Light Aviation August 2021

Page 1

Clive Davidson flies the first UK example


The Team

Chairman TIM HARDY


Chief Engineer FRANCIS DONALDSON B.Tech c eng FRAeS

Chief Inspector KEN CRAIGIE



Engineering email COMMERCIAL

There’s a sizzling summer ahead

Well, after a pretty manky June, the summer weather certainly came good in July, no where more so than at the Flying For Fun Air Show at Old Warden mid-month (p50). Over the years I have been to Shuttleworth events a good many times but have never managed to see the Edwardians and other veteran machines fly more than a low level ‘hop’ due to unsuitable conditions. Not this time, and for me the highlight, probably of the whole year, will be seeing the English Electric Wren fly around the airfield, puttering along on its minimal power at a seemingly impossibly slow speed in the still, silent air. Utterly enthralling.

It was also the first LAA event I have attended since the last Meet the LAA Day at Headcorn in late September 2019, so it was great to catch up with so many friends, something many of us will be doing at the LAA Rally in September. See page 22 for details of the event and keep an eye on the Rally web pages for updates, especially about slot booking and possible minor changes to the arrival’s procedure http:// Rally/2021/index.html

you personally never intend forming a canopy, but will be a perfect primer for those who may be needing to do something similar (p10).

A single pager from Steve Slater on The Right Stuff is food for thought (p36). The ‘stuff’ in question is the clothing we wear when flying, especially in the summer when shorts and tee shirts are de rigueur for many. It’s not a new topic, I’m sure we have all read advice on this in the past, but most of us choose to ignore it.

However, although I am not enthralled by the idea of flying in a Nomex boiler suit, I had a trawl on the internet and discovered Nomex shirts, call me ignorant if you like but I did not know such things existed. I decided to buy one, it was about 20 quid, and albeit I am admittedly somewhat sartorially challenged, it seems of perfectly reasonable appearance to me.

No, I’m not going to give you a twirl, but I am going to cut a piece off the tail and see how well it resists flame, and I am going to see how comfortable it is when worn all day. I’ll let you know next month.

Be safe, Brian

You may recall Blue Two designer/ builder Andy Best’s plea for advice about blowing a canopy in a recent Project News. Thank you to those who got in touch, particularly Tony Razzell, who not only helped Andy but also wrote up his recent series of experiments based on advice gleaned from articles sourced from the internet. Tony’s article, and the associated links, are a very interesting read, even if

Rally is a focal point for the Association, more so this year than ever. Hope to see you there!
for engineering and commercial
Office Manager Penny Sharpe Head Office Turweston Aerodrome, Nr Brackley, Northants NN13 5YD Telephone
01280 846786
BRIAN HOPE 60 Queenborough Road, Sheerness, Kent ME12 3BZ Telephone 01795 662508
August 2021 | LIGHT AVIATION | 3

more you know, the luckier you get…

Well, it’s not long to go before the LAA’s 75th Anniversary Rally and I’m sure many of you are looking forward to our annual event, regrettably postponed last year because of you-know-what.

The LAA Rally Team, led by Eryl Smith, has been working extremely hard on your behalf to deliver this long-awaited event, and has taken account of any foreseen eventualities such as making the marquee design Covid-secure, outdoor spacing and working with Sywell on aircraft movements to make it the memorable occasion we all want it to be.

Of course, even we can’t foresee what the weather will do, so we hope luck will be on our side at the beginning of September, but pity the poor German people who have suffered so much of late. A very unlucky positioning of the jet stream – it could have been us.

In our world of Permit flying, we are very fortunate to be able to exercise the freedoms of flying unusual types of aircraft, homebuilts and the like.

Lucky also to be able to fly affordably, lucky to have some talented people in HQ watching our backs, and lucky to have some truly magnificent countryside available to fly over and to. That luck though has been hard won over the 75 years of the Association, when those who have gone before us faced down opposition to people building and flying their own aircraft and enjoying the liberty of the air.

As you may have gathered, some of those conversations are still playing out today, and there is of course, a part that each and every

member can play in building those reserves of ‘luck’, and it’s not that difficult.

The first of these, and my personal favourite, is to fly, fly and fly some more to build confidence, recency and awareness of the airfield and airspace environment in which you operate. Lots of practice too with radio work, crossing controlled airspace, keeping a very good lookout and becoming a practitioner of your chosen pursuit.

Then, building on that experience, consider how lucky you have been in seeing and avoiding other aircraft. Do you think you saw them all or do you have any nagging doubts? If the latter, what will you do to build in your own ‘luck’?

What about the care and maintenance of your aircraft, are there any opportunities for getting lucky there? I think we all know the answer to that one – sticking to your maintenance plan and getting it done, even when the weather tempts you to leave things until another day whilst you go flying.

Also, don’t ignore a change in the characteristics of the engine, propeller or airframe. Fix what needs to be fixed as soon as it needs fixing!

And then what about spreading the word and sharing the experience with others, particularly young people – nothing like catching them when they are young!

We will need subsequent generations of pilots and builders to sustain the Association so that there’s at least a reason to celebrate the LAA’s centenary… that’s a thought!

Be lucky!


LAA Art Competition, Fly It Day for 75th


JG3 Racer saved, Leak-down testing


Tony Razzell’s lockdown project, Cleared to Fly and New Projects


David Cockburn warns it is easy to get distracted, especially when flying with somebody new to light aircraft…


LAA Chief Executive Officer, Steve Slater, delivers the 2020 LAA Financial Report


Updates on the final stages of planning for this year’s 75th Anniversary Rally


Visit Cambridge, best known for its prestigious university…


Anne Hughes profiles Strut activities…


Wearing the right clothing when flying could be a matter of life or death


Clive Davidson flies the first UK example of the CH750 Cruzer


Don’t take your batteries for granted, Ian Fraser offers top tips for charging…


The fabulous LAA Flying For Fun airshow


We talk to Ni Thomas, former Merchant Navy captain, and keen private pilot…


Steve Roberts reports on the restoration of his beloved Rutan Long-EZ, G-RAFT…


Steve Slater declares it is ‘all systems go for an exciting summer’


Check out the September vouchers on offer…

4 | LIGHT AVIATION | August 2021 Chairman’s Chat
August 2021 | LIGHT AVIATION | 5 Contents August 2021
10 58 22
CH750 Cruzer 38

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

LAA Rally is definitely GO!

Following the Government’s decision to remove all mandatory requirements on social distancing, and limits on outdoor events and gatherings, the LAA Rally at Sywell on 3-5 September is most definitely ON!

Whilst many large-scale events have had to cancel, reschedule or radically change what they can offer, this year’s Rally aims to provide all the usual exhibits and facilities members have come to expect. In addition to a host of exhibitors with products, services and aircraft on display, this year will see an enlarged Homebuilder’s Village and Flea Market, together with some iconic aircraft that illustrate the 75 years of the Association.

The challenges of recovering from lockdown have left Sywell without the customary air traffic control team and, as a result, the Rally will operate under an experienced team of air/ground radio operators lead by Chris Thompson.

Finalising these arrangements with the CAA has delayed the usual publication of information which would accompany this edition of the magazine and the opening of the slot booking system, which is expected to open at the beginning of August. Full details on slot bookings and downloadable flight information will be

LAA Fly-It Day

Tuesday 26 October 1946 was the date of the meeting which inaugurated the Ultra-Light Aircraft Association, which subsequently became the LAA. It was originally intended that the date be marked with an Anniversary Dinner at the RAF Club. However, cost to members and Covid-related concerns have driven the Association to reconsider.

It has therefore been decided to mark the 75th Anniversary with a national event which will involve as many members as possible, and that event will be a day when members will be

available via the LAA Rally section of the LAA website.

Ensuring a safe and enjoyable Rally remains the top priority and in addition to redesigning the layout of the main exhibition site to meet public health requirements, the Working Group will continue to liaise closely with Sywell and monitor and adapt plans in light of any future changes in Government guidelines.

As we go to press there are no plans to enforce social distancing, wearing of face masks, or the need for health checks on entry, but we will encourage everyone to be respectful of others and be responsible for their own actions.

There is much still to do and there will be regular updates to members via emails and the Rally website pages, so do check them out. If you haven’t already done so make sure you have the 3-5 September in your diary and come and celebrate the return of the Rally at Sywell.

encouraged to do what we are all about – fly!

It doesn’t matter whether it is in a Permit aircraft or not, whether you own or rent, we want members (and their friends) to take to the air to celebrate our anniversary.

Some of the initial ideas include:

■ A competition for the most unusual / innovative / inspiring flight.

■ Encouraging those with spare seats to give a friend a first experience of light aircraft flying.

■ Perhaps a Fly-in at Turweston and an

LAA HQ Open House, the Association standing the landing fees and refreshments at LAA HQ.

■ Posters to promote the event for Struts, airfields, flying schools.

■ Commemorative sticker or certificate, obtained upon declaration of flight.

In recognition that many members have ‘day jobs’ we may review this format, and run the event on the Sunday preceding the anniversary date, but most of all we would like to hear your opinions and ideas. Do please let us know via

6 | LIGHT AVIATION | August 2021 LA News
Above A packed aircraft park at the 2018 LAA Rally. Fingers crossed for similar in 2021.

Non drone TDA system?

A new technology to be tested in September may mean that the requirement for Temporary Danger Areas (TDA) for drone operations could become unnecessary.

Berkshire based company, Altitude Angel, has applied for a TDA south of Reading to test their Arrow ground-based Detect And Avoid (DAA) technology.

The TDA is 8km long, 120 metres wide and has a top height of 600ft agl and details are available via Temporary Airspace Change Proposal ACP-2021-032.

The ACP explains that drones flying within the Arrow Drone Zone will be tracked and monitored via Altitude Angel’s UTM (unified traffic management) platform, GuardianUTM O/S, which communicates with ground and aerial infrastructure and provides automated navigation assistance, pre-flight authorisations, and automatic

separation assurance for drones flying within the Zone.

Nearby manned aviation and other non-participating drones will be mapped in real-time so safe distances are maintained, and appropriate avoidance actions can be taken if they are predicted to be breached.

BMAA’s CEO to retire

The British Microlight Aircraft Association’s CEO, Geoff Weighell, has announced his retirement, having led the association since 2006. He was previously Chairman of the Microlight Panel of Examiners.

The BMAA is currently advertising the position, stating the ideal candidate will:

■ Have experience in, or an understanding of, the UK microlight (or GA) environment

■ Have previous management experience at executive governance level

■ Hold sufficient qualifications or experience to manage the BMAA airworthiness department

■ Be able to represent BMAA members with regulators and other government departments.

■ Show initiative and imagination in order to promote microlight flying in the UK

■ Be a strong communicator, able to establish good working relationships with a wide range of groups

■ Be able to lead a team of dedicated staff members to maintain high standards.

The position is office based at Deddington, Oxfordshire.

Those wishing to apply should contact Rob Hughes, the BMAA Chairman, for an application information pack and for further details on how to apply for the position.

The deadline for applications is 11 August 2021.

You can contact Rob on his email at:

If a conflict is predicted, drones involved will be automatically given appropriate avoidance instructions to either change flight path, hold, return or land. A remote pilot will also be alerted, and manual control of the drone can be taken at any time.

The company hope that once the technology has been successfully demonstrated, it will be possible to do away with the need for ACPs to be requested where their platform is utilised, therefore allowing both drones and manned aviation to safely share the same airspace.

One of the stakeholders involved in the consultation commented, “The ACP does not appear to recognise the role of the M4 as a visual navigation feature for VFR traffic, nor cognisance of the SW entry route to White Waltham. There are also no attempts to mitigate the timings of use of the TDA when the UAS is not being used.”

Safety Sense leaflets update

After a number of false starts, the CAA has started to update their well-respected Safety Sense leaflets. The first, entitled Care of Passengers in General Aviation Aircraft is now available for download, as are all the leaflets – 23 in total including everything from strip flying and flight in controlled airspace to carb heat and weight and balance, via . The same link will enable you to sign up for the CAA’s news update service SkyWise , which will alert you when new leaflets become available.

LA News August 2021 | LIGHT AVIATION | 7

LAA 2022 Art Competition

The Association and the Guild of Aviation Artists have launched their 5th Annual Art Competition for 6–17-year-olds. The theme for the 2020 competition is Design your Perfect Aircraft and it is hoped that the youngsters will be inspired by the ‘behind the scenes’ work of aviation industry specialists.

The brief asks them to consider:

■ What is your perfect aircraft?

■ What would power it through the sky?

■ Would it be big or small?

■ What special features would make pilots and passengers excited to be in the air?

Prizes in each three age categories, 6-9, 10-13 and 14-17, include art equipment and an opportunity to meet the UK’s top aviation artists at a

Assault and Battery at Coventry

A planning application to build a factory on Coventry Airport’s runway, to produce and recycle batteries for electric vehicles, has been submitted by Coventry City Council and Coventry Airport Ltd.

Businesses based on the airfield heard through local media, a situation one business commented was, “A reflection sadly on the contempt held for

businesses by property developers who clearly place us within the collateral damage folder.”

The city council and Warwick District Council will vote on the proposals later this year. If the plans are approved, the site could be operational by 2025, though it would need investment from the private sector.

Yamaha signs engine agreement

The Yamaha motorcycle company has signed an agreement to develop a light aircraft design with fellow Japanese company ShinMaywa, a general engineering and manufacturing

LAA engineering charges

conglomerate but with a history in aircraft manufacture going back to 1920.

Yamaha’s task will be to ‘explore avenues for adapting its small-engine technologies to the aviation industry’

presentation in London. The prize winning paintings will be entered in the International Competition run by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale and will be forwarded to Lausanne to compete with entries from across the world.

All the rules for entry to the competition can be found on the LAA website at and on the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale’s website at h ttps://

Entries must be received before 31 January 2022, send to: Light Aircraft Association, Turweston Aerodrome, Northants, NN13 5YD.

and ShinMaywa will adapt its expertise to design concepts, construct prototypes, conduct tests, verify autonomous technology for small aircraft.

July 2021 | LIGHT AVIATION | 8 LA News 8 | LIGHT AVIATION | August 2021
LAA Project Registration Kit Built Aircraft £300 Plans Built Aircraft £50 Issue of a Permit to Test Fly Non-LAA approved design only £40 Initial Permit issue Up to 450kg £450 451-999kg £550 1,000kg and above £650 Permit Renewal (can now be paid online via LAA Shop) Up to 450kg £155 451-999kg £200 1,000kg and above £230 Factory-built gyroplanes (all weights) £250 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 Transfer (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 £135 Microlight to Group A £135 Change of G-Registration fee Issue of Permit documents following G-Reg change £45 Replacement Documents Lost, stolen etc (fee is per document) £20 Latest SPARS – No 17 April 2018 PLEASE NOTE: When you’re submitting documents using an A4-sized envelope, a First Class stamp is insufficient postage.


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

Racer donation

The Museum of Berkshire Aviation has recently acquired a ‘Midget Racer JG3’ donated courtesy of Steve Slater and the LAA. The aeroplane was designed and entered for the Rollason Midget Racer Competition in the early 1960s, the two winning entries of which were the Luton Group Beta, in first place, and the Taylor Titch in second.

Our aeroplane, the Goodwin JG3, designed and built by C J Goodwin, was never completed, but was later acquired by David Kent, who undertook further work but it remained incomplete.

It is believed there was an instruction to burn it, however, as David Kent did not wish it to meet such a fate, it was secreted away. There was a pile of wood remaining and this was set on fire, so the aircraft was thought to have been destroyed! More recently the aircraft was donated to the LAA by David’s son Mike.

Francis Donaldson (LAA) has been helpful in providing info about JG3 and believes he has some more documentation he can let us have.

Alan Turney (Midland Aeroplane Company) kindly delivered JG3 to our museum on Monday 7 June (above).

If anyone has any further information about JG3, we would love to hear from them. Regards, Dave Scott (Museum of Berkshire Aviation).

Cylinder Conundrum…

Hi Brian. Ruth Kelly’s really helpful article in the July edition seemed to miss out on one of the

most useful features of the leak-down test: that, when a cylinder is leaking, it’s easy to pin down the source of the leak. Listening to the exhaust pipe (exhaust valve leak), the air cleaner (inlet valve) and crankcase breather (piston/rings/bore) gives a real clue as to where to look deeper.

After many years of coping with a sometimes-awkward C90, and eventually fitting four new cylinder kits (huge thanks Adams) we learned a few things. One is that leaking exhaust valves are only ignored for so long –they don’t get better. Removing a valve cover and tapping a leaking valve will often restore a good seal if it’s merely a carbon deposit. Also, that the engine can perform nearly 100% (as shown during check flight climb test) with leak-down pressures somewhat below 40psi! Kind regards, Dave Smith.

…and again

Dear Editor. This was an excellent article and a very useful introduction to a very valuable check of engine condition. It does, however, require the aircraft owner to beg/borrow/steal a differential test set, or suggest to his/her patient partner that it would make a great Christmas present.

I would like to suggest that there are a couple of further procedures that may reveal a little more about the condition of the engine.

If the test set shows a leak-down pressure of 60 psi or less, I have always regarded it is then the time for investigation. Carrying out the test while the engine is hot often gives better results than when the engine is cold.

Pressure will be lost either due to a worn/damaged exhaust valve, leakage past the piston rings, or because of a damaged cylinder (as was the case in Ruth Kelly’s article).

With the test set connected, a leakage past the exhaust valve may be heard by sticking an ear (carefully) over the open end of the appropriate exhaust pipe (not when it is hot of course!). If the valve is worn/ damaged, then you will hear the sound of air leaking past the valve. The noise level will give some idea of the severity of the problem.

Exhaust valves live a pretty tough life whereas inlet valves rarely give trouble.

If exhaust pipes are joined, then leakage may still be detected by listening at the final open end.

Leakage past worn or damaged piston rings may be heard by listening to the open end of the crankcase breather, as air passes the rings and enters the crankcase to vent via the breather. As before the seriousness of the problem may be indicated by the level of sound.

A damaged cylinder may not be so easily detected but a low reading and an excessive level of sound may call for the cylinder to be pulled in any case.

A final note of caution. The cylinders on most Lycoming and Continental engines are quite large and applying 80 psi will generate a very strong rotational force. It is strongly recommended that one person hangs on to the prop at TDC, keeping out of the propeller arc, while the other carries out the check. Kind regards, Mike Powell.

Editor’s note: Thank you, Dave and Mike, for the additional information on the leak down, which I know many members have for years relied on as the benchmark for cylinder condition. My concern – not that I’m losing sleep over it – is that since the 1980s, Continental, and many independent engineers, have brought the test into question as the sole arbiter of cylinder diagnosis. They maintain that air leaking past the piston or a valve, does not necessarily mean they are defective.

They recommend that a borescope, which these days can be purchased at reasonable cost, gives a far more accurate picture of a cylinder’s health.

I would certainly welcome an article on borescope use and understanding of the indicators that removal of the cylinder really is necessary. ■

Contents 33 | LIGHT AVIATION | January 2019 Letters August 2021 | LIGHT AVIATION | 9
Above Alan Turney delivers the uncompleted JG3 to the Museum of Berkshire Aviation

Projects which inspire others to build their own aircraft

Project News

Aslightly different tack for Project News this month, we have a submission detailing a specific construction technique. As space is tight, let’s get straight into it.

Two months ago, we had an update from Andy Best on his long running Blue Two original design, he was reporting difficulty forming a bubble canopy for the aircraft and wondered if any readers could assist with some advice on the subject. I’m delighted to say that a couple of fellow builders were put in touch, and it turned out that Tony Razzell was somewhat further down a parallel path.

We saw Tony’s own build in this column back in early 2018,

when he gave us an update on his Nicollier Menestrel II, a rather nice wooden scratch-built type with very ‘Spitfiresque’ wings.

Andy and Tony have been in touch and, fingers crossed, this will get Andy past his difficulty.

One thing led to another, and Tony has kindly given Project News a detailed account of his exploration into the process of forming a complex three-dimensional canopy. So, I’m going to cut the waffle and hand you straight over to Tony

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

Experiments in forming acrylic sheet – A lockdown project

For my Nicollier Menestrel II project, I had reached the point where I needed to start thinking about a canopy. Whilst canopies are available from France, by the time VAT, transport (and now with Brexit, import duties) are taken into account, it starts getting very expensive.

