fuel system components within the amateur-build aircraft sector, Andair has now established a significant presence in the commercial aviation market as well.

Photo: Keith Wilson
The Midland Aeroplane Company Limited Ha ng a r 8, Oxford Air po rt Telephone: 01865 601970 Restoration Servicing Repairs VINTAGE AND CLASSIC AIRCRAFT SPECIALISTS BASEDNOWAT OXFORD AIRPORT

Coaching Corner…

Get out and about…

It’s great fun to visit new places, but as PCS Head of Coaching David

Hopefully, the spring weather has allowed those of us who were unable to fly over the winter to remind ourselves what flying is all about and regained our ‘recency’. Once we have done that, we are probably now thinking about spreading our wings and using our aircraft to do things we have either never done before or haven’t done for a long time. After all, that’s why we have spent so much time and effort to get – and keep – our aircraft airworthy.

Despite the best efforts of the GA Advisory Council, which the LAA actively supports, the number of UK aerodromes continues to decrease. However, whether our destination is threatened with closure or just looks an attractive place to visit, I’m sure that quite a lot of us will be considering flying into airfields which we have never been to before. These might be large aerodromes, or little strips, and each presents its own quirks and challenges, for which we must prepare ourselves carefully before taking them up.

A recent incident report should remind us that operating into an airfield with which we are unfamiliar requires planning and accurate flying, and I paraphrase it here. “Visibility was excellent and the wind roughly nine knots almost down the 350m long grass strip, which was narrower than my usual choices. I made a nice gentle landing roughly one third down the runway. As the aircraft was slowing I drifted to the left a little and my left main wheel caught the edge of rough grass, significantly slowing that side and turning the aircraft further into the rough. Both front wheels dug into the grass and the aircraft had sufficient momentum to tip onto its nose. The propeller was shattered and the spats were cracked but there were no injuries.”

The CAA’s SafetySense leaflet on Strip Flying ( can provide a bit of guidance for those of us who are unfamiliar with such fields, and is expected to be updated shortly. However, nothing replaces the real thing, and so I recommend you prepare yourself as best you can. Apart from following the guidance in the SafetySense leaflet, and refining your short field techniques at airfields where you have more space, I strongly recommend you contact your local LAA Coach ( who can provide lots of guidance and practical advice and experience.

On the other hand, for those of us who normally fly from a strip, the thought of landing at an aerodrome with a long and wide runway might seem completely alien. Taxying may actually be of greater concern, as another recent



report, this time from ATC, indicates: “The pilot of an aeroplane visiting from an unlicensed aerodrome landed and was instructed to vacate taxiway Charlie and taxi to the southern apron. The aircraft was then observed making a turn towards a vehicle access track linking taxiway Charlie with the based flying clubs. The aircraft was instructed to remain on taxiway Charlie, but he had already turned. He continued forward without my clearance.”

I also have to admit that landing, parking, and handling fees are a bit of a disincentive, and Heathrow is probably not a viable destination!

But we shouldn’t allow a fear of possible problems to prevent us using the aerodromes which are still available to us. If we do, we have no air access to large areas of the UK. Whether we intend to actually land at the major aerodrome, or at another airfield within the Class D airspace around it, we need ATC permission, and trying to gain (and understand) that permission is something which seems to terrify a lot of us. However, the controller only wants to be sure that the traffic they are responsible for can make a safe and ‘expeditious’ departure or approach and landing. If he or she knows we are going to follow the clearance they give us, they are content. They are not trying to catch us out on our ability to follow CAP 413 (the R/T manual) to the letter.

Rather than try to refresh the whole subject of radio communication here, I commend a document (tinyurl. com/EASAphraseology) which is available through the EASA website (yes I know, but the UK produced it for them). It was initially produced in a format which allowed the reader to listen to the messages, but it seems to have lost that facility. Nevertheless it

Coaching Corner 32 | LIGHT AVIATION | April 2022
Cockburn suggests, whether it’s a new strip or an airfield it’s good to be prepared before you arrive…
Sense leaflet.
The CAA’s excellent Strip Flying Safety
LAA Coach? There’s a page
the LAA website that will help you find one.
Need an

explains the recommended messages clearly, although the references are European (unfortunately the UK CAA withdrew the purely UK version some years ago).

If we have concerns about visiting a large aerodrome, or flying through Controlled Airspace, why not see if your local Coach can help you through your first visit or two?

Airspace Infringements

If we believe comments on the various pilot fora, it would seem that Air Traffic Controllers are most unfriendly to private pilots. The monthly list of the MORs which the CAA receives would appear to back up that belief. That is of course not really the case, but ATC are required by law to report every ‘incident’ in which they are involved, and that includes any aircraft being inside controlled airspace without the necessary clearance. Hence the expression ‘Mandatory Occurrence Report’ or MOR.

The same expression ‘MOR’ has found its way into general use to include voluntary reports, which the CAA encourages pilots and others in the aviation industry to submit when they experience an incident or become aware of one. Because such reports can be of vital importance in providing information to prevent future accidents, readers will be aware that the LAA also strongly encourages such reports. However, whether the report is mandatory or voluntary, unless it fits the definition of an aircraft ‘accident’ or ‘serious incident’, which are the AAIB’s responsibility, the CAA is responsible for recommending whatever further action may be necessary. Sadly, the vast majority of reports submitted these days seem to concern airspace infringements.

When a report reaches the CAA, it usually asks the aircraft owner to ask the pilot to provide further information, which in the case of a reported infringement is usually a statement of what the pilot believes had happened, and what the cause(s) might have been. Although it seems that these requests for information often warn of possible serious actions that the CAA might take, it is up to the Infringement Co-ordinating Group to consider the incident and decide how to follow it up, and very few of its deliberations result in a curtailment of a pilot’s activities.

CAP 1404 describes the CAA’s review and actions process following airspace infringements, and in most cases the investigation produces no more than a letter offering advice to the pilot.

According to its own statistics, in 2021 up to November, the ICG considered 702 infringement incidents. Of these, 84 resulted in no further action being taken, and 440 pilots received advisory letters. As may be expected, a pilot who has been involved in a particularly serious incident, or more than one infringement, is likely to be considered to be in need of some further training. Of the pilots involved in the remaining infringement reports, 10 were asked to complete an online tutorial and test, and 103 attended the online Airspace Infringement Avoidance Course and 65 more pilots (9% of the total) were required to undertake additional training. It is worthy of note that only nine pilots had their licence privileges provisionally suspended while that training was completed, and no pilot’s licence was


completely revoked as a result of an airspace infringement.

So as these statistics demonstrate, although pilots who are alleged to have infringed controlled airspace are likely to receive a disconcerting request for information, the aim of the investigations would seem to be to improve the knowledge and training of pilots who may need it.

Cameras on aeroplanes

The number of in-flight action films appearing on social media continues to increase, and with hopefully better weather ahead I expect more of us will be carrying cameras, either to use for personal debriefing or to show our friends.

Above The EASA Phraseology guide is an excellent reference to help refresh your RT knowledge.

Below Don’t forget there’s a Technical Leaflet that can help, should you wish to mount a camera on your Permit aircraft.

An article in last September’s Coaching Corner gave some advice on flying while helping passengers take photographs or film from the air, but we may want a record of the flight when we are not carrying passengers. I should not want to encourage any pilot to film using a hand-held device, and especially not during a critical phase of flight, but if our hands (and attention!) are kept free, then filming should be possible in relative safety. Some form of attachment should be required.

Devices that are attached to the pilot (e.g. helmetmounted cameras) don’t need any particular approval, although common sense should be used to ensure that they don’t pose unnecessary additional risks to the aircraft occupants. For instance, you might think about how it, and any charging cables, might affect your ability to get out of the aircraft in an emergency, whether it affects your ability to fly the aircraft normally and, not least, where it might go if it falls off! However, there are quite a few requirements to be fulfilled if the camera is to be attached to the aircraft. If the aircraft holds a UK Certificate of Airworthiness, a Licensed Aircraft Engineer may be able to help under CAP 1369, but if the aircraft has a UK Permit to Fly, the LAA’s Technical Leaflet TL 3.24 ( lists the requirements.

Installations conforming to the requirements in TL 3.24 must be checked prior to flight by an LAA Inspector, who must then sign a Permit Maintenance Release (see TL2.04) in the airframe logbook to that effect. Installations that do not fit the requirements in TL 3.24 should be referred to LAA Engineering and are likely to require a modification application using form MOD2. As the leaflet states, once fitted, the installation must be carefully checked in flight for security and any adverse effects on handling or control feel. However, we must remember that if we know our flying is being recorded, human factors will come into play. We must not allow considerations about the ‘final cut’ affect how we go about our flying, it should only be a record of what happened, not an aim in itself. ■

TL are

April 2022 | LIGHT AVIATION | 33
A NATS depiction of a general aviation infringement at Heathrow.

The latest LAA Engineering topics and investigations. Compiled by Jerry

Engineering Matters


LAA-issued instructions for continued airworthiness, fixing faults before flying, and one thing to bear in mind – woodworm does not just inhabit furniture…

Welcome to Engineering Matters – the section of Light Aviation that is dedicated to discussing all manner of topics concerning both technical and operational aspects of the LAA fleet. If you have anything to say that you think would benefit others, then please email words and pictures to LAA Engineering at

Cessna 120/140 seat harness attachment brackets

In 2015, the FAA issued Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin CE-15-13 for Cessna 120 and 140 following the investigation into a fatal accident. The aircraft overturned after a departure from the runway on take-off, and the centre bracket securing the seat harness lap straps, failed.

The investigation found that the centre bracket (part number 0425132) on some aircraft was made of aluminium and it was this bracket that failed in the accident. Replacement brackets supplied by Cessna are made of steel.

