LA January 2022

Page 1



Aviation January 2022 £4.25


The LAA fleet’s first Yak-50 allows Clive Davidson to get reacquainted with an old friend… Light Aircraft Association WWW.LAA.UK.COM





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A potential new DIY aircraft security device is in the proof of concept stage. See P16.

Chairman ERYL SMITH CEO STEPHEN SLATER Engineering Director JOHN RATCLIFFE CEng FRAeS CMgr FCMI Chief Inspector KEN CRAIGIE President ROGER HOPKINSON MBE Vice President BRIAN DAVIES Engineering email COMMERCIAL Email Office Manager Penny Sharpe Head Office Turweston Aerodrome, Nr Brackley, Northants NN13 5YD Telephone for engineering and commercial 01280 846786


DESIGN AND PRINT: SEAGER PUBLISHING Production Editor LIZI BROWN Art Editor LISA DAVIES Opinions expressed by the authors and correspondents are not necessarily those of the Editor or the LAA. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without permission.

A reminder of warmer days! Nye Williams’ RV-6 import project (see Project News, page 12)… and the editor’s RV-3 in the background.

Right at home…


ight Aviation is first and foremost a members’ magazine – your magazine. Many of you are building, restoring and flying a varied assortment of fabulous aircraft that make up the LAA fleet. So if you’ve got something you’d like to share, whether it’s some photos of your latest aeroplane, a building tip you think might benefit others, a restoration story, a flying adventure… then please drop me a line. We are all inspired by seeing what others in our fantastic sport are up to, and I for one will always be delighted to help share that via these pages. For that reason, it’s been an honour to take over the Editor’s spot from Brian Hope. Brian’s was one of the names I remember seeing in Popular Flying magazine when I joined the Association in early 1992. One of the first magazines I received carried news in the Strutting Around section, written by Alan Lovejoy, that the Bristol Strut was having a fly-out to Truro Airfield. The page encouraged me to get in touch with my local strut, so I found the Strut co-ordinators details and wrote a letter… When I think back about it, joining this Association and the people I’ve met because of it, has been key in influencing my career with light aircraft. I’m pretty sure that 16-year-old Ed would have thought it hard to believe that 30 years later, he’d be editing the Association’s magazine. He certainly would have been surprised if you told him that he’d have built and flown two of his own aeroplanes in that time! At the time I was still just building model aircraft!

The LAA provides access to some of the best light aircraft flying and ownership opportunities available to sport-flying pilots in the UK today, and I’m very proud to be playing my part in taking that forward. I hope you enjoy this first issue of Light Aviation for 2022. You might notice a few tweaks here and there, including the re-introduction of a section for LAA Engineering (a big thank you to the Engineering team, particularly Jerry Parr, for helping with this). A few more changes are on the workbench for the future. Otherwise, I hope you feel right at home. I know I do… Wishing you all a very happy, healthy and safe year ahead.

January 2022 | LIGHT AVIATION | 3

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Contents January 2022


An RV-6 import, getting a stalled Stolp Starduster finished, and a Long-Eze completed


The arrival of the first Yak-50 onto an LAA Permit to Fly gives Clive Davidson an opportunity to get reacquainted with an old friend


In part one of a two-part feature, Richard Vary talks about the trails and tribulations of building an SSDR Nieuport biplane


No matter how much you prepare, unexpected failures will lurk, so get your basic priorities correct!


EuroFOX nose leg issues, switches, VW pump corrosion and a Europa door mandatory mod




Mark Chambers and his pals make their annual pilgrimage from Northern Ireland to the LAA Rally


Ian Fraser takes a look at ways to help with cold starting of engines


For Sam Tomline, getting to work in the world of aircraft restoration and maintenance is a dream come true





January 2022 | LIGHT AVIATION | 5

LA News


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

Paul Kiddell

Airfields damaged by Storm Arwen

Left Eshott Airfield suffered extensive damage to buildings and aircraft. Above The team at Eshott have been working hard to support helicopter survey operations after the storm.

Storm Arwen caused serious damage to Eshott and Athey’s Moor Airfields, with winds peaking at 98mph. At Eshott, half of the clubhouse roof was torn off and flooding caused further damage to the reception and classroom areas. Richard Pike, one of the directors at Eshott told Light Aviation, “The main communal hangar was missing roof panels which had fallen into the building, luckily they were caught by the bird netting below which avoided serious damage to vintage aircraft stored in there.” “Unfortunately, elsewhere on the airfield 10 individual hangars sustained serious damage, with two hangars completely collapsed and a third partially collapsed. It was clear early on that we had a total loss of a valued resident aircraft, the

incredibly hard and were under huge group-owned EV97 G-CDVD. Several aircraft sustained damage of some nature, pressure to report back on hundreds of and three hangars were deliberately razed miles of infrastructure, and we were very pleased to be able to support their to the ground to make the site safe. Five helicopter operations with ground handling aircraft had to be relocated to the already and refuelling. brimmed communal hangar, meaning we “A surprise call came from the Civil Air were unable to offer any real assistance to our neighbours at Athey’s Moor Airfield, who Patrol who asked us to support them in transporting seal pups that had been were hit even worse than ourselves. “A huge clean up operation followed that washed off the rocks during the storm. A week, which was difficult for our team who Cessna 210T was used to fly the seal pups from Eshott to the Cornish Seal Sanctuary. were already stretched trying to keep up We’ve since heard that all of the seal pups with other areas of the business. With made a full recovery. power down for nine days, our mobile “All in all a heartwarming effort from phones were busy with calls from helicopter airfield members, staff and friends to start companies running emergency patrols for the process of recovery for their local power lines and pipelines surveys. The crews of PDG and Western Power worked airfield.”

LAA Engineering fee changes At the November Board meeting, it was agreed that we will increase key engineering fees, most notably Permit renewal and some admin fees from 1 January 2022. While we appreciate that no-one likes a price increase, this is the first increase in engineering fees since 2015, and the overall impact on a member’s annual cost 6 | LIGHT AVIATION | January 2022

of flying is minimal – typically costing an LAA aircraft owner just £20 extra per year. They will help fund much of our engineering restructuring, which will in future give better member service, and help with increased liability insurance premiums. Not all fees are increased. Permit renewal fees, category and registration change fees are the only ones affected. A

full list of changes can be found on page 38 of this issue. Project registration, first issues, transfer from CAA to Permit fees all remain unchanged, as we want to help facilitate new aircraft being added to the LAA fleet. Mod and repair fees remain unchanged, as we will, during 2022, separately review the charging structure for these activities.

LA News

New LAA Chairman appointed

LAA Engineering vacancy – Airworthiness Engineer

Eryl Smith has become the Chairman of the LAA, succeeding Tim Hardy, who after three years in the role has stepped aside to further his other interests in airspace advocacy, and as the UK Sling Aircraft dealer. Tim will continue to serve as an LAA Director. Eryl is a long-time member and supporter of the Association, and an active member of the LAA Andover Strut for more than 15 years and Strut Treasurer, as well as a member of the LAA Board since 2018. Eryl has previously served as Association Secretary and a member of the Marketing Sub Committee. Most recently he led the team organising the very successful 2021 LAA Rally. Eryl said: “I have been fortunate to combine a professional career in civil aviation airport management with a passion for recreational flying, initially gaining a CCF flying scholarship, which I undertook at Perth before gaining my PPL in 1996. I currently have shares in an Aeronca Champ and a Cessna 177. The LAA is faced with many exciting opportunities and challenges as it continues to grow and evolve. I’m looking forward to drawing upon my wide professional experience whilst ensuring the LAA remains true to and connected with its grassroots membership.”

We have a vacancy for an airworthiness engineer to be part of the LAA Engineering team based at Turweston. The successful applicant will be involved with all aspects of continued airworthiness for the LAA-administered fleet of aircraft. Main duties will be assisting with Permit to Fly revalidations, providing technical assistance to LAA members, producing instructions and technical articles for LA magazine. The applicant must demonstrate experience in all aspects of general aviation airworthiness including a thorough knowledge of airframes, engines, modern avionics and aircraft systems. A knowledge of vintage and classic aircraft as well as newer LAA types would be advantageous. Candidates should be IT competent with Microsoft Office, have a friendly personality and the ability to work within a small team – and also independently. Excellent communication skills are required and attention to detail is essential. Training on in-house systems will be given. This is a full-time post, Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. It is principally based at LAA HQ, but some travel will also be required. Salary dependent on experience. Please send your CV to

11,000th Van’s Aircraft RV flies

PilotAware SkyGRID

Van’s Aircraft has announced that homebuilders Lennard Nichols and Jay Conlin, of Cardston, Alberta, Canada, had the honour of finishing the 11,000th Van’s RV. Their RV-7A, the 1,885th example of the type to fly, a remarkable number in itself, flew on November 29.

EC system manufacturer PilotAware has announced its latest SkyGRID update. PilotAware claims that with SkyGRID, each airborne PilotAware device will become the equivalent of an airborne ATOM station, relaying all known traffic information detected from multiple sources, including the UK’s 230+ ATOM stations, which have also been upgraded. It also says that low-flying aircraft and drones will benefit from the update, which will relay all known traffic either from ATOM stations below, or the SkyGRID up above. Also, if you are flying but not in range of an ATOM station, the system will seek an airborne SkyGRID user to provide coverage. Users can update to SkyGRID using the free PilotAware Firmware Updater. Any PilotAware device running software later than 20190621 can use the app, and no hardware updates are required. Other features are included in the SkyGRID update and will be enabled remotely, later in 2022.

CAA Safety Sense updates The second and third of the revised series of the CAA Safety Sense leaflets have been released. There’s an all new leaflet that covers using VFR moving maps devices, plus a fully revised version of the Winter Flying leaflet.

Build-a-plane needs engine help An update from LAA Member David Mole - Some years ago, UTC Heathrow (formerly Heathrow Aviation Engineering UTC) acquired the kit for a TLAC Sherwood Ranger biplane under the build-a-plane project. Progress was stalled for at least two years by the pandemic, but the project is underway again with the kind help of LAA Inspector Alan James with Ian Wilkins Assistant Principal, the senior students, and myself as general gopher. The fuselage will soon be ready to stand on its own undercarriage, and we now need to decide on an engine as that will influence the configuration of the front of the fuselage Alan and I have in mind acquiring and, if necessary, refurbishing a cheap second-hand Rotax 582. So if any LAA member knows of such an item sitting languishing and unloved in a dark corner of a hangar somewhere, we should be very interested in hearing about it and maybe giving it a new and worthwhile home.

January 2022 | LIGHT AVIATION | 7


Alan Kilbride 28.10.55 – 14.11.21


lan Kilbride tragically perished in a flying accident in November 2021, aged 66. He was well known among the LAA and further afield. He turned to powered flying after having previous hobbies including grass track racing, gliding and sailing. He was a natural organiser with an instinct to pull people together in a common cause. While Alan was passionate about flying, he also gained enormous satisfaction from seeing other pilots develop their skills and expand their aviation horizons. In everything he did, he made flying a fun experience for everyone involved. He was encouraged by the LAA to become a Pilot Coach and Class Rating Instructor. This put him in an ideal position to be able to judge people’s capabilities, to know when they needed to develop, to coax, persuade and encourage them to move forward and, most importantly, to enjoy themselves. Building on his own positive experience of owning an aircraft under the LAA, Alan encouraged others into aircraft ownership, and with his can-do attitude provided the support necessary to help everyone achieve greater things. He was a stalwart of the Vale of York Strut, and organised events, seminars and training sessions to support and develop the skills that helped new and old pilots alike. If you had any interest in developing as a pilot, Alan’s help and

encouragement gave all the confidence you needed. Most of all the whole package was presented to make flying fun! There were many examples of this in action. Fairly regular dress-up fly outs to local Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire airfields; excursions across the Channel to St Omer in France, Traben-Trarbach in Germany and the EFLEVA expo at Leopoldsburg in Belgium; the World Tour of Yorkshire fly-out; and the ‘We All Fly’ fly-in at Rufforth East. All these were planned and developed by Alan, with the support of others, and provided those who took part with an experience, a challenge – but most of all enjoyment! In 2019 Alan received the LAA’s Faulkner-Bryant Shield in recognition of ‘the most active person within the Strut System’ – a fitting recognition of all his efforts over the years which certainly gave him back some of the reward and encouragement that he so selflessly gave to others. Alan’s expeditions across the UK and to foreign parts made him lasting friendships wherever he went. His Jodel 117 G-BJOT was a familiar sight to many people. He epitomised the ethos of the LAA, making dreams fly… by making flying fun. He will be sadly missed but fondly remembered by everyone who knew him. Chris Holliday and Andy Stocks

Phil Dunnington


10.03.47 – 30.11.21

hil Dunnington, who passed away in Amman, Jordan at the end of November as a result of contracting Covid, was known internationally as a balloonist, a lynchpin of the British Balloon and Airship Club, as well as a founder of the Bristol Balloon Festival. To others he was a vigorous supporter of sport flying in his role as General Aviation advocate for the Department for Transport and before that, as an active member of the General Aviation Alliance. But more than that, Phil was a passionate enthusiast for

8 | LIGHT AVIATION | January 2022

flying in every form. It was nowhere better encapsulated when he and his wife Allie (also an internationally renowned balloon pilot), embarked on a round-the-world trip in their venerable Beechcraft 18, carrying a hot-air balloon in the back. They were able to land and unpack the balloon, flying in locations where nobody has flown a lighter-than-air craft ever before. Some may remember Phil sharing his memories of their trip with LAA members at the 2018 AGM. Proof indeed that he was very much ‘one of us’. Steve Slater


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

Left Jake Gazzard’s lovely Taylor Titch Below Jake got his tailwheel sign-off with LAA coach Alex Harris

Titch solo

Dear all at the LAA, A year on since being awarded an Armstrong-Isaacs bursary, I thought I ought to update everyone as to where I am today. After receiving the award, I completed my Touring Motor Glider rating, then after 21 hours in an RF3, I converted my SPL with TMG into a LAPL A SEP in June. Since then I flew with my LAA coach Alex Harris to get my tailwheel signed off, then with the help of the bank, bought a beautiful Taylor Titch! We have flown around 12 hours together so far and I absolutely adore her. Without the help from the LAA, my instructors Jonathan May and Ian Atherton from Motorglide, all this would not have been possible. I cannot put into words how eternally grateful I am to all of you! Kindest regards and best wishes, Jake Gazzard Ed. Congratulations Jake!