Being someone who likes to get back to first principles and make things from scratch, I wondered how hard it would be to make my own. In this article I describe my journey so far.

Thermoplastic polymers soften when heated and can then be formed to shape, and a wide variety have been developed for different applications. Polymethyl Methacrylate, or PMMA, is a thermoplastic polymer which was developed in the UK in the early 1930s by ICI, and in Germany by Rohm & Haas AG. It is a transparent material that can be either cast or extruded to form thin sheets, the latter being more amenable to vacuum forming, and is widely used for light aircraft windshields and canopies. There are a number of trade names, including the well-known Perspex, Plexiglas, Lucite etc. It is sold widely as ‘acrylic’ sheet, which is the term I will use for this article.

I started by reading up as much as I could about

thermoforming acrylic sheet at home, and there is a good range of information available on the internet (bibliography at the end of the article). There are a number of forming methods applicable to light aircraft canopies, summarised in Table 1 as follows:

Method Tooling Comments

Free blown bubble

Drape forming

Lower edge of canopy formed by oval hole in 12-18mm ply sheet, pressure boundary formed by another 12-18mm ply panel, seal between rear ply panel and acrylic

Male form tool covered in felt and coated with grease to aid slip during forming

• Good optical quality, no ‘mark off’ on surface

• Limited to simple cross sections (part of a circle)

• Sheet thins significantly at top of canopy

• Large sheet needed, significant wastage likely, large oven

• Complex cross sections possible

• Tooling time & cost

• Manual assistance needed for forming (four big blokes)

• Mark-off risk on internal surface

10 | LIGHT AVIATION | August 2021 Project News
Table 1 – Acrylic Sheet Forming Methods

Vacuum forming

Male or female form tool

Drape & Vacuum forming

Female form tool

• Complex cross sections possible

• Tooling time & cost

• Significant thinning at top of canopy

• Risk of mark-off on internal/external surface

• Complex cross sections possible

• Draping limits extent of thinning

• Risk of mark-off on external surface

I then carried out small scale experiments to explore how hard it would be to form the material and get an idea of the process window (temperature range, time available for forming, pressures/forces etc.).

Experiment 1

The first experiment was drape forming over a quarter scale male form tool, the compound curvature being built up by strip planking over formers in boat-building style. The tool was covered with green baize felt, and a 2mm sheet heated in the kitchen oven (with permission!). While I obtained some compound curvature it was not very satisfactory, the key issues being that the oven temperature distribution was very poor, the material cooled and hardened too quickly, and the felt left imperfections, or ‘mark off’, on the internal surface.

To address the poor temperature distribution I built a small test oven, using a couple of 500W universal heating elements and a very neat temperature controller, which came with a type K thermocouple and a solid-state relay (basically a thyristor module). For the oven I used 50mm foam insulation board, placing the heating elements at the bottom of the oven with the top open to accommodate the acrylic sheet, plus any tooling, with insulation on top of that. I included a circulation fan in the side wall of the oven to help stir the hot air around and make the temperature more uniform.

Experiment 2

I’d read about free blown canopies solving the issue of mark-off, so the next experiment used a piece of 2mm acrylic clamped to a sheet of 12mm ply by an MDF form tool defining the outer rim of the final ‘bubble’, again at quarter scale. The assembly was placed over the open top of the oven, heated up and compressed air was then introduced between the 12mm ply and the acrylic with a needle valve and gauge to monitor pressure (about 5psi). The oven had a small window in the side to allow visual monitoring of the blowing process.

The first attempt showed that the fan was creating a hotspot which stretched more easily than the surrounding material, and prematurely burst the ‘bubble’. I made a multi-channel thermocouple reader with an Arduino microcontroller to map the oven temperature, and found that it was much better without the fan!

I was really encouraged by the second attempt, the only issue being that there was a small blemish at the top of the bubble where the cold air coming in had locally cooled the acrylic.

Above Quarter scale model canopy drape forming trial.

Top right Second attempt at a quarter scale blown bubble canopy.

Below right Male form tool for DH88 Comet nose cone, made using a crude homemade lathe.

I then built a rough quarter scale canopy frame to see how well the bubble (which in the cross section is part of a circle) would fit. It was clear that with the more complex compound curvature of the two- seat Menestrel canopy, the free blown approach would not work as the canopy would have to be forced into shape, locking in stresses which could give problems in service.

Experiment 3

One of the articles I read, (no 4, see list at end) suggested vacuum drape forming, where the majority of the simple curvature is created by draping the hot acrylic sheet in a female form tool, and the residual compound or double curvature is created by vacuum forming. I decided to start making the tooling for the full-size canopy as I had learned a considerable amount through the small-scale experiments, and it also left the option for conventional drape moulding open.

11 Project News

It was around this time that Ken Fern contacted me to ask if I could help with acrylic nose cones for the DH88 Comet Racer G-ACSP ( Black Magic ) project at Derby, and G-RCSR (a replica of G-ACSR) that he is building. I thought it was an ideal way to explore vacuum forming as a close cousin of my chosen vacuum drape forming.

I built up a male form tool from ply and builders’ foam, covered it in filler and sanded it smooth, using a crude homemade lathe. From this I made a female form tool from glass reinforced plastic, also a learning experience as I had not moulded anything from GRP before. I drilled some small holes in the bottom for a vacuum outlet and lined it with soft flannelette material to give a soft surface. I also put a self-adhesive rubber D seal around the rim.

I cut a hole in a sheet of 12mm ply and screwed an acrylic sheet over the hole with lots of small wood screws, again placing the assembly over the oven to heat it. Several cones were formed for the DH88s as I played around with temperatures and tried alternative lining materials. I still had mark-off issues but, as these end up on the external surface, they can be removed after forming with 3200 wet and dry paper, followed by plastic polish. There was also a small witness mark where the hot acrylic had been sucked onto the vacuum outlet, but overall I was pleased with the result. Ken subsequently fitted a cone onto the nose section of his replica Comet G-RCSR and used a plastic polishing kit to improve the surface finish to an acceptable level.

The canopy!


After much filling, sanding, priming, painting and polishing, I had a male form tool for the canopy from which I could make a GRP female form tool. This was done with a GRP moulding kit, consisting of gel coat, chopped strand mat, resin/catalyst and release materials (wax and PVA solution). The finished moulding was a bit floppy so I bonded on some ply frames to stiffen it up, using more mat and resin while it was sitting on the male form tool. The female form tool was lined with fine cotton (from an old bed sheet) attached with photo-mount spray, and soft rubber seals added to allow a vacuum to be formed to pull in the hot acrylic. Reference (4) suggests an additional

Project News 12 | LIGHT AVIATION | August 2021
Top GRP female form tool for DH88 Comet nose cone with vacuum pump and control valve. Above Vacuum formed DH88 Comet nose cone. Left Finished DH88 Comet nose cone. Full size male form tool for the Menestrel canopy.

tool to push the acrylic sheet against the seals, so I made a sealing frame out of plywood. This was suspended above the tool on a thin rope, with a counterweight to allow it to be quickly pulled down onto the hot acrylic sheet draped in the female form tool.

Full size oven

I needed a much larger oven to handle the 1.7m x 1.1m sheet needed for the full-size canopy. I made this out of 50mm insulation board, which in retrospect is not that satisfactory as it is dimensionally unstable at the required operating temperature and emits a noxious smell. If I rebuild the oven, it will be lined with aluminium sheet and insulated with 100mm of Rockwool. I used a 2kW universal heating element and the thermocouple / controller from the small oven. I designed the oven to be in two halves with an aluminium sheet as a partition between two cavities.

I mounted the heater element in the back cavity with a pair of tangential fans mounted at the bottom taking air from the front cavity and blowing it upwards, past the heater, over the top of the partition and then down over the acrylic sheet. With this arrangement, the temperature variation was found to be less than 10°C over multiple positions in the front cavity for the acrylic, which I thought was acceptable.

The acrylic sheet was mounted on a ‘T’ section of aluminium that runs on rollers mounted in the roof of

the oven, allowing the sheet to be quickly withdrawn for moulding through a small side door.

The first two attempts

The first two attempts using 3mm acrylic sheet did not work, partly because it stretched under its own weight in the oven, making it difficult to remove, and partly because we failed to press the edges of the sheet against the rubber seals on the tool. This was principally due to the front and rear edge ‘ruffling’ so I modified the female form tool to have more defined ‘lands’ fore and aft, redesigned the sealing frame and made it out of aluminium strip. To hold it in place over the acrylic sheet, I added toggle clamps around the front and back peripheral edges of the female form tool.

Attempt 3

To address the sagging issue, for attempt number three I supported the vertical edges of the acrylic sheet in the oven using thin stranded steel cable (to allow bending during the moulding process) attached to bulldog clips at intervals along the cable. I also switched to 4mm sheet, in part to give a slightly longer working time and more robustness. Unfortunately, the anti-sagging system did not work very well, and the ruffling persisted, although it does make for an unusual if rather expensive cloche!

Left Lining the female Menestrel form tool with a cotton sheet.

Below Attempt number three with flexible wire side support – the ruffling on the edges prevents a seal being formed against the tool.

July 2021 | LIGHT AVIATION | 13 Project News

Attempt 4

Having thought about the problem further, I decided to use 2mm thick strips of aluminium to support the vertical edges of the acrylic, forming a complete frame around the edge. It required about 80 M3 nuts and bolts which took a while to fit but attempt number four, again with 4mm acrylic, was largely successful. The ruffling issue was eliminated, and a vacuum seal achieved all around the edge of the tool. This felt like a huge step forward, the vacuum pulling the acrylic sheet down into the tool until it reached the vacuum outlets.

Almost there

While very encouraging, the current outcome is still not quite right. I need to rework the leading edge of the tool as it has a layer of filler that is not as smooth as it needs to be so has left distortion in the leadingedge region of the canopy – which is the one place where distortion is a real issue as you look through it during approach and landing. I also found that in spite of vacuum cleaning the tool before use, some small pieces of debris found their way onto the cotton lining, leaving a number of shallow depressions in the surface. Whilst only about 0.5mm deep, they cause an unacceptable area of visual distortion, so I need to be more rigorous with tool cleanliness, probably vacuum cleaning just prior to forming the acrylic.

Other than these issues, there was minimum mark-off on the external surface of the canopy apart from local witness marks from the vacuum outlets (which I think can be removed with wet and dry plus a good polish).

Once a canopy has been successfully formed, a period of annealing will be required to minimise internal residual stress from the forming process. This is apparently carried out at around 80°C, which avoids bulk deformation and should minimise stress crazing as the acrylic is exposed to sunlight etc. I have yet to work out how to do this, but I’ll probably use an old duvet to insulate it and blow hot air from a fan heater inside, controlled with a thermocouple.

I have had a great deal of encouragement from a number of other Menestrel builders, and fellow

New Projects

Cleared To Fly

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-CLHJ Supermarine Spitfire MK26B (LAA 324-15249) 14/6/2021

Mr Paul Fowler Trustee Of: Molly Rose Group, 119 Chinnor Road, Thame, OX9 3LP

n G-CLNO KFA Safari (LAA 402-15657) 11/6/2021

Sprite Aviation Services Ltd., Inglenook Farm, Roman Road, Maydensole, Dover, CT15 5HP

Above Attempt number four, a significant improvement, almost there!

members of the East Midlands Strut. Particular thanks to Richard Mole, Richard Teverson and my inspector, Martin Jones. A huge thanks also to my family for their ideas and support – and coping with my moodiness after the various failures!


1. Blowing Your Own , Paul Moffat, Sport Aviation, January 2002, p94-98,

2. A Bubble Canopy For Your Homebuilt , Hugh Beckham,

3. How to Make a Plexiglass Bubble Canopy , Otto Kolisnyk,

4. Canopy Forming for Homebuilders , Jim Miller,

n G-CLUI Bristell NG5 Speed Wing (LAA 385-15690) 9/6/2021

Mr James Simpson, Badgers Bower Lane, West Chiltington, Pulborough, RH20 2RH n G-CSDR Corvus CA22 (s/n CA22-010) 2/6/2021



Project News 14 | LIGHT AVIATION | August 2021
Joseph Mills Trustee Of: Crusader Syndicate, 37 Wedgwood Drive, Warrington, WA4 6GA n G-RVBJ Van’s RV-8A (LAA 303-15692) 11/6/2021
Buckwell Road, Kingsbridge,
1NQ n G-BVVO Yak-50 (s/n 853007) 11/6/2021 Name & Address held by LAA Engineering n G-CLLO Bristell NG5 Speed Wing (LAA 385-15685) 29/6/2021 Name & Address held by LAA Engineering n G-FAZT Glasair IIS RG (s/n 2069) 8/6/2021 Name & Address held by LAA Engineering n G-JPBA Van’s RV-6 (PFA 181A-13517) 21/6/2021 Name & Address held by LAA Engineering n G-LIFB Aeroprakt A32 Vixxen (LAA 411-15723) 11/6/2021 Name & Address held by LAA Engineering If your aircraft has been featured in the New Projects list, please let Project News know of your progress at: uk n Sling TSi (LAA 400A-15771) 30/6/2021
held by LAA Engineering
Wingate, 16

Coaching Corner…

Look out!

It’s easy to get distracted, especially when flying with somebody new to light aircraft, warns PCS Head of Training David Cockburn…

Hopefully we are all now flying again and able to explore and enjoy the delights of our countryside from above. That’s certainly why you’ll find me in the air, and that’s probably why most of us took up flying in the first place. Apart from some pretty spectacular natural scenery, the UK has many beautiful country houses and gardens which cannot be seen from the public roads, but are visible in all their glory from above. We and our passengers are privileged to be allowed to share their delights, in fact by the time you are reading this, we may even be allowed to experience the delights of the scenery in other parts of the world!

We may also be asked by our passengers to position our aircraft so that they can take a picture of something on the ground. Often, if a passenger hasn’t flown in a light aircraft before, that will be their own house, and with the availability of high-quality cameras on mobile phones, these requests are becoming increasingly common.

Perhaps at this point I should stress that pilots should not attempt to take such pictures themselves, as even an aimed shot from a fixed mounting requires more attention than we should be giving to the process – there’s no point in enjoying the views or recording them if we put ourselves and our passengers in a hazardous situation. Not that I expect pilots would ever deliberately do that, but it’s easy to forget our priorities when we are distracted by something we have seen or are searching for. Passengers can afford to concentrate on the view; we need to share our time responsibly.

The CAA is currently encouraging us to fit and use some form of electronic conspicuity device, and I certainly support the idea. However, an electronic device can only identify aircraft which are transmitting signals that the device can receive, and even if both aircraft are fitted with compatible systems, that reception is often dependent on the orientation of the various aerials, so the pilot’s eyes still remain our primary aid to avoid collisions.

Some of you will know that I have a bit of experience studying ground features while piloting a light aircraft. One of my tasks as a pilot in the RAF was visual reconnaissance, and although my observer was also a qualified aircrew, he was usually very busy with his own work, and it was my responsibility to identify where he should be concentrating his attention. Fortunately, the aircraft itself was very stable when trimmed, so the actual flying task took only a small proportion of my

Above The Fighter Command memorial at Capel-le Ferne on the South Coast –situated in a busy area for crossChannel traffic.

time. It had few systems requiring management apart from balancing the fuel, so my eyes had to spend very little time looking inside the cockpit. However, my job of identifying objects of interest outside the observer’s limited field of view had to fit in with the look-out scan for other aircraft.

I found it very difficult to tear my attention away from the target every 10 seconds or so in order to make a full scan around, but it became a lot easier once I developed a bit of a rhythm. Apart from the lookout scan, I had to check the nose attitude every now and again to maintain level flight, so if I forced myself to move my eyes in a regular sequence it became easier to fit everything in. My instructors’ mantra of ‘lookout –attitude – instruments – attitude – lookout’ sequence was modified to fit the need. It seemed to work if I expanded it into ‘ From the target area, to the nose attitude, to the few instruments, to the nose attitude (adjusting as necessary) to the lookout scan, back to the target area ’. There are of course many ways of achieving the same aim, but perhaps something similar can help achieve the necessary safety while allowing us to enjoy the views almost as much as our passengers do.

Coaching Corner 16 | LIGHT AVIATION | August 2021

Using trim

Regular readers, and anyone who has flown with me, will know that I emphasise the importance of using the trim controls correctly.

While I appreciate there are several aircraft which have pretty ineffective trim systems, in most cases, if we can get the aircraft to maintain the speed we want in the configuration we have set up, we can afford to relax our grip on the controls and ‘feel’ the aircraft around the sky. That allows us to concentrate on the decision making, which is essential, especially when we are close to the ground. (On that subject, if you find it seems impossible to trim the aircraft for the approach speed recommended in the PoH in the approach configuration, an engineering issue could be the problem – for example, an incorrectly set up trim system).

A powerful trim system can assist us in our flying but, as some accident reports have shown, if we do not set the control correctly before take-off, we may well experience a nasty surprise as the aircraft lifts off.

That’s why the trim setting is one of the ‘pre-take-off vital actions’, but although there may be a mark against the trim control to indicate ‘neutral’ or ‘take-off’, what we ought to be really seeking is the trim control position which holds the nose attitude needed to maintain the glide speed after an engine failure (which you may find is very similar to that needed for the initial climb, but try it at altitude). The exact control position to provide that will vary with weight and centre of gravity position, but if we usually take off with the same loading every time we should be able to work out the exact trim control position for our normal operations.

While the trimmer may not be a ‘primary control’ we really ought to give it care and attention, and make sure it helps rather than hinders us, especially after it may have been disturbed – I do know of a pilot on a post-maintenance flight who found severe difficulty in trimming after take-off because the control had been connected backwards! The chances of it happening to us are small, but do we always check if it works in the correct sense during our pre-flight inspections?

As technology has become more freely available, an increasing number of LAA aircraft are being fitted with electric trim controls, either as part of an autopilot system or as stand-alone devices. Although these are

intended to make life a lot easier for the pilot, they come with their own potential problems.

Just before Covid struck I was instructing regularly in a modern certificated light aeroplane and noticed several occasions when the trim control seemed to have moved to full deflection without any deliberate pilot selection. I was reminded of an aircraft I had flown in the RAF with an electric trim system (always with two-pole switches in an attempt to minimise the risk), and there was always a section in the emergency drills for ‘trim runaway’, because it was always a possibility. If you have an electric trim system, I recommend that you regularly rehearse the appropriate actions for a runaway. You should also take special care during the pre-take-off vital actions and have a final check just before rolling down the runway and even then, always be prepared to hold an unexpected force just after lift-off.


Below Use

when parked to safeguard against pitot blockage.

It seems that the enforced parking of airliners as a result of Covid restrictions has resulted in several incidents of newly resurrected aircraft suffering pitot blockages. Most of us will be fully aware that insects like making nests inside pitot tubes and the need to cover the pitot as soon as we can after landing, especially if we park on grass. Perhaps also plug(s) for the static vent(s) might be a useful addition to our aircraft equipment.

Yes, I know there’s a risk that we might forget to remove these covers before take-off, but a pre-flight check (or a tape or other indication draped over the throttle, that is otherwise velcroed to the particular cover/plug) should prevent that.

Nevertheless, there is always the possibility that our pitot head may suffer a blockage one day, so it’s always worth remembering what the aircraft power settings and pitch attitude are for normal cruise, and more importantly for final approach. But to avoid being faced with the problem in flight, do we always check the ASI is registering normally on the runway before we are going too fast to abandon the take-off? ■

Coaching Corner August 2021 | LIGHT AVIATION | 17
Above Learn the trim positions for climb, cruise and approach in case of pitot / ASI failure. a pitot tube cover

Managing change

LAA Chief Executive Officer, Steve Slater, delivers the LAA 2020 financial accounts

As longer-term members will be aware, each year, ahead of the formal presentation of our annual accounts at the Annual General Meeting in October, we annually produce an abbreviated Financial Report in Light Aviation magazine. This year’s summary, fresh from the auditors, shows our income and expenditure for 2020, our planned deficit for 2021, and our future planning for 2022 and beyond.