The recommendation in the FAA SAIB was to carry out an inspection of the bracket with a magnet to check if the installed brackets were of aluminium or steel. It is likely that the FAA may issue an Airworthiness Directive in the near future following another fatal accident in 2015. The FAA AD would mandate the replacement of the aluminium brackets. Cessna also issued Service Bulletin SEB-25-03 in February 2015 on this subject.

This subject was highlighted previously in the April 2015 issue of the Light Aviation Safety Spot, which is linked in the Cessna 120 TADS 823 (available from the LAA website Data Library). If the FAA AD to issue the proposed Airworthiness Directive, this will also be referenced in TADS 823.

Corroded gyro bolts

Experienced gyro inspector, Graham Shackleton, has come across a number of gyros recently which have severely corroded attachment bolts. The affected bolts were undercarriage and rotor blade attachment bolts. These bolts come under different stresses and loads but regardless of their purpose, hardware should be replaced once they start to corrode. Replacing corroded bolts is a bit like frequent engine oil changes – cheap maintenance that prevents something unsafe and far more expensive occurring.

Although there is a specific range of serial numbers listed in the Service Bulletin (and in the proposed FAA AD), LAA Engineering recommends all Cessna 120 owners check the bracket and replace it if it is of the aluminium type.

34 | LIGHT AVIATION | April 2022
Above Failed Cessna 120/140 seat-belt lap strap attachment bracket. Left Once bolts start to corrode like these MTOsport gyro main undercarriage bow attachment bolts. Far left These bolts were all found on one MTOsport gyro rotor blade system. Photos courtesy of TSB Canada

LAA-issued Instructions for Continued Airworthiness

The titles of LAA-issued Instructions for Continued Airworthiness (ICA) have recently been amended to simplify the various types and the way that they are classified. Previously issued Alerts and Airworthiness Information Leaflets remain current, unless superseded.

The types of ICA now issued by LAA Engineering are:

• Alert:

An Alert is produced by LAA Engineering for information purposes only. Although compliance with an Alert is not considered mandatory, the Alert may contain news of ICA from other sources that is mandatory in its own right, such as a CAA Mandatory Permit Directive. LAA Alerts are equivalent to the previously issued LAA Airworthiness Information Leaflet Classification C.

• Technical Service Bulletin:

Compliance with an LAA Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) is recommended for the applicable LAA-administered aircraft. LAA Technical Service Bulletins are equivalent to the previously issued LAA Airworthiness Information Leaflet Classification B.

• Mandatory Technical Directive: An LAA Mandatory Technical Directive (MTD) is considered mandatory for the applicable LAA-administered aircraft. LAA Mandatory Technical Directives are equivalent to the previously issued LAA Airworthiness Information Leaflet Classification A.

Fournier RF5 repairs

LAA Inspector, Dave Bland, is carrying out an in-depth refurbishment of a Fournier RF5 motor glider and has come across some examples of why you cannot assume everything is going to be fine forever.

Apart from some slightly dubious previous repairs, the tailplane attachment brackets have suffered from severe exfoliation corrosion. Dave says that there is an Airworthiness Directive for inspecting the brackets but many people assume it refers to the more visible steel brackets mounted on the fuselage than the associated aluminium

Pattern parts – Rotax carbs and hoses

LAA Engineering has recently been informed of the discovery of some ‘below standard’ pattern parts used on some Rotax 912 engines. These included carburettor mounting sockets and carburettor diaphragms. Quite often, parts are advertised as being to an equivalent standard to the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) specification and visually they might look identical. Buyer beware – the parts may not be made to the same specification by material or dimension and therefore do not function correctly or for as long.

In some cases, such as factory-built gyros, non-OEM parts may not be installed without specific approval by the manufacturer or by applying for a modification.

It recently came to light that a number of factory-built gyros had non-OEM silicone coolant hoses fitted. In this case it is entirely possible that the specification of the silicone hose exceeded that of the OEM part but it still cannot be used in this instance without manufacturer’s approval or as an approved modification.

Ground running and fault rectification before flight

Fairly regularly, LAA Engineering receives emails or telephone calls from owners requesting assistance with fault diagnosing a problem with their aircraft. More often than you would like to hear, is a comment that an aircraft was flown after an attempt to find the cause of engine issues where nothing was found or even to try and ‘clear the problem in the air’.

It is very rare that an engine fault cannot be reproduced on the ground or that a definite cause cannot be found. Rectifying intermittent faults can be very time consuming and frustrating, but with all fault diagnosing, persevere and if necessary, consult with others before getting airborne again. Aeroplanes are clever but rarely do they cure themselves!

brackets mounted in the tailplane. Obviously, it isn’t only the brackets (steel and aluminium) that can corrode but also the bolts that attach them.

Another area of concern in the wood structure was what appears to be signs of a woodworm ‘infestation’. Fortunately, Dave managed to ascertain that the woodworms appear not to like the taste of the Aerodux glue or the taste of plywood, so the damage was restricted to only certain areas.

April 2022 | LIGHT AVIATION | 35 Engineering Matters
Above Woodworm is not confined to wooden furniture… Above The tailplane brackets were found excessively corroded once removed.

Kitfox fuel tanks

LAA Engineering has received information from two Kitfox owners with fuel tank problems.

The fuel tanks are made of fibreglass and have both suffered internal failures where the internal ribs are bonded to the bottom skins of the fuel tanks.

At this time, it is not known why the tanks have failed in this way. It may be due to poor initial build quality where there was insufficient bonding at the rib to skin junction or alternatively, it may be the long-term effects of the fuel.

Owners should be on the lookout for any bulging of the lower surface of the fuel tank where the internal ribs are no longer attached to the bottom of the tank.

Leburg ignition failure

The Hall Effect timing sensor magnets are epoxied into the spinner backplate. Later variants are an interference fit into the spinner backplate or bespoke mounting plate.

The Leburg electronic ignition system has been a popular upgrade for VW engines in the LAA fleet for many years. In 2021, a Turbulent suffered an engine failure after take-off and was very badly damaged in the ensuing forced landing. While severely injured, the pilot survived and the use of a five-point harness and RAF-spec helmet no doubt limited his injuries.

Inspector Paul Jenkins led a very detailed investigation into possible causes for the engine stoppage with further information provided by the Leburg supplier, Skycraft Ltd.

As mentioned in a previous Engineering Matters (January 2022), it was initially thought that the ignition may have failed when the switch terminals became loose. Further investigation found one of the ignition system’s two Hall Effect timing sensor magnets was no longer mounted on the spinner backplate.

It could not be determined whether the magnet had departed in flight but if it had, depending on how the ignition system had been wired, the loss of one of the magnets could result in both ignition systems shutting down.

Neil Spooner, another Leburg-savvy inspector, reported that when one of his Leburg controllers failed, he found that the nuts holding down the circuit boards had come loose, shorting out the integrated circuit. Neil recommends checking that the nuts are correctly torqued. It may be only earlier units like his that are affected.

LAA Engineering intends to produce more information on this in due course but meantime, if in any doubt, please refer to the installation information or contact Skycraft Ltd for further advice.

Europa door latch stop alert update

LAA Engineering issued the Europa Door Latch System Stop Alert and AIL on 1 November 2021 and by now, all flying Europas should have complied with the requirements. Without prior consultation with the LAA, the CAA issued MPD 2022-003 on 03 February 2022 and a corrected version on 16 February mandating compliance with the AIL and Standard Modification.

Compliance with the MPD is legally mandatory, although at this time, the LAA is uncertain as to whether the MPD is a proposed or actual MPD (the wording on the MPD is ‘mixed’). LAA Engineering is currently awaiting comment from the CAA regarding the MPD status and numerous other errors within. If any doubt, where the LAA AIL has been complied with, it may be deemed prudent to also confirm compliance with MPD 2022-003.

Piper rudder failures

The NTSB in America have issued Aviation Investigation Report HTSB/AIR-22-02 highlighting recent rudder failures on two Pipers, one a PA-12, the other a PA-14. The failures occurred in flight and the rudder post fractured above the upper hinge allowing the top of the rudder to fold over onto the upper tail bracing wires. Not surprisingly, this resulted in a restriction to the rudder range of movement and the associated reduction in control of the aircraft.

The failures appear to have been confined to rudders with the Piper part number 40622 and that the rudder posts were made of AISI 1025 carbon steel and likely fractured to fatigue.

The failed rudders had no part numbers on them but both were identified by the material spec and dimensions of the p/n 40622 rudder. This rudder was fitted to a number of Piper models.

In all, five aircraft were examined by the NTSB and in addition to the two failed rudders, three other aircraft showed evidence of fatigue cracks appearing. The other three aircraft were wheel equipped-aircraft. What was of note was that all five inspected rudders had aftermarket beacons or strobe lights installed on the top of the rudder. The added surface area and mass of the lights would likely increase the stresses.

36 | LIGHT AVIATION | April 2022 Engineering Matters
Above The two Piper rudders that failed in flight. Photos courtesy of NTSB


Luscombe owner, Ron Parker, has reported his findings when investigating a fuel weep from the inlet side of the Tillotson fuel gascolator. Once the gascolator top had been removed, close inspection showed that there was a defect in the inlet area of the casting. The defect may have been caused by there being insufficient metal in that area, corrosion weakening that point or perhaps the effects of a tapered union being installed into the top too tightly.

Cast gascolator tops that use the bail-wire to retain the bowl suffer

over time with the constant pulling down on the gascolator top. This causes a warp in the lid resulting in the bowl not sitting flat against the top. Despite the fairly thick rubber gasket between the top and the bowl, any slight pressure on the gascolator will cause a fuel leak. Piper PA28 gascolators suffer from this and later versions were milled from solid aluminium. There is always the chance that some amateur-built aircraft have gascolators that started life installed in a PA28. Similarly, Tillotson gascolators may be used on more than just Luscombes.

Left Many types of cast gascolator tops may suffer over the years. Cause of the fuel weep was not obvious until looking at the underside of the top.