First Sea Lord of the Admiralty Winston Churchill having visited the RNAS seaplane station at Clacton on 25 April 1914, I advise that this episode is covered in one of my books, Fields of the First, a history of all 31 aircraft landing grounds set up in Essex during the WWI. Due to bad weather and engine problems, the Short Admiralty Type 74 Seaplane (No 79) Churchill was in had to make a forced landing at West Beach (the seaplane station), and he enjoyed one of his famous cigars while it was being attended to. However, the engine could not be fixed and a Short Seaplane S38 (No 19) was sent from RNAS Grain to collect him. Paul A Doyle. LAA 040296

Henri Mignet tribute: LA Dec 2021

Bonjour Steve Slater, I have read Arthur Ord-Hume’s letter on page 8 of the December 2021 LAA magazine. As heirs of Mignet, we are very proud of this tribute paid to our founder. Please convey our best regards to Arthur. All the best, Dominique SIMON, Président, Fédération RSA.

Churchill’s visit to Clacton

Referring to Nic Orchard’s letter in the December 2021 magazine about the plaque to

Left Take a look at Paul Doyle’s book, Fields of the First if you’d like to learn more about aircraft landing grounds in Essex during WWI

Safety promotion

With reference to the item on page seven of the December issue, and without wishing to embarrass David Cockburn on his welldeserved award, I’d like to put the record straight about the inauguration of CAA Safety Evenings. Safety promotion got going in 1977 when I was in the CAA Safety Data Unit and succeeded, despite some scepticism, in convincing management of the need for the General Aviation Safety Information Leaflet (GASIL) to promulgate all the good stuff from voluntary Occurrence Reports. I’d also started the Pre-Flight Defect Challenge, the first being at the 1981 Cranfield Business & Light Aviation Show using a College Beagle Pup 100. It was good to find it at the 2021 Sywell Rally and looking very smart. GASIL led, in 1984, to my starting and writing, along with the late David Hockings, many of the series of Safety Sense Leaflets, which I am pleased to see are now being re-started by the CAA. After a time I suggested to the Head of Safety Data that the best way to influence people was to talk to them. His response was very positive ‘tell me what you want to do and go and do it’. I did the first in February 1986 at Swansea Airport for the Swansea Flying Club run by Martin Jones, now at Derby Egginton, who I was delighted to bump into at the 2021 Rally. Before retiring from the CAA in 1999, I had personally given 387 evenings and David Hockings did another 230 prior to leaving to set up his own business. David Cockburn took over and did a brilliant job until he retired when many things passed to the General Aviation Safety Council, GASCo. Nowadays, GASCo, provides the Challenge at outside events, safety evenings and the emailed Flight Safety Extra, which now includes a valuable summary of Occurrence Information. In 1977 I attended my first GASCo Council meeting – and 45 years later I am still there as an Honorary Member. Plus ça change! John Thorpe Ed. Thanks for the correction, John. Looking back, I have a Safety Evening sticker in my logbook from one of your safety presentations!. ■ Ed’s note: Having fun with your LAA flying? Share a photo and we’ll publish the best ones! January 2022 | LIGHT AVIATION | 9

Straight and Level Taking the helm

Eryl Smith Chairman


y long drive south, having attended Alan Kilbride’s funeral in York in early December, found me reflecting on his passion and enthusiasm for flying, his boundless energy and commitment to the LAA, the Vale of York Strut and his beloved Yorkshire! Having recently been appointed Chairman, how might I carry that spirit forward? I join an illustrious list of former holders of the post of an Association celebrating 75 years rich in history and achievements, which is now weathering the turmoil of Covid. But who are we? What do we want? And where are we going? Challenging questions, I hear you say. First and foremost we are a members’ Association where every member has a voice, a view and expectations. It may not be possible or realistic to meet them all, but together with fellow directors, we need to hear your voices, and ensure that those collective expectations are reflected in the agenda we pursue and the service that HQ provides you with. Following the AGM I am delighted that we have a full elected Board of Directors who bring a wealth of experience and a wide geographical representation to the table on your behalf. Like many member associations we face the challenge of

Balancing the books Steve Slater CEO


irst and foremost, a very happy and, we hope, healthy New Year! From an LAA perspective, we are looking ahead to a year of changes and new initiatives for the LAA, aiming to build on our 75 years of tradition, but offering some new approaches to how we work together and an even more inclusive approach to supporting affordable flying and, above all, flying for fun. Light Aviation magazine is part of that evolution. This is the first edition with our new editor Ed Hicks in the left-hand seat and I’m sure you’ll agree, having flicked though the January issue, that we are in good hands. The sharper-sighted of you will have noted that last month’s issue, and this magazine, while not lacking in content nor quality, feels a little slimmer, having reverted to a stapled, rather than a hard-spine ‘perfect bound’ format. We’ve been forced to do this as in the post-Covid environment a number of advertisers have reduced their commitment and at the same time, printers around the UK have increased their charges to cover rising energy costs, in our case by more than 15%. The changes to the format are therefore necessary to help us balance the books. More widely, in the year ahead we are having to absorb costs in

10 | LIGHT AVIATION | January 2022

Updates from the Chairman and CEO

demographics – how to sustain and diversify our membership? How to stay true to our heritage while meeting the expectations of today’s members and enthusing others to join us? Our members’ profile continues to evolve with the majority now being owner/ operators rather than builders – is that reflected in the services and support we offer? Can we do more? As I look forward there are opportunities to grow and strengthen the Association, but equally challenges and threats to constrain us. Being clear about what we want, having ambition and knowing where we want to go as an Association will enable us to navigate these uncertain times. In taking the helm I am grateful to Tim Hardy for his stewardship in ensuring that we have weathered the worst effects of the pandemic, and can emerge confident to meet the future. As Chairman my commitment to you is to ensure that as an Association we have a clear strategic vision of what we want to achieve and a plan to deliver it, something that as a Board we will begin work on later this month. As a Board, it is also my intention that we should be more transparent in what we do so that members can see our progress and our performance. I look forward in the coming months to meeting as many members as I can and hearing your views. At our heart what sustains us, just as it did Alan, is our passion and enthusiasm for the sport and recreational flying we all love and enjoy. His celebration and encouragement of all forms of recreational aviation through ‘We All Fly’ is one we should cherish. May his flame burn bright and may you all enjoy a safe, healthy and prosperous New Year. ■

other areas too. We’re making preparations for increased CAA charges and in addition, increasing liability litigation across the whole of the UK, has seen our insurance premiums to defend ourselves against such actions have risen substantially. We’re setting aside £110,000 this year, more than double what it was three years ago. We made a commitment to operate at a controlled deficit in 2020, 2021 and 2022, to reinvest some of the surpluses of previous years in new staff, resources and activities. However, the impact of Covid has meant that 2021 incomes were reduced, just at the time we need to invest in changes to the staffing and structure of the engineering department, with a view to further improving our services. We need to cover these added costs and help balance the books, so we have made the decision to increase Permit Renewal fees by an average of £20 per aircraft from 1 January 2022. This is the first such change we have made since 2015 and the fees remain massively less than if you are operating on a CofA. Other membership and engineering fees stay unchanged. This will allow us to invest in the changes necessary to update engineering structures and staffing to make us more effective in the future. The good news is that the number of members and aircraft in permit have recovered from the early-year slump we noted at the start of 2021 and we’ll end the year with more than 2,700 aircraft with active permits to fly, so despite sounding a bit like Ebenezer Scrooge in the previous few lines, I’m still pretty confident that I can cheerfully wish you a Happy New Year and plenty of fun flying in 2022! ■

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Inspiring members to take on their own aircraft build or restoration project Compiled by Mike Slaughter

Project News I f you don't think that you have the time, skill or patience to build, then buying something that someone else has already lovingly crafted here in the UK is a good option. It is also possible to buy something overseas, import it, and transfer it to an LAA Permit to Fly. The process of importing an amateur-built aircraft from overseas can bring challenges though. Questions about the build quality, along with modifications or undocumented repairs can sometimes result in delays, extra inspections or partial reworking. It was with that kind of caution in mind, that Nye Williams tackled his RV-6 import project from the USA. While Nye was lucky to find and import a well built aircraft with good provenance, his task of gaining LAA approval for a historical repair, as well as reworking the instrument panel and reassembling the airframe took close to two years, more if

you count his conversion to type. That’s a project all of it’s own by any measurement, but the result is a good looking aircraft and an interesting tale. In a similar vein, Bob Johnson’s SA100 Starduster One also started life in the US, and is the only example in the UK. A pretty biplane, LA readers might have seen a picture of it in the November 2021 issue’s LA Rally Report. Mike Dunlop adopted a Long-Ez project that was nearly forty years old. A BGA inspector and engineer, he hasn’t found the work too taxing, although I believe he’s gained more stimulation from the paperwork. If you’ve got a new build or restoration project that you’d like to share with LAA members, whether part way through, or just flown, we’d love to hear about it. Email your contributions to

G-RVJL (s/n 20207) Van’s RV-6 By Nye Williams

Above The RV-6 project fresh out of its container. 12 | LIGHT AVIATION | January 2022


he Glenforsa Fly-In on 30 May 2021 was the day I felt that my RV-6 purchase was fully justified. Having had many camping holidays on the Isle of Mull as a child, Glenforsa has always been on my flying visit bucket list, and perfect weather, together with my son Keir, made a very full day of flying, just about as good as it can be. Not having the dedication nor time to consider building an aeroplane, I have nevertheless been envious of the owners of modern machines like the RVs which bring into range destinations that are impossible to fit in around a busy work schedule. My Piper Vagabond has been pretty much the only aeroplane I have flown in the 22 years I have held a PPL, and while lovely, it can be a bit slow. What was to become my RV-6 was built in the US by Van’s employee, Ken Scott and first flew as N207KS in 1993. Ken decided in 2018 that after 25 years of flying it, it was time to sell, and had discussed this with my good friend and, now former, FLYER magazine editor Ed Hicks, who is now editor of this estemed mag. Ed has built a couple of RVs and had flown in ‘7KS with Ken in the US, and he encouraged me to buy it as a good honest example of the type. It was fitted with a low hours 160hp engine and Hartzell CS

Project News

propeller which is a good match for the RV-6 airframe. The purchase provided a bit of a logistical project in terms of import, but without the commitment to the few thousand hours required to build one. The market value of RVs in the US was also a factor in making the purchase price attractive, so the deal was quickly done and I was the owner of a very nice RV-6. Albeit nearly 5,000 miles away. Ken put me in touch with local engineer Tom Hinckley, who dismantled the aeroplane and prepared it for shipping, and made his last RV-6 flight into Lenhardt Airpark on 29 March, 2019 and by 11 April, Tom had the aircraft ready to ship. The container left Seattle on 25 April and was delivered at Garston Farm on 6 June where it was unpacked, having survived the journey intact. With the aeroplane safely installed under a gazebo – which keeps the dust off, and is useful to hang lights from – and the RV-experienced LAA Inspector Trevor Hope on board, the work began to get it back in one piece and restored to flying condition. The only issue that required non-standard attention was a historical repair following damage when the hangar housing the aeroplane was hit by a car… 20 years and 1,000 flying hours ago. The repair involved the construction of a new tail cone and empennage and had required joining of the longerons mid-fuselage. With an RV-4 already on Permit with a similar repair, LAA Engineering was very helpful in enabling us to bring this repair in line with its own requirements, and after preparation of some drawings, after some deft riveting by Ed Hicks and Steve Ayres (thanks again) the repair was LAA approved, and we were able to get on with the more straightforward elements of the reassembly. Ed’s previous RV-6 building experience helped when it was time to refit the wings and empennage,

Top left Reassembly begins, and an old US registration gives way to a British one. Gazebo workspace helps with lighting. Top right The aircraft was reweighed by PlaneWeighs, and a new weight and balance created. Above right Panel has been refreshed, and is now all-glass. Above left First flight. The combination of 160hp, constant speed and a light build makes this RV extremely quick to accelerate.

and aside from a few grazed knuckles, all went smoothly with the only real delays coming from the various Covid lockdowns, which brought much of the world to a standstill. The radio and transponder required replacement with 8.33mhz and Mode S capability respectively and it was decided that the instrument panel would get a complete ‘all glass’ update around the AFS EFIS which had been fitted in 2012. A Garmin G5 was added along with a Garmin Aera 660, which replaced the 296 it arrived with. Ed did a nice job with the panel layout and paint, with new wiring and systems setup by Warminster-based avionics guru Dave Smith. Planeweighs gave the new G-RVJL a new Weight and Balance schedule, confirming that Ken had built a light RV-6 weighing in at 1,028lb, which with the CS prop is an achievement. With all the jobs done and the paperwork complete the Permit to Test arrived from LAA on the 21 October 2020, allowing Steve Ayres to make the first test flight on 3 November. Perhaps unsurprisingly given it’s flying history, the RV performed well and exhibited no out of the ordinary characteristics or vices (well done again Ken), and apart from a bit of tweaking of the newly fitted stall warner there was nothing to stop the flight test programme, including the aerobatic elements being completed over the subsequent two days. The Permit to Fly arrived back on 13 December, so technically it was done. Winter weather and the final Covid lockdown made my transition training impossible until restrictions were lifted in May, and I finally got signed off by LAA Coach Ron Perry to fly G-RVJL on 7 May. Perfectly timed to make the fly-in to Glenforsa on 30 May. My thanks to Ken Scott, Ed Hicks, Trevor Hope, Steve Ayres, Dave Smith, Ron Perry, my son Keir, and Mike Ball at Garston Farm for their help in making this happen. January 2022 | LIGHT AVIATION | 13