The figures below are based on the accounts for the 2020 financial year from the formal audit by our accountants, Henson Rees Russell LLP. As I would expect, our auditors were happy to give a clean bill of health to both our accounting processes and our governance, even taking into account the exceptional circumstances in which we have found ourselves recently.

The Covid-19 effect

The past year threw up new and unprecedented challenges for the Association, with the effects of the Covid pandemic on the wider community and on sport flying. The two ‘lockdown’ suspensions of general aviation, for several weeks in early March and again in the final weeks of the year, curtailed many traditional LAA activities including member training courses and marketing events, and also forced the cancellation of the 2020 LAA Rally.

The first lockdown in particular had a significant short-term effect on revenues, but we elected not to furlough any staff and our investment in past years in remote Cloud-based IT systems meant that the LAA was able to serve its members via home working in an almost seamless manner. On behalf of the Board and all LAA members, I would like to express our thanks to all those who contributed to that achievement.

With the resumption of flying in the summer of 2020, key engineering activities and revenues began to recover, eventually returning to around 90% of budget (a circa £50k deficit). Commercial revenues showed a longer-term depression, with lower membership recruitment and a number of members giving up flying in the course of the year leading to a dip in membership figures following five years of near continuous growth. Commercial revenue streams suffered longer-term disruption in areas such as magazine advertising revenue, member training and merchandise sales. As a result, overall revenues for 2020 were £1,196,160, in comparison with £1,308,724 in 2019.

Careful cost control has allowed us to minimise any increase in the resulting deficit. In 2019, prior to Covid having its effect, the Board agreed to use our reserves

to generate planned short-term deficits in coming years to increase engineering staffing levels, both to improve the level of service to members and to provide longer-term succession planning. This increased costs from £975,542 in 2018 to £1,072,252 in 2019 and moved us from a pre-tax surplus of £62,859 in 2018 to a planned deficit of £17,306 (1.61% of turnover) in 2019.

Rather than keeping money in the bank at low interest rates, we invested instead in member services, training and the recruitment of new skilled staff. For some time, we have noted a shortfall in design engineering capability, with all three design engineers working at full capacity, leading to delays in approval work. In addition, a number of key staff (including our CEO), are approaching or beyond their 60th birthdays. We therefore needed to plan a staged succession of skills and resources for the years ahead. The extra expenditure has allowed us to bring onboard and train the extra staff.

In 2020, we continued to adhere to this strategy despite the pandemic. Our original planning for 2020 was for expenditure of £1,391,260 and a planned deficit of £133,700. However, we were able to maintain expenditure at £1,122,106 and therefore generated a smaller deficit than planned, of £113,920.

As a result, Association reserves have fallen from £1,365,534 at the end of 2019, to £1,293,448 at the end of 2020. This is effectively the same level of reserves as held at the end of 2017, so we continue to retain more than adequate reserves to protect our members from any further short-term challenges, and to allow the continuation of our investment in the reorganisation of our engineering functions to further improve our services to our members and promote longer term gains in efficiency.

So, where are we now?

The table below shows monies for income, outgoings, operating profits (loss) and reserves from 2016-2021.

Note: 2017 income data does not show transfer of £81,025 from LAAET following the trustees’ decision to close the charity. These funds are now held as ‘reserved’ deposits.

Headset review Financial report
18 | LIGHT AVIATION | August 2021
2016 2017* 2018 2019 2020 2021 est £1,276,857 £1,318,576 £1,312,580 £1,308,724 £1,196,160 1,330,000 £1,091,040 £1,180,833 £1,248,368 £1,326,030 £1,310,080 1,390,000 £185,817 £137,743 £64,212 (£17,306) (£113,920) (£60,000) £1,071,384 £1,294,708 £1,406,320 £1,365,534 £1,293,448 £1,233,000

Income vs Expenditure

August 2021 | LIGHT AVIATION | 19 Financial report


Even before the pandemic hit, we had noted a trend of reducing incomes, as the table on page 19 demonstrates. One of the principal sources of LAA revenue is our membership fees and these had remained unchanged from 2015. Despite actual member numbers remaining stable, the revenues had fallen due to a larger proportion of members being recruited in the ‘Full Member’ category as syndicate aircraft owners, rather than ‘Full Plus Members’ as sole operators of an aircraft.

It was this that drove the decision to increase membership fees from January 2021. While not part of the audited accounts, the projections for 2021 show a resultant rise in revenues which will reduce the planned deficit by half. In addition, plans for 2022 and beyond show that with a resumption of growth in membership, the restart (and indeed growth) of areas such as training, and additional efficiencies in LAA Engineering, we are targeting a return to zero deficit by 2023 or 2024.

Engineering incomes are the other prime drivers of revenue, and even despite the challenges of the Covid lockdown, the LAA ended 2020 with more than 2,600 aircraft on active permits to fly, just 100 short of 2019. However, areas such as Permit First Issues and New Project Registrations fell notably during the pandemic. As a result, Engineering revenues fell from £637,471 to £594,945 in 2020. However, Engineering activities nonetheless represent just under 50% of revenues received.

What do we spend our income on?

Our biggest area of expenditure is salaries and, due to the recent recruitment programme, overall staff costs increased to £764,838, or 47% of our

expenditure. Our second largest area of expenditure is, well, …you are reading it! Light Aviation magazine cost the organisation a total of £173,376 to produce last year. It is of course partially subsidised by advertising revenues, but last year these fell from more than £110,000 to £88,374. One area where we have reduced magazine costs is postage. By moving from Royal Mail to a third-party supplier earlier this year, we expect to reduce these costs by more than £5,000 per annum.

A worrying trend is the rising cost of our insurance coverage, which includes liability cover for the Association and its staff, Inspectors and Pilot Coaches when they are working on behalf of the LAA. It also includes liability cover of up to £20 million for Member Club and Strut events. Up until 2020 we have typically paid premiums totalling around £85,000. However, the preponderance of ‘no win no fee’ litigation and our need to defend ourselves from any claims it generates, has meant that premiums last year rose to over £90,000, and in the coming year are expected to rise to as high as £110,000 per annum.

Our LAA HQ is a significant cost to the Association and of course, over the past year, our meeting rooms and training workshop have stood largely unusedtraining revenues were less than 25% of past years. In addition, we are now asking ourselves, if home working works, do we need such a large office space? This will be reflected in future lease negotiations, and while it may not offer immediate savings, a move to smarter, more flexible working is being seen as a likely way to boost efficiency in the future. We are also looking at other, more innovative ways to offer a wider service to existing members and to attract new ones. Despite all the challenges, we have another exciting year ahead! ■


Headset review Financial report 20 | LIGHT AVIATION | August 2021

LAA Rally is GO!

Rally Chairman Eryl Smith updates on the final stages of planning for this year’s 75th Anniversary Rally and looks forward to welcoming exhibitors, members and visitors back to Sywell on 3rd, 4th and 5th September…

The good news is that once again we can gather at Sywell for our Rally, renew friendships, enjoy all that is best in the world of powered sport and recreational flying, celebrate the Association’s 75th Anniversary and put some FUN back into our flying.

Sywell 2019 seems a long time ago and, after the disappointment of having to cancel last year’s event, I am delighted that we are able to go ahead with this year’s Rally, albeit with some changes to the established format to ensure that we can all enjoy a Covid-safe event. Planning for the Rally continues to present challenges and there is much still to do but with the support of our exhibitors, the many volunteers who assist in setting up and running the event and the close collaboration between the HQ and Sywell teams, but we will get there!

Whilst many large scale events have had to cancel, reschedule or radically change what they can offer, this year’s Rally aims to provide all the usual exhibits and facilities members have come to expect. In addition to a host of exhibitors with products, services and aircraft on display, we have enlarged the ever-popular homebuild and flea market areas, expanded provision for Speaker’s Corner, and will display some of the iconic aircraft that illustrate the 75 years of the Association. All this is supported by on site camping and car parking, and a range of catering and hotel accommodation on and off site.

Above The Rally is GO! See you there.

Covid-safe Rally

The one major change that visitors to the rally exhibition site can expect is that at an early stage we moved away from our traditional large, enclosed marquees housing many of the exhibitors and LAA stands, in favour of a more dispersed chalet style arrangement of exhibitor stands. This ensures that we can encourage the maximum social distancing adjacent to stands and an open plan exhibition environment.

The Working Group continues to monitor and adapt the Rally plans in light of the latest government and local environmental health guidelines. Whilst acknowledging the continued uncertainties, the Government’s latest announcements that remove the mandatory requirement for social distancing and the wearing of facemasks significantly eases the constraints on the event. At the time of writing, we have no plans to enforce social distancing requirements, the wearing of face masks or the need for temperature checks or vaccine passports to attend the event. However, we ask that everyone be respectful of others’ needs and be responsible for their own actions. You will find the latest Covid safety announcements and guidelines for the Rally on the LAA Rally website pages, and these will be updated as necessary.

What to look out for at the Rally

As ever there will be a wide range of exhibitors present at the Rally. Many of the regular exhibitors have now

22 | LIGHT AVIATION | August 2020
Photo: Ed Hicks.

confirmed their bookings and we expect more in the final few weeks, now that we can be confident that the event can go ahead. Below are details of just a few of the confirmed exhibitors.

The Rally always provides an opportunity to pick up those essential pilot supplies, whether it be the latest charts, a new headset or topping up on oil. Regular exhibitors, Transair, Pooleys, AFE, SEHT and Flightstore will all be present. There will be plenty to see in terms of avionics with Garmin and Adams Aviation, and uAvionics all displaying the latest kit. For those in need of tools and supplies to build or maintain aircraft, LAS will have a full range of supplies, and don’t forget they are happy to receive orders in advance for collection at the Rally.

Out on the grass exhibition area there will be many of our regular aircraft exhibitors with Sling, CFS Aero, Dragon Foxbat, Bristel and TL Sting having reserved stands.

The Homebuilders marquee, coordinated by Dudley Pattison, always draws interest and this year promises to be no exception. As part of a themed Homebuilder’s Village area, exhibits booked include an Avro 504, Nieuport 17 and Menestral, together with the usual range of hands-on skills exhibitions which will enable visitors to find out more about the essential skills involved in building and maintaining permit aircraft. Once again Aircraft Coverings will be present providing the opportunity to experience some hands-on fabric covering and stitching

Top Sywell’s own food outlets will be supplemented by the catering corner on the exhibition site.

Above left Try your hand at fabric work with Aircraft Coverings. Photo: Neil Wilson.

Above right Sprite

Aviation’s first UK Safari (seen here in 2019) is now flying, see it at the Rally.

and ask all those questions you might have about fabric coverings, their repair and upkeep.

After the success of the last Rally, when the Flea Market was situated in a separate tent, we have increased the size of the site creating even more room for those sales and wants! So, if you have been clearing out the hangar or workshop during lockdown and have old parts or tools that you no longer require, why not bring them along to sell. There is a £1 sign-in fee and 10% commission on sales. Equally, this is the place to browse for the chance of finding that replacement part you so desperately want to get hold of.

Safety is always at the heart of what we do, and once again GASCo will be hosting a daily aircraft inspection competition. We also plan to repeat LAA Engineering’s master class sessions, hosted by continuing airworthiness engineer, Jerry Parr – look out for more details closer to the Rally. GASCo will be supported by representatives of CHIRP and the UK Airprox Board. In addition, CAA plans to have its usual presence as part of the booking-in tent providing information and answering questions on all aspects of UK general aviation activity – no doubt there will be plenty of spirited discussion and debate to be had!

Out on the airfield in the visiting aircraft park, the serried ranks of aircraft always provide much of interest and a great opportunity to get up and close, speak with owners, and admire the paint schemes and workmanship as you contemplate your next project or purchase, or simply get to

August 2021 | LIGHT AVIATION | 23 LAA Rally
Photo: Neil Wilson. Photo: Neil Wilson.

know more about recreational flying. Access ‘airside’ is free to members or £10 per day for non-members.

Rally awards and trophies

The Rally presents the opportunity to recognise the endeavours of builders, maintainers and owners of a broad range of aircraft categories from Vintage & Classic types, to plans and kit built, gyros and replicas plus a number of type categories. Registration for judging takes place at the booking-in tent, with presentation of awards made in conjunction with the Association’s AGM in October. Full details will be available via the Rally website shortly.

Speaker’s Corner provides the opportunity to hear and discuss a wide range of interesting speakers and product updates. This year we have moved the venue into Hangar 2 to enable sufficient space to cope with the most popular presentations and provide for social distancing should it be deemed necessary. A full list of speakers and presentations will be published ahead of the Rally.

LAA Stands

Last by no means least is the range of LAA and related Association stands at the Rally. Whether its merchandise or membership enquiries, a conversation with the Engineering team or the Pilot Coaching Scheme coaches, an enquiry with LAA’s insurance partner Air Courtage, or just a natter and a coffee on the Strut Network stand, there will be plenty for all. Elsewhere in the magazine you will have read of the appointment of John Ratcliffe as LAA’s new Engineering Director. John will be present at the Rally, soaking up the atmosphere, getting to know the Association and looking forward to meeting the membership, so do engage with him if you have the opportunity, but be gentle, it will only be week two!

Getting to the Rally

For many, flying into the Rally remains part of the experience. Whether you are a seasoned visitor by air or intending to fly-in for the first time, following the procedures and exercising good airmanship are the priorities. This year Sywell is unable to provide a FISO service and operations will be conducted under an Air Ground radio service. While there will be no apparent changes to the established procedures, it does mean that the radio operator will NOT issue instructions.

The eagle-eyed among members may have seen the publication of an AIC for the event. This is based upon a FISO operation and was generated in order to meet the AIC publication dates. Those elements no longer relevant will be covered in a Notam for the event. When finalised, ALL the relevant information will be published via the LAA Rally website and emailed to pilots as part of the confirmation of a slot booking.

Booking a slot

Arrangements for the slot booking website, which will be hosted by Sywell, are being finalised and will open in early August – the exact details will be emailed to members and published via the LAA website. Despite not being able to operate a FISO service, we do not expect to reduce the overall arrival capacity, though hourly slot capacity limits will apply. We will, however, have arrangements to re-assign slots on the day should cancellations become available. One important change this year is that we will require payment in advance of the landing fee with the slot booking, but the slot booking will allow access to the Rally via road should a member be unable to fly-in for whatever

reason but still wish to attend the Rally. Please bear with us, full details of the new arrangements will be made available via the Rally website prior to the slot booking website being opened.

Arrivals by road

Sywell Aerodrome is within reasonable striking distance of the A45 between Northampton and Wellingborough. It is well signposted as ‘Sywell Aerodrome’ and the postcode NN6 0BN will take you there on your satnav.

There are also directions on the Sywell Aerodrome website at

Free car parking is available and there is a dedicated disabled parking area.


There is a campsite on site with hot and cold water, showers and regularly serviced toilets. The site will be up and running from Thursday afternoon and will close early Monday morning.

There will be a single price of £35 per unit (a unit being a tent, caravan or motorhome) irrespective of length of stay, but a substantial saving can be made by pre-booking a site online for just £25 via the LAA Shop https://services.

Rally Opening Times

Friday: 9.30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Saturday: 9.30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Sunday: 9.30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Admission charges

Members of LAA, BMAA and BRA: £6 covers all three days and airside access (please ensure you bring your current membership card as there is no facility to check whether you are a member at the pay desk).

Non-Members: £15 covers all three days, but not airside access

Non-member’s airside access: £10 per day.

Visiting aircraft: Landing fee is £12.50 (singles) which also gets the pilot and those on board into the event for the duration of the time the aircraft is at Sywell.

All the information you need to plan your visit to the Rally will be available on the LAA website at http://www.

As I said at the beginning – we very much look forward to meeting you there. ■

Headset review LAA Rally 24 | LIGHT AVIATION | August 2021
Above The Homebuilders tent is always packed with interest – here a now completed Isaacs Spitfire. Photo: Neil Wilson.


Martin Ferid heads to the Fens and doffs his cap to Cambridge, best known for its prestigious university…

There’s been a rivalry between the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, both openly and in the shadows, for hundreds of years. As two of the world’s most prestigious seats of learning, both have not only produced many of our esteemed politicians but also some extremely clever people. For the majority, the closest they get to its cloisters is the annual boat race, and even then, probably with their feet up watching it on the box.

The first race was in 1829, on the River Thames between Hambleden Lock and Henley Bridge following a challenge issued by Cambridge, although a lymphatic performance resulted in an Oxford win.

If the ‘grey cells’ have been stimulated, you’ll probably want the stats, and to date the Cambridge men’s team has won 84 times, compared to Oxford’s 80, and for the women’s race, a permanent fixture during the 1960s, 45 to Oxford’s 30. Although Cambridge is ahead, the irony is that

Above Cambridge Airport is relatively close to the city, making access reasonably simple and affordable.

its university started life as an Oxford offshoot after the ‘town and gown’ riots between the townsfolk and scholars in 1209.

Less well known is that 100 years ago this year in 1921, former RFC pilots who had returned to the Universities, inaugurated an Oxford-Cambridge Air Race with eight surplus SE-5A fighters they had rented via the Royal Aero Club. And Cambridge won.

As a point of interest, Oxford is the UK’s oldest university, having been founded in 1096 and second oldest worldwide, having been pipped to the post by the University of Bologna by eight years.

There is evidence of a settlement on the current city’s site since the Bronze Age and was an important trading centre in Roman and Viking times. Originally known as Granta Brygg, after the River Granta that runs from Grantchester, its name became Grentebrige or Cantebrigge before gravitating to Cambridge. Having been granted its town charter in the 12th century, it only gained city status as recently as 1951.

26 | LIGHT AVIATION | August 2021

Very topically, the largest European medical research centre is located at the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, which includes the corporate HQ of the Anglo-Swedish biotech company AstraZeneca.

The Black Death pandemic of the 1340s, followed by the national epidemic of 1361, decimated the population throughout Europe and locally, killing off about one-third of the population. The general discontent felt by the poor led to what was to be known as the Great Rising or Peasants’ Revolt. In 1381, Wat Tyler led the impoverished farm workers in rebellion against the high rates of taxation and for the abolition of serfdom. This led to the stripping of many of the town’s powers, which were transferred to the university.

During the English Civil War, Cambridge served as headquarters for the Parliamentarian East Anglian army. In 1643 control of the town was handed over to their Commander-in-Chief, a former pupil of Sidney Sussex College and local boy from Huntingdon, Oliver Cromwell. As Lord Protector of England and one of the 59 signatories to the death warrant of Charles I on the reinstatement of the monarchy in 1660, Charles II had him posthumously tried for treason. Although he had died of natural causes two years previously, he was duly dug up and decapitated. For years, his head was displayed on a spike and then passed through the hands of various collectors over the centuries. In 1960 the head was finally reburied at an undisclosed location in Cambridge.

Among the many notable alumni and as they say, in no particular order are: Virginia Woolf, Dame Mary Beard, Sir Isaac Newton, Sir Francis Bacon, David Attenborough, Dame Emma Thompson, Stephen Fry, Stephen Hawking, Rosalind Franklin, A A Milne, Alan Turing, Lord Byron and Charles Darwin. Now, there’s a choice from which choose the perfect University Challenge dream team.

In case you are of the belief that NIMBYism is a modern phenomenon, it’s not, and it existed long before the word was coined to describe it. With the arrival of the railways in 1845, the perceived changes were met with substantial resistance, particularly from the powerful university. In a bid to ‘maintain control’, exert didactic influence and restrict travel by its undergraduates, the university ensured that the station was located outside of town, making it more difficult to access.

This simple fact inadvertently served the city well during WWII as the Luftwaffe’s bombing runs focused primarily on the station and railway line. Whilst on a wartime footing, unbeknown to the population at large, the foundations for the push against the might of Germany and the allied invasion of Europe, were laid at a secret meeting of allied leaders at Trinity College in 1944.

Cambridge Airport also has an interesting history as Marshall Aerospace has its origins in the chauffeur company created by David Marshall in 1909, and the Aero Club its beginnings utilising Arthur Marshall’s Gypsy Moth in 1929 at nearby Fen Ditton. This led to over 22,000 pilots being trained at Marshall’s Flying School during WWII. These days, training is limited to all aspects of the PPL, including aerobatics.