PTFE tape

Following on from my comment previously in Engineering Matters that PTFE tape should not be used on aircraft fuel systems, Pat Thody emailed to say that in his opinion, having worked with PTFE all his working life, PTFE is unlikely to be affected by any chemicals or solvents used in aircraft.

In theory, in aircraft systems, sealant should not be required at all, if the O-rings, crush washers, flared pipes, gaskets and tapered fittings do their jobs as designed.

There is always the possibility that tape or sealant may, if not used correctly, cause an obstruction in the system. As mentioned, there are products out there that prevent galling of threads when assembling (as well as acting as a sealant) and the use of PTFE tape as a sealant in aircraft fuel and oil systems is not considered ‘normal aviation practice’.

LAA Engineering charges

LAA Project Registration

Kit Built Aircraft £300

Plans Built Aircraft £50

Initial Permit issue

Up to 450kg £450

451-999kg £550

1,000kg and above £650

Permit Revalidation

(can now be paid online via LAA Shop)

Up to 450kg £170

451-999kg £220

1,000kg and above £260

Factory-built gyroplanes* (all weights) £275

*Gyros note: if the last Renewal wasn’t administered by the LAA, an extra fee of £125 applies

Modification application

Prototype modification minimum £60

Repeat modification minimum £30


LAA Engineering housekeeping

Email attachments: Please ensure that any picture and document emailed to LAA Engineering are sent as attachments rather than in the body of the email. When embodied into the email, pictures often resize themselves to either low resolution, unreadable pictures or become massively enlarged. Scans of documentation must be of a high quality. Weight & balance reports: When an aircraft is reweighed, a copy of the new weight and balance report should be sent to LAA Engineering to be kept with the aircraft’s records. Obviously, the original report should be kept with the aircraft’s documents but it would appear that they have often gone missing by the time an aircraft is sold on. LAA Engineering will normally be able to provide a copy of the previous report on request but only if one is on file. If the aircraft has not been weighed within ten years, it is recommended that it is reweighed in any case. ■

LAA Fleet Summary

Aircraft with current Permits to Fly: 2,857

Aircraft with ‘project’ status: 1,565

(from C of A to Permit or CAA Permit to LAA Permit)

Up to 450kg £150

451 to 999kg £250

1,000kg and above £350

Four-seat aircraft

Manufacturer’s/agent’s type acceptance fee £2,000

Project registration royalty £50

Category change

Group A to microlight £150

Microlight to Group A £150

Change of G-Registration fee

Issue of Permit documents following G-Reg change £55

Replacement Documents

Lost, stolen etc (fee is per document)£20

PLEASE NOTE: When you’re submitting documents using an A4-sized envelope, a First Class stamp is insufficient postage.

Number of aircraft types approved: 520

Recent Alerts & AILs (check the LAA website for further details)

Zivko Aeronautics Inc. Edge 360, Edge 540 and Laser Z200: Aileron Centre Hinge Attachment

CAA MPD: 2022-001

LAA Alert: A-001-2022

MT-03, MTOsport, MTOsport 2017, Calidus and Cavalon: Rotor Blade Inspection/Replacement/


CAA MPD: 2002-002

LAA Alert: A-002-2022

TLAC Escapade and Sherwood Scout: Seat locking and Secondary Seat Restraint

CAA MPD: 2022-004-E

LAA TSB: TSB-001-2022

Europa: Door Latch System Stop

CAA MPD: 2022-003

LAA AIL: MOD/247/012

LAA Alert: LAA/AWA/21/08

Adjustable Seats in General Aviation Aircraft

CAA Safety Notice SN-2022/001: Security and locking of adjustable seats

April 2022 | LIGHT AVIATION | 37
Engineering Matters

European getaways…

Globetrotting KR-2 flyer Colin Hales loves tripplanning, especially when it’s simple…

During the summer holidays a friend came over from Germany and we flew to different parts of the UK virtually every day. Her name is Nanki, and just before she left, we agreed to go flying again as it had been lots of fun. It would be sometime in September, before the days drew in, but where should we go? Well, there was an invite from Stanislav, a Polish gliding instructor she knew in Warsaw, plus a friend in Vienna we could stay with. That wasn’t quite exactly where I had in mind! But that was that… and planning could begin.

First of all, an aircraft was needed. My options were few, and while I do have four aircraft in my hangar, none of them were really suitable. The best option was to use a C90-powered Emeraude. I had just spent three years rebuilding it after it was imported on a trailer from Denmark. It hadn’t flown since the 1980s and was mostly

in cardboard boxes when it arrived. The owner would never have finished it, so a deal was struck that if I completed the aeroplane and got it airworthy, I could fly it – as long as I put the fuel in. There was a lot missing from the boxes and I really should have said ‘no’, but what a challenge! After many man-hours and some 35 years of sitting on the ground, it took to the air. The Emeraude wasn’t perfect, a bit slow, at 85kt and four hours duration gave only a 320-mile range. But it was roomy, with a relatively short field capability, if it were ever needed. One other thing, it was painted like Noddy’s car, which gave it a fun factor! As for the registration, well I struggled to pronounce it, so I knew this would mean lots of trouble with foreign ATC’s, but it would have to do.

Next, the planning stage, especially during waning Covid times. I would like to add though that ‘nobody really worried’?! Nowhere on the trip, in any country, at any time, was Covid an issue. If you have your own aircraft,

April 2022 | LIGHT AVIATION | 39
Above Nanki, Colin and the aircraft’s cat.

there are no pre-flight rapid lateral flow tests or post-flight PCR tests needed, you just get in and go. When meeting new people, you politely wore a mask to start with, until it was obvious whether or not to continue wearing one, and you carried on…

So to Germany, to pick up Nanki. The Emeraude could just about get there in one go, but most of my trips abroad meant a stop off at Lydd for the tax-free fuel and to clear Customs. If you are taking the fuel out of the country, then there is no UK tax added. It would be silly not to really, and I would purposely arrive at Lydd with virtually dry tanks and fill to the gunnels. Also the training school pilots at Lydd knew how to fill in flight plans, as I could never remember…

But here is the first of a few changes I encountered, compared to how I used to fly abroad. No one writes out flight plans anymore. I remember trying to remember all the codes, getting the route wrong, then shoving it into a fax machine, getting the wrong number and hearing the ATC guy answer. Eventually though, you would get a response that a human had written, saying you were ‘good to go’ and you had a hard copy in your hand. Well, now, of course, we have mobile phones, with navigation software on them. You draw a route with your finger, make the magenta line avoid what look like the important bits of airspace and then press a few buttons and the flight plan is filed. It’s so easy, it’s too easy! You get an

email saying it has been sent, but not that anyone has received it or read it. Oh well, you get in and set off and hope… I sort of liked the interaction you used to have with faxing flight plans. Yes, it is now so much easier and often more accurate, but still, it feels a bit cold… Don’t forget to file your GAR, but that is simply five minutes on the government’s website, the night before.

Mode S transponders are now pretty well mandatory throughout Europe and of course, we all have 8.33 radios. As far as I can see or hear, the difference that Mode S transponders have brought to general aviation is that there is a lot less chat on the radio! The ATC guys already know who you are, what you are doing and where you are going from your Mode S information and also, you sent it to them on your phone. They now seem happier just to allow you to follow your little magenta line to the best of your ability. But remember, you are now relying on your mobile phone or tablet battery not going flat, or the USB cigarette charger you bought from Poundland, to keep your Navaids working. Crossing into France you might expect to get your own individual squawk code, but from then on, of the 10 or so flights we made, the transponder just stayed on VFR 7000 or 2000.

So tanked up with fuel out of Lydd, I buzzed down the coast to Dover, for the shortest crossing, said goodbye to London halfway across the Channel and waited to hear what the busy Lille controllers wanted me to do. They are trying to deal with circuit bashing at Lille and coordinate most of Northern France’s GA, including all the people whose English is not their first language. The French controllers don’t really want to speak English either, so I will probably just be told to report abeam Dunkerque, which gives them five minutes to hand me over to Brussels.

Heading across the top of Brussels CTR and below the Antwerpen CTR, there is only about a five-mile corridor. I suppose you could ask for Zone Transits, but everyone else is going below and through the gap. That, at one point, is below 1,500ft and it gets busy! With all the east-west traffic using this route, it is best to keep a good lookout.

Now, if you think you are struggling to follow the little

Above Golf Charlie Kilo Charlie Foxtrot at Bonn-Hangelar. Below left Study hard, because if you get it wrong in any way they will be ‘very, very angry’.
Flying Adventure 40 | LIGHT AVIATION | April 2022 the
Below right The Emeraude with AN2 company at Chemnitz.

pink line on your pad, so is everyone else. On a busy day, the controllers struggle with everyone. Microlights are buzzing around, all with Mode S transponders, and all dealing with the language and new equipment barriers, trying to follow their magenta lines. So if you are not being talked to, that’s a good thing.

After three hours of being handed on further east, by the most helpful ATC you could wish for, the approach to Koln and Bonn-Hangelar in Germany is just ahead. I’ve researched the airfield well. It’s small and ideal for the Emeraude. Its circuit looks easy, but as they are speaking German on the radio, my English will arouse interest in the tower and the binoculars will come out. I call downwind and follow the circuit pattern.

“Golf Lima Charlie you are in a bad position.” Well, he’s definitely talking to me as he got the ‘Golf’ bit right, but nothing else is correct and what does he mean by “A bad position?” I’m fitting in with the traffic pattern and there is the runway…? It looks like a good position to me? I land and taxi up to the pumps. Nanki came out to tell me that they are ‘very, very angry with me in the tower!’. Not just angry or even very angry? But very, very angry? She went on to explain that in Germany things are either ‘very, very good’ or ‘very, very bad’. There is no in-between. Apparently, I was a few hundred metres tight on my final turn. I could fly over ‘these houses and those houses’… but not fly over the particular ones I did… We refuelled and overnighted, to

head east in the morning. At one stage in Germany’s history, Bonn was the capital. So it was worth a few hours looking around, and we had the time, so we did.