Project News

G-IIIM (s/n 4258549) Starduster SA100 By Bob Johnson


riginally built in Texas in 1974, and I acquired Stolp Starduster One, N40D, in September of 2020. It had been sitting in the back of a UK hangar for six years following a major rebuild, having previously flown in the UK after import in the 1990s, while still on the US-register. The seller had many other projects on the go and the poor little Starduster was left as was. Working on the old adage, if a deal is too good to be true… You know the rest! I jumped in with eyes wide open, just how hard can it be? New to the UK register, accident damage, not flown for 16 years, not touched for the last six, no other example currently with the LAA. Easy, right? So started the work to get the newly registered G-IIIM back in the air. The first action was to purchase a set of plans, luckily they are readily available. A survey by Simon Westley, testing the engine and taxi trials done, the initial Permit request was sent to the ever-patient Francis Donaldson. A number of questions were raised regarding the airframe pre-accident, and works done post-accident. Speaking of the accident; when one aircraft lands in one direction and another the other the damage is going to be somewhat proportional to the speed at which they meet. Luckily for all involved this one was at walking speed, both types having restricted forward view when taxying. The wings had been rebuilt by the late Roger Hinchcliffe, although not signed off before his all too early death, and were well photographed during build and his reputation for

14 | LIGHT AVIATION | January 2022

Above Bob’s very business-like Starduster, now fully Permitted and ready for next season.

exceptional workmanship helped to support the work done. An over-turn accident back in the 70s meant reviewing some structural repairs to the fuselage, and considering this was effectively an American import, Francis was right to review the workmanship. Many SA100s had undercarriage modifications as better brakes meant more nose-overs. Lou Stolp himself designed the undercarriage to be longer and two inches further forward, and G-IIIM has this new layout but differs, in that, the front stays are vertical rather than having the normal Stolp rake forward. After exchanging more photos and drawings with Francis, the aircraft was granted its permission to flight test – and Dan Griffith was nominated by the LAA to do the honours. Dan, in his complementary sort of way said ‘she was a nice little aeroplane’, then proceeded to explain a pitch down issue and tendency to roll to the right would need a ‘little’ work. As it turned out this meant going back to resurvey and reweigh to help identify the problem. With no other examples available to compare the Bi-Plane Forum (Starduster-One) was gold dust! To solve the pitch down issue, a new ballast weight was manufactured and the tailplane incidence was adjusted. The right roll was simple in process but a nightmare in practice. Perfecting the rigging of the ailerons meant a lot of checking, adjusting and test flying. Luckily I was able to assist Dan with test flying at this point. A final check by Dan meant we were able to send the test pack to Francis, and G-IIIM is now in possession of its Permit to Fly.

Project News

G-RPEZ (PFA 074A-10746) Rutan Long-Ez By Mike Dunlop


his project was started in 1982 by Mr D Richardson and Mr B Fairstone at the main workshop of London Gliding Club where Simon Westley (LAA 273) was the Chief Engineer, he was also overseeing the build process. After some considerable time the project build stalled after the basic fuselage and wings were completed, and it was stored for many years before being purchased in 2003 by Don Foreman, a Rutan VariEze and Long-EZ builder. Once again the project was not worked on due to Mr Foreman prioritising the building of his Rutan Defiant G-OTWO, and eventually the Long-Ez was sold to a third party, from whom I purchased it in 2007. Having contacted Simon, he agreed to continue to oversee the project even though we lived quite a distance apart. Fortunately he still had a very good track of the build process. The first part of the project was to modify my single garage to make a more comfortable working environment. This included adding a new flat roof with six inches of insulation, filling the side walls with three inches of insulation, a 12ft roller door in the side wall providing access to the garden, strip lighting, a space heater, a radio and last but not least a fridge for beer! For 14 years I worked on the project nearly every evening between 1900 and 2130, listening to Radio 4. While a long project, it has proved to be enjoyable, doing some remedial work, incorporating LAA required modifications and adding some extra non-structural refinements, along with all the typical systems work. It’s powered by a Lycoming O-320 B3B (160 HP), with a Hertzler propeller, Wilhemson electric nose gear with auto retract and manual override, and an MGL Xtreme EFIS. The aircraft is now based at Shobdon Aerodrome and has now been issued with a Permit to Test. For now, the aircraft is in primer only until any adjustments have taken place. We are now in the ground running and shake-down phase before the long awaited first test flight.

Above The Long Ez has a long retractable nose leg, when not in flight mode it’s quite normal to see the front end resting upon the ground like this. Left An interesting view of ’EZ note the front gear doors just under the nose and the substantial prop extension aft of the ring gear.

New Projects If your aircraft has been featured in the New Projects list, please let Project News know of your progress at: n Sling 4 TSi (LAA 400A-15797) 29/11/2021 Mr T Pactat, Farthings, Links Road, Bramley, Surrey, GU5 0AL n Plumb BGP2 Parasol (LAA 426-15798) 29/11/2021

Mr B Plumb, 17 Old Oak Drive, Silverstone, Northamptonshire, NN12 8DN n Bristell NG5 Speed Wing (LAA 385-15796) 10/11/2021 Mr G Hall, Elm Cottage, Bowers Lane, Aston by Stone, Staffordshire, ST15 0BN n Van’s RV-14 (LAA 393-15795) 5/11/2021 Mr S Wooler, Drury Cottage, Drury Lane, Knutsford, Cheshire, WA16 6HA

n Nicollier Menestrel 2 (LAA 217-15794) 4/11/2021 Mr K Charlton, 34 Bridge Street, Stowmarket, Suffolk, IP14 1BP n Cricket MK6 (AV18) (LAA G16-15799) 30/11/2021 Name & Address held by LAA Engineering

n G-CMBK X'Air Hawk (LAA 340-15758) 15/11/2021 Name & Address held by LAA Engineering n G-GSCD Jodel D140E (s/n 180) 9/11/2021 Name & Address held by LAA Engineering n G-KATO Sonex (LAA 337-15137) 5/11/2021 Name & Address held by LAA Engineering

Right Will Greenwood completed the flight testing of his beautiful imported Jodel D140E, with the help of friend Brian Smith in mid-November

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-ANWB DHC-1 Chipmunk 21 (s/n C1/0987) 9/11/2021 Name & Address held by LAA Engineering

January July2022 2016| |LIGHT LIGHTAVIATION AVIATION| |15 23

Flight Test

First Fifty

Following in the footsteps of the two-seat Yak-52, the first Yak-50 has joined the LAA fleet, which allows Clive Davidson to get reacquainted with an old friend… Photos Neil Wilson

16 | LIGHT AVIATION | January 2022

Flight Test


t was awkward to say that I was maintaining a reasonable height above the ground. Difficult in fact, as there was little contrast in the dull lighting over a landscape, now covered in snow, with a heavier darkening grey cloudbase. I was skirting features in the 500ft bubble from vessels, vehicles, structures and beings. The Met forecast for my destination, still over an hour away, was not living up to expectation. I was guiding a Yak-50 which was, in the early 1990s, one of the most desirable single-seat aerobatic aircraft available. I was bringing her to a new home in England from Lithuania… in the middle of winter. Nearly 20 years earlier at the 1976 Kiev aerobatic championships, the Russian team had swept the board with machines like this one. It truly ousted the Pitts and Zlins of the day, and my turn to ferry one on behalf of Yak UK had come. I grabbed the opportunity, despite the season. One hundred hours in its dual-control, heavier, nosewheelequipped sibling, the Yak-52 had left me wanting to get my hands on a 50. They share the same engine and prop, but the 50’s max take-off weight is 905kg, within three kilos of the 52’s empty weight. With 310kg less to haul, that reduction of weight alone promised to enhance performance, particularly vertical penetration. Straight and level was nowhere near her métier (aerobatics), but that would come. I had a Lithuanian licence in my pocket and experience of this route, good battery strength in my Garmin GPS III velcroed onto the instrument panel, and a supposed workable forecast at my destination. In economic cruise setting, 6/60 on prop and power, burning an estimated 45 litres an hour. Engine and oil temperatures were fine with both oil and cylinder gills fully closed, maintaining both cylinder head and oil temperatures despite the ambient conditions. In fact, it was probably just a walk in the park for an aircraft designed for Russian weather conditions. The pneumatic pressure used for the engine start, retractable undercarriage and brakes, was more than adequate with the engine driven pump topping up the system. When I had crossed the Polish border and started talking to Berlin Information, I had good reception. Nobody else was on frequency and ‘my’ female controller started a conversation, noting that I obviously wasn’t either Lithuanian, as was the 50’s registration, or Russian… with my accent. I admitted to being English and in the unusual ensuing RT January 2022 | LIGHT AVIATION | 17

Flight Test

Above Proud owner Richard Ellingworth. Note the closed position of the radiator cowl gills. Left At the rear left of the cowl, you can slide your hand in to drain the moisture from the pneumatic system. Far left The radial cowl gills in their fully open position, and on the bottom of the cowling, the oil cooler.

exchange, she asked why on Earth I was flying today… nobody else was. I had been asking myself that. This was a projected two-hour leg to Braunschweig but I still had not reached my point of no return, having sufficient fuel to turn tail and retrace my steps to Szczecin (Stettin). Prior to that, I had been stuck for three days in Gdansk, the Polish port which, in winter, is seemingly permanently gripped in a cold, clutching fog. I had no desire to retrace my steps or divert, always striving to go forward as a ferry pilot. But I realised I had to be prepared. The landscape was flat, hardly a hillock anywhere, and I had been edging lower with the cloud base. As a consequence, I’d started to weave around settlements, first to the left, then the right and so on, so as to 18 | LIGHT AVIATION | January 2022

Flight Test

average out the track divergences and not drift too far to one side of the track. My chatty controller gave me an update on the weather at my destination, which was still workable, but my actual current visibility certainly looked greyer until, yes, a small section ahead was in a paler light. Looking upward, the layer of cloud had thinned and there was a hint of blue sky above that, way beyond that, cirrus, beckoning me onwards and upwards. As I passed 1,000ft I dropped my shoulders and relaxed. I now had ‘pure clear blue’ above, and those cold, malevolent moisture laden Cu were now off to the left and no longer baring my way. I thanked Berlin Info and soon was safely back on terra firma. The Yak hadn’t missed a beat. Refuelled and re-oiled after the taxi to the hangar, I ran the engine up and held the oil dilution switch on. This cold weather practice ‘dilutes’ the engine oil with a measured amount of fuel to prevent it from thickening to a cold porridge-like mass, which almost solidifies in the freezing night air. It would at least give me a fighting chance of starting the engine in the morning using my preciously limited pneumatics. That evening, cossetted in my hotel room, I raised a glass and toasted my chattering friend from Berlin Information. Another couple of hours of a 12-hour journey ticked off and, being back in the West again speaking ‘meine slecht Deutsch’ and, while I wasn’t in my own backyard yet, I certainly felt comfortable with the lovely Yak. It’s not the warmest of cockpits with no heater, but the engine allows some heat to trickle backwards to the cockpit. The thought had crossed my mind to do some aeros, pull a bit of ‘G’ to force blood to the extremities, but with a full ferry tank there is no way any sensible being is going to compromise his charge for the sake of comfort. Incidentally the ferry tank, which doubles the capacity, was awkward to fill, as the pressure in the pipes would trigger the nozzle’s autostop. It was a reason to always refuel the tanks yourself, just in case a refueller got bored, not knowing the awkwardness of the system. Later though, back home in England, clear of snow and fuelled within aerobatic limits, the Yak 50 and I were unleashed, flying many displays together.