At around 2½ miles outside of the town, getting in is simple and, as it should be everywhere, with a Park & Ride stop just outside. At £3 for a day trip, it brings a whole new meaning to the ‘park & ride’ concept. For the energetic, the walk takes a little under an hour, less than 10 minutes by taxi or there are two options by bus, both a short walk away. Turn right out of the airport, and the number 3 Citi bus goes from Rawlyn Road, or turn left and the number 114-bus stop can be found by Sainsbury’s.

A bite to eat….

So many of the places I visit around the UK are pretty banausic regarding food, where steaks, pies or meat and two vegs are the norm. Cambridge could not be more different! The dissilient mix of cuisine from all around the world is exciting, possessing an inspiring vibrancy. For those who want pub grub it is freely available, but there is so much more to try, taste and experience. Prices range from cheap and cheerful to eye-wateringly expensive, and way beyond my budget, but you don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy good food. If the selection below doesn’t whet the appetite, I’m sure that a little wander around town will produce the required predilection.

The Cook’s Nest. 1 Walnut Tree Avenue Under the bridge, essentially the equivalent of a burger van selling Greek street food with the student clientele in mind. Admittedly not a sit-down restaurant, but ideal for a picnic in the park or by the river. For a cheap meal out, all you need is a blanket, a bottle of wine, good company and a nice summer’s evening. 100% ***** star reviews.

Midsummer House. The pricing at Daniel Clifford’s ** star Michelin restaurant is stratospheric at £230 per person for the tasting menu. I’m guessing it’s aimed at the successful post-graduates, now earning megabucks, but as the restaurant has been a success for over 20 years, it must

August 2021 | LIGHT AVIATION | 27
Above The intriguing Corpus (Grasshopper) Clock, was installed on the outside of the Taylor Library at Corpus Christi College in 2008.
Flying Adventure

Flying Adventure

have a winning formula. Midsummer Common 01223 369299

Amélie Flam-kuche. I’ve sampled flam-kuche in eastern France and Germany, as it originates from the Alsace region. Translating as ‘flame-cake’, it is a different take on the standard pizza, with an ultra-thin base made of flatbread and costs around £15.

East Car Park Access 101 Grafton Centre 01223 778898

Navadhanya is the combination of upmarket Indian food and nouvelle cuisine, and not your standard curry house. Much as I enjoy both independently, the mix doesn’t work for me. The tasting menu is £56.

Restaurant 22 offers nice food, once again at the expensive end, with their set lunch menu at £37.50.

Chesterton Road, 01223 351880

Little Petra is a family-run Jordanian restaurant serving many dishes new to me. The owner Yaseen Hlalat, was born on the outskirts of Rose City, Petra, in Wadi Musa, adding to its allure. Expect to pay about £20 per head. 94 Mill Road 01223 470784

And sleep…

Ramada Cambridge. A pleasant and comfortable ****star hotel, in the other direction from the town to the airfield. With prices from around £45 per night is just about as cheap as it gets for a comfortable hotel. Much of the saving is indeed lost on the cost of taxis, but may make good sense if there are two or more of you. A14/M11, Boxworth, Cambridge, CB23 4WU.

28 | LIGHT AVIATION | August 2021
Right The chapel at Selwyn College, named after George Augustus Selwyn and opened in 1882.

Rectory Farm. A lovely country house hotel in a pleasant setting. Unfortunately, most rooms are in the adjacent building, but at around £70 per night it’s good value for the area. Although it is also out on the other side of town, the number 4 Citi bus stop is a two-minute walk away and takes about 10 minutes to get into the centre. Madingley Road, CB23 7PG

Ashley Hotel. A comfortable hotel 20-minutes walk from the centre of town through Midsummer Common. Cost is around £100 per night, including a full English/Irish breakfast. 74 Chesterton Road, Cambridge, CB4 1ER.

The selection above is of the more affordable ones and the ease of getting into town, but if you have money to burn, there are many hotels in the £200-£300 bracket that a quick internet search will locate.

Out & About

When Sian and I last visited, we embraced the student life almost like students ourselves. Our walks through town included lunch on the riverbanks with ingredients from the market, lazily watching the boats going up and down. At the other end of the day, or should I say in the early hours of the next morning, we chanced upon a celebrating group of terpsichorean secondyear students, whom we joined in a glass or two while debating everything, from solipsism to world peace.

An interesting point borne out from the lengthy discourse were the differences between rowing, which is apparently done with a single oar, sculling, which is done with two unless, of course, it is done in a skiff when it becomes skiffing. Confused? Try it at 2am in the morning after a night out!

Walking tours. You can, as we did, wander around the various historic colleges on your own, to enjoy the architecture, and discover the ‘insect eating time’ at The Corpus Clock corpus- clock or book a guided tour where you’ll get the background information too. For different types of walking tours, prices vary from around £10-£25 per person, depending on the company.

Left As with Oxford, Cambridge has a history of ‘messing about in boats’.

Below The AstraZeneca corporate HQ is based at Cambridge, which has extensive links with the biochemical research industry.

Bottom The wooden Mathematical Bridge, a self-supporting structure built in 1749.

August 2021 | LIGHT AVIATION | 29 Flying Adventure

Museums. There are eight museums, with millions of artefacts from all over the world, illustrating a historical journey from over four billion years ago to the present day. They variously specialise in archaeology, anthropology and science, and there is even a modern art gallery. This link will provide the selection and let you select any area of special interest. Oh, and don’t forget the botanical gardens.

Punting on the river. For me, the activity has always been synonymous with Oxford and images of the Edwardian dandy, sporting a striped jacket and straw boater, gliding genteelly along the river; with the ‘lady’ of his affections dressed in white, sitting cool and demure beneath her parasol. Well, Cambridge also has a river and punts for hire, with prices ranging from around £37.50 for 1½ hours to £105 for six hours for up to six people. For a couple or a group of four, armed with cucumber sandwiches and something fizzy trailing in the water behind, it should make for a memorable day out. Market. A market has been a daily fixture since the Middle Ages and can be found at Market Square in the city centre.

Cambridge Gin Distillery offers interactive tours promoting its products. Not being a gin drinker, I didn't know that there was so much to it, or that it had such a strong following. For an insight into the making of what became known as ‘mother’s ruin’ see

Cycle hire. You can’t really go to Cambridge without mentioning bicycles, which act as the main mode of transport for many students. Available for hire from around £12 per day from City Cycle Hire, a short walk from the centre of town 01223 365629 www. . Rutland Cycling, is a bit dearer right in the centre and also offers e-bikes.

Cambridge would be a very different place without the university, with some students and lecturers adding to its mystique by wearing the full academic gowns as a matter of course. Its libraries house millions of books and get a complimentary copy of every book published within the UK.

Football fans will find it interesting that the first official game was played on Parker’s Piece, using ‘Cambridge Rules’ in 1848. These formed the basis of

the 1863 Football Association’s rules that are in use today.

The Mathematical Bridge, or Wooden Bridge, is one of the most well-known of the 26 bridges that cross the river, and connects the two sections of Queen’s College. It was built in 1749 by James Essex and was the first designed using mathematical principles by William Etheridge. The timbers are laid in a series of tangents, with radial members locking them together, creating a self-supporting structure.

As one of the foremost centres of the technology industry with up to 3,000 science and tech businesses based in the area, which is known as ‘Silicon Fen’, gleaning its name from the surrounding fenlands and its Silicon Valley connections.

Visiting is straightforward, as all it needs is a bit of imagination and the willingness to go, although it has to be said that the landing fees are somewhat off-putting at £29. Until recently, there was a reduced fee for associate members, but unfortunately that ended at the beginning of the year. The aeroclub is very friendly and where you’ll pay the landing fee. Give Cat a call for further info, 01223 373717

As we have this ability to whizz in and out, taking a snapshot of the best a place has to offer, we owe it to ourselves to reap the fruits of our endeavours. Hiring a car gives access to the many quaint local villages, whereas a stay in town soaks up the youthful atmosphere that’s kept forever young by the ever changing student population. ■

Get inspired…

Martin Ferid is a Class Rating Instructor / Revalidation Examiner, specialising in advanced tuition and confidence-building flights – day trips or a few days away – in your aircraft throughout Europe and the UK.

A browse through over 150 ‘favourite destinations’ on the website below should inspire tyro and experienced pilots alike. For amusement, try the ‘bit of fun’ section on the ‘contacts’ tab.


Tel: 07598 880 178


Flying Adventure 30 | LIGHT AVIATION | August 2021
Below The university’s computer laboratory, the area is one of the UK’s foremost centres of the technology industry.


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The anticipation of an opportunity to spend a few days with fellow LAA members, after so long under restrictions, put a spring into the step of many LAA aviators and Struts during the months of preparation for what was initially the LAA 75th Anniversary UK Tour. Covid sadly put paid to that, but a Tour of England, planned for later in the year (early July) was arranged instead. It was therefore with heavy hearts that discussions at HQ resulted in another postponement of the tour until next year, owing to the forecast of particularly inclement weather, which it seemed would be pretty well following the route. However, the amount of work that goes into preparing for any event is sometimes unrecognised, so I thought it appropriate on this occasion to give an opportunity for a few of those who planned for the LAA 75th Tour to share their thoughts.

Struts 4U

Neil Wilson was key to the overall organisation of the event and writes: “Before the weather caused us to cancel our 75th Anniversary Tour of England, I wanted to involve as many Struts as possible while touring our way around the country. Starting with the Wessex Strut at Henstridge with a fly-in we would then include the Cornwall Strut for a night at Bodmin, plus an evening meal and breakfast (as with all the night stops) was also arranged.

75th Anniversary England Tour

“On Tuesday morning, members of both Bristol and Gloster Struts were going to greet us at Kemble for coffee. Shobdon Strut were going to host us for lunch and help with any mechanical issues if required, while Cliff Mort and friends in the North Western Strut were to look after us at Barton as well as ferry us about to hotels. At Eshott the North East Strut were to join us for a BBQ lunch before we went to Breighton and joined both LiNSY Trent Valley and Vale of York Struts who were hosting and planned to give us lifts to nearby accommodation. Finally, on Thursday 8 July, we planned for lunch at Leicester with the East Midlands Strut

“Strut coordinators and members were very helpful with information when I phoned local ATC at airfields and airports (Bristol/Manchester/Newcastle) and RAF stations whose airspace we were going to go near or transit, as a potential 50-60 aeroplanes may have caused a conflict had they not known of our intentions. Let’s hope for better luck next year, but as always the weather is one thing we cannot control!”

LAA Board Strut Coordinator David Millin commented: “There are a lot of ups and downs in aviation and I am not referring to variations in altitude! On the one hand you can have a great day out with blue skies and on the other hand you are afflicted with a huge weather-related disappointment. I am, of course, referring to the cancellation of the LAA’s 75th Anniversary Tour of England. As I sit here listening to the rain pounding upon the roof of my study, I think I should have been making merry with my mates at Bodmin Airfield, which was to be the first stop of the tour.

“Had the weather been favourable we might have gone on to Kemble, Shobdon, Manchester Barton, Eshott, Breighton and Leicester before making our way home. Never mind, perhaps next year. This is a reminder of the cost, both in time and money, that is expended with little gain on such speculations.

Above A warm welcome awaited at Breighton despite work in progress on a new clubhouse.

Fingers crossed for 2022! Photo: Andy Wood.

Right The Sopwith Bar and Grill at Barton was ready to provide participants with sustenance throughout their stay. Photo: Cliff Mort.

Thanks go to all the people who prepared for the trip, for the airfields that made preparations to accommodate everyone and above all to Neil, who coordinated the whole event. Let’s do it next year!”

Thank you also to Cliff Mort who was looking forward to the tour’s arrival at Barton: “Part of the joy of flying is the making of friends from all parts of the country. Wherever we go to enjoy a fly-in, there are old friends to meet and new friends to make. This time though the friends were coming to us – that is the North Western Strut at Barton, or would have been if the weather had played its part in the scheme of things.

“We had the Sopwith Bar and Grill ready with a fantastic ambience and plenty of volunteers ready to ferry pilots to and from their hotels. There was much disappointment when the tour had to be cancelled but I would rather have that than to see people stranded around the country due to bad weather. Here’s to next time, and don’t make that too long either!”

The Vintage Aircraft Club were fortunate to spend the weekend before the planned tour up at Breighton, where preparations for the last night of the tour were eagerly anticipated. Charles Sunter, Chair of The Real Aeroplane Club, writes, “Here at Breighton Airfield the members of The Real Aeroplane Club like nothing more than to welcome and host visitors (well, perhaps we are rather partial to flying

32 | LIGHT AVIATION | August 2021
LAA Strut News

too!). So, when Neil initially called me to ask about the possibility of the LAA Tour having a night stay at Breighton, the answer was unreservedly ‘YES’.

“We’re in the midst of having a new club house built and our facilities are somewhat basic at present, but don’t let that deter you,” I said. “This doesn’t stop our caterers putting on a respectable menu from the temporary field kitchen. With a makeshift bar, overnight camping under the wing or ferry car rides to local accommodation and the ‘Breighton welcome’ or course, where better to come.

Many of the Struts will no doubt be beginning to consider a possible move towards holding their meetings in person as the last of the lockdown restrictions begin, hopefully, to slip into history. Fingers crossed that is the case, though current Covid trends suggest Zoom could remain for a while yet.

Andover Strut: Spitfire Club, Popham Airfield, SO21 3BD. 1930. Contact

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

Cornwall Strut: The Clubhouse, Bodmin Airfield. Contact Pete White 01752 406660

1 August – Lundy Sunday.

11 September – Strut Fly-In.

15 September 1900 – The Real Battle of Britain by Peter Channon.

Devon Strut: The Exeter Court Hotel, Kennford, Exeter. 1930. Strut contact:

7/8 August – Cardiff Airport Fly-In. Contact Alan Crutcher 07802 863127.

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

28/29 August – Fly in at Balado Airfield (about two miles West of Kinross) PPR essential Balado Airfield.

East Midlands Strut: The Plough, Normanton on Soar. Please contact:

9 August – ‘Building Blue Two’, the design and construction of a Carbon Fibre Composite GA aircraft by Andy Best.

13 Sept – ‘A history of Gliding – from George Cayley to Perlan’ by Roger Alton. Zoom link available for talks. We also have a Facebook group and upload recordings of some meetings where we have speakers.

“With preparations in place, including plans for hangar tours and to demonstrate some of the collection aircraft, we were all set to ensure an enjoyable evening for those on the tour. No doubt you already know how this story ends – the weather had other ideas, and the tour was cancelled. But that’s OK! We’re not going anywhere and next year we will be delighted to extend the very warm Breighton welcome once again.”

Thank you to everyone who was involved in the preparations – we look forward to next year!

Strut calendar

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

Highlands & Islands: Highland Aviation, Inverness Airport. Contact: 01381 620535.

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

18 September – Meet the LAA Day at Headcorn.

LiNSY Trent Valley Strut: Trent Valley Gliding Club, Kirton Lindsey. pilotbarry1951@ gmail. com website

North East Strut: Fishburn Airfield. Brunch third Sunday of each month 1130-13.30 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: Second Wednesday each month. New Venue from 11 August: Sturdy’s Castle Country Inn, Banbury Road, Kidlington, OX5 3EP. Contact

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. Meetings on the second Thursday of the month. Contact: Keith Taylor August – Fly-Out to Welshpool. 12 September – Strut night.

Southern Strut: The Swiss Cottage, Shoreham-by-Sea. 2000. Normal meetings will resume on the first Wednesday of the month when permitted. Contact

Strathtay Strut: Scottish Aero Club, Perth Airport, Scone. Scone Clubhouse. Contact: 07785 244146.

Suffolk Coastal Strut: Crowfield Airfield Clubhouse. 1900. Contact: Martyn Steggalls 07790 925142.

29 August – Monewden Airfield Open Day and Fly-in.

September TBA – Weekend social and BBQ.

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

Wessex Strut: Henstridge Airfield Clubhouse. Contact: Friday 6 August 1830 – Wessex Strut Evening ‘Bimble, Burgers and Beans’ at Henstridge Airfield. Fortnightly Strut walks organised by Wessex Aviators Leisure Klub.

West Midlands Strut: Navigator Café, Halfpenny Green Aerodrome 1930. Contact: Graham Wiley westmidlandslaastrut@ Stuart Darby or visit our website

West of Scotland Strut: Bowfield Country Club, Howwood, PA9 1DZ. 1900. Contact: Neil Geddes 01505 612493.

Youth & Education Support (YES) – Contact: Graham Wiley gw20home@

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 me at

August 2021 | LIGHT AVIATION | 33 LAA Strut News

Where to go

W here To G o

Summer is well and truly upon us and, with many of the restrictions melting away, more and more events are taking place without too much trouble. If common sense prevails, hopefully that will continue, and the great news of course is that the LAA Rally is definitely on.


26-27 Clacton Seafront Clacton 150 Flypast (inc Red Arrows)

Just three weeks prior to the Rally we have the Popham Microlight Fair, where of course the Association will be in attendance.

Our thanks to Dave Wise ( and the Royal Aero Club for the use of their data. See eventeu.htm for more events, info and links. 27

28-29 Fenland BAeA Aerobatics Competition [see AIC Y008/2021]

28-30 Glenforsa,


July 2021 | LIGHT AVIATION | 33
1 Lundy Island Lundy Fly-in [PPR essential]
1 Old Warden Shuttleworth Air Show [see AIC M012/2021] 4 Duxford Flying Day [see AIC M044/2021] 6 Church Fenton – Leeds E. Private Flyer Exhibition [PPR- slots] 7 Compton Abbas Vintage Saturday Fly-in 7 East Kirkby LAHC Museum Air Show [advance booking] 7 Popham Classic Car Show & AngloFrench & Vintage Fly-in 7-8 Purleigh nr Maldon Echoes of History Mil Vehicles & Air Show 7-8 Headcorn Ops Military & Air Show 7-8 Sleap BAeA Aerobatics Competition [see AIC Y008/2021] 8 Popham Motorcycle Magameet & Anglo-French Fly-in 01256-397733 8 Seething SFC Fly-in 01508-550453 mailto: 11 Duxford Flying Day [see AIC M044/2021] 14 Old Warden Shuttleworth Flying Circus Drive-in Evening Air Show 14-15 Popham Microlight Trade Fair 01256-397733 14-15 Harrowbeer 80th Anniversary Event (t.b.c) 01752-406660 14-15 Sleap VAC Fly-in 15 Halfpenny Green YouTubers Fly-in 15 Weston Super Mare Helicopter World Helicopter Day Event 19 Duxford Flying Day [see AIC M044/2021] 19-21 Conington BAeA Aerobatics Spt & Int Nationals [see AIC Y008/2021] 21 Bodmin Bader Braves FOG Charity Flying Day 01752-406660 07805-805679 21-22 Llanbedr RRRA Air Race 21-22 Sandhill Farm, Swindon
of White
Fly-in (PPR)
01752-406660/ 07805-805679
Horse GC
21-22 Popham Model Air Show [closed
full-size aircraft] 01256-397733
Sidmouth Seafront Air Show
Red Arrows)
Alderney Alderney Fly-in
27-29 Silverstone MotoGP 28 Halfpenny Green Aerobility Fly-in 28-29 Rhyl Sea
Front Air
28-29 Balado, nr Kinross LAA East of Scotland Strut Fly-in [PPR] 0131 339 2351
Mull Vans RV Fly-in [PPR] 01680-300377 29 Little Gransden Air & Car Show 29 Breighton Chilton & Micron Engine Fly-in & BBQ 29 Monewden Airfield Open Day & Fly-in [PPR] 01473-737486
Chiltern Park Farewell Fly-in & BBQ [PPR]
2-5 Bournemouth Sea Front Air Show (inc Red Arrows) 3-5 Sywell LAA National Rally & Exhib [PPR-slots] [see AIC
01280-846786/ 01604-644917 3-5 Chatsworth Country Fair inc Airshow 3-5 Foxlands Farm, Cosby Victory Show 3-5 Weston Park, Shifnal Model Air Show (with some full-size aircraft) 4 Compton Abbas Vintage Saturday Fly-in 4-5 Old Warden Vintage Weekend & Sunday Air Show [see AIC M012/2021] 4-5 Leicester BAeA Aerobatics Competition [see AIC Y008/2021] 4-5 Popham STOL Competition 01256-397733 4-5 North Coates Summer Fly-in 01472-388850 9 Guernsey Guernsey Air Show (inc Red Arrows) 9 Jersey Jersey Air Show (inc Red Arrows) 10 Abingdon Threshold Pre-Airshow Dusk Photo-shoot [Pre-book] 10-12 Guernsey Guernsey Rally 10-12 Old Warden Shuttleworth Drive In Great Balloon Race 11 Bodmin LAA Cornwall Strut Fly-in 01752-406660 11 Abingdon Air & Country Show [pre book] 11 Sywell Young Aviators Day 11 White Waltham Fly-in (inc Navy wings) 11-12 Cosford RAF Air Show (inc Red Arrows) 11-12 Church Fenton – Leeds E. RRRA Air Race 11-12 Glenforsa, Mull Vintage Tailwheel Fly-in [PPR] 01680-300377 12 K2 Centre, Crawley Gatwick Air Enthusiasts Fair 01403-252628 17-18 Wycombe – Booker The Elite Lifestyle & Private Flyer Exhibition 17-19 Goodwood Revival Meeting 18 Barton – CityFOBA Fly-in [PPR] 0161-789-1362 18 Sutton Meadows Cambs MC Microlight Fly-in 18 Weston-Super-Mare Threshold Helicopter Museum Night Photoshoot [Pre-book] 18-19 Weston-Super-Mare Helicopter Museum Spotters Weekend & Memorabilia Sale 18-19 Duxford Battle of Britain Air Show (pre-book) 18-19 Headcorn LAA Kent Strut LAA Day and Fly-in [PPR] 18-19 Sywell Classic Pistons & Props Show 18-19 Rougham NW Marshalling Team Vintage Fly-in [PPR] 07592-018984 18-19 Old Warden Shuttleworth Model Show – airfield closed [see AIC M012/2021] 19 Halfpenny Green Project Propeller WWII Aircrew Event 21 Swanwick GASCo/Andark Sea Survival Training Seminar [pre-book] 01634-200203 23 Old Warden Shuttleworth Workshop Tour & Lunch 23-24 Windermere Waterbird Wings Over Windermere Event (including Navy Wings) 25-26 Leicester RRRA Air Race – Kings Cup 25-26 Breighton BAeA Aerobatics Competition [see AIC Y008/2021] 25-26 Silverstone Car Races British Touring Car Championship 34 | LIGHT AVIATION | August 2021


The Bristell NG5 is an aluminium alloy quick build kit plane which can be fitted with any of the Rotax 912 series engines. It is available in tricycle or taildragger configurations, carries 120 litres of fuel & burns 16 litres/ph @115 kts cruise. It has one of the biggest cockpits in class & has nose wheel steering. Stalls 34kts/ Vne 155kts. BRS parachute is an approved option. Now can be used for conversion training . High resale values. 600 kg Microlight ready to fly (RTF) NG5M’s and kits will be available late 2021.