The next airfield was Chemnitz. We had no idea about it, but it looked about the right size on Google Earth, with other little aircraft on the pan instead of military jets. It was the right distance and had fuel. On approach, the controller could hardly speak English, but the landing was fine. Looking around the airfield, I think that after the falling of the wall, West Germany poured money into East Germany, as the facilities here were excellent, with new posh glass terminal buildings and new hangars – and it’s all totally underused. The only other aircraft on the Pan was an AN2 and that was because it looked like no one

April 2022 | LIGHT AVIATION | 41 Flying Adventure
Above The 14th century Royal Palace in Warsaw. Below Meeting Stan at the Aeroklub Warszawski Hangar.

could move it. Fuelled and airborne, the next stop was Warsaw. It would be late, but we would get there, just!

Approaching Warsaw, Bapice Airfield is only a few miles north of the city centre and there is a tight VFR corridor to get you in there, among all the suburbs. Again, getting its circuit right is challenging as it’s massive and heads off to follow the river and highways to the north of Warsaw. Plus it’s getting dark, starting to drizzle and the circuit is busy. I get asked to follow the departing Warrior and follow him as he is doing touchand-goes. But he’s heading the other way in the direction of the Baltic. But, I was instructed to follow him, so I did. He does a huge circuit and I try to keep up and not lose

Top left The Majdanek Camp, watch tower.

Top right Vodka is never in short supply…

Above left The Kongresshalle, The unfinished Nazi meeting grounds.

Above right They build them Big out here.

him in the dark and wet windscreen. Finally we get to base leg and I call finals. “Golf Foxtrot Charlie I can not take you from there, you need to be at Zulu!” Well, he’s got the ‘Golf’ bit right again, but how does he expect me to know where Zulu is? Anyway, I was doing what I was told and following the Warrior – and it didn’t get a rollocking… But the circuit position is not the real problem. Apparently, I’m saying Bapice when it’s actually pronounced Bar–pizza, or something along those lines, as far as I could make out. Challenges aside, we land safely and soon meet Stan, our friendly gliding instructor. The Emeraude gets pushed into the Aeroklub Warszawski Gliding Hangar.

In the morning Stan asked if we wanted to go and see a Concentration Camp. Gosh… Well, I don’t know? Yes, I suppose? But that was not what we had specifically come for, and while I had always thought I’d go, one day, personally, I’d rather just follow and hang out and do whatever our host would do on a normal day, as if we were not here. I’ve always found that’s how you get to know how people live in their country. You can be a tourist anytime, but to see your host’s life, well that is special. But as Stan had offered, then yes, it was an opportunity that should not be missed.

The Majdanek Camp, near Lublin, 100 kilometres south of Warsaw was horrific. There are concentration camps and extermination camps. This was both, and obviously, the latter is never going to be comprehensible for my little brain. Not the biggest, but one of the most vulgar camps and the first to be liberated. The Red Army’s advance was so rapid, while the camp was

Flying Adventure 42 | LIGHT AVIATION | April 2022
Above Cold War bomber– Russian IL28E.'Beagle'.

destroyed in part by the SS, the gas chambers were left standing. Evidence that would later prove and allow convictions of war crimes. I wanted to go personally as a matter of respect, but I also wondered if there was any more that could be learned beyond the TV documentaries that we have all seen. Reading the numerous signs and descriptions and simply looking around, the answer to that was, yes. It was massively more sickening than I ever thought possible. The numbers alone were just insane and the atmosphere of the stark surroundings, souldestroying, as we walked around, mostly dumbfounded and in silence. Let us not forget…

The next day we were entered into a glider spot landing competition at ‘Bar-pizza’. I think we still have a lot to learn about GA in the UK. Here were Biz Jets flying in and out, aircraft circuit bashing, IFR traffic, loads of little Rotax powered Eastern European toys buzzing around, two winch cables launching gliders to 800 metres, and today a spot landing competition. All at the same airfield, all at the same time, in the middle of Warsaw. It was weird thermalling just above the high-rise flats, looking down on kiddie’s swings and playgrounds.

Get this wrong and it would hurt. Being the foreigners, the pressure was on! I stopped just 67cm from the spot, but still only came eighth!

Warsaw is wonderful, I urge everyone to go and see it. History, buildings, parks, nightlife, midnight roller blading convoys of hundreds down the streets, vodka, gangsters… it has it all.

Stan’s son was at school at the Deblin Airforce Academy, and at the airfield, its museum was full of


Above left The Michaelerplatz, Vienna.

Above right Schönbrunn Royal Austrian Palace.

Below Nanki refuelling.

wonderful eastern bloc machines, some I’d never seen before – and I’ve seen a lot of aircraft in my time. Lots of big helicopters too. But Vienna was calling.

It was September, with enough daylight and heat left in the sun, not to cause many long-term weather hold-ups. Yet during the longer flights, air masses moving around the Alps may cause issues. It had rained recently and the sun was lifting up the moisture, so there were all types and levels of cloud and scud, between beautiful clear skies. Forecasts were good when we took off, but we were now faced with a wall of rain 40 miles north of Stockerau, our intended airfield. I had heard other pilots reporting entering IMC, so this was not unexpected, but it

top Strangely enough, the Spanish Riding School in Vienna
April 2022 | LIGHT AVIATION | 43 Flying Adventure

was not forecast, quite angry, large, and with seemingly no way through. In Britain, and knowing my destination, I may have pushed on a little further. But trying to find an unknown airfield in an unknown land, even if it was at the end of a magenta line, well, no! Three hours into the flight, 30 minutes to go and nope. I could feel a slightly shameful request to divert was looming, where you can hear in the voice of the controller the words, “Should have checked your met better mate!” But honestly, the ATC in Europe is simply great, possibly even better than in the UK. Saying that, I don’t often call up weather diverts in the UK! But I requested to divert to Brno. It looked like a big place from the airspace around it and if you are going to divert because the weather has gone wrong, then lights and radar vectors from ATC and all the help you can get, is not a bad thing.

The Czech controller gave a radar heading and handed us over to Brno, with consummate professionalism. Brno turned up the lights and out of the gloom came the runway. Actually, it wasn’t that bad and we landed and squeezed in between all the Ryanair and easyJet’s to the GA pan before the rain hit hard. At the Ground Handler’s desk, I had to ask where we were. Brno apparently is the second largest city in the Czech Republic. The city was just a bus ride away and this little diversion and overnight stay in Brno turned out to be wonderful. Divert, landing, overnight parking and excellent handling, cost just €50.

Above top left The Brno runway lights turned up to 10

Above top right Gliding over high-rise buildings out of Bapice, Warsaw.

Above left The Steintribüne monument and Zeppelinfeld and what is left of Hitlers parade.

Above right Hangelar, one of Germany's first airfields with it's first flight by Fritz Pullig 17th July 1909.

Stockerau and Vienna were a 30-minute flight the next day. Stockerau was tiny, but because of the Schengen border procedures, you can drop in at any of these little airfields from anywhere. They won’t get your registration right, but that doesn’t matter. The circuit pattern around Stockerau resembled a Jackson Pollock painting, but you could see what they were trying to make you do and why. We weaved between power cables, roads and avoided villages and apparently, I did a ‘very, very good’ job, before then thumping down on the short uphill runway.

This little airfield even offered a free courtesy car, but a train was taken into Vienna. Wien, i.e. Vienna, is nice. History, buildings, parks, nightlife, midnight electric scooter convoys of hundreds down the streets, beer, and not many gangsters! It has it all… go and see the city and walk the streets, humming the Ultravox song…

Then, it was time to go home and a flight back towards Bonn-Hangelar was planned. We needed a refuelling stop halfway, so I wondered about Straubing? It looked about right, with no F16s on the ramp on Google Earth – which, by the way, I find is an invaluable tool. More magical finger route planning on the phone and we were flight planned and on our way. Southern Germany was lovely, the weather was great, but after landing at Straubing, I still hoped to get one more leg in to get us closer to Bonn-Hangelar. Nanki and I did what we always do, and went into the local aero club to ask them where to go? After all, they fly around here, we don’t… Herzogenaurach

44 | LIGHT AVIATION | April 2022 Flying Adventure

Airfield was chosen for us, another hour or so further on. I think they chose it as some type of joke, as I had trouble pronouncing it. The sun would have set, but we could get there, just. It meant crossing through the Nürnberg Zone, but apparently, this was a simple request, so off we set.

Approaching Nürnberg, I called the controller and asked if transit via reporting points Sierra and November would be possible. It was, which was good, because if he had sent us around, it would have gone dark.

Approaching VRP Sierra and looking down on Zeppelinfeld, Hitler’s notorious stadium, the controller invited us straight through overhead and to report his centreline. Nürnberg at night, all lit up, was lovely before arriving at Herzogenaurach. It was quite dark when we arrived and as I shut down, they turned the runway lights off and went home, still laughing at my attempts at saying Herzogenaurach. Anyway, we were just in time apparently, and there was an Italian restaurant in the Aero-club. All too easy.

Next day, it was just a few hours flight back to Bonn-Hangelar, where we made sure we did a very, very good circuit.

I dropped off Nanki, thanked her for the adventure, and fuelled up for the UK. Using the very handy ‘Reverse Route’ button, a flight plan was filed on my phone and GAR sent and off I went.

This time I planned to go straight back to my home base. But due to headwinds and rainstorms coming in, I never made it, diverting into Rochester instead. I had been there about a month earlier, and very nice they are too. A quick call to confirm cancellation of the flight plan and a call to Customs. Rochester confirmed my aeroplane wasn’t full of people, allowing any Immigration guys waiting at my base-field to pack up and go home.

The lovely jovial people at Rochester allowed me a free weather divert and night stop, before heading back the next day.