A happy reacquaintance

Twenty-five years later, the same Yak 50 from that flight would cross my path again for this flight test. Now in the ownership of Richard Ellingworth, G-BVVO is the first Yak-50 to move onto an LAA Permit to Fly. Seeing the three-bladed MT propeller and an infuriated cartoon Cossack painted on the chequerboard engine cowlings, you could say I was a smidgeon more than rather happy… Although the aircraft is of metal construction, the generously sized control surfaces are fabric covered. The Frise ailerons have large deflections, with control forces assisted by outboard ‘elephant ears’, thin plates that protrude beyond the wingtip, forward of the ailerons’ hinge line. The roll rate is estimated around the 180° a second mark, but both the reaction of positive and negative flicks is

“The nine-cylinder, air-cooled

Vedeneyev M-14 P radial develops 360hp at 2,950rpm and weighs in at a sumo-weight of 485lb” swifter, but your hand / eye coordination soon adapts to the timing and tempo of control needed to arrest the roll. There are no flaps, but the elevators have a greater downward deflection aiding inverted flight, while the rudder has an aerodynamic and mass balance, with a small manually adjusted trim tab. The nine-cylinder, air-cooled Vedeneyev M-14 P radial develops 360hp at 2,950rpm and weighs in at a sumoweight of 485lb. It is a big step up from our general aviation aircraft engines, both in terms of power and fuel burn. The powerplant of choice for many of Russia’s series of world-class aerobatic machines, it has been further modified over the years to produce 400hp, as the PF version, and the R variant is reputed to generate 451hp. Fuel consumption is but one of the lesser considerations in the scheme of maintaining and operating such a capable aircraft. Radial engines have to be rotated to check that no oil has pooled in a lower cylinder or cylinders before attempting a start. With the rotary mag switch confirmed off, the prop can be pulled through – you should not feel resistance over and above normal compression. On no account should you push the prop backwards, as the oil will merely retreat through an open valve giving the impression that any problem has been solved, only to reappear when rotated in the correct direction, risking an hydraulic lock and bent con-rod should a start be attempted. From the cockpit the prop turns in an anti-clockwise direction, just like the Gipsy Major, needing left rudder at slow speeds, at every instance of power increase, and right rudder beyond the cruise in high-speed dives. A one hour’s aerobatic detail, including 15-minute warm up for a cold engine, transit at 7:70 (7 being measured in mmHg and 70% the prop), and a full 8:82 for aeros, plus return to base and a cooling shut down, will burn around 60 litres of fuel. But be aware, as the book figure the full power 8:82 is an astonishing, and costly, 115 litres an hour. Oil capacity is 18 litres of Straight 100 and Richard reckons on half a litre an hour in cruise, and probably double that per aeros session, but sessions are generally in the order of half an hour. Minimum oil contents shouldn’t be let drop below 10 on the dipstick. Having climbed up onto the left wing there is a latch on the vertical canopy frame to release the canopy lock. If you have done this before you will know the force required to free the depressed lever is high, and once released the astonishing speed at which the canopy wants to rush back, unless restrained by your right hand. Holding onto the front canopy frame and a leg swung into the cockpit, standing on January 2022 | LIGHT AVIATION | 19

Flight Test

Above The pilot is aligned with the wing trailing edge, which means visual references are more easily anticipated during aerobatics

the seat, the other may follow as your balance is maintained with hands transferring from the frame to cockpit sides, then down and in. Head raised to scan the world from behind an upward sloping fuselage and Vedeneyev engine cowling confirms a fair amount of the planet ahead is hidden. The view is fighter-like and approaching 360°, with just the shoulder straps of the five-point harness preventing you from turning to see the tail surfaces. The main instrument panel stands slightly proud of the edges, with knurled nuts top left and right that undo to allow the whole panel to swing down on a lower hinge, giving access to its back. Check they are tight! Taking time to become reaccustomed to my surroundings, several things are of note – all of the instruments are traditional and have metric values, some are colour-coded and a few have Cyrillic lettering. Centrally positioned is an artificial horizon, an instrument which is head and shoulders above any Western equivalent. Comprised of a background sphere that may be used in any attitude, it does not topple or tumble, well, I have not seen it do so even during lomcevaks, in fact aerobatics may be flown using it. However, as canny and as novel as these are,

“The view is fighter-like, approaching

360°, with just the shoulder straps of the harness preventing you from turning to see the tail surfaces” 20 | LIGHT AVIATION | January 2022

and fun to play with, I much prefer looking out of the window onto the real world while slipping the surly bonds and judging an aircraft’s attitude against the horizon. Of more practical use is its combined slip ball as, although lateral forces imparted to yaw can certainly be felt through the seat of your pants, the slip ball admonishes the unaware pilot, quantifying the balance needed. To the left is an ASI, running from zero to 450kph, it has no colour coding to indicate stall, normal operation or Vne, but those values are placarded alongside. Beneath is a clock with two inner faces, including a stopwatch facility for aerobatic sequences. The altimeter is standard. The centrally placed fuel gauge requires some careful understanding. A scale of vertical lights, downwards from 55 litres in five litre steps to a redline of 12. Victor Oscar has a ferry tank, so the indications on the fuel gauge should be doubled, and precise amounts have been pencilled in beside the lit scale. It should be noted that excess fuel above a prescribed limit of 55 litres prevents any aerobatics. On the right is a manifold gauge measured in mm of Hg – static on the ground reads 7.4, and above is the propeller rpm, measured in percentage terms. Once airborne, these two are happiest having a ‘square’ manifold: prop % rpm setting such as 6:60, 7:70 and 8:80. As in all conditions with a constant speed prop, when increasing power, keep the prop ahead by changing it first, before upping the manifold pressure with the throttle lever. When reducing power, the throttle comes back first to be followed by a reduction of the prop’s rpm. There is a Becker 8:33 bottom right and a matching transponder bottom left, and a horizontal row of long fingered, guarded switches across the panel’s lower edge.

Flight Test

To the far right of the panel is a grouping of the large, and bright red, landing gear emergency valve, the guarded auxiliary air replenishment pump, the black-handled carb heat, the oil cooler shut off for post-flight operation, and the fuel primer. It is important to understand how to operate the latter in order to obtain a successful start. Prior to the start this has to be selected for the initial priming, first to the right, to pump fuel into the cylinders, then turned to the left to send fuel to the manifold. There is no accelerator pump connected to the throttle so once a cold start engine catches, you can encourage it with judicious pumping to keep it from stopping. In full view on top of the panel is a G meter to record our airframe limits of +9 and -6, and an inverted slip ball, just biding its time to help in balanced upside-down flight. I think the only time I took note of the latter was when checking the inverted stall speed. Decelerating at the standard pace of a knot per second and remaining in balance, the aircraft shudders as the nose drops towards the ground at a tad over 135kph / 73kt. Interestingly, this is 30kph / 18kt, higher than the erect stall. A wide, circular wiggle of the stick shows the control throws to be large and to have no cockpit restrictions. The one gotcha can be headset leads, possibly fouling the stick-mounted brake lever, having floated up and over during a negative G manoeuvre. Drop your left hand to the cockpit floor and there is a red tap to turn anti-clockwise on for the pneumatics, confirmed with a deep groan as the air fills the lines, its associated pressure gauge being right beside the presently downward sloping undercarriage

Above The 50 has a purposeful stance, and the open canopy invites attention. Right On the left side of the cockpit, the trim wheel for pitch, yellowhandled throttle, and prop in fine pitch. It's wise to check the friction locks for cowl cooling gill controls. Below An extremely workmanlike instrument panel layout, including very heavy duty artificial horizon and ticker-tape fuel gauge.

January 2022 | LIGHT AVIATION | 21

Flight Test

“That long stick also has a bike

type lever for the brakes. Squeeze it, and there’s a pneumatic version of a serpent’s hiss”

Below On the formation break, with a skyscape that's perfect for the Yak-50 to explore.

selector on the lower left of the panel. There is a locking bar to slide to the left before raising those wheels into the wings. The pilot is aligned perfectly with the trailing edge of the wing, which means when you’re drawing a nice straight vertical line while rolling, your visual references are more easily anticipated, rather than surprising you from behind a rotating wing. That long stick, which will help with roll force leverage, also has a bicycle type lever for the brakes. Squeeze it, and you’ll get a pneumatic version of a serpent’s hiss. Leather stirrups on the rudder bar keep your feet on the pedals under negative G. Keep the bar neutral when squeezing the brake lever, both left and right wheels are braked. Should you wish to turn when rolling slowly forward, then a push on the appropriate rudder pedal and the brake encourages the turn. A backward squeeze on the lever, and engage a pawl, sets the parking brake. An initial gotcha for those not briefed, or forgetful, is that with the stick held back the tailwheel is locked – extremely handy for both take-off and

22 | LIGHT AVIATION | January 2022

landing of course. When taxying, S-turns are an absolute necessity, and the throttle is sensitive. Combine this with the pneumatic brakes and, you realise practice is required for smooth, elegant, ground manoeuvring. One final observation regarding the stick in the 50. Should an intended erect spin recovery be called upon, simply move the stick fully forward to the middle of the lower edge of the instrument panel with absolutely no lateral aileron input. Sometimes, you'll find a reference dot on the panel as a reminder. I remember playing with erect spins using both power and outspin aileron to raise the nose to both accelerate the rotation and also encourage the nose to rise and sit just beneath the horizon. Absolutely wonderful, but perhaps not everybody’s cup of tea… The throttle, with its yellow grip, and the prop lever, falls nicely into my left hand. Ahead are two smaller levers for opening the cowl’s nine ‘shutters’ for control of the oil and the cylinder head temperatures. There is a knurled friction knob beneath these two to lock your selected position – important as the mechanical advantage on the shutters is to make them close, an easy route to a cooked engine. Starting this beast is a little different from the norm, check air tap is on, high pressure indicated, throttle cracked open, cylinders and manifold primed, stick back, and park brake on. With the magnetos on, lift the starter guard with your left thumb, check and call ‘clear prop’ and press the air start. It will winge audibly as the first blade teeters through a compression, but then will burst into an uncertain rumble,

Flight Test

while white smoke whirls around. Give a few more prompting pushes on the manifold primer to let her keep firing into a more regular disposition of steady revolutions if needed. Check oil pressure, and watch for the slow rise of the cylinder head and oil temperatures. With the gills closed on a cold autumnal day it takes around 15 minutes to reach operating temperature. Into wind and with the cylinder shutters opened and locked, but the oil cooler flap closed as the oil temperature is not yet very high, power and prop cycling checks are completed with the prop lever fully forward in fine at 70% on the manifold pressure gauge. Check the rotary mags first and cycle the prop. This is where the plugs may be cleaned further as the prop is cycled, the manifold pressure rising to work harder as the blades thrash at a coarse angle of attack. Back to fine pitch and an idle check. A scan around the cockpit with eyes on the pneumatics, trimmer, full control deflections, straps secure and then a thumbs up as I hold for Patrick to depart in the photo-ship. Today my departure is a hoot. Once you have the confidence to feed in power and rudder to control power, slipstream, torque, asymmetric blade effect and the gyroscopic forces, you can be off the ground in 100m. The undercarriage lever, its restraining slider slid to the left, pushed in and up and the bolt returned across. It’s probably accompanied by a rush of air but with the roar of all nine cylinders firing I don’t hear it. The uphill attitude is wild and we’re managing 2,250ft per min – just keep your left foot pressed onto the rudder bar to hold the extended climb in balance. I haven’t giggled so much since getting airborne in the rotary engined Bristol Scout, and chasing Steve Slater in his J3 Cub… The 50 similarly, gave me a surfeit of speed, power and manoeuvrability over the camera ship, and I delighted in reefing her around. Photos complete, once I was happy I knew my location, having recognised the imposingly tall aerial to the south of Sibson, at last, I had some time to play. The 50 stalls cleanly from the glide at 88kph, 48kt, and can reach 162kt straight and level; Vne is 232kt. But they are trivial details – this machine is all about aerobatics. I have always enjoyed aeros, it was the reason I learned to fly, and the 50 rates as the most capable aerobatic machine I have got to know. Power on 8 / 82 and belts retightened. It wasn’t just the restraints, but I felt connected through the seat of my pants and her character through the stick. Flinging through the footless halls of air with excess power to climb and roll, to loop, Derry turn and Cuban. To balance the forces and encourage precision at the slowest of speeds, to exchange height for blissful performance and capability, to bridge from the vertical against the engine at a speed only just on the scale rather than stall turn. A slow, slow languid roll to the left, an abruptly quartered four pointer to the right. A wing over converting sweeping downward speed and energy to height and clearing the path for a stretched and arcing barrel roll. The first positive flick for a leaping salmon from the inverted at the top of the loop, to arrest and continue the downward pitching path. Up again in delirious mirth drawing

Left Author Clive at a Kemble Airfield display with 'VO, and his sister 25 years ago. Note original two-blade propeller.

a straight vertical before introducing a slowly rolling application to our right, speed decaying past the max allowed flick speed of 200 km/hr and at 180 the gentlest of sensitive pitching forward of the stick sliding along the right fuselage wall and a full left boot… and there you can feel the air detaching as the gyroscopics take hold. The nose traces the horizon while the wings slowly roll at the lowest of negative G. All too soon it is time to go home. Looking along that beautiful long nose housing the Vedeneyev may be intimidating as it hides the world at slow speed on the approach. However, any lateral nose wander from the direction you are pointing with varying power or application of unbalanced aileron, is magnified, prompting corrective rudder. Under 200kph, 108kt, you can lower the undercarriage. The curved approach starts at 81kt, reducing to 73kt and rounding out at 100kph, 54kt. The three-point landing roll is a short 150m. Fortunately I did not disgrace myself! “How did you like her?” asked Richard when I had shut down. A laugh and a smile on my behalf said it all. “It was brilliant, truly brilliant.” Thanks, Richard, for your infectious enthusiasm and generosity in loaning this marvellously capable Yak 50. And thanks Sibson for the friendship and help in allowing us to carry out the shoot from your delightful airfield. ■

YAK-50 SPECS SPECIFICATIONS General characteristics


Length 25ft 5in Wingspan 31ft 3in Wing area 161sq/ft Empty weight 1,624lb MTOW 2,120lb Useful load 496lb Wing Loading 13.1 lb/ sq/ft Power loading 5.9lb/hp Engine M14 P 360 hp 9 cylinder radial

Vne 240kt Cruise speed @ 75% 151kt Stall speed 48kt Rate of Climb 2,250’min Take off ground roll 328ft Landing roll 492ft Range (without out ferry tank)150 nm G limits +9G/-6G January 2022 | LIGHT AVIATION | 23


Headset review

Bébé love…

Although he hadn’t built an aeroplane before, that wasn’t going to put off Richard Vary, who settled on an SSDR Nieuport biplane project. Part 1.


he question came from my wife, “That’s lovely, sweetie, where are you going to put it?” To be fair to my wife, Naomi, she’d had a day of supervising children’s homework and piano lessons, while I had been enjoying coffee and biscuits at the LAA AGM. The wooden box I was proudly bearing contained a silver trophy from that meeting, and represented the culmination of several long years of work in the garage behind our Guildford house. For quite a lot of that time, I was also not helping with children’s homework. I suppose I’d had some warning of the reception it was likely to receive. One of my other hobbies is target rifle shooting, and if you are looking for a sport where the ratio of silverware to competitors is particularly favourable, target rifle shooting has much to recommend it. The sport has its origins in the Victorian era, where the skills of the long range marksman were in high demand, and the country was wealthy enough to afford a lot of silverware. Those pieces still exist, although the number of young men and women