New Hi wing B8 coming soon! It has 600kg AUW, strutless high wing, 1.25m wide cockpit, 150 ltr fuel capacity and a similar performance to the NG5, for those who like the ease of entry.

High-wing BRISTELL B8

An airplane with a steerable nose wheel and an all-metal wing without struts. The large cockpit doors and the luggage compartment door are made of composite material.

Maximum take-off weight (MTOW)600 kg

Empty weight

Fuel tanks capacity

Operational speed

Manoeuvring speed VA 97kts

Maximum flap speed VF 78kts

VD 174kts

Never exceeded speed VNE157kts

350 kg

150 l

Power unit

ROTAX 912 ULS100 Hp

ROTAX 915 iS141 Hp

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The Right Stuff?

Wearing the right type of clothing could be a matter of life or death… Steve Slater reports

It’s tempting in the current spell of hot weather to become more minimalist in one’s choice of flying clothing and, at my local airfield, there’s been a recent array of t-shirts, shorts and even plastic sandals on display from people going flying. Is that really a good idea?

The risk of a post-crash or, heaven forbid, an in-flight fire is far lower these days than in the past, but it does still exist. Ask yourself, how much protection would your minimalist attire give you?

In any post-accident, or even a successful forced landing scenario, a safe exit from the aircraft will be critical, especially if it is on fire. Plastic flip-flops, shorts and t-shirts, especially if they are made of nylon, are going to be less than helpful, indeed they could even be killers.

Nylon and other man-made fibres, as well as being more flammable, actually burn into one’s skin, making any subsequent skin grafts almost impossible. You’ve probably noticed that military, emergency response and airshow pilots generally wear flight suits. These pilots don’t wear these garments just to fit into some kind of fraternity or to look cool – flight suits serve a real safety-related goal. Purpose-made flight suits are generally made from fire retardant materials such as Nomex and provide a vital thermal barrier.

Even if a flying suit is not your thing, you can still minimise risk by wearing clothing with low flammability. Stay away from materials such as polar fleece and loose-fitting cotton, which are relatively flammable. You can get Nomex shirts from workwear and motor sports suppliers. Denim jeans offer good protection because they are made with a tight weave. Woollen shirts and leather jackets may be a bit warm to wear in the summer, but they provide great protection because the materials

Below Whether you wear hi-viz jackets on the ground or not – they are an absolute ‘no no’ in the cockpit

resist flames and have a slow burn rate, the reason why they were worn by crews of wartime aircraft.

High-viz, high risk

Tighter-fitting clothes are more difficult to ignite than flowing, loose garments. Which brings me onto a particular bête noire, high-visibility jackets. Whatever your opinions on wearing them on the ground, once you are inside the cockpit, just say no!

Nylon hi-viz jackets are usually highly inflammable and, being loose-fitting, may well snag on controls impeding your egress in an emergency. If you have to wear one at a particular airfield, stow it away once you are in the aircraft.

Not just in emergencies

Appropriate clothing shouldn’t just be considered in response to emergencies. Just how much protection from cockpit sunburn and dehydration are you going to get from your flip-flops, t-shirt and shorts? Aircraft with low wings and bubble canopies, as well as gliders, are more than capable of giving you serious sunburn, in places you may not normally consider. Believe me, sunburned tops of legs, feet, top of head and back of neck, can seriously spoil a day’s flying!

Many glider pilots use a ‘beanie’ hat which provides top of head and neck protection. Baseball caps seem to be preferred by the powered flying fraternity but remember, the peak of a baseball cap may shade your eyes but it might also generate a blind spot, limiting your peripheral vision.

Of course, personal clothing is up to the individual, but I hope this provides some food for thought – and enjoy the sunshine! ■

18 | Safety
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Cool Cruzer

Clive Davidson flies the first UK completion of a variant of this traditionally STOL type, geared to a more traditional cross-country regime…

Photos by Neil Wilson

38 | LIGHT AVIATION | August 2021 Flight Test

LFlight Test

et me say that I have to admit to being very pleasantly surprised that I had been asked to fly Darren Weston’s Zenith 750 Cruzer so soon after it had appeared in Mike Slaughter’s Project News column. It was featured in last month’s issue, Darren detailing the build of this first LAA example to be completed in the UK, and here I am flying it the following month. Nothing quite like being up to the minute with news!

The Cruzer is a natural development of what started as the CH701 STOL, what Zenair called a ‘Sky Jeep’ concept of an off-airfield aircraft, with the short take-off and landing capability of a microlight. The 701 first flew in 1986 and the kit remains in production, along with its next in line CH750 STOL, which was introduced in 2008 and is effectively an enlarged version with a slightly higher carrying capability.

A move away from pure STOL

The CH750 Cruzer, introduced in 2014, moves development on somewhat further as although the fuselage is fundamentally the same as the 750 STOL, it has an all-new wing which embodies single struts as opposed to the double struts of the earlier models, and a different aerofoil that offers a claimed 20% improvement in cruise performance. It has also dropped the fixed-wing slats for a conventionally clean leading edge.

Standing at the trailing rear edge of the wing the flaperon may be rotated up and down, deflecting as aileron by 15°. There is however, no differential to counter the nose yawing as roll is applied – maybe it’s not required. The flaperons may also be lowered electrically symmetrically by 15° for slow flight, and of course still operate 15° as ailerons for roll control.

The tail surfaces are also new, gone are the all-flying rudder and rather quirky inverted tailplane of the earlier models, replaced by a more conventional fin and aerodynamically balanced rudder and symmetrical tailplane/elevators which, like the wings’ flaperons, are mass balanced.

The reasoning behind these changes is that the concept has moved away from the overriding STOL requirement to more of an on-airfield machine, admittedly with good take-off and slow speed landing characteristics, but also embodying that faster cruise performance.

Engines, from 80-160hp are permitted, and although in the US the list of possible power plants is quite extensive, the UK Zenair agents Metal Seagulls, now in its new facility at Haverfordwest, is able to accommodate either the 100hp and up Rotax engines, or ULPower’s 118 or 130hp motors, they feel the optimum engine for the aircraft is the 130hp ULPower unit, which experience shows provides excellent climb performance, and a 105kt cruise on less than 20 lph.

A trip to Spanhoe

We flew up to meet Darren at Spanhoe, between Leicester and Peterborough, with Patrick Carruth in his Britten-Norman Freelance, which has become our regular camera ship,

having recently had an opening side window installed. The weather on the way up from Henstridge had been flyable, although pretty grey and miserable, but once there it improved into a much better day for air-to-air.

Darren had flown down solo from his home base in North Yorkshire, his first cross-country in the aircraft, having previously flown it only four hours, although the aircraft had been flown rather more as he didn’t carry out the test flying. No surprise then that he couldn't be pinned down to a set speed and fuel burn – indicated speed was between 80 to 90mph, 4,400rpm for 80mph and 4,800rpm for 90mph on the secondhand Rotax 912 ULS, which develops its 100hp at 5,800rpm. The engine drives a 1,730mm diameter ground adjustable DUC Flash 3 prop.

Although Darren has stuck with the single Y-shaped centrally mounted stick, the Cruzer also offers individual sticks as an option, it’s one of those ‘you pays yer money and take yer choice’ things, although the Y stick certainly provides for better cockpit access. The nicely trimmed seats can also be had with sliding adjustment, an option Darren has adopted. However, the standard seat bolts to the seat bed and you can ‘adjust’ it by having several hole locations in the bed, simply unbolting and moving the seat as required.

It has to be said that Darren’s aircraft was very well presented, internally and externally, our combined first impressions were all very, very positive. It is all the more credit to him as in his build article he commented that he hadn’t previously even built an Airfix kit. However, these later Zenair kits are match hole drilled, so I reckon he must have been a bit of a whiz with Meccano as a kid!

No brakes on my side!

A quick scan into the left footwell showed toe brakes above the rudder pedals, but in the right footwell, the side I was soon to be sitting, there were no brakes for me to use. At least the rudder pedals have direct steering, giving me at least some control on the ground from the right seat rather than a few panicky rudder jabs before realising I am onto a losing wicket.

My concern is perhaps heightened at the moment from undertaking the conversion of a friend from his former regular mount of a rather tidy Cessna 150 to his first owned aircraft, a lovely little Jodel D120, a classic taildragger of course. I like the Jodel but it can be rather skittish when flown from a hard runway and, pointedly for me, it also has no brakes on my side to try and arrest any deviation from the straight and seemingly narrow. However, the nosewheel equipped Zenair will undoubtedly be far more stable than a taildragger.

Somewhat more curvaceous

The Cruzer uses a spring steel main undercarriage and somewhat smaller wheels than it’s STOL siblings, and they are fitted with nicely shaped spats. The pleasantly curved nose cowling too adds to its appearance, as does the generously wide 42inches (1,067mm) wide at the hips cockpit, with seemingly acres of ‘glass’. The swing up

August 2021 | LIGHT AVIATION | 39
The Cruzer’s curvaceous lines present a radically improved appearance over the type’s predecessors.
40 | LIGHT AVIATION | August 2021
Above The view out of the aircraft is certainly enhanced by the expansive greenhouse effect. Left The swing up doors and single wing strut provides easy cockpit access. Below The nosewheel is steered via the rudder pedals, its suspension taken care of by an adjustable rubber ‘puck in compression’ system.

bubble doors also provide an overall increase in cockpit width. All in all, the Cruzer is quite a handsome machine compared to the rather rudimentary ‘fit for purpose’ approach of the earlier models.

The all up max weight is 650kg / 1,433lb, with the centre of gravity between 270 and 500mm aft of datum. Darren and I lumped together weigh 142kg, we have next to no baggage in the cavernous baggage bay behind the seats, and just over half tanks at 30 litres a side (55 litres each plus a seven litre header tank behind the pilot seat), placing us just forward of mid-range CofG at 579kg/ 1,276lb.

All aboard…

Entering the cockpit is simple enough, forward of the strut and with the wide up-swinging doors. The generous width means it is easy to sort out the seat belts and plug the headsets into the jacks on the bottom of the centre console. The ‘Y’ control column initially feels a little strange, and there is only one throttle – on the far left of the panel for the P1 position (a second throttle is an option). The pull-on choke is to the left of the throttle and the start button above it, with the trim switch, trim indicator and flap switch forming a vertical ‘stack’ just off to the right.

Continuing across the panel comes the first two instruments, a colour-coded Rotax rpm gauge in thousands, and a fuel pressure dial in Bars.

Next ‘column’ sees the large diameter airspeed indicator mounted right where it should be, just under the

coaming where the pilot can see it by lowering his eyes slightly, and just to the left of it are twin USB sockets and two small warning lights – one the charging light and the other a low fuel warning light that triggers from the header tank and comes on with just five litres of fuel remaining.

Below the ASI is a small dia VSI, and below that a Trig 8.33 VHF radio. Central on the panel is a portrait mounted MGL EFIS with, above it, the carb heat and cabin heat knobs. No mixture knob is required as the Bing carbs fitted to the Rotax self-compensate for altitude.

On ‘my side’ comes the large dia altimeter at the top, a slip ball in a small round gauge middle, and at the bottom the radio-matching Trig transponder. All that’s left is the RAM mount for the nav iPad, with a second twin USB socket behind it. It’s all very tidy and uncluttered on its carbon fibre look background, easily understood too, even for a pre-decimal fellow like me, provided I don’t turn the EFIS on, although I’m getting better now I have the Cassutt and have something similar in that. Darren selected a page of engine monitors, very pretty.

On the centre console are all the switches and circuit breakers, the key operated Master and 1 and 2 ignition switches being on the top row.

The whole internal area is both smart and neatly finished and is light and airy. Despite having a high wing, it has a completely clear skylight to see overhead, those lovely clear doors, and three quarter rear clear panels to see to the rear. A final scan inside finds the placards, with a reminder that ‘aerobatic manoeuvres are prohibited’, as is intentional spinning.

August 2021 | LIGHT AVIATION | 41 Flight Test
Below The flaperons on the Cruzer are shorter than on the STOL variant, not extending the full span of the wing.

Let’s get flying

Strapped in and doors latched – a substantial locking handle midway along the bottom edge of the door and a smaller latch at the front bottom corner – we are ready to start. The Andair fuel selector, situated on the side of the centre console, alongside the P1’s right lower leg, is checked ON, Master ON, electric fuel pump ON and pressure noted on the fuel pressure gauge. The throttle is cracked open and held to prevent its desire to creep open and, following a good look around – Clear prop! – both mags are switched ON and a press of the start button has

Bottom ‘ZW striking in her metallic blue, the curvy decals helping to negate the rather boxy fuselage.

Below Flaperon mass balances are another change, considered needed due to the Cruzer’s higher cruise speeds.

the engine starting immediately and initially set to 2,000rpm.

The charge light extinguishes and the oil pressure gauge on the EFIS starts to rise, and after a couple of minutes

Darren increases the rpm to 2,500 as we wait for the oil temperature to show 50°C before throttling up to 4,000rpm to check the ignition circuits. The mag drop should not be below 300rpm with a difference between the mags of no greater than 120rpm. Volts are a tad under 14 and the ammeter is showing a positive charge. Yes, the EFIS is pretty but also very useful! Idling has the gauge showing a blink under 1,400rpm and then it is eager to run back to the mid-twenties.

Taxying on the grass poses no problems from my brakeless right-hand side. Steering solely on the rudder pedals is direct and quite normal, a little anticipation allowing for the drag of the wheels through the grass is needed when wishing to come to a standstill by throttling right back and pausing. On smooth tarmac though, I had to ask Darren to take control as she rolls very readily, and brakes are needed.

Pre-take-off checks complete, we line up after the camera ship and Darren showed how on take-off he has adopted the technique of initially placing his right hand across the Y junction of the stick and when established on the climb out, transferring it to the left branch of the Y.

Take-off and climb

The take-off run is published as being short, just 117 yards/ 107 metres and Zulu Whisky certainly behaved like a frisky puppy, lacking no enthusiasm to get up and go. There was little induced swing imparted and raising the nosewheel off

42 | LIGHT AVIATION | August 2021
Flight Test

the deck, prior to rotation speed, she flew off in the low 40s, the aircraft quickly accelerating in ground effect and into an early climb to try and chase our photo crew. On departure, we could have either used a climb speed of 60mph, best speed to clear obstacles (Vx) or 70mph, best to gain height (Vy). However, trying to catch the more powerful and faster Freelance, we initially set 70 and once through 500ft edged the speed up a bit and cut the corner, but also needed to ask Patrick to slow down a bit. Although our climb had been somewhat non-standard, we probably made something of the order of 650fpm in the 70mph stage.

As we closed, I had my first few moments to gauge the control reactions and was quickly absorbed by the coming task. I had control with my left hand on the right branch of the Y stick, we were in good trim with no stick pressure to overcome. Rolling without rudder saw a little yaw of the nose swinging away from the direction of the turn but it was simple to adjust the footwork and get back into balance. I soon decided to change hands and fly with my right hand across my chest holding the stick by slackening my diagonal upper torso restraining belt, and lean forward a little so I could operate the single throttle with my left hand. I spent a few minutes getting the measure of this arrangement before calling ‘Zulu Whisky in the box’ to let Patrick and Neil know we were about to join in close formation.

Precise and predictable

The Cruzer proved precise and beautifully predictable to handle; both through the stick and rudder and in concert with the application and reduction of power. Throughout the exercises of being placed wide, closer, low and high by the

Above The cavernous and carpeted baggage bay. Care will be needed with loading, both weight and CofG.

Below The instrument panel is neat and uncluttered thanks to the portrait mounted MGL EFIS.

demands of the sortie, I was particularly enjoying being able to fly a well-built machine, with good handling and accompanied by the builder owner.

We chatted about how he had come to build the aircraft and having worked on motorbikes and cars, this mechanically minded chap had many of the required skills and mindsets that are relevant to aircraft. It was at the LAA Rally that he met Jonathon and Patricia Porter of Metal Seagulls, and their enthusiasm, product and positive support proved to be all that was promised, right up to and beyond the very first flight that Jonathan successfully undertook on Darren’s behalf. Service indeed.

August 2021 | LIGHT AVIATION | 43 Flight Test

Being given the thumbs up from Neil that ‘It’s a wrap’, we were free to break and explore a little further into the aircraft’s envelope. But first, a quick exchange with Patrick, who told us our position as we were, of course, not in our usual stomping ground. There is nothing quite like breaking formation, having been absorbed in the task only to find you have a very slim grasp as to where on the half million chart you might be! ‘Unsure of your position’ covers it

Left Conventional tail is so much less aesthetically challenged than that of its siblings!

Below Darren Weston with his recently completed aircraft. The first Cruzer to fly in the UK.

diplomatically, but ‘lost’ is a rather more succinct way of describing the situation. One is always looking for helpful clues, such as the railway line and that marvellous feature of a viaduct near Spanhoe.

Part of the shoot had been over Rutland Water, and years ago I was again flying a photoshoot, during which, with cross controls and a wing low, the engine stopped. We were already at low level and made a short field landing on the edge of the reservoir, completely safely. We had been in a Slepcev Replica Fiesler Storch – and were wearing Luftwaffe uniforms. This last detail slightly unsettled, well that might be a bit of an understatement, the women who came over to find out what we were doing there. Being of a generation with fearful recollections of WWII, they didn’t hang around, but left wide-eyed and rather hurriedly.