My final track took me overhead Oxford, but as its circuit sounded busy, I headed further north. But this would take me through its southerly approaches and I could hear two aircraft descending to join the ILS. I spoke to the controller and he asked if I could climb 500ft, as that would be enough to get the two jets in underneath me. As I trundled through his centreline, he thanked me for the call and cooperation as I headed on. The Oxford



ATC guy was superb… Through covid we flew less, and consequently spatial awareness may be one of the skills that is lost the most. But after 28 hours of trundling around Europe in Noddy’s Emeraude, I was a lot happier with my flying skills by the time I returned home.

It had been a bit pricey, the fuel in Poland you would have thought would be the cheapest, but was the most expensive at more than £2 per litre. The world is a funny place at the moment, I hope that fuel prices will calm down. Anyway, I can report that Europe is all still out there and is still ‘very, very, very worthwhile’ taking a look. n

Share your adventures!

If you’ve made a really memorable flight either solo or with friends, or visited a great destination be it in the UK or abroad, then there’s a good chance that LAA members would enjoy reading about it. So why not share your travel tales by contributing to the Light Aviation Flying Adventure feature slot?

A typical Adventure can range from 1,500 to 3,000 words. Include a selection of high-resolution photos of highlights, ideally 1mb or greater. Phone photos can be great for this, but pictures from a camera usually give the best results.

Got an idea in mind? Drop me a line!


getting dark as we approach Nürnberg.
and above Slowly
at Herzogenaurach… Flying Adventure April 2022 | LIGHT AVIATION | 45

Struts 4U

The spring brings some optimism for Struts as they aim to return to ‘business as usual’, with reports of a slow return to monthly gatherings. It’s understandable that there’s a little hesitancy as we move on from the restrictions of the last two years. With the rhythm of regular meetings disrupted, the momentum that was in place has taken a step back in some areas and Strut committees are working hard to redress the balance. At the end of March, Strut leaders are meeting at LAA HQ to address these issues and to share initiatives from across the country. We will report back in this column next month.

However, we have heard from across the Struts that plans are afoot for fly-ins and events during the summer months, and we look forward to meeting up with aircraft

around us and catch up with news of plans completed and projects ongoing when it comes to new-builds and restorations.

The North West Strut has always been very closely associated with the Lancashire Aero Club. Ninety per cent of the members have been, and still are, belonging to both clubs. Meetings of the Strut have generally been held at the airfield run by the LAC, i.e. Manchester Barton.

In June, when the Lancashire Aero Club reaches a birthday of some significance, the NWS will be very pleased to be totally involved to celebrate 100 years of the club. A full day at Barton with numerous dignitaries, exhibitions, and the usual speeches will give the club a send-off for another century of flying activity. Cliff Mort, from NWS, explains that, as we get to the better weather of

46 | LIGHT AVIATION | April 2022
VAC at
Farway 2017
Breighton Below
LAA Strut News

the summer months, they will be using the other facility that the LAC have, which is the airfield at Kenyon Hall. This is a very pleasant venue for the summer activities of the Strut, BBQ’s, fly-Ins, and many outdoor activities.

Based in Bodmin, the Cornwall Strut is gearing up for a full programme alongside the Cornwall Flying Club. In May the annual Ladies Day Fly-In returns followed by a Grasshopper Gathering in June. In July the Vintage Aircraft Club also returns for a fly-in weekend which will include the LAA ‘Meet the Members’ event. This is followed by the Lundy Fly-In. If you haven’t visited Bodmin Airfield these and many more events should tempt you to visit one of the country’s designated unique areas of biodiversity.

Jay Gates, airfield manager, and Pete White are always pleased to share the story of their extraordinary discovery that their airfield is covered with rare plants, including thousands of orchids, flowering in the summer months.

Neil Wilson oversees a busy programme at Henstridge, and the Wessex Strut is starting its season of events with a Strut fly-in at the end of April. After the difficulties of the last two years there will be a welcome for all arrivals! Devon Strut is looking forward to fly-ins at Farway Common, with a ‘Welcome to Farway Hangar Party’ in June and a visit to Branscombe in July. Meanwhile, in Scotland, the East of Scotland Strut are planning a ‘Drop of the Hat’ fly-in event – keeping all their options open regarding a weatherwindow for aviating!

Many of the LAA’s Type Clubs are also advertising events for the summer months and details of these can be found in Light Aviation’s Where to Go page. The Vintage Piper Aircraft Club will start the season with fly-ins at Sleap, Goodwood and Welshpool, while the Vintage Aircraft Club will be holding events at Turweston, Popham, Fenland, Breighton and Old Warden among others. In June the Aeronca Club are looking forward to celebrating their 30th Anniversary at White Waltham.

We have every reason to remain optimistic in the coming months and we hope that our only pre-occupation during the summer will be the unpredictability of the great British weather! In the meantime, do contact your local Strut to find out how you can best support the group and enjoy the company of like-minded aviators, aircraft builders and enthusiasts. ■

Strut Calendar

Please contact your local Strut to check the details before attending the calendar events.

Andover Strut: Spitfire Club, Popham Airfield, SO21 3BD. 1930. 11 April – ‘CHIRP & GA’ with Steve Forward; 9 May, Homebuilder Evening. Contact Bob Howarth email: bobhowarth99@ Phone no. 01980 611124

Bristol Strut: BAWA Club, Filton, 1930. Contact: www.

Cornwall Strut: The Clubhouse, Bodmin Airfield. Virtual Zoom meetings throughout winter months. 2 April – Vintage and Aerobatic Aircraft Day; 7 May – Ladies’ Fly-In Day. Contact Pete White 01752 406660

Devon Strut: The Exeter Court Hotel, Kennford, Exeter. 1930. 7 April – Rotax Engines by Kevin Dilks (Special Aviation Services) Contact: david.millin@sea-sea. com

East of Scotland Strut: Harrow Hotel, Dalkeith. 2000. Contact: inrgibson001@ 0131 339 2351.

East Midlands Strut: The Plough, Normanton on Soar. Contact: We also have a Facebook group and upload recordings of some meetings where we have speakers.

Gloster Strut: The Victory Club, Lypiatt Road, Cheltenham, GL50 2SY. Contact:

Highlands & Islands: Highland Aviation, Inverness Airport. Contact: b.w.spence@ 01381 620535.

Kent Strut: Cobtree Manor Golf Club, Maidstone, Kent. 2000. Contact: Steve Hoskins 07768 984507.

LiNSY Trent Valley Strut: Trent Valley Gliding Club, Kirton Lindsey. http://

North East Strut: Fishburn Airfield. Brunch. Third Sunday of each month. 1130-1330 at Fishburn Aviator Cafe. Contact:

North Western Strut: Veterans Lounge, Barton, Manchester, 1930 for 2000. Contact: 07813 497427.

North Wales Strut: Caernarfon Airport, Dinas Dinlle. First Sunday of the month –HEMS Bistro Café. 1300. Contact: Gareth Roberts 07876 483414.

Oxford Group: Sturdy’s Castle Country Inn, Banbury Road, Kidlington, OX5 3EP. Second Wednesday each month. 13 April – ‘Aviation Photography: Tips from a

Pro’ by Nick Ludlow; 11 May: Preparation for the World Microlight Championships medal attempt by Owain Johns and Richard Gibbs. Contact LAAOxford@gmail.comwww.

Redhill Strut: The Dog and Duck, Outwood, Surrey, RH1 5QU. Third Tuesday of each month at 1930. Contact:

Shobdon Strut: Hotspur Café, Shobdon Airfield, Hereford HR6 9NR. 1930. 12 May – Jets, Harriers to Lightnings by Group Captain Willy Hackett. Contact: Keith Taylor

Southern Strut: The Swiss Cottage, Shoreham-by-Sea. First Wednesday of the month 2000. Contact palmersfarm@

Strathtay Strut: Scottish Aero Club, Perth Airport, Scone. Scone Clubhouse. Contact: keith.boardman@peopleserve. 07785 244146.

Suffolk Coastal Strut: Earl Stonham Village Hall, IP14 5HJ – 1930. 13 April – Strut AGM; 18 May – TBA. Contact: Martyn Steggalls events@ / 07790 925142

Vale of York Strut: Chocks Away Café, Rufforth East Airfield.1900. Contact: Chris Holliday 07860 787801 www.

Wessex Strut: Henstridge Airfield Clubhouse. 24 April – Wessex Strut Fly-in at Henstridge Airfield, Somerset. Free landing. PPR a few days before on 07880 780 253 e-mail david. Check Wessex Strut website. Local fortnightly Strut walks organised by Wessex Aviators Leisure Klub. Contact: neil.wilson@laa.

West Midlands Strut: Navigator Café, Halfpenny Green Aerodrome 1930.

Contact: Graham Wiley westmidlandslaastrut@googlegroups. com Stuart Darby stuartdarby134@ or visit our website wmstrut.

West of Scotland Strut: Bowfield Country Club, Howwood, PA9 1DZ. 1900.

Contact: Neil Geddes barnbethnkg@ 01505 612493.

Youth & Education Support (YES)

Contact: Stewart Luck. captainluck@ / Graham Wiley gw20home@

NB: Thank you to all Struts and clubs for getting in touch. If you have any stories, items you wish to share or updates for the calendar, please contact struts@laa.

April 2022 | LIGHT AVIATION | 47 LAA Strut News
Above Artist David Young’s Wild flowers at Bodmin Airfield painting

A lifetime of adventure…

Where did your interest in aviation start?

I was brought up on a farm in rural Surrey. My parent’s cottage was very close to the airstrip at Rydinghurst Farm. At that time Rydinghurst Farm was owned by a thirsty ex-Fleet Air Arm pilot who used to periodically sell things to finance his hobby – my parents buying the farm cottage must have kept him awash for a month or two. The airstrip was in regular use and I spent most weekends there as a hedge guest. At some point in the early 1980s Bob Turnbull bought the airstrip and his immaculate Aeronca Sedan G-AREX arrived shortly thereafter.