24 | LIGHT AVIATION | January 2022

Above Well, it’s 90% finished, 90% to go… Right Please excuse the messy workbench.

competing for them has diminished. As a result, I have taken home some spectacular and quite sizeable examples of the Victorian silversmith’s art, although my pride in winning them was not matched by my family’s enthusiasm for having the horrid thing in our house for the next year. To my relief, the Albert Codling trophy is an attractive silver Pitts biplane on a plinth. There are some great LAA names on that plinth: Lynn Williams, Barry Plumb and Dudley Pattison, to name just a few. At the end of this remarkable list was mine. It is awarded for the best part-built aircraft. “Part-built?” asked Mrs V, shooting me a suspicious glance. “I thought it was nearly finished?”. It probably wasn’t the best time to admit that a homebuilt aircraft is never really finished. It started at Popham Airfield, in around 2004. Popham, if you don’t know it, is a delightful airfield set in rolling Hampshire countryside. The landscape around it could satisfy a lifetime of low and slow summer evening flying, buzzing about in little microlight aircraft over fields and streams, out over the scarp edge of Watership Down and over the valley beneath. If feeling brave I might venture south,


summer. The only problem, and admittedly it was a pretty large one, was that it was not an approved design in the UK, so it could not be flown here. In April 2007, everything changed. The CAA deregulated single-seat microlight aircraft. I could build the Nieuport if the weight and stall speed fitted within the microlight category. The first thing I did was to order the plans from designer Graham Lee’s son. These arrived from Canada a week later. I was initially disappointed. Instead of beautiful draughtsman’s blueprints, I received a photocopy of a handwritten and hand-sketched series of instructions. However, after reading through them, they were clear, easy to understand and talked the reader through each stage. Although Graham gave instructions for building an aircraft under 115kg (or 254lb, the US ultra-light weight) I was not yet convinced that it could be done. I created a huge excel spreadsheet, with one line for every part of the aircraft, setting out its dimensions, diameter, and wall thickness, and, by multiplying these by the density of aluminium, its estimated weight. I estimated the weights of wires, wheels, fasteners and covering. Working through an overnight flight to Hong Kong, I established that if a suitably light engine could be found and the covering kept light, it should be possible to out over the blue waters of the Solent and across to the Isle of Wight. And I was happy doing this until one day, there on the grass in front of the Popham café, appeared a thing of beauty: G-BUCO, an immaculate Pietenpol Aircamper built (I now know) by a gentleman called Alan James. Next to it my AX3 Cyclone microlight looked like, well, it looked like a flying tent. I had to get a better looking aeroplane. This was about the time Amazon was simply a book store, and it had really opened up my access to books about flying. I had read (and still regularly re-read) Ron Wanttaja’s Kitplane Construction. John Urmston’s Birds and Fools Fly sits by my bed, and I love his light and humorous style of writing. John Isaacs’ autobiography is on a bookshelf next to my bath. These started me to think seriously about building something. The LAA has a treasure trove of plans, particularly of the low and slow summer-evening variety of aeroplane. The problem was that the aircraft that I liked the look of, John Urmston’s Currie Wot, Arthur Ord-Hume’s Luton Minor, and the brilliant little Turbulent, were mostly wood, and as such they needed to be kept in a hangar. I could not see myself being able to find, let alone afford, indoor hangarage in the south-east of England. There was, however, a design being built extensively in the US which caught my eye; the Circa Nieuport. Another Amazon purchase had been a book by Dick Starks about building a pair of these replicas with his friend Tom Glaeser. I have a particular weakness for anything that could be called a ‘flying machine’ rather than an aeroplane, and the Nieuport 11 (Bébé) biplane falls close to that category, particularly if one were to cover it in translucent doped linen and omit anything as war-like as a Lewis gun. But the Circa design is made of aluminium tube, not wood, so it would not mind being left out in the rain occasionally, at least during the January 2022 | LIGHT AVIATION | 25


build the aircraft within the 115kg weight limit. Finding a suitable engine was more of a challenge. The original had flown in the 1980s with a 25hp Cuyuna engine. No such thing existed 30 years later. Builders in the US had used a 36hp Volkswagen: an excellent engine, but too heavy if I was to keep the aircraft within the UK weight limits. The plans suggested a Rotax 447 as an alternative: these are no longer made. The 50hp Rotax 503 is available, but this was discounted in the plans as being too powerful. On the internet I had read about an engine called a Verner 3VW. With three cylinders, the empty weight was said to be only 36kg. It produced 36hp, or 42hp for take-off. Better still, it was a radial so it would look right, and a four stroke, so it would sound right.

Learning to build

I needed to learn some aircraft building skills, so I signed up for two LAA courses. The first was about aluminium. In a Portakabin on a windswept and rainy airfield, I learned to use air tools to cut, shape and rivet aluminium, coming away from the day with an aluminium toolbox, and the realisation that I would need to buy a compressor. The woodworking course was hosted by LAA tutor Dudley Pattison at his house near Swindon. Duds is a famous name 26 | LIGHT AVIATION | January 2022

Top Tail feathers were the first parts to be built, and hung out of the way. Above left Laying out the longerons. Above right A fuselage side starts taking shape…

in the radio-controlled aircraft world as the founder of Flair models, and I had built some of his kits, so it was a bit of an honour to meet him. He had just completed an immaculate wooden Flitzer biplane. He taught us about glues, aircraft grade timber, making scarf joints and all the things one would need to build a wooden aircraft. But one particular piece of advice stuck in my memory. That was to ‘move the bolt’. Building an aircraft is a very long and difficult project. With pressures of work and life, it is easy for progress to cease for long periods, or end altogether. The many unfinished aircraft projects advertised for sale are a testament to the difficulty that many builders have in staying the course. Duds’ advice was simple: every day, go into the workshop and do something. If nothing else, just ‘move a bolt from one hole to another’. That way, you stay in the habit of working on the aircraft, and even if there are long periods when you do not have time to make any real progress, it always remains present in your mind. I would need tools. I started to acquire these – a bandsaw and drill press were the first to find a home in the single-car garage behind my house. The Nieuport is mostly built using pulled rivets, so I purchased a compressor and rivet puller. I also needed strange temporary rivets called ‘clecos’ to hold parts together before I riveted parts permanently. These


“Duds’ advice was simple: every day, go into the workshop and do something ” came from an aircraft tool supplier near my office, along with some 1/8 and 3/16 inch drill bits. Imperial sizes were a new thing for me. I was used to working in millimetres and decimals, and I regularly got confused in my mind between 3/8 and 3/16. In practice you can’t get confused: a 3/16 drill bit is thinner than a pencil, but a 3/8 drill bit is as thick as your finger.

First steps: building a rudder

As an experiment to see if I could actually do this, I ordered the materials for the rudder. The techniques for building a rudder are the same as are used in the rest of the aircraft, so this was a useful experiment. One Saturday morning, when I was home alone, I carefully cut a main spar tube to length, and filed the ends into a fish-mouth shape where it would meet the tubular frame that forms the outline of the rudder. That frame needed to be bent around a wooden former so on a bandsaw I cut some scrap wood into a gentle curve, and screwed it firmly to the work surface. By clamping a long piece of the aluminium tube

Below left Thin aluminium gussets can be cut with hand shears. Below right Joining the fuselage sides together. Bottom left Fuselage detail, where three tubes meet the longeron.

against this wooden former and pulling it around the bend, it was possible to bend the tube into the shape of the rudder outline, without the tube buckling. I slotted my spar into this frame, stood back and admired it. A couple of other tubes formed ribs, running from the front to the back of the rudder. To hold it all together I cut diamond-shaped gussets from the thin aluminium sheet. These were easy to cut with scissors. One of these was clamped hard onto the spar and dented with a punch to form a dimple where the rivet would go. I drilled a hole, and inserted cleco to hold the parts hard together. I folded the gusset over the outer edge of the frame and back onto the other side of the spar. More clamping, and I could drill and insert rivets to fix them together permanently. The next task was a rudder horn, to which the control cables would attach. This is a flat sheet of thicker aluminium. I had to use the bandsaw to cut this out, and then patiently file the edges smooth where the bandsaw had left teeth marks in the edge. These teeth marks are stress risers which can start a crack running through the material, so they need to be filed

January 2022 | LIGHT AVIATION | 27


smooth. By the end of the day I had a rudder. I weighed my finished rudder. It was within my estimates on my spreadsheet. I covered it with heat shrink fabric, mounted the hinges on a workbench and held it horizontal with a cable to the rudder horn. I put a couple of bin bags filled with sand on to it, filling them and measuring the deflection until it took on a permanent set – that was the point of failure. Some calculations using formulae from the internet told me that this would be the equivalent of applying full rudder deflection at over 100kt, so it was certainly strong enough. Structurally the rudder looked to me to be the weakest part of the airframe.

Ordering materials

With things looking positive on both technical and domestic fronts, I ordered the aluminium tubes and sheet for the whole airframe, along with nuts, bolts and rivets from Aircraft Spruce and Specialty. One advantage of my spreadsheet was that it generated a full list of parts and materials that I’d need. I added a bit extra to everything to be sure I didn’t run out. It was a few weeks before the call came in: “Delivery from the United States for you. You’ll need to come and pay the duty and get it.” “How big is the package?” I asked. “Thirteen feet long,” he replied. “And you won’t be able to lift it.”. I hadn’t thought of that. Thirteen feet in length wasn’t a problem, it could go on my roof rack. But how would I get it up there? “We’re not supposed to, but if you can come this afternoon, I can help you lift it on,” the voice said, kindly. I’d figure out how to get it off again when I got home. I took the afternoon off work and drove to the warehouse. I had imagined that I would need to collect the package at the airport and pay the customs duty there, but in fact the warehouse was in an industrial estate in Slough. The warehouseman wheeled a long box out on a pallet truck. He and a colleague each took one end and, assisted by a good degree of profanity, lifted it onto the roof-rack. It was clearly heavy, and a brief mental calculation showed it should be: about half of the aircraft weight was in that box. After paying, I strapped it down and drove cautiously home. It stayed on the roof rack on the driveway overnight. If I couldn’t move it, I thought that the chances of it being stolen were fairly low. The next morning, I persuaded my neighbour Glen to help me lift it down. Glen is a large New Zealander and, like so many of his countrymen, is particularly helpful to have around when it comes to moving heavy things. He was to prove equally useful a week later when a courier company left a second-hand lathe in the middle of the driveway. We lowered the box carefully onto a couple of dollies: squares of plywood with castors on the bottom. Bridging these I had screwed two 14ft ceiling joists. My idea was to put the box on this wheeled base, so I could move it around

Above top Tail feathers looking good, held in place with electrical ties. Above Forward fuselage and front cabane aerofoil section struts in place.

“Your delivery from the US. Thirteen feet long and you won’t be able to lift it… ” 28 | LIGHT AVIATION | January 2022

in the limited space of the workshop, and take pieces from it as needed. Above it, I built sides and a top, from MDF sheet and some more ceiling joists. This made a long, flat work table that could be pushed up against one wall of the workshop if needed, or wheeled into the centre so that I could get around each side. With the garage door shut, there was a foot spare at each end that I could squeeze around. After tearing my shirt doing this too quickly, I rounded off the corners of the table with a sanding block. I covered the top of the table with wallpaper paste and lining paper. On the surface I started to measure out and draw the fuselage sides. This took quite a few evenings. Inevitably I would make mistakes, and have to rub parts out and start again, but eventually I had the fuselage drawn out, complete with verticals and diagonal bracing tubes. I cut scrap wood into small blocks which I screwed in at critical points to hold the tubing in the right place. The rear fuselage was easy enough. The longerons are straight tubes, which just need to be cut to length, and fish-mouthed at the end where they meet the tailpost. Just


behind the cockpit area they slide inside the front longerons, which are made of a slightly larger diameter tube. But the front longerons are more difficult to make because they are curved. The plans suggest taking a wheel and tyre off a car, and slowly bending the front longerons over this. That didn’t work, the tubes were too thick to bend in this way. What did work was to clamp in my vice a short length of steel tube which fitted neatly inside the front longeron. I didn’t cut the longeron to length, so that I could pull on the free end of the tube and exert some considerable leverage. By doing this I was able to coax the front longerons into a gentle curve for the top pair, and a more extreme curve for the bottom pair.

Fishmouthing on the lathe

Below left Fishmouthing a half-inch tube at an angle on the lathe. Below middle Using a wooden block helped to hold the tube against the mill cutter. Below right The result, a perfect machine-made fishmouth end.

The next job was the vertical tubes which fitted between the longerons, and the diagonal cross braces that go between them. Each tubes had to be fish-mouthed to fit the tube that it butted up against. Very few of the joints were right angles. Filing these accurately would be hard, not to mention tiring. With my lathe I had purchased a set of mill cutters. These were like drill bits, but without the tapered point. I had one which was almost exactly the same diameter as the longeron tubes. If I could hold the tube to be fish-mouthed at the correct angle, I could move it slowly onto the rotating mill cutter and cut the fish-mouth shape. My first attempts did not go well. The cutter would grab at the tube and pull it into the lathe, scoring great marks up the side of it. Several pieces ended up in the scrap and I was worried that I would run out of tube. During a sleepless night, I had an idea. I would remove the toolpost of the lathe, and put a large wooden block in its place. Through this, using a drill bit in the chuck of the lathe, I would drill holes of the diameter of the tube that would make the fuselage cross braces: 3/8in and 1/2in. These holes should exactly align with the centre of the cutter. Now, I could clamp the tube in the wooden block, at whatever angle the tube was to meet the longeron, and move it slowly onto the rotating mill cutter.