General handling

The comfortable straight and level performance figures returned an indicated airspeed of 83mph using 4,500rpm, whilst briefly applying full power to a wide-open throttle and trimming forward a few clicks on the electric trimmer, saw 105mph at 5,400rpm. Throughout the exercises the oil temperature remained within the lower half of the green arc of 75 to 110°C. Oil pressure sat at 4 bar/73 psi and the cylinder head temps remained within their recommended parameters of 80-90°C. As Darren hasn’t yet established any accurate fuel burn figures, he opts for a safe band of 15 to 20 litres an hour, and always carries at least 60 litres of

44 | LIGHT AVIATION | August 2021

fuel before getting aloft, just to err on the safe side. From straight and level, the pitch stability is simply displayed by induced phugoids, increasing speed from a trimmed straight and level by 10kt by easing the stick forward and then letting go. These ‘ups and downs’ cycles slowly faded away and we returned to straight and level.

From wing low crossed control steady side slips, when released the lowered wing rises, showing a fair degree of lateral stability, but it was slightly slower than I had anticipated for a high-winged machine. Despite the large fin and rudder, the directional stability, although initially good, just at the last 5° or so of rudder travel there was a slight resistance in the system. Nonetheless the aircraft is comfortable in the cruise without constant attention being required to hold height, heading and speed.

Roll rates and stalls

With flap up and in the cruise at 75mph, from a stabilised 30° banked right turn to a 30° banked left turn takes two seconds, giving a pretty fair 30° a second roll rate. The reversing manoeuvre from left to right takes a half second longer, the difference may be explained by the prop’s direction of rotation.

At the approach to land speed of 1.3 of the stall speed, 63mph with flaps deployed, the roll rate naturally drops and reduces to 20° and 17° per second.

The application of the ailerons induces only a small degree of adverse aileron drag, allowing small rolling inputs without rudder to balance, but left up to a pedantic flying instructor he or she would probably be asking for perfect balance and a small input of rudder.

The ailerons are active right up to the approach of the stall, there being a slight buffet on the tail as the high angle of attack produces an increasing breakdown in the air's flow over the wing’s upper surface, which spills back to vibrate the tail and elevator. This can be felt through the stick and a gentle relaxing of back pressure returns us to normal flight. Stalls in gentle turns see her dutifully roll to wings level during the buffeting stage. Noted stall speeds were: clean 57mph, with take-off flap 54mph, and with full flap 48mph.

So, her manners are fine in as much as her stability is sufficient to allow the pilot capacity and time to view the world from a comfortable cockpit suited for its namesake, cruising. It is both economic and undemanding in operation.

I was interested in the aircraft types Darren had flown and how his transition to the Cruzer had been. He trained initially on the popular C42 and, licence in hand, moved into a Eurostar syndicate, which he absolutely loved to bits, it being a lot more responsive. It also showed him the variations in crosswind operation, crabbing with a low-wing rather than using the wing down approach as in a high-winger.

He has found the Cruzer heavier and was helped to convert onto type Alan Kilbride, an enthusiastic Jodel pilot who now shares his all-round expertise as an LAA coach, an outstanding facility to our members. Alan also undertook the test flying regime following Jonathan Porter’s first flight.

It speaks volumes for the confidence the aircraft gave Darren of taking a very newly completed aircraft on which he has only four hours’ experience, away from home base and I must thank him for his efforts in meeting us for a very enjoyable exercise.

It is a well-completed machine, an adventure still in the making for him. It is a credit to him, his family and helpful friends who made it happen. I look forward to bumping into him at the now not-too-distant Rally! ■

Statistics CH750 Cruzer with 912ULS

Bulldog Model 120


Overall Length: (engine and spinner dependent)

6.7m / 23ft 6ins

Height: 2.8m / 9ft 2ins

Wingspan: 9.1m / 29ft 9ins

Wing Area:13.7m2 / 147 sq.ft.

Empty Weight: 354kg / 780lb

Fuel Capacity: (std) 120 ltr (with header tank)


Take-off Roll: (approx.) 107m / 350ft

Landing Roll: 107m / 350ft

Cruise: 190kph / 118mph / 103kt

Stall: 62Kph / 39mph / 34kt

Vne: 233kph / 145mph / 126kt

Range: (std tanks) approx. 830km / 520 miles / 452nm

Performance figures quoted are from factory prototypes at ISA


Flight Test August 2021 | LIGHT AVIATION | 45
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Charging ahead…

Ian Fraser urges us not to take our batteries for granted and offers top tips for charging…

Reliable batteries are essential to the convenience and safety of our aircraft (see LA June 2021 article). While they work, we take them for granted but if they quit, they will do so at the most inappropriate moment, causing maximum inconvenience, sometimes completely wrecking plans and even becoming a safety hazard.

Our aircraft often spend days (or even weeks) doing nothing, then fly for an hour or two and go back to doing nothing. In low winter temperatures, with a hard ‘electricity consuming’ start and with all accessories and gadgets on, those few short flights can be nowhere near long enough to recharge the battery, and the battery’s charge level just goes down and down. This is exactly the wrong treatment for a battery, and it is not surprising that many fail prematurely.

While traditional battery chargers can provide a much-needed boost, they can also cause long-term damage and do nothing to help the longevity of the battery. An they must never be left connected after the battery is charged.

Fortunately, however, technology has moved on and today specialist chargers can be permanently connected to look after batteries without long-term damage, and some even help prevent or warn of impending trouble before it becomes critical. In this article we are looking at the challenge of safeguarding the battery, and how technology has met it.

Battery health

The main threat to battery health is a problem called sulphation in which chemicals from the electrolyte contaminate the electrode plates, gradually isolating them from the electrochemical process. As a battery discharges, lead sulphate builds up on the plates and, as you re-charge, should be ‘reabsorbed’ back into the electrolyte. But the charging process is not 100% efficient and for each charge cycle a little bit of the sulphate is left on the electrode, and it gradually builds up. It is a natural process, part of the battery’s chemistry, and will eventually be the main cause of the failure of the battery.

While sulphation happens as part of the normal process, its rate is governed by the state of the battery. In a well-charged and maintained battery, it



happens very slowly, but if the battery is allowed to remain for any length of time in an (even partially) discharged state, it accelerates. A key to battery life and health is to maintain it at full charge – and doing so can double its useful life.

But, if you are not using the battery, it is not going to go flat, is it? Yes, I’m afraid it is. Another natural feature of a lead / acid battery is a characteristic called ‘self-discharge’. Notwithstanding drain from

Headset review Battery chargers 46 | LIGHT AVIATION | August 2021
Concorde battery, typical of those fitted to many Permit aircraft. A traditional taper current charger, avoid using if at all possible

any electronics left on – clocks, alarms, cigarette lighter devices etc – even an unconnected healthy lead-acid battery can lose about 5% of its charge in a month, an unhealthy one up to 30%. One of the causes is those sulphates. I sometimes hear it said, ‘ battery happily starts the aircraft after six months of zero use, so it’s not a problem’. Maybe it does, but it won’t for much longer and it will become a problem prematurely. The damage has already been done to its life expectancy. The worst thing you can do for your battery life is to allow it to become discharged, but the next worst thing you can do is to overcharge it in an attempt to avoid the problem!

Safe and efficient charging

Safe and efficient charging is all about juggling volts and amps. A battery charger, or your alternator, forces electricity into the battery by presenting it with higher voltage than the battery itself is producing. The result is a flow of electricity into the battery which ‘absorbs’ it so that it gradually becomes charged.

A charged lead acid battery has a nominal ‘off load’ voltage of 12.5v, so presenting it any voltage above that will charge it. The higher the voltage, the higher the potential charge current (amps) and thus the higher the rate of charge – at 12.5v the rate of charge will be negligible but at 14v a flat battery may accept a charge rate of 20 amps or more. However, the rate of charge is generally determined by the capability of the charger itself (for example if you use a 5-amp charger that will be its limit).

Once the battery gets toward its normal ‘charged’ state, its rate of ‘absorption’ reduces and it ‘resists’ the charge current but, unless controlled, a traditional charger’s voltage will go up in response, still trying to deliver that high current. In such a situation, another chemical process, electrolysis, takes place altering the electrolyte.

So, if the battery is already charged, excess voltage can permanently damage the battery chemistry, its performance and its physical well-being. This meant that effective battery maintenance used to be an attention-intensive balancing act, but modern technology now provides chargers that can look after the battery automatically, adapting to its condition and state of charge. These are often known as ‘smart’ or ‘float’ chargers.

The smart charger’s task

There are three main stages necessary to efficiently charge and maintain a lead acid battery. The initial stage provides the bulk of the charge, typically at the maximum current available from the charger. The first ‘smart’ thing the charger must do is to stop increasing the charge voltage when it reaches (typically) 14.4v to avoid any damage to the battery, something older or simple chargers do not do.

By maintaining the charge voltage at 14.4v, as the charge state of the battery increases, the charge current will decrease as the battery becomes saturated or fully charged. This is often referred to as the ‘absorption’ stage.

To continue charging a full battery at this voltage will damage it, so the next ‘smart’ challenge is to detect the reduction in the charge current and reduce the charge voltage to a lower level (typically 13v-13.4v). This is intended to maintain the battery at

100% charge (i.e. to counteract its tendency to self-discharge) without damaging it. This last stage is the ‘float charge’ and is critical to maintaining the long-term health of the battery.

The battery charger marketplace

‘Smart’ is just a marketing term, it doesn’t have a TSO or other standard behind it to give it any credibility – a primitive charger decorated with a bow around it could also be referred to as a ‘smart’ charger! Beware the hype, it’s what the charger does and how it does it that is important.

Above Pictured is a conventional charger hitting a charged battery with 16.5 volts. Not a healthy situation.

A cheap entry level charger (known as a taper current charger) is just a transformer and diode, with no control electronics. For much of my life that is all a car battery charger was, and there are still many of them around hangars and garages. They hit the battery with 15v or more, relying on the battery itself to control the charge, and once the battery has finished absorbing charge the voltage can go up to 18v or more. While they will charge a battery, they can inflict severe over-voltage damage in quite a short time, so avoid them unless it’s an emergency and never leave them connected after the battery is charged.

DC voltage regulators (constant voltage chargers) are sometimes sold as ‘permanent connect chargers’. They are generally quite cheap, but how effective and safe (to the battery) they are depends on how their single ‘regulated’ voltage matches the battery, its task and use. Their intended use is for very specific equipment / battery configuration or powering Christmas lights, and not as general-purpose chargers.

The best solution to battery maintenance is the three-stage charger, as described above, which adapts to the specific task being asked of it; whether it be recharging a flat battery or looking after it during the unflyable months of winter. It is a mixture of constant current and constant voltage. The key feature to look for is the three smart stages and most reputable manufacturers will publish details of them in their specification. Avoid it if it is not there.

August 2021 | LIGHT AVIATION | 47 Battery chargers

Does size (amps) matter?

Yes, it does. The maximum charge rate for your lead acid battery should be no more than 25% of its capacity (amp hour rate) above which damage may occur. The ideal level is no more than 10% of the capacity. Battery charging is a relatively efficient process (80%+) so, as long as your battery is healthy, you can easily calculate how long it might take you to recover a flattened battery. For example, my RV-6’s old 22ah battery should be completely recharged from flat in five hours by a 5-amp charger, and that is the quickest I can safely do it. If I don’t need a quick charge, 2 amps would be better for the battery. If all you are doing is preserving the battery, then a small motorbike charger will suffice (typically less than 1 amp). That might take 24 hours to recover my test case battery, but why does that matter? It was one of these that successfully maintained my RV-6’s battery for more than 12 years (the previous one lasted six).

Some smart chargers have two or more modes, a motorcycle mode (that just means ‘it is for a small battery’ and limits the bulk charge current accordingly) and higher charge rates if you need a quicker result, it’s cold or you are running aircraft electrics in the hangar for any length of time.

What should I consider?

I am not attempting to undertake a product review here, but will mention two companies whose products certainly dominate the hangars which I visit and that have a good track record for maintaining aircraft batteries well – CTEK and Optimate. They have also both been helpful in the preparation of this article.

Both companies’ products offer the basic stages that I have mentioned, however there are various other smart things that they do depending on the particular model. These additional features include testing the battery’s ability to take a charge, de-sulphation or reconditioning functions (that work as long as it has not got too bad), through to the ‘start current’ tests, which I mentioned in my June article.

In particular, the use of pulsed charging as opposed to constant voltage or current methods has opened the door to squeezing that last 1% into the battery without damage, thus reducing sulphation even more.

As with any market, you get what you pay for but even the basic small chargers offered by both at £30-£40 are more than up to maintaining our aircraft batteries.

Most existing lead acid chargers, whether smart or not, are incompatible with lithium batteries but as they become more commonplace, the very latest generation of chargers are becoming compatible with both types.

Solar charging

What about those of us who don’t have mains electricity where we park? Solar cell powered chargers have been around for some time, but to date have not enjoyed a very good reputation. At the low levels of energy available in a UK winter, they just didn’t reliably operate a battery charger. To achieve any form of reliable charging requires a large solar array, but unless regulated by an effective three stage charger, this could damage a battery on a sunny day. Thus, such devices have not come into general use.

Top The CTEK small battery charger is ideal for battery preservation.

Above A more advanced CTEK charger / tester.

Right Optimate’s special charger for lithium batteries is recommended by some manufacturers.

Headset review
48 | LIGHT AVIATION | August 2021

However, Optimate has a solution. I described my RG25 challenge to them and they recommended and lent me a 20w solar TM522-D2TK to try. It is aimed at the motorbike ‘wintering’ market, so it is suitable for the small batteries typical of our aircraft. Its solar array is only 430 x 340mm and mounted quite easily on its rubber suction cups in the RV’s canopy. It could also easily rest on the panel of many Permit aircraft or, of course, on a mast next to the hangar.

Its minuscule controller capitalises on electronic techniques to optimise the efficiency of the solar cells and combines this with the three stage smart charger functions, using pulses rather than DC to achieve charging with the very low energy (I measured as low as 2 watts) available on dull or wet days.

I tested it on my old battery, which I ran down to about 50% charge. What I needed to test solar charging was a representative period of dull weather, and this June didn’t disappoint – in Somerset it delivered four of the worst days for some time. It took

Above left A solar array mounted remotely on a non-electric supply hangar.

Above right The very compact controller for the Optimate solar system handles lead acid and lithium batteries.

a couple of days to get the battery back to 90%, and a further day before it indicated float mode (fully charged) reliably. In the shorter winter days this could take longer, but under normal winter aircraft use that would be fine. I was quite impressed with the results; it would certainly maintain my RV-6’s battery over winter, even when mounted in the windscreen.

Battery chargers are one of those tools you use without much thought, often with short notice because something has gone wrong, but today full-time use can contribute much to the reliability of the flying experience. Used wisely they will pay for themselves in consistent starting, reliability and battery life, however if used without caution they can do more damage than they save.

Note that while the principles for lithium are similar, the detailed process and values are different and there is some scientific conflict as to whether the float charge stage is good or even necessary for lithium batteries. ■

August 2021 | LIGHT AVIATION | 49
Left Optimate’s solar array mounted in the windscreen of Ian’s RV-6.

Super Shuttleworth

Blue sky, summer breeze, magical aircraft in flight… Brian

Hope reports on a very special, and much-welcomed, airshow.

Pictures by Nigel Hitchman.

The Association has had links with The Shuttleworth Collection for many years, a significant number of their lighter aircraft operating on the LAA Permit to Fly scheme.

In 2019 an LAA Flying For Fun themed evening airshow was organised and proved very popular, with activities throughout the afternoon in one of the hangars, including the LAA-supported Young People’s Aviation Art area, LAA YES activities and an Association stand where people could find out more about the opportunities open to them to make flying more affordable.

We were able to repeat the event again this year, thanks to Shuttleworth’s innovative Covid distancing parking system, where visitors had an enlarged individual parking space from which to watch the airshow. This ensures social distancing is maintained, and it works remarkably well. Unfortunately, it was not possible to repeat the hangar exhibits this time, but we still were able to have a line-up of LAA aircraft open to the public where they could learn about our kind of flying.

For many visitors, the real charm of the evening airshows is the intention to fly some of the oldest types in the Collection, the Edwardians, WWI types and the Lympne Trials types, provided the weather is suitable.

The forecast was good, and so it turned out to be, with a blue-sky day and a light but refreshing breeze throughout the afternoon which took the fierceness out of the hot sun. The show included many of the Shuttleworth favourites, including the Comet, the Hawk Speed Six and the Mew Gulls, Spitfire and Lysander, Replica Fokker Triplane and SE5A and more, but as the sun went down, what little breeze there was almost dissipated completely, and a hush descended across the airfield as the anticipation rose that this was going to be a very special evening.

Over the final hour or so, some of the oldest aeroplanes in the world flew. They didn’t just make a brief hop down the runway, they flew in all their glory, just as they had over 100 years ago. It was magical and a privilege to have seen it, and certainly as the display ended in the gloom at 2130, the audience drifted away mesmerised by what they had witnessed, grateful to the Shuttleworth Collection for keeping these magnificent machines airworthy rather than locking them away in a dusty, lifeless museum. ■

Shuttleworth 50 | LIGHT AVIATION | August 2021
Above A truly iconic light aircraft, the Alex Henshaw Gravesend – Cape Town –Gravesend configured Percival Mew Gull. If you have never read Henshaw’s account of his record four-day 1939 flight, do yourself a favour and get a copy of Flight of the Mew Gull. An incredible pilot and a superbly capable machine. Above The 1910 Deperdussin monoplane (G-AANH) is believed to be the Laon, France based factory’s 43rd example produced. It is powered by a 30hp Anzani Y-Type 30 three-cylinder radial engine.

Left The ANEC II was built by the Air Navigation and Engineering Company Ltd., to take part in the 1924 Lympne Trials but problems with its Anzani V-twin engine prevented it from taking part. Acquired by Richard Shuttleworth in 1937 it had by then been modified from its original two-seat configuration to a single seater, the undercarriage modified, and a flat twin 30hp ABC Scorpion II engine fitted. It was restored to flying condition in this configuration and has been flying since 2004.

Below The initial English Electric Wren first flew in 1921 and two further examples were built to compete in the 1923 Lympne Trials. An ultralight motor glider, the aircraft weighs a mere 232lb (105kg), and is powered by an 8hp ABC flat twin. It shared a first prize of £1,000 with the ANEC I, by covering 87.5 miles (140.8 km) on one gallon (4.5 litres) of fuel. This sole remaining example is the third aircraft built and was restored to flight in 1957.

Above The Royal Aircraft Factory’s SE5 entered service in early 2017, over 5000 of the type being produced. The Collection’s original example is an S.E.5a and was originally serial F904 of No. 84 Squadron RAF. It flew in civvy street as G-EBIA from September 1923 to February 1932 and was then stored until 1955, whereupon the Royal Aircraft Establishment restored it to flying

presented it to the

in 2007.

A further refurbishment

August 2021 | LIGHT AVIATION | 51 Shuttleworth
Above The Blackburn Type D monoplane is the oldest flying British aircraft and first flew in 1912. It was damaged in 1914 and remained stored on a farm until bought by Richard Shuttleworth in 1938. It was restored to flying condition in 1947, using a 1916 variant of the original 50hp Gnome 7 Omega seven-cylinder rotary engine. It features wing warping rather than ailerons for roll control. condition and Collection. was performed

It’s a corker of a Condor!

Clive Davidson reports on the story of bobbing along on the crest of a cork – or not!

Every now and again life throws you a curved ball, and one such was lobbed my way just the other week. We, David Trimmer and I, had been engaged in circuits and wheeler landings when, on the downwind leg, I noticed we were no longer showing any fuel via the usually fool proof ‘wire on a cork’ indicator in the Condor’s sole, front-mounted, tank.

Normally a bit of pitching up and down sloshes the fuel and the indicator rises and falls, showing we have a few thimblefuls left… but this time not even a smidgeon of

Below Dave Trimmer retrieving the errant cork float from the tank of his syndicate Condor.

Left The broken wire and float. It appears to have snapped at one of the ‘level nicks’.

movement, which rather worried me. Had we not 30 litres plus on the pre-flight dipstick before the start of our sortie? And that was only two circuits ago.