In 1985 I left school and took an apprenticeship, becoming an engineering apprentice with the MoD in Aldershot. The first year of apprentice training was almost entirely at the bench. I enjoyed turning chunks of scaly steel into things of some beauty; polished and oiled, they still take pride of place on a shelf above my lathe in the shop. After that we did several months in all of the different shops before being assigned a three year stint in our chosen trade. I didn’t actually want to specialise in any particular MoD trade, so I spent a happy three years dodging between the machine shop, the welding shop and the tin bashers (a super bunch of old geezers who did all

the interesting jobs that couldn’t be assigned elsewhere) learning as much as I could. The foreman in charge of all three shops thoroughly approved of my flying, and arranged with the CO that flying lessons and anything flying related should be considered as further education. At the same time Bob Turnbull had introduced me to Geoff Masterton, who ran Light Aircraft Services at Rushetts Farm. Geoff and I hit it off instantly, so as soon as I finished my apprenticeship I went to work for him.

When was your first flight?

It was with Mike Macey in his Auster 5 G-ANHR at Shoreham in 1973. I was an aeroplane-mad four-year-old and my uncle Keith paid for the ride, along with himself and dad (his brother). Dad didn’t actually like flying – never has – but it left a lasting impression on me.

Where did you do your flight training?

I learned to fly at Goodwood School of Flying, between 1988 and 1990. I was an impecunious apprentice and paid my own way so it took a bit longer than it should. With hindsight I ought to have saved for a year or so before starting, but the bug had bitten badly and there’s only one remedy. My licence was issued in October 1990, by December I’d been checked out in a Super Cub by Geoff Masterton and Pete Kynsey, and in the next three years got

48 | LIGHT AVIATION | April 2022
Meet the Members
Above Nick,flying with his eldest son, Hector. The aircraft is Super Decathlon G-OCOK (spot the picture being held by Hector), formerly owned by James May.
Nick Chittenden chats to Neil Wilson about flying a wide array of aircraft from a 36hp Aeronca to a 10,000hp DC-6…

to fly all manner of machines, mainly vintage. Geoff was a brilliant engineer and pilot, less so a businessman. Cash flow was always an issue, so I went to work for an engineering firm and helped Geoff in my spare time.

How did you hear about the LAA?

There was a Popular Flying magazine in the rack at Goodwood, I guess it was in 1989. It was full of my sort of thing and it all seemed quite accessible. I swiped the magazine and joined shortly after.

I understand you help at Bodmin?

Most childhood holidays were spent on a farm on the edge of Dartmoor. I adored the West Country, it was rocky, wild and interesting in a way that rural Surrey could never be, and it was no hardship to move to Cornwall. We live in Lostwithiel and I instruct at Bodmin for a few days most months. Having joined the LAA Coaching scheme as a CRI in 2011 it was a natural step to become a flying instructor. Bodmin is a great airfield and is owned and run by the members. There’s a lot of LAA aircraft based locally and I’m very involved with test flying and differences / familiarisation training.

What aircraft have you owned?

My first aircraft was Aeronca Champ G-ATHK, which I bought in a moment of madness in 1991. I rebuilt the wings and empennage, overhauled the motor and flew it until 1997. Stupidly I sold it due to hangarage issues at the time and have regretted it ever since. It was a great machine. Some time later I bought a Currie Wot, G-AYMP. It was supposedly up and going but actually needed far more work than envisaged. Due to various changes in life (marriage, children) it got shoved on the back burner and moved along in 2007. Of course, what I really wanted was a lightweight Currie Wot with a two cylinder motor like the prototype. With the advent of single-seat deregulation such things have become easily possible and I’ve now got a Praga B powered ‘Super NotWot’ under construction in the shop. Steel tube fuselage too, which makes construction so much easier and is very light. The Praga B motor is ideal as, thanks to the use of magnesium alloy, it’s even lighter than the Jap J99 and gives a whopping 40hp. I also have an Aeronca C2 well underway, made from as much original stuff as possible.

I first saw my Aeronca C3 G-AEFT in the delightful BBC TV film Flying For Fun, made in 1986. It was love at first sight and by dint of good fortune I had a bit of spare cash when it came up for sale a decade later. A phone call to Ben Cooper for a spot of advice led to a ride in his C3 (the

eponymous Gladys), and there was no going back. Nobody treats the C3 seriously, probably because it looks like something from a Rupert The Bear annual. But, it’s a fabulous machine. It flies well, is cleverly engineered and costs peanuts to operate.

Shamefully I’ll admit to owning a Thruster TST as well. It’s an early one with a Rotax 503, no electrics and is good fun. We used to have a small airstrip at our previous house, useless for most things except the Thruster (and a friend’s Aviat Husky) and it lived under covers near the house. Now it has its own shed on a nearby airstrip, next to the C3. It’s a fine training machine, bit of a pig to fly and useful for microlight and tailwheel differences training, plus landing out where maybe one shouldn’t. There’s a common simplicity to what I like – what isn’t there, doesn’t go wrong

As well as aircraft I’ve always messed around with cars. As an apprentice I built a 1500cc Ford Anglia, sold to pay for flying lessons; and an Austin 7 special, sold to buy the Champ in 1991. I also built a vintage Morgan Aero up from parts in 1999-2001. It had a 697cc Blackburne Tomtit V twin on the front, originally fitted to an RAF DH53 Hummingbird. The whole rig weighed in at 5cwt and went like stink. My present hack is a scruffy 1927 Vauxhall 14/40.

You flew with Air Atlantique – what was such a varied fleet like to fly?

I’d long thought about studying for the commercial pilot exams but, being penurious, kept putting it off. I couldn’t afford to pay for the flying training anyway. I wrote to Air Atlantique at Coventry as I’d heard they operated proper aeroplanes and ran a cadet scheme. Its selection process was simple and I joined in July 1993.

I only wanted to fly propliners at that time and found I fitted in rather well. It was a practical job with lots of interesting flying and getting your hands dirty.

The cadets were referred to as ‘fuglys’ and, to the outsider, treated like second-class citizens. However, the process either weeded out or toughened up the individual. The attrition rate was at least 50%.

After the issue of our BCPLs we were sent off to earn a

April 2022 | LIGHT AVIATION | 49 Meet the Members
Above Owned for half his life, Nick thinks his 36hp Aeronca C3 is a fabulous machine.
Below One of Nick’s favourite aircraftflying the Rapide during his time with Air Atlantique.

bob or two and accumulate the fabled 700 hours for the CPL issue. I was sent to Caernarfon to hop rides and tow banners in a C172. There was serious trade on sunny days and I soon had the CPL issued. Having one of those and a decent amount of tailwheel time meant I could fly the Rapide, which was a real treat. Sadly once that summer was over then it was back to Coventry for the Instrument Rating which, after a carefree summer by the seaside and chasing my shadow across the Welsh mountains, was a bit too much like hard work. However, compensation came quickly, the very next day after passing the IR found me in the right seat of a Dakota for a quick couple of hours training and a type test. I liked the DC-3 tremendously, it flew much like the Rapide and I never had any trouble with it at all, other than several engine failures.

I didn’t fly the DC-6 until some time later a chance conversation at the ops desk revealed that the Chief Pilot calculated he was short of a DC-6 captain. I cheerfully volunteered and had an accelerated command, right seat, middle seat, pilot acting as flight engineer, to the left seat, all in six months. It’s easy to dismiss these radial engine ships as slow, but the DC-6 could easily keep up with a 737 freighter on the shorter European routes and did lots of ACMI work to cover those types. It took skill and knowledge to operate well.

As well as flying the Douglas machines, most of us were current on various Cessna and Piper twins. I also had the pleasure of being type rated on the Percival Prentice, which caused some amusement as the CAA licence endorsement gave the type as ‘P40’. I wish! Looking back, some of the things we got up to were unbelievably

naughty, but it was in the days when telephones were telephones and there was no social media. It truly was the time of my life and my best friendships date from then.

I left at the end of 1998 and joined a UK charter airline flying the Boeing 757. Within six months I realised I’d made a poor decision. The airline itself was blameless but I hated commuting to Luton and the dismal repetitive routes for the holiday industry. After a couple of years I chucked it and headed a long way south. However, it was probably good that I left Air Atlantique when I did, as within 18 months the pollution contract ended, most of the DC-3s were retired and the DC-6 fleet was gone shortly after.

Tell us about flying for the British Antarctic Survey team

I joined BAS in early 2001, and after two years of airline flying it was great to be back in a single pilot, round dial aircraft, and even better on skis. Most of the flying work was logistic, moving science parties to field locations and positioning fuel drums in depots.

One of the regular tasks was ‘depot raising’; with an average snow accumulation of 72 inches per year, anything left standing on the surface could be several feet under by the following season. So we’d head out with a Twin Otter stuffed full of skidoos and bodies and dig the depot up and reposition it onto the surface. If it sounds a bit like painting the Forth Bridge… it was. When I joined it was with the intention of staying with BAS for several years, however, Cupid put paid to such idealistic intentions and I left in 2003.

How many hours and types flown?

I’ve flown several dozen aircraft types from microlights to heavy jets, about 15,000 hours all in so far. The hours become a bit irrelevant, and the true key to making any flying count as decent experience, is exercising good judgment, airmanship and skill, whether it’s a 10-hour or 10-minute sector. The same badly flown hour repeated many times is utterly worthless.

My favourite aircraft was the Rapide, which was a real joy. The DC-6, DC-3 and Twin Otter share second place on the list of commercial types. Most excellent workhorses, easy to fly badly, rewarding when flown well and, of course, completely analogue.

The Aeronca C3 is my favourite light aeroplane as I’ve owned it for half my life and had many good adventures in it. It’s an admirable performer with 36 proper size horses on the front and bags of character. Unashamedly traditional, as basic trainers I think Cubs and Champs still have a lot to offer, in the case of the Champ, also very good value. Tailwheel RVs are good fun too. Various VW powered single-seaters have been great fun and have the optimum number of seats.