January 2022 | LIGHT AVIATION | 29


had the beginnings of an aeroplane, not just some components. The tailplane and fin looked so good that I initially left them in place, thinking that as the next stage would be the firewall I would not need to climb around the back for some time. But I had underestimated how many tools were at that end of the workshop, so they had to come off again…

Fitting a firewall

Unfortunately, the idea arrived in my mind at about 5am, so I had to wait until it was a civilised hour before putting it into practice. I did not think my neighbours would appreciate the sounds of drilling at that hour. At 7.30am (barely civilised) I crept out to the workshop and tried it out. It worked, and as long as I cut slowly the mill cutter would not snatch at the tube, but cut it cleanly. By now I had to go to work, so I left it to pick up in the evening, and set off for the office happy that it worked.

A fuselage takes shape

When I had made two fuselage sides on my workbench, I could start to join them together. This was an exciting task because I could see the fuselage starting to take shape. The upper longerons were mostly flat, so it would be easiest to build it upside down on the workbench. I started by cutting a square out of plywood the same size as the cockpit width, and mounted it on the workbench towards one end. I strapped the two fuselage sides to it, and drew the two ends together where they would meet at the tailpost. It was important to get the tailpost absolutely vertical, so I cut two right-angled triangles from plywood and screwed those to the table top, either side of the rear fuselage, using electrical ties to hold the aluminium lattice frame to them. By careful filing, I shaped the ends of the longerons to fit the tailpost, then drilled and riveted gussets to hold it in place. I checked it with my spirit level: close enough. It was now a simple matter to cut, fish-mouth and fit cross members and diagonals along the fuselage bottom, up to the cockpit area. When finished I flipped the fuselage over and did the top. My garage was just wide enough to fit the tailplane and rudder on my fuselage frame, so I strapped them on with some electrical ties and stood back to admire them. With a fuselage, and some tail feathers I could now really say that I 30 | LIGHT AVIATION | January 2022

Above Roughing out the engine mount components from aluminium box section.

The longeron tubes which form the front of the fuselage come together at the front, where the firewall will sit. The plans required me to make four aluminium plugs to fit the end of these tubes. These plugs have bolts passing lengthways through them, the shank and thread of the bolt protruding forwards, onto which you fasten the firewall, and engine bearers. I had to make these plugs on a lathe. To my delight I found that aluminium rod is very easy to work with, and in an afternoon I turned four pieces to the diameter of the inside of the tubes. With the aluminium rod secured in the rotating chuck, and a drill bit stationary in the tailstock, I drilled a hole through the centre. Replacing the drill bit with a mill cutter (a big drill bit without a pointed tip) I hollowed out each plug most of the way down. A bolt now dropped neatly down the length of the plug, the head inside, and shank and thread protruding. I held the head in place inside the plug with a drop of epoxy resin. These plugs then fitted inside the longerons and were held in place with a further bolt passing sideways through the tube and plug. I made up a firewall out of plywood, with a sheet of aluminium on the front as fuel and fireproofing. The firewall slid over the projecting bolt shanks, and I secured it in place with locking nuts.

Cabane struts

The final task on the fuselage was to fit the front upper wing cabane struts. These were streamline section aluminium tubing. The same tubing would also be used for the undercarriage legs. I managed to find the tubing from a supplier in the US but to ship it over separately would be very expensive. I was due to attend a meeting at a US law firm in a couple of weeks, so I asked the supplier to cut the tube into the lengths I would need, and flew to the US with an empty golf bag in my checked luggage. The aluminium tubes caused some surprise when they arrived at the law firm’s offices: their more usual deliveries being files of paper, and the Nieuport became something of a topic of conversation whilst I was there. They wanted to know what it was, when it would fly, how many horsepower it would have, and whether it could cross the channel to France. The fact that the first American pilots of the Escadrille Lafayette had flown Nieuports was of particular interest. On returning to Heathrow, I presented myself at the red channel at customs and opened the golf bag to reveal six lengths of aerofoil section aluminium tubing. The customs officer scratched his head for a bit: this was far from the usual passenger luggage. He asked what it was for. I told him, at possibly too great a length, all about the Nieuport. He seemed less enthusiastic than my American hosts and waved me through with nothing to pay. ■ Next month in Part 2: Wings, covering, and a first hop…



Coaching Corner

When Coaching things go Corner… wrong…

No matter how much you prepare, unexpected failures will lurk, reminds PCS Head of Training David Cockburn. When they do, be sure you have your basic priorities straight…


don’t know about you, but when I’m flying I’m not expecting anything to go wrong. I try to make sure before taking off that the aircraft is serviceable, I make sure the routine maintenance is complete, and I carry out the daily (or between flight) check carefully. I plan the route on a current chart and load it into my GNSS box. I study the weather for possible hazards, and I check Notams for additional ‘gotchas’. That way, I can be nicely relaxed for the flight itself. I am, of course, aware that there are times when I need to be ready for something to catch me out. Accident reports tell us that the take-off and initial climb always needs that concentration, because there is little time to act. Is there a safe landing area ahead if the engine decides it has had enough of me demanding its maximum effort? Like you, I expect, I try to brief myself on the necessary actions if the engine was to fail, and my senses are attuned to any unusual noises or indications during the take-off run. I’m also watching to make sure I get airborne in the distance I expected, but once I reach a height where I’m happy that I’d have time to think before acting if the engine does fail, the feeling of relaxation sets in. However, accident and incident reports remind us that there is always the chance that the aircraft, or the pilot, will experience some sort of unexpected failure at any time, not just in the take-off and initial climb phase. Things can happen suddenly, although often careful routine checks can often identify potential problems early. The digital engine management systems and flight and navigation instruments which many of us have fitted to our aircraft are intended to, and usually do, reduce cockpit workload. However, they also have relatively sophisticated warning systems, and any warning indication will demand as much attention as an odd noise, smell, or vibration. What then? Different situations require different actions to minimise their effects, but we need to apply the priorities of ‘aviate, navigate, communicate, check’ at all times.

“The first priority is to bring the aircraft to a safe condition of flight using the flight controls” 32 | LIGHT AVIATION | January 2022


It makes little difference whether the aircraft, its occupants, or external forces have caused the problem. The first priority is to bring the aircraft to a safe condition of flight using the flight controls. We then need to maintain that safe condition of flight, so trimming to a safe speed is pretty important, although accuracy is not necessary. Flying in cloud is unlikely to allow safe flight so we need to stay in clear air if at all possible. Flames, smoke and fumes are likely to bring about an unsafe condition rapidly, so if these are present we need to try to get rid of them as soon as possible. We cannot afford to let the situation get worse, so it is vital that we know at least the initial actions required to stop fire and fumes damaging ourselves and our aircraft, and take them. However, we mustn’t rush – taking the wrong actions can make matters worse. Smoke or flames from the engine itself normally requires the fuel to be cut off, while a fire inside the cockpit is almost certainly caused by an electrical fault (Adolf Galland smoked cigars in his Messerschmitt, but I think that’s less of a hazard nowadays…). Indications of a likely sudden loss of power, for example a rough running engine or low oil pressure, should also be dealt with rapidly to prevent the safe condition becoming unsafe. We must also know what initial actions we should take to minimise the risk of such an unsafe condition occurring. AAIB reports frequently cite carburettor icing as a likely cause of such power failure and most handbooks include selecting carburettor heat as an initial response to a rough-running engine, although selecting another source of fuel, if available, is also advised. Damaged structure, perhaps the result of a bird-strike or collision, has the potential to create a more unsafe condition especially if the flight controls have been affected. Although the damage may well reduce the pilot’s control over the aircraft at low speed, high dynamic pressure (indicated airspeed) is almost certain to make any damage worse. Gentle control movements would also be advisable.


Once any necessary initial actions have been taken to maintain a safe flight condition, we should try to set the aircraft travelling in the safest direction for the situation. If the engine has failed, or we have shut it down, we have a forced landing to contend with. We must assess the wind and navigate towards, and if possible around, that landing

Coaching Corner

field. We have kept ourselves in practice for PFLs, haven’t we? Perhaps if you haven’t, maybe a session with a Coach would be useful? If the aircraft can still maintain safe level flight, but we have indications that might not be possible for long, we should direct our course towards the safest area where we might make a safe landing, either an aerodrome or an area of landable fields. That applies if weather is the reason why such safe level flight may become impossible. If it seems that we can remain safe for a little while longer, the nearest suitable aerodrome should be our target.


Once heading in a safe direction in a safe flight condition, it is a good idea to let someone know we have a problem. Don’t worry about the correct terminology, or bothering a busy Air Traffic Controller, they are trained in their simulators to help pilots with problems and they really like to get their teeth into a genuine one. They’ll ask for any information they need but that we forgot (but if we haven’t finished sorting out a problem it’s worth telling them to ‘Stand By’ until we have). If the radio box already has an ATC frequency selected then we should call on that, but if not then 121.5 MHz gives us the Distress and Diversion Cell. ‘Mayday’ if we can’t maintain safe level flight, ‘Pan-Pan’ if we can but have a problem and want some help (perhaps through controlled airspace or just navigational assistance while we attempt to solve our problem). We should select the emergency transponder code, unless a controller with a radar set already has us identified with a different transponder setting. If we feel that the problem really does not require outside help, it is a good idea to at least set an appropriate frequency in case things get worse while we finish sorting things out.

Above and below No matter what problem a pilot is reacting to, whether it’s an unusual instrument indication or a warning light, the priority is to safely fly the aircraft while you assess the situation.

time to get the checklist or Flight Manual / Handbook out. We should check that what we did as initial actions were correct and complete, and then take whatever further actions are listed. If our problem did not require any urgent initial action, then we should read through, and carry out the actions required by, the checklist. However, there are other aircraft in the air, so we must intersperse our reading and switching with a good lookout scan. Having checked and completed the actions in the checklist, we can assess what else we need to do, and that applies even if the checklist offers no help. We should also update the controller if we alerted one earlier. Do conditions require a runway with a smoother surface, more available landing distance, or less crosswind? Do we need to minimise radio calls? Fatal accidents involving technical failures are reported all too often. However, investigation invariably discovers that the technical failure was only a secondary cause. The primary cause is usually the failure to follow the priorities We mustn’t let ourselves join the fatal statistics! ■


While the aircraft is in a safe condition, travelling in a sensible direction, with help available if necessary, we need to refine and check our actions. We may have taken the initial actions to prevent an unsafe situation developing, but have probably not actually solved any problems. It is January 2022 | LIGHT AVIATION | 33

The latest LAA Engineering topics and investigations – Compiled by Jerry Parr

Engineering Matters Including: EuroFOX noseleg issues, switches, VW pump corrosion and a Europa door mandatory mod


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

EuroFOX Undercarriage The LAA administered fleet includes a number of EuroFOX aircraft which are used by gliding clubs as tugs. These aircraft work hard and naturally accumulate far more flight cycles than their ‘private use’ siblings. There have been a few issues recently concerning the nosewheel undercarriage ‘3K’ version of the EuroFOX. Nose undercarriage shock absorber wear One aircraft had the nose leg suspension unit fail, possibly due to a lack of lubrication of the shock absorber. Fortunately, the check cable worked as intended and prevented any further damage occurring. The shock absorber unit consists of a number of rubber discs mounted on a central tube which slides over another tube as the nose leg moves. The wear occurs between the two tubes, and although Aeropro has recommended lubricating the tubes, there is scant information in the maintenance manual regarding this, although the build manual advises to use ‘graphite Vaseline’ on the parts that have ‘relative movement’. Excessive greasing of the tubes may well exacerbate wear if the grease becomes contaminated with dirt, so some form of dry lubricant may be preferable. What is certain, is that the shock absorber should be disassembled regularly (based probably on flight cycles as well as hours or calendar time) and inspected for wear. Nose undercarriage leg collapse A EuroFOX glider tug had its nose undercarriage leg fail just below where the shock absorber attachment leg is welded to the nose leg. This occurred while the aircraft was taxying in after landing and resulted in a shock-loaded engine and damage to the propeller and engine cowlings. It is entirely possible that the nose undercarriage leg had been weakened over the years (it had accumulated around 7,500 landings in seven years of operation) rather than that particular landing being harder than normal. Nosewheel incorrectly installed The nosewheel tyre had been replaced prior to the incident flight. Unfortunately, on refitting the wheel

34 | LIGHT AVIATION | January 2022

Above Fortunately, the check cable prevented the nose undercarriage strut collapsing completely, keeping the propeller clear of the ground. Below left The failed shock absorber showing wear and failure of the sliding tubes. Below right The new shock absorber pre-assembly and installation.

Engineering Matters Right Nose leg failed, causing the propeller to strike the ground. Below right This view (without the wheel in the way) demonstrates the correct path of the nosewheel axle). assembly, it appears that the nosewheel axle may have missed the axle holes in the nose leg fork and the wheel was then only held in place by the clamping pressure of the nosewheel axle bolt and nuts against the fork. On the next flight, when landing, the nosewheel assembly, including the nosewheel fairing, appears to have been pushed up the leg until the nose leg fork contacted the ground, pitching the aircraft over onto its back. The EuroFOX maintenance manual does not currently fully describe the installation of the nosewheel assembly. Normal maintenance practices apply and in circumstances such as this where visual access is restricted, it is imperative that the installation is carefully checked prior to releasing the aircraft to service. This kind of error could possibly occur on many aircraft types, not just the EuroFOX. Replacing an aircraft tyre is allowed under ‘pilot maintenance’. Further details on this can be found in LAA Technical Leaflet TL 2.05 ( Such maintenance can be signed for by a qualified pilot who is an owner of the aircraft and a member of the LAA. The pilot’s licence number is the authorisation and should be included with the pilot’s signature and date against the entry in the worksheet and log book.