Having landed, with one of Dave’s rather good wheelers, we stopped at the fuel pumps to investigate. The top half of the indicator wire lifted out the cap and the float, and the other half was left bobbing in the 30 odd litres of fuel we had hoped we still had, a mobile phone torch showing, naturally, that it had the wire facing downward.

After a short discussion on the options for retrieving the float via the relatively narrow neck, we borrowed a pair of long-nosed pliers, and having put another 20 litres of finest UL91 into the tank, used the plastic measuring rod to whisk the fuel around to develop a whirlpool to get the float directly below and fairly close to the neck. Dave’s hand-eye coordination then clasped it with the pliers on his first attempt!

Of course, we both claimed to have thought of the technique, but if Dave should like to furnish our hangar fridge with another packet of dark chocolate biscuits, I will relinquish all claims to the idea! ■

18 |
July 2021 | LIGHT AVIATION | 49

Summer Soaring


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Branded Clothing and Log Books

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Prices include VAT where applicable Prices include P & P.

A stitch in time

Dudley Pattison resolves a fabric stitching issue on his KFA Safari fin…

While building the Safari I came across a problem that I have not encountered before, and unable to find a solution in the Polyfiber manual, I had to ‘dream up’ one. ‘Dream up’ is an apt phrase, as when people talk of how many hours it takes to build a particular aircraft, they would never add in the numerous hours spent lying in bed in the middle of the night thinking about the project. I estimate that I could add 20% at least to the normal daytime hours. But it is in this ‘extra’ time that I often come up with solutions to problems, and this is such a case.

If you look at the fin rib section drawing, which is effectively a slice through the fin, you will appreciate that there is a problem to be overcome if you wish to rib stitch the covering… there is an internal tube that will not allow you to pass a needle through the fin from one side to the other. I know that many people, including some kit manufacturers, will say that gluing the covering to the ribs is fine, but I know enough about aerodynamics to recognise that if your covering separates from the structure, especially on the upper surface of the wing, it most certainly will ruin your whole day. So, erring on the belt and braces side, generally I would always stitch fabric.

So, the first thing to do is mark out the positioning of the stitches. The space between each stitch will depend upon the speed range of the aircraft and its wing loading, and the correct spacing can be found in the manual for the covering being used. Next, puncture the covering at each side of the rib at the marks with a bradawl or similar sharp tool. Cut a length of rib lacing cord for each stitch position, and don’t be shy, make it excessively long. Next, apply the rib tapes. In the Polyfiber system these are self-adhesive, but I don’t know about other systems.

Rib Drawing: Step by step

Photo 1 – Step 1: Pass about 150mm of a cord through a hole that is on the same edge of the rib as the internal tube and allow it to hang loosely inside the structure. Make a tool, as shown in the photo, from something like 24swg piano wire (a large paperclip could provide suitable material). Note that the hook end needs to be small enough to pass through the stitch holes and it’s a good idea to file a lead onto the outside edge of the short return of the hook end. Pass the hook through the hole opposite to the hole that the cord is hanging through and do a little fishing. Push the tool in at an angle to touch the covering on the far side then gently move the tip sideways to collect the cord in the hook end and gently withdraw. A little practice and you should make a catch nearly every time. In this photo the cord to the left has been pulled through, while the one on the right is in the process of being pulled through.

Photo 2 – Step 2: The next stage is to pass the needle

back through the component picking up the end of the cord on the way through.

Photo 3 – Step 3: The other side of the component (rudder in this case) with all cords pulled through and the first two stitches on the left knotted. The knot will be the same as a starter knot described in your manual for continuous rib stitching. I think that this is usually a square (reef) knot followed by a granny knot. The knot is made to the edge of the rib where it is possible to pass the needle straight through.

Photo 4 – Step 4: Can you spot my deliberate mistake? This photo was meant to show the two tails of the cord being collected by the needle and being passed through to the other side. The eagle-eyed among you will see that while the cord to the left of the needle has been knotted and passed through, the two tails have been prematurely threaded into the eye of the needle as they haven’t been knotted yet. Come on, keep up!

Photo 5 – Step 5: Finally, pull the excess tails taut to pull the knot on the other side of the component around the corner of the rib capping and cut the excess cord off. The two tails will jump inside out of the way. The cutting can be done with a scalpel, but it is much safer to use a decent pair of side cutters. ■

Headset review Pass it on
54 | LIGHT AVIATION | August 2021
Photo 1 Above A crosssectional diagram of the Safari’s fin.
Pass it on August 2021 | LIGHT AVIATION | 55
Photo 2 Photo 3 Photo 4 Photo 5

A museum must

An interesting museum housing homebuilt aeroplanes.

Paul Bussey reports…

Above The Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum, in Flixton, Suffolk, had long been on my wish list, and having now visited it, of particular interest to LAA members will be the museum’s homebuilt aircraft. Luton L.A.5 Majors were never that plentiful, even in their heyday, and nowadays make for an exceedingly rare sight. The example on display at Flixton is G-APUG, and it is believed that construction commenced at Sawbridgeworth in Hertfordshire by L D Blyth in January 1959.

It was later sold to L D Firmin of Camberley, Surrey and moved to Blackbushe in October 1963. The project was then acquired by Michael Powell in 2000/1. Both wings and the tailplane were found to be in good condition, but due to the fuselage having been stored in the open, this had naturally suffered quite badly from the elements.

Following storage at Wattisham Airfield in Suffolk, the aircraft was donated to the museum by Michael Powell on 17 October 2006. The fuselage required major work, which was undertaken by museum member David Dawson. The aircraft is currently displayed with the uncovered wings attached to the fuselage and it is hoped to obtain a correct engine and undercarriage in the future. It is probably the oldest Luton L.A.5 Major to have survived.

Left Another Luton derived aircraft on display is G-ASRF, the Gowland ‘Jenny Wren’, which was designed and built by G W G ‘Jack’ Gowland at his home in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire. This variation on a Luton Minor featured a fully enclosed cockpit, with a child’s seat in the rear. It incorporated the modified wings from Luton Minor G-AGEP, together with a tricycle undercarriage. The engine is a Lycoming 0-145-A2 rated at 55hp, which has been closely cowled and fitted with exhaust augmenter tubes. First flight was at Panshanger Airfield in Hertfordshire, which took place on 13 October 1966 and it is known to have attended a PFA Rally at Sywell in the early 1970s.

It later suffered an engine failure on take-off and was badly damaged. The incomplete aircraft, plus a surviving wing, was donated to the museum by Jack’s widow Peggy and arrived at Flixton on 11 September 2004.

The fuselage has since been rebuilt, again by David Dawson, with other associated work by Derek Small, and thanks to them another unique example of PFA build ingenuity has been preserved for future generations to admire.

Homebuilts 56 | LIGHT AVIATION | August 2021 Europa motor glider
July 2021 | LIGHT AVIATION | 49

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From ocean to sky…

This month we meet Ni Thomas, former Merchant Navy captain, and enthusiastic private pilot…

Welcome Ni, can you tell us about your career?

You are perhaps asking yourselves, “Who is this geezer?” A ‘nobody’ is the answer. A simple, retired seafarer who likes flying. Who actually likes flying a lot, in fact.

I was born in Liverpool in 1947 to a sea captain dad, a teacher mum and an elder sister, Viv. Oh! And born along with a ‘hanger on’, a hitchhiker twin brother – who shall remain nameless in case fame goes to his head. We and the Hunts Cross Avenue Gang did all the ‘normal’ Scouser stuff – taking bikes, visiting old bomb craters, etc.

When I was 11, we moved south to live in the New Forest, and have never left it (habitation-wise). In 1964 I joined the Merchant Navy with the Esso Petroleum Company and my first ship – a 36 thousand tonner, aptly named Esso Salisbury – as a Navigation Officer Cadet. Following loads of sea time, exams, knot tying, star sights, meridian passes, cargo work and stuff, I worked my way up the ranks – 3rd Nav Officer (liked it), 2nd Nav Officer (hated it), Chief Officer (great job) and finally in January 1980, at aged 32, I was appointed Captain (loved it).

I sailed to loads of worldly ports in vessels from

6,000tdwt up to 500,000tdwt. My favourite time at sea was undertaking lightning operations in Lyme Bay during the 1980s (if any of you were scooting over the Lyme Bay regions at that time, you’d have seen two large tankers ‘mating’ a few miles off Brixham). A Trinity House Pilot’s licence enabled me to pilot my ships into the Solent and Southampton Water.

In 1989-ish, the large multinational oil companies, Exxon (Esso), Shell, BP etc., had seen the light following a small incident you may have heard of, in Valdez, Alaska and, in consequence, commenced getting rid of their owned fleets by disposing of potential floating behemoths carrying loads and loads of liabilities. During this period, the Company asked me to come ashore and become the Nautical Advisor for the British fleet, followed eventually, for the Exxon International fleet. I did that for eight years, heading the Nautical Department.

The work was varied, with a broad spectrum of activities – inspections, new port developments in China, India, Singapore, Russia etc. Legal stuff, salvage, investigations, hazard risk and so on – a varied task with much travel (15 times across to Texas in one year).

I retired in 2000, set up my own company, and did another 12 years training seafarers and captains of all nationalities.

58 | LIGHT AVIATION | August 2021
Meet the Members
Above Ni with his RV-9A at home base, Bournemouth, note ‘plastic parrot’ bird scarer above rudder.

What started your interest in aviation?

My first urges regarding flight must have grown while I was watching the comings and goings through the fence at the old Speke Airport, Liverpool as a youngster. My next encounter with anything aeronautical was when reading the back pages of a magazine while trading up and down the east coast of the USA between Lake Maracaibo or Aruba and North America and Canada. There was a small advert in a magazine extolling the virtues of building your own gyrocopter and offering plans for $1. Never did buy them, but coincidentally, many years later, found me with a set of plans for a wooden one! I didn’t build it! But it kept me thinking about flying.

Like most people, career and a growing family kept aviation at bay for a few more years.

In what, where and when was your first flight?

Finally, the bullet was bitten in early 1982 when, after I had stopped smoking, and as a result of such actions, my wife was more amenable to me throwing money away. On 7 July 1984, she allowed me to take a flying lesson at Bournemouth Flying Club.

That first flight (Cessna 152 G-BGLN) with BFC Instructor Jez Adamson, who eventually went on to fly the Cobham Falcon jets, had me hooked.

Training wasn’t totally ideal, as I had to take the lessons between my three-month voyages and short leaves. I passed the flight test (with the redoubtable Rufus Heald) after 39 hours, so I spent the last few hours doing some aerobatics. An IMC rating followed pretty soon afterwards during my next leave. I was now empowered to adventure forth and seek new lands unreachable by ship.

How many hours and types have you flown?

Total number of types flown isn’t many, 17 fixed-wing and two gyrocopters. Total hours to date is 4,970 hours of which 896 were IMC.

Above Ni’s career has been associated with oil tankers, as a Captain and latterly a safety educator.

Above right One of Ni’s many US adventures, here over the meteor crater in Arizona.

Below Airborne in the RV, which he bought with the insurance from his gyrocopter.

Do you have a favourite and ‘not-so-keenon’ type?

Difficult question as there wasn’t one I actively disliked, but if I had to choose, then I’d say the Piper Cherokee (140hp) was my least favourite type. I rented one in Palo Alto, California, and it just about wheezed itself up to the Columbia River and back.

A close runner up for favourite is my lovely old Grumman AA1 Yankee (G-BFOJ), which I owned for 26 years and flew for more than 3,000 very enjoyable hours. My favourite just has to be my RV-9A, which I bought in 2012, repainted in 2017 and have just re-panelled with loads of Garmin glass stuff… and I am now in the phase of asking myself, ‘What the blazes button did I just press?’

What aircraft have you owned?

I bought my first aircraft in 1986, the previously mentioned Grumman AA1-Yankee. It was sprightly, low powered, relatively cheap to run and an aircraft that meant you had to choose your airfields carefully. I wore it like a glove.

My second aircraft was a Calidus gyro. Again, as mentioned previously, my longing for a gyro was a long-standing desire. It didn’t disappoint.

I used to fly up to Old Sarum from Bournemouth in my AA1 for gyro lessons with the long-suffering Steve Boxall. I must admit, I wasn’t the best of pupils, but eventually, somehow, they gave me a gyro licence. I bought a brand new Calidus – and I loved it! Well, ‘loved’ is a bit strong, but I did enjoy it for 17 hours of flight before I had a serious accident in it at Shoreham in 2012.

During and after my hospitalisation and recovery, friends and family kept asking if I would carry on with the ‘gyrating’? I said, ‘Yes’. But I finally noticed the look on my wife’s face when she heard me say that. Prior to the accident, she hadn’t batted an eyelid and seemed to enjoy me having fun flying. Afterwards I could see that my wife would worry every time I stepped out of the door to go off flying the gyro.

So being a kind, caring hubby, I didn’t want to put her through that sort of anguish, so I followed her surprisingly encouraging suggestions and set my eyes on another fixed-wing. She was genuinely delighted by my choice, so I just had to buy one. Thus began my affair with the Van’s RV-9A. G-IINI was purchased with the insurance money gleaned from the pay-out from my deceased Calidus. A wonderful craft, seemingly well built by the original owner (I hope!) and a craft that will, I think, see me out.

August 2021 | LIGHT AVIATION | 59 Meet the Members

What sort of flying do you prefer?

I like all sorts of flying. Local flying is fun when time is short, and you want to have a change from home cooking – my record ‘local’ trip is 346 times to Cherbourg. I got to know the café owner (Luc) very well.

Usually my flying pals (The Grumpies) meet up rain or shine at our Bournemouth HQ (Bliss’ Portakabin at Bournemouth) and discuss the perennial question, “Where’re we going?”.

Once a decision is made there’s a bustle of activity of submitting flight plans or booking out with the tower, followed by a stroll out to our aeroplanes for de-covering, checking and general banter etc. Then we are off. It’s as simple as that.

We have, for years now, organised longer trips around Europe. The main incentives are not only for the food and booze, or the rigorous banter, but also to often incorporate our trip with the annual Grumman European AYA (American Yankee Association) Fly-In, which is held somewhere in Europe each year. We call those trips our annual GUST (Grand Unplanned Southern (or whatever) Tour.

To give you a flavour of where we have been, here are just a couple of our GUSTs.

GUST: Grand Unplanned Southern Trek: Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. And GUSTRIP: Round Iberian Peninsula – France, Spain, Portugal, Spain and France

Altogether we have had about 19 of them. We’ve never had a real plan, just an ambition to go somewhere by whichever route presented itself at the time. Sometimes camping under the wing or slumming it in a hotel. It was all very flexible.

It has enabled us to fly through the Brenner Pass, down through the Adriatic Islands via Dubrovnik, over the Pyrenees, over the glaciers of Norway, far too many sights to fully describe. The outcome of all this is a group of dear friends having the time of our lives, with plenty of wonderful memories. We still talk endlessly about the exploits and the sights – especially on those Covid restriction-induced, rainy days at Grumpy HQ.

You have flown in many countries, tell us more…

I’ve been lucky. I’ve had the chance to go to lots of nice places, both by sea and by air. There are combined skills involved in each media; navigation, planning, ship/


aeroplane handling, offsets for wind and current contingency, checking, monitoring, telling officialdom to get knotted if they want you to do something which you consider unsafe or in conflict with your thoughts. They are almost symbiotic.

For many years I’ve been a member of the Grumman AYA (GOPA) group. Among the many benefits of belonging to a type club is that it holds an annual Convention somewhere in North America, and I tried to get to as many of these as possible. To enable me to attend these gatherings, my normal plan of attack was to fly into Newark, New Jersey, bus/coach it up to Bridgeport, and hire a Grumman from the flying club up there – I had friends there so was able to get good rates (i.e., cheap).

From there I would fly to the Convention, be it in Texas, California, in fact, in most of the US States. Great fun, wonderful flying and fabulous scenery. They have a great ATC system and easily understood, simple, controlled airspace. I have been able to see the Grand Canyon, flying through (and over) the Rockies, the Meteor Crater, up and down the Hudson River – the list of memorable places and things is too many for these poor, tired fingers to type.

For 2006, one of these Conventions was in Fredericksburg, Texas. It tied in with an old pal of mine, Jack (an ex-military Heli pilot), wanting to get his German-based Mooney M20J back to the USA, and he asked me if I would partner him on the cross-Atlantic flight and I jumped at it.

Our pleasure flight across the Atlantic started from Bournemouth at 0925 on 29 June 2006 with full tanks, a hired satellite comm set, my two-man life raft, life jackets, a couple of shirts, a set of thermal underwear, toothbrushes and little else. We’d thoroughly checked the weather of course, and it looked as if it would be VFR conditions all the way to Keflavik, Iceland. An uneventful flight up to Stornoway confirmed our weather assumptions and we landed at 1305, refuelled and collected prearranged hire survival suits.

These proved awful! They were stiff, Mr Blobby style, with rotten water seals on the wrists and ankles. One ‘glove’ part dropped off! We decided, rightly or wrongly, they were going to be more of a death wish hindrance than a help and decided not to wear them.

A check on the weather again gave us VFR conditions at FL90 all the way to Iceland, so off we went on our planned Great Circle route. RATSU, ALDAN, VM all at 4,000ft (due to increased wind speed higher up), and it was all very uneventful and we landed at Keflavik at 1735 local time, after just four hours flying.

Keflavik had been chosen, rather than Reykjavik, because being a military man, Jack knew there were special facilities (hotels, stores) and cheaper everything for the likes of him (and by association, me).

We stayed two nights at the Navy Lodge hotel in Keflavik, the extra day due to weather forecasts being less than optimal to get us to Canada. So we hired a car and went sightseeing for the free day to await a weather window before once more setting off west.

A decision was made during our languishing, not to land in Greenland as was our initial intention. It would have been a Sunday arrival and their landing fees etc were hugely exorbitant on a Sunday, plus we had

Meet the Members
Ni’s latest -9A update is a shipload of avionics. Pretty lights and plenty of buttons.

15 hours’ worth of fuel on board – plenty of reserve.

And so 1 July 2006 dawned bright and clear. The weather checks and forecasts looked decent, but with a front due to arrive at Goose Bay just after our ETA, it was full steam ahead.

We set off from Keflavik just after breakfast, full of enthusiasm and fuel. It was just after we left the Keflavik control and out of VHF range, that the aforementioned hired satellite phone thingy rang. We sat there in shock, initially not knowing where the strange beeping sound was coming from! Finally, we guessed what it was. Reykjavik Info wanted a position report. We reckoned they were just wanting to see if we actually had a sat-comm and that it worked! It did, but the garbled conversation was worse than the ruddy semaphore flag waving from 20 miles. We never used it again – and neither did they!

Talking about position reporting, one of the requirements for the crossing was that we had to report every hour – present position / estimated position in one hours’ time and the estimated subsequent position. This meant lots of figuring and lots of numbers. Getting out of VHF range, with no HF radio and a useless sat phone, meant we had to resort to calling up on VHF 123.450mHz for a ‘message relay’. Without fail, one of the commercial guys up in higher flight levels responded, only too willing to relieve their flight deck boredom perhaps, Pleasantries were exchanged, masses of figures dictated and repeated back. More pleasantries, then back to calculating the next set of positions.

After 11 hours of flight we landed at Goose Bay, tired and cramped, just as a huge downpour was arriving at the far end of the runway.

Have you tried other types of aviation?

I had a glider flight once during one of our GUST trips – a young German flyer at Waren glider field. It was a very short flight after a winch launch.

I have also flown a bit in a pal’s microlight (MCR-01). It was very enjoyable, and I was impressed by its performance, but I do wish he’d fix the air vent on the passenger side – it was freezing cold…

What have been your best aviation moments?

Flying through the Brenner Pass and likewise around the Meteor Crater and Mount Shasta. And coming too under

the wing of my aeroplane following a lovely evening’s meal and drinks with pals at Marmande, with lots of sunshine and thousands of mice running around the apron!

Do you have any non-aviation interests?

Sailing… I sold my boat to buy the aeroplanes, but, when I have to give up flying, I’ll probably buy another boat and try sailing across the Atlantic!

Do you have any aviation heroes?

My pals are my heroes, both those still able to breath and those who have departed. They put up with all my bossing, persuading and strange afflictions without too much open warfare. A real hero was my best friend, Paul Vickrage, who sadly died in an aero crash at Bournemouth 2006.