I keep the Scottish Aviation Twin Pioneer in a class of its own as it reached both ends of the spectrum. As a single pilot STOL air display machine it was perfect and thoroughly entertaining. It was OK for hopping short A to A rides but it was useless for going A to B with a cabin full of anoraks as the fuel load (thus range) became limited. A typically over-engineered, heavy, complicated British aircraft. That particular aircraft, G-APRS, is now a caravan. Probably quite a good one too…

Meet the Members 50 | LIGHT AVIATION | April 2022
Above Operating Dash-7 aircraft with the British Antarctic Survey team. Below A vintage combo…Nick’s Vauxhall 14/40 about to tow the Aeronca back to Roche.

For work, I currently fly the Global 6000 for a VIP charter / business jet operator. London-based, on a fortnight on-off pattern. It takes me all over the world and is thoroughly entertaining. As I write, I am in snowy Anchorage.

Any memorable moments in aviation?

There have been so many but I still think my first solo was one the best. It was a perfect spring afternoon and I was completely ready. I’ve read of those who are scared or nervous, such nonsense never entered my mind. It was fantastic and I drove my 850 Mini home even more flat-out than usual..

Oddly enough one of my most memorable flights was one of the saddest, operating the last scheduled airline flight from Plymouth Airport. It was the afternoon Glasgow – Plymouth – Newquay service. As always, full of passengers and highly profitable but the greed of the owners meant selling the airline and the stupid and ongoing debacle of Plymouth’s now moribund airport.

Any favourite flying books?

I’m an enthusiastic reader and have several hundred flying books. Picking favourites is difficult, but Wind In The Wires by Duncan Grinnell-Milne is probably top of the list - a rare combination of poignant prose and acid wit. Harald Penrose’s autobiography Adventure With Fate is another firm favourite. Of course, Flying For Fun by Jack Parham has meant more to me than for most as I own both the heroine of the film and I am reconstructing the original. Classics still occasionally appear, Propellerhead being a fine example, but I’ll wager that nothing delightful will ever be written about drones, ADS-B or how to fly a tin box full of iPads from A to B.

Any ‘interesting’ aviation moments?

I’ve had 17 engine failures / shutdowns so far. Six in single-engine aircraft, 10 in multi-engine aircraft (mostly radials) and one in a turbine. Plus quite a lot of other stuff that’s happened. All were landed safely without further damage. The sole turbine engine (PT6) shutdown was completely avoidable; a maintenance induced failure due to a missing O ring following a generator service. No big deal as it was a Dash 7 and we had another three running to take us home..

Two of the single engine failures were in a Pietenpol

Aircamper with an Subaru engine and the most entertaining was the crankshaft failure in the Aeronca C3 which saw the propeller find its own way down. Little wonder Jack Parham turned his C2 into a glider; without the drag of a windmilling propeller it took ages to glide down from 2,500ft and I had to spiral to lose height.

The 10 failures in multis were a bit more serious, especially a couple in the DC-3, as was a hydraulic leak hundreds of miles from anywhere in a Twin Otter. Nonetheless, I regard electrical problems, instrument failures and fires as far more of a hazard, especially combined with poor weather, night and fatigue.

There’ve been many memorable moments too. When the SeaEmpress ran aground we had the delight of taking all seven DC-3 marine pollution spray aircraft to Haverfordwest and several days spraying dispersant. I was co-pilot to a great chap called Rory, and on one spray run Rory managed to inadvertently inflate his life jacket.

Spraying was done at an eyeballed 20ft or so above the waves and the seat position in the DC-3 naturally places the control wheel close to the pilot.

Rory, being an advocate of a real ale diet and now with an inflated life jacket, found that pulling the stick back to climb was somewhat restricted. I had the presence of mind to whip out my knife, stab Rory in the lifejacket and we climbed away. It sounds serious but we couldn’t stop laughing.

My most recent engine failure was an EFATO in a Murphy Maverick at no more than 200ft. Due to the lack of suitable landing sites straight ahead on that runway, I was already in a right turn before the engine failed. This pre-empting of the failure (on a coaching flight the purpose of which was to teach and practice failures) meant the right turn was continued to a landing back onto the airfield. I invest in such practice regularly and the dividend paid off.

Any dream aeroplanes to own?

In utopia I’d keep a Supermarine Walrus on the slipway at St Winnow. However, even in the real world, something amphibious would be excellent. I keep a floatplane rating current on my FAA licence.

Any wisdom to share with fellow flyers?

Assume something’s about to go wrong and you won’t be disappointed. ■

Meet the Members

Where to go


Aselection of events as spring progresses, and some you might want to plan for in the summer months ahead. While they’ve yet to publish a list of events, don’t forget GASCo is running some Safety Evenings up and down the country. Keep an eye on its website,, for further updates.


16-17 Easter Easter at Easter Airfield

23 Duxford IWM GA Flying day 23-24 Breighton BAeA McLean Trophy

23 Duxford IWM GA Flying Day

24 Henstridge Wessex Strut Fly-in (PPR)

27-30 Friedrichshafen, Germany. AERO GA Exhibition

30-1 May Popham Microlight Trade Fair


As always, check the Royal Aero Club Events website for the latest information and web links for many of the events:

Our thanks to the RAeC and to Dave Wise for the use of their data. If you have an event you want to advertise on the list, please email the details to Dave at:

Planning ahead…

June 4-5 Pitsford FoxFest Kitfox fly-in

June 9 Sleap SAC VW -powered fly-in

June 11 Bodmin Grasshopper gathering

June 11 Welshpool VPAC Fly-in

June 18 Farway Common LAA Devon Strut fly-in

June 18 Old Warden Evening Air Show

June 25-26 White Waltham Aeronca Club 30th with Air Britain

July 22-24 Brienne le Chateau RSA

July 23-24 Bodmin VAC / LAA Day

July 23-24 Farway Common European Luscombe Fly-in

July 30 Kilkeel Mourne FC fly-in


Plans are well advanced for our upcoming tour. There has been an excellent response from LAA members all over the country, either wishing to join in for the whole week or just dip in as time allows for a few days.

Official start at Breighton on 22 May and onto Perth Monday 23 via Eshott Airfield.

If you wish to book accommodation you ought to do so soon, but suggest you bring a light tent in case we get weathered in somewhere or

divert. All arrangements are down to you, including accommodation, meals (some are arranged BBQs), flights, landing fees (some free) and PPR where needed. Local flyers and Struts are helping with routing advice, smaller airstrips if you fancy dropping in, and maintenance. Meet The LAA Day is at Perth on Saturday 28 May with a free landing and BBQ with a ceilidh band in the evening.

Please register to be kept up to date with ATC information and any issues before we leave. Send an email to

52 | LIGHT AVIATION | March 2022
2 Compton Abbas Vintage Fly-in
2 Bodmin Vintage and Aerobatic Fly-in 9 Turweston VAC Members Fly-in
9 Sleap VPAC Vintage Piper Fly-in 5-10 Lakeland, FL. USA. Sun ’n Fun
16 Perth ACS Aviation Festival of Flight
16 Sandown Easter Fly-in & Spot Landing Comp
Premier Air Show 1 Carrickmore Fly-in 1-2 Fenland Chipmunk fly-in 2 Popham Aero/Autojumble 2 Popham VAC Members Fly-in 7 Bodmin Ladies Day Fly-in 7 Fenland VAC Tulip Fly-in 7 Sutton Meadows CMC Microlight fly-in PPR 7-8 Sleap BAeA Get Into Aeros event 13-14 Wycombe Private Flyer 13-15 Hibaldstow PRBA Ballon meet 14 Compton Abbas Microlight and Light Aircraft Fly-in 14 Sywell Europa Club Fly-in/Dinner
1 Old Warden Shuttleworth Season
Southern VFR 1:500,000 Chart £15.99 Price exclude £1.50 P+P.
organiser Neil Wilson has the
updates on the event

SportSTAR Aviation 07739 670585 (Roger)

EuroFOX Aviation 07712 515528 (Paul)

Factory-built SportSTAR 600kg Light Sport Microlight

All-metal, low-wing construction

Huge, luxurious cabin

Rotax Rotax 912iS fuel injected or 914 Turbo glider tug

Why kit build when you can buy and fly away

290kg useable load, massive luggage area

Individual panel design, simple or complex with autopilot

10-hour range, unobstructed visibility

Quiet, reliable with VNE 146kt

Quality build from a renowned company

EuroFOX and SportSTAR

Stablemates setting the benchmark for innovation and quality

For just £30 for a limited time, The FLYER Club gives you access to a whole host of ways to save money on your flying and get out to meet other pilots.

• Free landing vouchers • Live webinars from experts • Exclusive content • Discounts with aviation retailers • Twice-weekly video weather briefings • Plus lots more! Find out more and join at * for full terms and conditions visit
The Benefits
EuroFOX and SportSTAR are trading names of Ascent Industries Ltd, A8-1and A8-9 design, production and flight test. Approval reference DAI/8909/84
Buy membership now before prices rise!
“Why build, spec factory built and fly away”

Spring has sprung, the evenings are beginning to draw out, and the opportunities to fly are increasing. That makes these landing vouchers an even better extra to use towards your flying. Our thanks to Eshott, Headcorn and Middlezoy for supporting

our discounted and free landings for LAA members scheme. Please be sure to thank them for their participation by buying some fuel for your aircraft, or when on the obligatory trip to the cafe, fuel for you and your passenger!