Switches Incident one: An incident recently with an engine failure on take-off on a Spitfire Mk 26 fitted with a Isuzu engine (converted car engine). It appears to have stopped because of loss of crankshaft position information to the ECU. The crankshaft position sensor is duplicated, but the indications are that the switch, which allows the pilot to select between the position sensors, had failed internally and gone opencircuit. In other words, an attempt to increase safety by duplicating a critical sensor has in itself created a failure. Clearly if duplicating a system, particular consideration needs to be given to avoiding single points of failure (e.g. both the feeds to independent electric fuel pumps going through the same plug and socket), or when single points of failure are inevitable, aircraft owners need to be sure the component, which is a single point of failure, is chosen to be of high quality and consideration given to maximising its reliability, for example, perhaps making it a lifed item. Incident two: Recently, a Turbulent was badly damaged when it suffered an engine failure after take-off. It is possible that the engine failure was caused by a failure in the ignition system as the power connections of the duplicated Leburg ignition systems to the separate ignition switches were both loose and on the point of disconnecting. The switches used a very small screw to connect the ring terminals on the cables to the contacts on the switch, and the screws, supposedly retained by spring washers, were found loose. One, to the extent that it was on the point of falling out, and was looser than could be explained through wrenching of the wiring during the crash sequence. It seems very unlikely that both ignition systems lost power in the short time between doing the power checks and the crash, but nevertheless, where switches are involved in systems providing a vital service, aircraft owners should be sure that the means of connection is fit for purpose. The aircraft involved in the second case had recently been re-built to a very high standard indeed and the workmanship was generally beyond reproach. Screwed connections to switches and circuit breakers are quite common, but in this case the screws were very small. It is

Left Terminal screws on electrical switches and circuit breakers are small and fiddly and quite often not easy to torque correctly due to restricted access. Below The terminal switches are not very long and if you need to attach two ring terminals, with a shakeproof washer in place, the amount of thread engagement may be less than ideal.

possible that the way the cables were routed and the way in which they were supported (cable ties) may have a strong influence on whether vibration on the wires can effectively ratchet a screw loose. Soldered and push-on connectors have other reliability issues, but particularly as we move forward with aircraft becoming electrically more complex with ‘glass’ panels and Night/IFR approvals, great care is needed when designing, installing and inspecting all electrical equipment. January 2022 | LIGHT AVIATION | 35

Engineering Matters Hobbs meter oil pressure switch failure Recently, a Rans S6 was damaged following an off-airfield landing after the engine oil pressure dropped to zero. The decay in oil pressure was as a result of a loss of oil which was caused by an internal failure of a Hobbs hour meter oil pressure operated switch. On this aircraft, the Hobbs meter switch had never been connected to a meter but was installed as part of the standard build for the type. Quite often, older style gauges are of the ‘wet type’, so called as they are fed directly by the fluid in question and, similar to the Hobbs meter switches, are mounted aft of the firewall. As they are often tucked up behind the instrument panel they are not inherently easy to inspect and indeed may not give any indication of an impending failure. After cutting the oil pressure operated switch in half, there was no visible sign of failure. The switch comprises a metal body swaged around a plastic insert. A thin plastic membrane reacts against a plastic support plate and on the back of that is mounted a copper contact disc. When oil pressure acts on the membrane, the support plate moves against spring pressure and the copper disc contacts the two terminals, completing the electrical circuit. In this case it is possible that after many years of operation, the plastic body had age-hardened and allowed oil to bypass the membrane, which is the only seal in the system, or that there was a minute hole in the membrane itself.

Above The inner workings of the failed oil pressure operated switch.

VW fuel pump internal corrosion LAA Inspector Robin Braithwaite emailed Engineering to say that he was recently satisfying MOD/ENG/VW/001 (see also LAA Airworthiness Alert LAA/AWA/20/24) on a VW engine installation which has been out of service for about a year. The fuel pump did not have a plastic fuel pump rocker arm but the steel components inside the pump lower housing were found to be quite corroded. According to the VW maintenance manual, the lower housing should be packed with ‘a multi-purpose grease such as Castrol LM’. Clearly, the lower housing on this pump was devoid of grease and Robin’s thought is that condensation has had its part to play. The pump has since been replaced. Robin went on to ask that while he expected that most VW fuel pumps will have been inspected to satisfy MOD/ENG/VW/001, how many have been refitted without grease?

Above Clearly, this pump had never been packed with grease.

Van’s Aircraft RV-10 Service Letter SL-00033 Van’s Aircraft issued Service Letter SL-00033 in February 2021 concerning cracks discovered in the company demonstrator WD-1021 main undercarriage attachment weldments and F-1050 forward cabin floor panels. The subject title is RV-10 Landing Gear Field Assessment. As this was issued as a Service Letter, it may not have been picked up during normal checking of the continuing airworthiness information published by Van’s Aircraft, which tend to concentrate on Service Bulletins. If cracks are found, Van’s Aircraft will issue Service Bulletin SB-00007 directly to the applicant. Cracks were discovered in two of the LAA administered fleet of RV-10s that have been inspected. RV-10 co-owner, Sandy Macfarlane, has carried out the Service Bulletin on the aircraft and is more than happy to pass on guidance (and the lending of a trestle) to other owners before they embark on the job, if needed. Please get in touch with LAA Engineering for Sandy’s contact details. Van’s Aircraft service information On the subject of continuing airworthiness instructions, Van’s Aircraft has really increased its support in this field over the last 10 years and owners can access information ‘by model’ from the ‘Service Information and Revisions’ section of the Van’s Aircraft website at, including revisions to the kit assembly instructions. A recent update to their webstore http://store., means you can now register an online account against 36 | LIGHT AVIATION | January 2022

a specific aircraft kit number, and this will give you access to the most recent digital plans specifically selected service information documents for your RV model. If you have purchased an already flying RV, this is a good reason to contact Van’s to notify it of the change of ownership.

Picture taken from SL-00033 for illustration only

Engineering Matters

Ken Craigie: Chief Inspector’s roundup LAA Inspector training seminars These days, the preferred method for LAA Inspectors to maintain qualification to renew their inspector approval is by attendance at a dedicated LAA Inspector Training Seminar (ITS). This is required every four years, or to be precise, mustn’t be more than four years ago when inspectors renew their approval, annually, at the end of March each year. A variety of aspects are covered, including a recap of an inspector’s role and responsibilities, inspector procedures, experience from incidents, health and safety, human factors, and importantly, a current LAA affairs update. Seminars usually take place throughout the year at various locations around the UK, but of course, Covid has been a problem over the last 18 months. Since it again became acceptable to ‘meet-up’, catching up has been a priority. One event in October last year, I was gratified that 24 of a total contingent of 28 LAA inspectors based in Scotland were able to attend a seminar event held in a classroom facility at the Falkirk Wheel, in Falkirk (a great place to visit, by the way). The format is always very much a two-way experience, with LAA Engineering learning as much from an engaged audience as we are able to deliver. It’s also a great opportunity for LAA Inspectors to meet each other, sometimes for the first time, putting faces to names and making contacts. Other ITS events which took place in 2021 were held, during August, at the IWM at Duxford, at the Brooklands Museum in Weybridge, and at the British Motor Museum at Gaydon in Warwickshire, and finally in November at the DH Aircraft Museum at London Colney, Hertfordshire. When added to the Falkirk seminar, these events attracted attendance from a total of 120 LAA Inspectors, which is more than sufficient to keep our schedule on track. Feedback throughout has been upbeat, and I shall soon be planning events for 2022. In addition to our ITS programme I occasionally arrange courses designed at providing specific product-based training for inspectors. These usually rely on the goodwill (or more often, enthusiasm) of the various UK-based kit aircraft and product suppliers. That’s usually a day-long event at the host’s premises, but if you missed me at the Rally on the Saturday last year, that’s because I was occupied running a meeting at which 34 inspectors chose to take an hour out of their Rally weekend to listen and learn from Kevin Hyam of CAMit Aero Engines UK Ltd, who gave up his time to pass on his expertise concerning CAMit and Jabiru engines – thank you Kevin. Comings and goings… There are 365 LAA Inspectors currently approved on our system, and for the benefit of aircraft- (or project-) owning members I thought it perhaps useful to list those inspectors who, for varying reasons, have stepped down from being approved during 2021, as well as those who became newly approved. Approval and contact details of all current inspectors can be found within the Engineering pages of the LAA website. Stepping down in 2021: Keith Harvey: Andover, Ernie Horsfall: Preston, Barry Smith: Redcar, Robin Dispain: Fordingbridge, Paul Szluha: Cambridgeshire, Ian Charlton: Petworth, Robin King: Axminster, and Humphrey Penny: Tunbridge Wells. New approved inspectors are: William Kirkdale: Andover, Steven Crombie: Bournemouth, Aaron Cole: Lutterworth, Steven Clayton: York, Amgad Ahmed: Halfpenny Green, Robin Kraike: Devizes, Bruce Ellis: Salisbury, Rob Stephens: East Winch, Tim Richardson: Hook, and Steph Meester: Stroud. In addition, 2021 has seen the sad passing of Rex Coates of London, Steve Gilbert of Enstone and Reg Stratton of Winchester.

Above and below Two of the recent Inspector Training Seminars at the DH Aircraft Museum (above) and IWM, Duxford (below).

Above The LAA website allows you to search for Inspectors by a number of different ways.

January 2022 | LIGHT AVIATION | 37

Engineering Matters Europa door losses Over the years, there have been several incidents of Europa aircraft suffering one of its gull-wing doors coming open in flight, some resulting in the window breaking, but more often resulting in the loss of the door due to the hinges failing as the door swings violently open. Following the first incident which happened on a Europa Company demonstrator aircraft, it was surmised that the most likely cause was due to the pilot having snagged the door latch handle with his shirt sleeve, opening the latch inadvertently. This resulted in the issue of Europa Mod 35 – door handle guard, which was issued as a mandatory mod and was immediately incorporated into the standard kit. However, in subsequent years, inadvertent door openings and losses have continued to be reported. Thankfully, pilots also reported that the aircraft continued to be easily controllable with a door missing, and that no other damage to the airframe was suffered. A recent case where the departing door struck the tailplane of the aircraft, damaging its leading edge, has raised the priority level on the topic, and in early November LAA Engineering issued a modification that’s expected to cure the problem. It was concluded that the cause of these door opening/loss events was due to the door’s rear shoot bolt not having engaged into its socket in the door surround when the door latch was closed, despite the front one having engaged properly. Whereas the front shoot bolts are in full view of the pilot and crew, to see the rear shoot bolts means twisting round in your seat, and apparently this visual check was sometimes being neglected. When the door is open on the ground, it is supported by a single gas strut mounted at its rear which results in the rear of the door being pushed outwards slightly, relative to the front, while it is being closed. As the latch is closed and the shoot bolts extend front and back from the door, the front one readily engages into its socket but the rear one would sometimes miss its socket and then slide along the outside skin of the fuselage. To the unwary, the door might seem properly latched and secure, even when being checked by pushing against it from the inside. In flight, the suction force generated by airflow over the curved window pulls against the door and the rear of it would then flex outwards, eventually enough for the front shoot bolt to disengage from its socket. After making a few trial fits on Europas local to Turweston, a fixed-door latch shoot bolt stop turned out to be the simplest and most reliable design, and LAA’s engineers have now issued the details of this modification to all UK Europa owners. Comprising two aerodynamically shaped parts, it is attached to the fuselage outside surface. The ‘working’ part of it is mounted where the

Above The shoot bolt stop installed on the aft edge of a Europa door. The forward part is simply an aerodynamic fairing. Left You can see how the shoot bolt contacts the stop if the door isn’t fully closed, preventing the latch lever being fully locked rear shoot bolt will contact it, should it fail to engage in its socket when the door latch is operated towards the closed position, preventing the latch lever from fully closing. The forward part of the assembly, attached to the door itself, is simply an aerodynamic fairing. The stop and fairing are available from LAA as SLA 3D-printed plastic parts. Alternatively, they can be self-manufactured from a suitably resilient material such as wood. The LAA has issued this modification with a mandatory status with a requirement to embody it within five flying hours of the date of issue, or next permit renewal, whichever comes first. Full details of Europa Standard Mod 15833, and the issuing Airworthiness Information Leaflet MOD/247/012 can be downloaded from the Engineering alerts page of the LAA website.

Permit to Fly revalidation check flights Take-off weight During the period where Covid-19 social distancing regulations were in force, LAA Engineering did relax the rule on Permit to Fly revalidation check flights being conducted within 90% of Maximum Take-off Weight authorised at take-off. Now that we are thankfully ‘flying free’ again, please ensure that all check flights are flown at a take-off weight in excess of 90% MTWA. Further information on conducting the check flight can be found in LAA Technical Leaflet TL 2.06.