Can you recommend any good aviation books?

Three books I’ve read again and again are The Cone of Silence by David Beaty, Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach, and Slide Rule by Nevil Shute.

Have you had any ‘I learned about flying’ moments?

The Grumman AA1 design utilises its tubular wing spar as its fuel tanks and the filling point on each wing is at the wing tip. The spar is about 11 inches diameter, and the filling pipe is about two inches diameter, so if you aren’t careful you can get a mouthful of lovely avgas as the spar becomes full – you get very little warning of the ensuing gusher.

One day the fueller got such a mouthful because he wasn’t careful, oh how we laughed, and we didn’t watch him fill the other wing (I’d asked for full tanks). We went flying, quite a bit of flying, sufficient to need both tanks, changing every 1.2 hours or so.

Suffice to say that upon landing back at Bournemouth, my engine stopped through fuel exhaustion, just as I turned off the runway. A salutary lesson indeed. Visually check your tanks, as there might be less in them than you think. Also, you could have developed a leak or someone may have nicked some since you last refuelled.

Any advice for fellow pilots?

Simply enjoy it while you can. ■

Meet the Members

Teamwork pays dividends

Steve Roberts reports on the restoration of his beloved Rutan Long-EZ G-RAFT…

Afairly recent issue of Light Association featured an excellent account of the restoration of a WAR FW190, with the author commenting at one point that ‘restoring a broken aeroplane isn’t a straightforward task’. Tell me about it!

I first saw Long-EZ G-RAFT at a fly-in at Kemble in 2004. Resplendent in a silvery green scheme with a matching green leather interior, she looked beautiful. As a one-time custodian of VariEze G-LASS, I was impressed and thought if I ever had a chance to buy her, I would. And, some years later, I did.

Business kept me from doing much flying in her but, as soon as I could, I set to learning about my new steed.

One hot sunny day, on the ramp at Cambridge, I was waiting for the arrival of the fuel truck when I noticed two things. First was that the aircraft was getting unusually hot to the touch, not good for a composite airframe, but second and worse, a sizeable blister was beginning to appear on the port wing strake.

Above Coming into land with the Long-EZ after a more protracted than expected refurbishment.

I pushed her quickly into the hangar and took stock – part of the skin had begun to delaminate. Help arrived in the shape of my inspector Tony Kay, who told me in no uncertain terms I needed to have her repainted the recommended colour – white – which reflects rather than absorbs the heat of the sun. He then fixed the thankfully small area of delamination, which had probably been caused by a misplaced foot on the strake at some time in the past. Some weeks later she was sent off to Mick Allen’s excellent paint shop at Turweston for said strip and repaint.

On checking the balance of the control surfaces after the respray, it became apparent all was not well. Both ailerons and elevators were substantially out of balance, too far for corrective weights to be added. The canard was a GU (the original plans-built GU-5(11)8 aerofoil unit), so I decided to go for a Roncz canard to replace it (after a number of owners had reported a downward pitch problem in rain with the standard canard, American aerodynamicist John Roncz developed a shorter span canard with his own R1145MS aerofoil, which produced considerably more lift

Long-Ez 64 | LIGHT AVIATION | August 2021

than the original and resolved the rain problem). An additional advantage of the Roncz is that the shorter span reduces wetted area and therefore drag. Appropriate foam cores were acquired from Eureka in the USA.

The existing propeller had also seen better days, so a freshly designed one was ordered from Hercules.

Fortunately, I also found EES Aviation Services at Welford, Northants, which took over the restoration, as my building skills and experience, at best, score zero.

To tell how it is done, over to EES Aviation Services boss Richard Kilham:

Hands-off stability – and how we managed it

RK: On initial contact with us, Steve explained that, in his opinion, he could never actually let go of the stick in straight and level flight. This indicated to me that there had always been a control surface mass balance problem. Following numerous calls to the LAA, especially Andy Draper who, with his experience of building a Long-EZ, was particularly helpful, we agreed that the best method of rectifying the problem would be to construct new aileron control surfaces from scratch. This would ensure that the mass control surface weight and balance would be well within design specifications. We set our composite specialist, Richard Colenso, the challenge of coming up with a solution.

RC: Every pilot understands the importance of weight and balance of the whole aircraft. In maintenance terms, it’s absolutely critical too. Each control surface has to be correctly balanced if the aircraft is to return optimum performance, and even a respray can throw this out entirely. During any refinishing work, our aim is to reduce weight and achieve the best possible mass balance, so we focus on keeping control surfaces as light as possible.

In the original Long-EZ wing construction, epoxy and glass fibre layers are bonded to solid foam cores and a thickened epoxy slurry is used to bond the fibreglass to the foam. The ailerons are then cut from the built up wing

Above left Using peel ply and vacuum bagging to draw up excess resin.

Above right Setting up the aileron leading edge mass balance and hinge attach hardware.

Above The finished aileron ready for painting and hinge assembly.

section. You end up with two layers of glass on the upper and lower surfaces applied to a solid foam core.

The leading edge of the aileron also includes metal work for hinges and a balance weight, which is also covered by a glass layer.

After weighing a sample of supplied aileron surface glass layers, and then discovering that the epoxy slurry layer was too thick, it became clear that re-skinning the supplied ailerons was unlikely to be successful in achieving the critical mass balance we were after. In any case, this method risked damaging the foam core and any filling would only increase weight. In other words, there was little balance margin available for rectification work.

August 2021 | LIGHT AVIATION | 65 Long-Ez

Making new ailerons from scratch appeared to be the sensible solution – but one which would require careful construction to avoid creating excess weight. Accurate hot wire cutting of the foam core avoids the use of filler, and a vacuum lay-up reduces the proportion of resin needed in the composite make up. The Rutan instruction video states that peel ply adds weight to the lay-up technique shown, but peel ply can be used to control the resin content of a composite lay-up. Using a roller over the peel ply can also help to remove excess resin. A vacuum lay-up extends this idea by drawing excess resin up through the peel ply.

Since the new ailerons had to match the wing cut-outs and the washout twist of the wing, cutting the foam cores accurately was critical. To minimise the weight of construction, a vacuum lay-up was also used on a surface which had been jigged to replicate the correct washout twist. The jig remained in situ during the epoxy post cure heat cycle, which is required for the aircraft quality epoxy to achieve maximum strength.

They may have been the biggest challenge, but the new ailerons were far from the final job in the completion of this restoration project. We also re-worked the elevators to improve balance, and made a canard fairing, finally modifying the fuselage to fit the new Roncz canard. As part of the mandatory modifications, we replaced the fuel and aileron control circuits and other parts in the vicinity of the engine with stainless steel components, in order to improve fire resistance. In the cockpit, new instruments were fitted and leg cut outs modified below the instrument panel.

Removable and fixed weights were added to the nose. And finally, the canard and ailerons were painted to match the existing finish, and the starburst livery vinyls applied.

Thanks for the help!

I have to say that Richard’s narrative perfectly sums up EES – considered, knowledgeable and very professional. At every stage options were discussed with me and they were very positive about the project throughout. The finished aeroplane is a testament to their skill and dedication.

As I hadn’t flown her for a while I entrusted the flight test to Nigel Robbins, a very experienced pilot and fellow Long-EZ owner. He was delighted with the performance and handling, the new canard, ailerons and custom-built Hercules propeller delivering just what was expected. The improvement in control response and stick free stability was obvious from the first flights.

And me? Well, to say I am ‘delighted’ is an understatement. All I need to do now is enjoy the transformed aeroplane that a whole team has created – Richard and Lucy Kilham and Richard Colenso at EES, Mick Allen, Tony Kay, Andy Draper at the LAA, Nigel Robbins, Geoff Lewis and John Mellor from the Composite and Canard Airforce at Sleap , and my wife Helen for endless encouragement plus the starburst design, a nod to Burt Rutan and SpaceShipOn e. May the ‘Rutan Air Force’ be with you. ■

Long-Ez 66 | LIGHT AVIATION | August 2021
Below A contented Steve Roberts with the Long-EZ that he had hankered after for so long.

All set for an exciting summer

I’m writing this with a genuine glow of pride, in the wake of the LAA Flying For Fun airshow at Old Warden. Thank you to everybody who came along and helped make it such a success, what a great way to help celebrate the Association’s 75th Anniversary. It is, I hope, the start of a summer of events as we play ‘catch-up’ socially, and with our flying as the world unlocks from Covid restrictions.

As well as several hundred members who took advantage of the LAA parking area for the Covid-friendly ‘drive in’ show, we had more than a dozen owners who generously offered their aircraft for static display in the ‘LAA Uncovered’ pre-show display area. These aircraft covered the whole of the 75 years of the Association, from a Tipsy Trainer built in the year of the ULAA’s formation, to the brand-new Sling TSi. A big thanks both to the owners, and also to LAA Engineers Jerry Parr, Joe Hadley and Mike Roberts who acted as guides, explaining the stories behind the aircraft to visitors.

We also owe a big vote of thanks of course, to the weather gods who blessed us with an azure blue sky, which faded into a spectacular golden sunset. There was calm air too, which allowed some of the Shuttleworth Collection’s most prized aircraft to be flown, including no less than four of the legendary ‘Edwardians’, including the 1912 Blackburn Monoplane and 1910 Deperdussin. A truly emotive sight and sound from the earliest days of aviation.

Another wonderful sight was the English Electric Wren, built for the 1923 Lympne Light Aircraft Trials to encourage the development of practical light aircraft for private ownership. The trials were forward-looking but misguided, in placing an undue emphasis on fuel economy. The result was a series of marginal aircraft with tiny engines, as exhibited by the Wren with its six (yes, six!) horsepower engine, which heroically flew several circuits of the airfield at its hot weather service ceiling, of about 50ft!

Display trailer

So what’s next? Well on the social side, by the time you read this the newly LAA 75-liveried display trailer, commissioned in association with LX avionics, will have headed northwards to the LAA Vale of York event at Rufforth East and for a further show at Leeds East Airport at the beginning of August. The trailer, which made its debut at Old Warden, is being used both for promoting the LAA and as LX avionics’ showroom for their radios, nav equipment and instrumentation, and we’re looking forward to having plenty of opportunities to meet LAA members as we resume face-to-face meetings.

Of course, on 3, 4 and 5 September, we’ve got the big one, the 2021 LAA Rally. As I wrote last month, we have had to face some unprecedented challenges this year. As part of our Covid precautions, we’ve had to redesign the exhibitor marquee layout to meet public health requirements, ensuring appropriate ventilation and spacing, as well as other precautions to ensure that we all feel comfortable and safe at what may well be the UK’s biggest post-Covid flying event.

I must take my metaphorical hat off to the members of the Rally working group who have overcome the trials posed by Sywell Aerodrome’s post-lockdown recovery challenges, which has left them without their customary air traffic control team. In response to the CAA requirement that Sywell demonstrates a capability to handle the high volume of traffic at the Rally, we’ve assisted Sywell in working with the CAA Aerodromes team to provide a team of experienced air/ground radio operators to man the Sywell Tower. As I write this, we’re awaiting the final signature to allow the fly-in slot system to be opened. The LAA Rally is most definitely GO!

On the regulatory front, by the end of this month the CAA will, we hope, issue its green light for the future use of factory-built aircraft up to 600kg, classed within a new microlight definition.

The new category is a great example of how inter-agency collaboration can work. It is the result of the efforts over the best part of three years by a working group made up of the CAA, BMAA, LAA and representatives of UK aircraft builders, such as Flylight and TLAC.

The new rules mean that manufacturers making microlight aircraft currently certified up to 450kg will, under future national regulation, be able to sell new 600kg machines without having to switch over to more onerous certification. This streamlining should enhance the aeroplane market; modernising, refreshing and enlarging the UK light aeroplane fleet for pilots, operators and businesses alike.

One of the big questions is ‘why are they called microlights’. The answer is that we all agreed that an expansion of the microlight definition will allow more pilots to easily convert their licences to fly the new aircraft than if a new Light Sport Aircraft category were to be created.

It matters little to the LAA what these aircraft are called. We already oversee more than 300 microlight aircraft through our Permit to Fly system and classing these new aircraft as microlights means minimum conversion requirements, focused on differences in training, can be applied to pilots of all licence types. Allowing more people to fly more interesting aircraft is what we are all about! ■

CEO Thoughts CEO Thoughts 68 | LIGHT AVIATION | August 2021
The Midland Aeroplane Company Limited Hangar 10, Turweston Aerodrome Telephone: 01865 601970 Restoration Servicing Repairs VINTAGE AND CLASSIC AIRCRAFT SPECIALISTS

Landing vouchers

Three FREE and one reduced landing are offered for September, and they’re pretty well spaced around the country. Given some nice weather, you could visit Cumbria and drop into Kirkbride, head over to the east coast for Lincolnshire’s Easy Kirkby, visit Crosland Moor in West Yorkshire,


Free landing

September 2021

Crosland Moor 01484-645784

which is one of the country’s highest airstrips, or head to the outer reaches of London and drop into Elstree.

You could even work out an imaginative tour to take in all four over a late summer aerial weekend break. Have fun!

Please PPR. Watch out for turbulence on approach to Runway 25 and land beyond the threshold if possible. Circuits are left-hand at 1,000ft QFE. Please avoid flying over houses and the hospital ½ mile from runway end. Look out for various TV masts in the local area. Light refreshments available. The Sands House pub is a ½ mile walk and offers a 10% discount for visitors from the airfield. Limited fuel so please ask before leaving your base. Radio is 128.375


Free landing

September 2021

East Kirkby 01790-763207

Fly into this historic airfield and make the most of a wonderful opportunity to visit the museum, home of the Panton family’s Avro Lancaster Just Jane and a recently added DH Mosquito. The runway is both grass and concrete. Please PPR and read the instructions on the website for joining and air traffic information, as they are close to RAF Coningsby and RAF Waddington. Avoid East Kirkby village. No fuel available. There is a great restaurant, book and gift shop. SafetyCom 135.480 Airfield and museum is closed on Sundays.


Reduced Landing £10+vat. September 2021– Mon to Fri

Elstree 02089 537480

A well-known airfield location and ideally suited for visiting London (taxis can be arranged to the train or underground station) or visit the nearby family friendly Aldenham Country Park next door. The airfield is strictly PPR by telephone. Radio is 122.405. Jet A1 and avgas available. Restaurant and café are on site, as well as the Pooleys Flight Equipment shop.


Free landing September 2021

Kirkbride 07710 672087

Set in a picturesque area but beware of local fog, and low flying military aircraft during the week. HGV’s may also be on the airfield. Microlights and autogyros are active at all times. Avgas and JET A1 on site. PPR first please. Radio is 124.400, please call at 10nm out – make blind calls if no reply. Tea and coffee available in the tower or at the White Heather Hotel on AD. Radio 124.400

7 Doolittle Yard, Froghall Road, Ampthill, Bedford MK45 2NW

Tel: 01525 717185

Fax: 01525 717767


aviaT ion i nsurance
Competitive rates
For all display advertising enquiries contact Neil Wilson 07512 773532 ANDAIR FUEL SYSTEM COMPONENTS COMBINE MODULAR DESIGN, SUPERB QUALITY AND THE FLEXIBILITY TO SUIT ANY AIRCRAFT BUILD PROJECT. 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. OUR PARTNERS: • 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 Join us, save money, fly more... For the tiny sum of £2.50 a month, The FLYER Club gives you access to a whole host of ways to save money on your flying and get out to meet other pilots.

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:

20 August 2021

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.


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.


1939 Tiger Moth. Permit until 05/2022. Contact Matthew Boddington 07973 459505 for further details.

Varieze G-BMIX. New permit to fly until May 2022. Airframe and engine 625 hours from new. Owned by me for 29 years. Propeller reconditioned by Hercules Propellers this year. New 8.33 radio fitted. Hangared at Biggin Hill Airport. Contact email: or phone 07940 838476. £14,000 o.n.o.

1946 Auster J1 Autocrat. A/f 1408 hrs permit July 2022. Cirrus Minor II 650hrs: Cylinder heads, fuel pumps and Hoffman prop all overhauled. Good oil pressure and compressions. Unusually this a/c has a full electrical system with starter, generator, lights and 8.33 radio. Looking for a caring owner with £18000. 07860 667807.

Glasair llS-FT G-LAIR. Built 2006. A/F 167hrs. Engine 475hrs, Lycoming IO-360-B1E 180hp. Hartzell VP prop 92hrs. Radio Icom IC-A220. Transponder King KT 76A mode C. Permit valid to 30/11/21. £64K. Contact - 07712 108444.

Christen Eagle II. Two seat aerobatic. LAA Permit to Fly. 8.33 Radio and Mode S transponder. Full details at Tel: 07514 362389


Sherwood Ranger ST. 450kgs. Near complete project. Ready for final inspection weighing etc. Engine BMW R100. Comes with storage trailer and separate road trailer. £16,000


1/5 share SportCruiser based at Enstone (EGTN) Easy to pull out and fly. 510 hours. Garmin GTX327T Transponder mode A/C, 495, Comm and King KX155. Icom 8.33kHz (flip flop). AV map – HSI & ADHARS. Electric trims, prop etc. All SBs, modified nose leg. Permit to July 2022. £10,500. Kelston 07870 570774.


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

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.

72 | LI GHT AVIATION | August 2021
August FOR ALL MEMBERS CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING ENQUIRIES CONTACT SHEILA WWW.LAA.UK.COM SHEILA.HADDEN@LAA.UK.COM Flexible Aviation Finance* Specialist Lender Contact:Jay Lucas Dire ct Te l: 01933304789 Mob:07341866056 Email:jl@arkle We b: ww w.arkle *Finance is subject to credit approval Registered Address:52- 60 SandersRoad, Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, NN 84BX ArkleFinance Limitedis registered inEngland& Wales Company No.3398034 AuthorisedandRegulated by The FinancialConductAuthorit y©ArkleFinanceLimited2019 LetArklehelp youget of fthe ground again Whetheryou are: -Purchasing an aircraft -Carrying outupgrades -Inneed of maintenance FindouthowA rkle could help to financethecost so youcan take to theskies oncemore. Callnowfordetailsanda no -obligation quotation


Three Bladed MT Propeller. Part No: MTV7-F/170-09. Serial No: 94 141. Also including V/P control unit. Full overhaul undertaken by MT Propeller in Germany in May 2020. Genuine offers considered. Collection and/or shipping to be organised by purchaser. Contact: Kit +44 7769 835494.

New ULPOWER Engine UL390Is, four-stroke six cylinder engine, purchased from Metal Seagulls in November 2019. The engine remains in its original packing. Genuine reason for sale. Price: offers in the region of £20,000. Collection and/or shipping to be organised by purchaser. Contact: Kit on +44 7769 835494.


Europa XS Tri-Gear 2-wheeled trailer £3500. Roadworthy. Overall good condition for age. With wheeled dollies for loading and securing the wings, bays for the elevators, manual winch with bracket to attach to front axle. Built by Northwick Trailers. Collect from White Waltham. Peter Field 07956 274218 or


Wanted - Sequoia Falco parts from either a stalled project or spare, interest in any parts but particularly Wing Ribs, u/c components, canopy components, IO360 cowlings, fairings, gear doors, trim & upholstery.



August 2021 | L IGHT AVIATION | 73
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74 | LI GHT AVIATION | August 2021 We offer quality refinishing to your aircraft SHROPSHIRE AIRCRAFT PAINTING Anything from small touch-ups to complete strip and repaint Call: +44 7715 147927 TRANSPORTATION Contact us now for a quotation Telephone: 0121 327 8000 E-mail: Web: Aircraft Transportation Specialists Specialist vehicles to move your aircraft safely SERVICES & MORE Saturday's & Sunday's 0930 - 1300 (subject to weather) Serving hot food and drinks. A warm welcome for all visitors. Centrally located. Otherton Airfield Flying Pan Kitchen NOW OPEN! FREE LANDING FEE AIRFIELDS FOR ALL DISPLAY AND COMPANY ADVERTISING CONTACT SHEILA WILSON WWW.LAA.UK.COM NEIL.WILSON@LAA.UK.COM
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 specialise in Avionics supply, design and build assistance for homebuilders. 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 £479.00 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 See us at the LAA Sywell Rally.

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