Free Landing May 2022

Eshott Airfield 01670 787881

A very friendly airfield with a nice collection of classic aeroplanes based here. A well maintained runway set among the rural scenery of Northumberland, makes Eshott a good destination. Tea and coffee and light snacks available. Equipped with both hard and grass runways, its location is near the breathtaking coastline, and close to the National Park, so great views should be enjoyed. Avgas and Jet A1 on site. Radio is 122.855. PPR before leaving home, or visit website



Reduced Landing May 2022

Headcorn 01622 890226

A reduced landing fee of £10 is offered at this friendly airfield set in the Garden of England. Café is open all week with tea/coffee and bacon sandwiches, cakes and more. Please PPR before leaving your base, non-radio are also welcome. Circuit direction is left hand for both runways. Beware of possible parachute dropping, and the airfield also operates Spitfire Experience flights, so keep a good lookout. Fuel available is avgas, UL91, JET A1. Radio frequency is 122.210



Free landing 1-25 May 2022

Middlezoy 07901 826351

A new airfield joins us this month. Situated on the lovely Somerset levels, Middlezoy’s flying group has restored a blister hangar into a great clubhouse. PPR on the above number, as the airstrip is right next door to Westonzoyland, so keep a lookout. Radio 129.830, make blind calls. Please visit https://middlezoyaerodrome. and read Pilot Information.

Landing vouchers 36 | LIGHT AVIATION | July 2021 ✁ ✁ ✁
ADS-BE SEEN WITH TRIG’S TN72 Use the CAA Conspicuity Rebate to upgrade your Trig transponder to ADS-B Out Certified SIL 1 - Superior visibility Visible to all ADS-B In traffic devices Proven installation LAA / EASA CS-STAN Be visible - be safe - fit Trig Contact your Approved Trig dealer now CLAIM BACK UP TO £250 ORDER TODAY LANDING MAY 2022 VOUCHERS
See our website for full range Call us on 01280 700020, or visit us at Turweston (next to the LAA) to discuss your requirements. Our Address: LX Avionics Ltd, Hangar 10, Turweston Aerodrome, BRACKLEY, NN13 5YD VAT: GB 793 1777 86 Company number 4417407 E & OE We can help with panel and wiring design through to complete installation. Contact us to discuss your Avionics build requirements and to go through ideas. G3X Touch PFD G5 AI/HSI GTN650/750 Xi waas GPS/NAV/COMM GFC500 Autopilot Supply, design, build and install service uAvionixSky Echo II from £529.00 inc. VAT. Please call us to order at offer price. RV7 panel under build RV9 panel under build GNS to GTN adapter custom made loom for RV9 Talk to us for LAA member discounts We specialise in Avionics supply, design and build assistance for homebuilders. Come and See us at the Popham Microlight Fair 30/4-1/5-2022

Classifieds April


For all display or commercial advertising enquiries please contact Neil Wilson: 07512 773532

You can email your classified advertisement direct to the LAA at the following address:

Deadline for booking and copy:

12 April 2022

If you would like to place an aircraft for sale advert please see details below:


Up to 30 words: £6; 31-50 words: £12

Up to 50 words with a coloured photo: £45


Up to 30 words: £22; 31-50 words: £44

Up to 50 words with a coloured photo: £60

LAA Engineering advice to buyers:

AIRCRAFT APPROVED? Members and readers should note that the inclusion of all advertisements in the commercial or classified sections of this magazine does not necessarily mean that the product or service is approved by the LAA. In particular, aircraft types, or examples of types advertised, may not, for a variety of reasons, be of a type or standard that is eligible for the issue of a LAA Permit to Fly. You should not assume that an aircraft type not currently on the LAA accepted type list will eventually be accepted.

IMPORTED AIRCRAFT? Due to unfavourable experiences, the purchase and import of completed homebuilt aircraft from abroad is especially discouraged. TIME TO BUILD? When evaluating kits/designs, it should borne in mind that technical details, performance figures and handling characteristics are often quoted for a factory-produced aircraft flying under ideal conditions. It is wise, therefore, to seek the opinion of existing builders and owners of the type. You should also take your own skill and circumstances into consideration when calculating build times. The manufacturer’s build time should be taken as a guide only.

AMATEUR BUILDING All LAA aircraft builders and potential builders are reminded that in order to qualify for a LAA Permit to Fly, homebuilt aircraft must be genuinely amateur built. For these purposes the CAA provide a definition of amateur built in their publication CAP 659, available from LAA. An extract from CAP 659 reads “The building and operation of the aircraft will be solely for the education and recreation of the amateur builder. This means that he would not be permitted to commission someone else to build his aircraft”. An aircraft built outside the CAA’s definition could result in an expensive garden ornament.


Light Aircraft Weighing Service in East Yorkshire and surrounding area. For details contact Demraview Ltd. Email: Mob: 07984 810761


McCauley Met-L-prop 72D x 41P serial 13566

TCP842 Reconditioned by Brinkley Aerospace Biggleswade. In pristine condition, not used since recondition. Suitable for A65 engines, J3 cub or similar aircraft. Please contact

Lycoming 0-360-C2C. Complete with all ancillaries. Removed from California based Jungmann. 1,300 hours on meter. A&P engineer maintained, but no logs! Dry stored 9 years. Need an engine core for exchange or rebuild? I need Dynafocal mount engine, hence now surplus, no reasonable offer refused.

01482 667902 /

Lycoming 0-235 C1B 115 HP, part completed engine project, no cylinders/pistons or accessories, lots of new parts, great engine project for a spare, to view (Herts) contact 07825 843497

Alpi Aviation Pioneer 300 for sale - £ 44500. Built 2007, TT 380 hours and always hangered. Rotax 100hp, variable prop, retractable wheels and well equipped avionics. GRT Avionics EFIS (2) and EIS, Garmin 430,and GTX 330 transponder, Trutrack Autopilot. Permit expires August. Contact: for full details

For sale. G-EMSY 1940 DH82A Tiger Moth (83666). Rebuilt/zero-timed in 2000 by Cliff Lovell/ Vintec. 895HRS since. Top overhaul 58 HRS ago (May 2020). Permit to July 2022. TRIG 8.33 radio. Lynx intercom/headsets. Installed PilotAware plus SkyEcho. Manuals and a few spares. Sound reliable aircraft with a comprehensive maintenance history. Always hangared. Now based at Compton Abbas. Contact Malcolm Rogan 07836 252634 Corby Starlet Super single seat reluctantly for sale. This comprehensively equipped Starlet is delightful and very economic to fly. Please see and AFORS for photos and details. 01948 820 469


WANTED Rotax 582 engine in reasonable condition for College Build-a-plane project. Any offers contact Alan James, gbucojames@, 07743 268 006 or David Mole,, 07720 286 412


We are looking for a full time or part time fitter with sheet metal riveting experience. Contact Falcon Flying Services, Biggin Hill Airport TN16 3BN: Singh Bamrah 07877 614 699

Magni M24C Gyrocopter, pearl white, Rotax 914 Turbo, with full hose change, Permit to Fly until 28/11/22, 100mph, 16lph, 4 hours duration, Flydat Engine Monitoring, Filser Radio 8.33khz, Trig Transponder, Bose ANR headsets. 738 engine hours. Full service history. £59,500 ono. Tel. 07952 676962,


Design & Stress Analysis Service. Type submissions, modifications, engine frames and general advice. We cover everything from SSDR to A380 :- structures, powerplant (IC and electric) and avionic installations. Contact John Wighton or call 07770399315.


deHavilland Hornet Moth dH87B. Long established and well-run group at Oaksey Park offering a one sixth share in our immaculate 1936 G-ADNE Ariadne. Successful applicant will have tailwheel experience and be able to satisfy our QFI. £12,000.

Please contact John McMillan at 07837 815269 or



56 | LI GHT
| April 2022
For all display and company advertising contact Neil Wilson NEIL.WILSON@LAA.UK.COM April 2022 | L IGHT AVIATION | 57 SERVICES & MORE FUEL SERVICES Don’t risk it with water absorbing E5 and E10 fuels (mogas). WARTER UL91 and 100LL aviation fuels are ethanol free, storage stable and have a vapour pressure suitable for ying. Anglo American Oil Company +44 (0) 1929 551557 Safe flying Available in 55 and 195 litre drums for immediate despatch, UK-wide, on a next day basis. Please call for more information. No Ethanol Safe flying INSTRUMENTATION COVERS TRANSPORTATION Contact us now for a quotation Telephone: 0121 327 8000 E-mail: Web: Aircraft Transportation Specialists Specialist vehicles to move your aircraft safely SPORTYS.COM/COURSES SPORTY’S PILOT TRAINING APP 25 Courses Available LightAviation_2022.indd 1 12/23/21 3:45 PM



In 1996 Anthony Preston, then the office manager at Shoreham, engaged the services of local aviation artist Peter Champion to create a painting to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Popular Flying Association.

A lifelong aviation enthusiast, in his retirement from a career as an illustrator for national newspapers, Peter was a regular visitor to Shoreham Airport. His passion had started when, just 10 years old at the outbreak of WWII, he was fascinated by the fighters and bombers overhead and started to sketch them.

Champion became famous during the Falklands War when, with photographs from the Islands unable to make it back for the next day’s editions, he was tasked with painting the day’s

events for publication. His would be the first scenes from the battlefield in the newspapers the following day.

The LAA painting includes some of the original PFA aircraft, such as the Currie Wot, Taylor Monoplane, Luton Minor and an original Campbell Cricket autogyro, as well as vintage types, such as the Comper Swift and Piper Cub. It also includes newer designs including the CFM Shadow, Long EZ and Europa, regarded as contemporary types at the time!

The painting was hung in the offices at Shoreham until the Association’s move to Turweston. It was later found in the LAA HQ stores in 2016, and after some sympathetic cleaning, took its place on the CEO’s office wall, where it both tells the story of the Association, and sums up ‘Flying for Fun’. Steve Slater

58 | LIGHT AVIATION | April 2022 From the archives
stories behind items in the LAA’s collection
0RDERONLINE LAS AEROSPACE LTD TEL: 01837 658081 LAS AEROSPACE LTD Concorde House, North Road Industrial Estate, Okehampton,Devon EX20 1BQ TEL: 01837 658081
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.