LAA Engineering charges (Note new fees in red)

LAA Fleet Summary

LAA Project Registration Kit Built Aircraft Plans Built Aircraft Initial Permit issue Up to 450kg 451-999kg 1,000kg and above Permit Revalidation

Aircraft with current Permits to Fly: Aircraft with ‘project’ status: Aircraft with expired Permits to Fly: Total number of aircraft in the LAA administered fleet: Number of aircraft types approved:


£300 (from C of A to Permit or CAA Permit to LAA Permit) £50 Up to 450kg £150 451 to 999kg £250 £450 1,000kg and above £350 £550 Four-seat aircraft £650 Manufacturer’s/agent’s type acceptance fee £2,000 Project registration royalty £50 (can now be paid online via LAA Shop) Up to 450kg £170 Category change £150 451-999kg £220 Group A to microlight £150 1,000kg and above £260 Microlight to Group A Factory-built gyroplanes* (all weights) £275 Change of G-Registration fee Issue of Permit documents following *Gyros note: if the last Renewal wasn’t £55 G-Reg change administered by the LAA, an extra fee of Replacement Documents £125 applies Lost, stolen etc (fee is per document)£20 Modification application Prototype modification minimum £60 PLEASE NOTE: When you’re submitting documents using an Repeat modification minimum £30 A4-sized envelope, a First Class stamp is insufficient postage. 38 | LIGHT AVIATION | January 2022

2,836 1,555 4,554 7,390 518

Recent Alerts & AILs (check the LAA website for further details) Europa Aircraft – All Variants: Door Losses LAA Alert: LAA/AWA/21/08 Door Losses LAA AIL: MOD/247/012 Door Latch System Stop EuroFOX Tricycle Undercarriage (3K version): Fuselage Structure LAA Alert: LAA/AWA/21/09 Fuselage Structure Under Seat Pan Weld Inspection LAA AIL: MOD/376/005 Visual Check of Weld Cluster Under Seat Pan

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Flying Adventure

Rallying together... Five aircraft, four frequency changes, three hours, two crew per aircraft and one Irish Sea was Mark Chambers’ recipe for fun with friends on the annual pilgrimage from Northern Ireland to the LAA Rally…


t was 1 September and the summer was drawing to a close. I reflected on a summer of flying adventures and how this weekend would be one last hurrah before autumn took her grasp. Warming up the Luscombe on the apron at Aughrim Airfield, I intended a short local flight around the Mournes to check everything over before my big cross-country flight to the Rally. That was until my right brake cable snapped as I taxied out. Managing to avert a taxying disaster, I made it back to the hangar. Luscombes can fly just fine without brakes, but the notion of arriving at Sywell then navigating around hundreds of other counterparts’ ‘pride and joys’ didn’t much appeal to me. The trip was off… Or so I thought. After a chat with my LAA Inspector and another couple of Luscombe chaps, a repair plan was figured out in the absence of having a store nearby that sold Luscombe parts. After two stressful days we found a suitable brake cable, installed and tested it. The trip was looking possible again… Departure day arrived, the morning was murky, and I couldn’t make out much of the misty Mourne Mountains from my view at home. Looking towards the coast I knew we wouldn’t have fantastic visibility either. But the phone was hot from the rest of the Mourne Flyers eager to make a move. We all gathered at Aughrim Airfield, Newry, for the annual pilgrimage to the Sywell. Five aircraft, four frequency changes, three hours, two crew per aircraft and one Irish Sea. The recipe was simple, I was in a Luscombe, the slowest of

40 | LIGHT AVIATION | January 2022

Above Mark leading the way for Anglesey in 'Tango India Below 'Tango India's intrepid crew, Mark Chambers (left) and Matthew McClune

the squadron, so I had to lead the way. Matthew McClune was my map reader, critic and in-flight entertainment. Following me, would be the Tri-Pacer, affectionately known as Garfield – owing to its reg (G-ARFD) – carrying Thomas Alderdice and his three children, Archie, Lily and Samuel – Archie would be second-in-command for this sector. Then the Nicholson duo, Gary and Gregory, in their Eurostar. Paddy McCusker and Brendan Digney seemed very comfortable getting into their roomy Sportscruiser. Husky drivers Ivan and Alan Doake would keep us in check at the back. By 1100 we’d decided things had improved enough, and the Aughrim Airfield was alive as all five aircraft roared into life. Thankfully the assistance of a headwind helped my departure – and I took up an easterly heading. Aughrim is only three miles from the coast so we were over water before we knew it. Climbing out 1,500ft meant I wasn’t far off the cloud base and forward visibility must have been around 10 miles. Looking left and right I could see the gaggle of friends following me. Due to the weather, I thought it best to aim directly for a town called Amlwch that was 75nm away – it was rather disheartening to look over and see I was only clutching 75kt of ground speed. That helpful headwind was less so, now. Flying over water isn’t particularly challenging in itself, in my experience it’s actually rather easy; the conditions are usually smooth and you don’t have to worry about many other

Paul Kiddell

Paul Kiddell

Flying Adventure

items of traffic. But the water does have the ability to focus the mind. One hundred miles of water in a 75-year-old Luscombe may not sound like much to hardened seafarers – but to a young lad like me it still feels more like an ocean. After an hour of listening intently to my 100 Continental stallions up the front, regularly checking: oil pressure at 38, temperature at 140. Any significant variation would be cause for alarm. At last, the hazy outline of land comforted my mind – Anglesey, right on time. Altering course slightly north towards Llandudno, a check behind revealed that our loose formation had managed to stick together for the crossing. I sometimes wonder if Don Luscombe would ever have imagined his aircraft still in use for trips like this at its fine age. Hawarden was the next waypoint, and friendly controllers permitted our ‘V’ formation to pass through their overhead at 1,000ft. This was spotted by some of our Northern Irish friends who had stopped for a coffee on their way from Newtownards. If we needed a name, it could be The Grey Arrows. It has a nice ring to it, and would be a tribute to most of our members’ hair colour! In-flight lunch meant handing over control to my first mate Matt, who has been known to command a Luscombe in the past. Sandwiches and, a NI staple, Tayto crisps – you can’t go wrong with old favourites!

Top left Garfield the Tri Pacer Top right Landing in front of the spotters and enthusiasts at the Rally always dials up the pressure! Above inset Just the tent to set up then Mark? Don't leave it too late… Above left The Mourne crew at Sywell Above right Sun just managing to poke out from behind the overcast

Pitsford Water loomed into view at the 2hr and 45min mark. How refreshing to discover it wasn’t busy, in fact, we were the only arrivals at that point! Then a friendly voice on the radio ‘Golf Oscar Oscar’, a fellow Luscombe driver Pete Bush was about to land, too. While landing on 03 grass gives the spotters a good view, it does dial up the pressure on the pilots. Luckily I managed a half-decent wheeler with a half-numb derriere. Touchdown, 1405. We hit the pumps and Tango India had sipped 69 litres over the three hour block time – I was pretty pleased with that! Gary ruined it by trumping my 69 with his mere 40 litres. It’s not a competition, I muttered to myself. The fabulous marshallers got us parked in the vintage section, where I was immediately greeted by one of Tango India’s previous owners. He had flown it at Old Sarum many years ago under its previous old paint scheme. He was delighted to see the aeroplane and fun to hear stories of her previous life. That’s one of the best things about the Rally, chances are you’ll meet someone who knows something about your aeroplane. Some fellow Luscombe guys and gals had made the trip, including Duncan Campbell in G-AGMI, and as he’s a big fan of very colourful shirts, he’s easy to spot. Plus, Phil and Lorraine Laycock in G-LUSK, the most frequent fliers of our January 2022 | LIGHT AVIATION | 41

Paul Kiddell x 3

Flying Adventure

little Luscombe community. Vic Leggott and his son also joined in BSYF. Getting to meet Martin Orr in G-BTCH was an absolute pleasure and the aircraft looked great in its new colour scheme. Pete Bush and Michelle in BROO were parked behind us, bearing glad tidings of great joy… New Luscombe brake cables! Many of my fellow LAA Luscombe pals have celebrated their aircraft’s 75th anniversary in recent years. This year many turn 75 since post-war aircraft manufacturing took off in 1946. Tango India was lovingly crafted that year. On 17 October 1946, Luscombe 8A Serial 4101 rolled off the factory floor in dusty Dallas, Texas. Cliff Lovell imported this one and many of our other British Luscombes in the 1980s, managing to fit three aircraft per 40ft container! Martin Oliver restored ours, fitting the bigger, beefier O-200 engine and finishing it in the colours you see today – and such a lovely job. The early 2000s saw James May of Top Gear fame and his mate Colin Goodwin get their hands in with Luscombe flying in Tango India. A Luscombe would probably suit ‘Captain Slow’ by today's standards but in the 1940s an all-aluminium monocoque aircraft that did 100mph on 65hp was quite the speed machine. Sold to my dad, Colin, she now resides in the Mourne Mountains, and it’s the perfect machine for Aughrim Airfield. Luscombes without a doubt have captured part of my heart, and why wouldn’t they? Slower than a speeding bullet, less powerful than a locomotive… but faster and more sociable than a Cub! Almost all the hardy Mourne globetrotters made off for hotels. But Matt and I hadn’t crossed the Irish sea to stay in a Travelodge. No, we were going for the full camping experience – and I hope Don Luscombe would have approved of our underwing digs. Of course, I didn’t forego all luxuries, a big steak dinner in town was fitting. I headed back to Sywell to catch up with more of the usual suspects. Keir Williams the hip vagabond pilot, Jonny Salmon the RV-skipper (yes, ‘him’ from the Flyer Livestream…), Will Harmer the extra-jockey ,and the trio of steely eyed Taylor Monoplane pilots from Sleap – Ben Gilmore, Tom Beever and Bruce Buglass. None of this lot were great at tent construction, particularly after dark. The less said the better! Being able to laugh and converse with these old friends into the wee hours of the morning, is the reason we make these trips, and why I suspect we will continue to make them for many years to come. The LAA Rally at Sywell is brilliant. If you haven’t been I truly cannot recommend it highly enough! 42 | LIGHT AVIATION | January 2022

Above left Joining Mark on the trip were Gary and Gregory Nicholson in their Eurostar. Above right Ivan and Alan Doake and their Husky. Above Dad, Thomas Alderdice, had Archie, Lily and Samuel riding along in their Tri Pacer.

It’s a paradise for aviators, whether you enjoy walking through the lines of hundreds of beautifully maintained aircraft, scoring landings or haggling for a good price on a radio, there’s something for everyone. I spent my Saturday afternoon perusing the stalls and meeting the great team at SkyDemon. After lunch, I lay by the flight-line, partly to try and catch up a bit of rest after a poor night’s sleep – Luscombe seat cushions make for rubbish pillows – but also to score some landings with the legendary Paul Kiddell. When it came time to head home, we were treated to better weather and a slight tailwind, enabling us to crack 95kt. The journey was much like the day before, but greater opportunity to enjoy the sights with the improved visibility. Again, our formation was granted the opportunity to show our best moves over Hawarden. I suspect people will travel many miles to wave us on our way during our annual trip through the Hawarden overhead. Coasting out at Rhyl, 100nm to home – an hour once more. This time we had a better margin, 3,000ft above the water was the sweet spot, hazy but again smooth. Perhaps the longest and most competitive game of ‘I-spy’ led by Lily on the way home – wow, kids can be creative! Fifty miles to run, ‘Tango India are you on frequency?’. It was my dad, who had unfortunately been unable to make the trip. Landing back at Aughrim Airfield and being greeted by owner and Sywell-veteran Archie Alderdice, we told him he’d need to join us in 2022! Two hours and 30 minutes to get home – what an incredible trip, with great friends. Until next year… ■

Share your adventures! If you’ve made a really memorable flight either solo or with friends, or visited a great destination be it in the UK or abroad, then there’s a good chance that LAA members would enjoy reading about it. So why not share your travel tales by contributing to the Light Aviation Flying Adventure feature slot? A typical Adventure can range from 1,500 to 3,000 words. Include a selection of high-resolution photos of highlights, ideally 1mb or greater. Phone photos can be great for this, but pictures from a camera usually give the best results. Got an idea in mind? Drop me a line! Email:

Cold starting conundrums

Winter starting

Aircraft engines can be challenging enough to start without the added factor of cold weather. Ian Fraser looks at the factors involved…


t’s a lovely clear day, no cloud, wind down the runway, and it’s cold. You wrap up warmly and prepare your aircraft for a short flight to blow some of those winter cobwebs away. But it won’t start. While many engine manufacturers recommend engine heaters (or heated hangars) if it’s persistently below -10°C, some of our more traditional carburetted engines (Lycoming or Continental) can be troublesome even in a British chill. Most engines in good repair will self-start in our winters without such cosseting if you use the right approach. But before I describe my winter techniques let us look at some of the basics, as well as potential problems of starting. To start any aircraft engine requires it to be cranked fast enough to suck fuel/air mixture into the cylinder. It needs a little extra fuel to start – more if it’s cold – and a powerful enough spark at the right time (some 25° later than normal).

Cranking and battery

As long as the battery is strong enough to turn the engine over at two blades a second or more for five revolutions, it should start. Aircraft with ‘retard breaker’ ignition also depend on the battery rather than magneto for the initial spark requiring a strong battery during cranking (more on that later). Batteries do flatten themselves over the winter despite not being used and don’t perform as well in cold weather. A quick test for battery health is that it should remain above 10 volts during cranking. If it doesn’t, it has a problem. If you can, use a float charger to preserve your battery, it will pay dividends in winter starting and battery longevity. I covered batteries and starters and their care in more detail in an article in the June 21 issue of Light Aviation. You can find it in the archive at (www.lightaircraftassociation.


Sparks are usually generated, timed and distributed by twin magnetos via the plug leads to the plugs. It is important that all the plugs, however new, are clean, free of lead or oil contamination, the gaps are correct and electrode resistance < 5KΩ (Picture 1). Oiling and contamination normally occur due to slow running on a rich mixture, maybe warming up or taxying. They are normally cleared or ‘burned off’ during cruise, particularly if leaned.

1 Above Measuring the Electrode resistance = <5KΩ. A surprisingly common failure often overlooked in otherwise clean and healthy looking plugs. This one is 1.2KΩ and OK.

In the summer, that normally balances out, and plugs survive well without much attention (short warm-ups and long flights), but in winter they can deteriorate rapidly. Starting is normally done by just one of the mags, usually the left one. This mag can serve all the bottom plugs or two bottom and two top. The bottom plugs are more prone to contamination but, as they are often connected to the left magneto, we are dependent on them being clean for efficient starting.


These are very simple devices (Picture 2) producing a spark using a coil, capacitor and contact breakers or points. They January 2022 | LIGHT AVIATION | 43

Winter starting Left A Bendix magneto on a Continental O-200. This should be the impulse mag. Below A Continental 0-200 carburettor showing both accelerator pump and manifold primer nozzle. It starts in all temperatures. Many homebuilders and some manufacturers don’t bother with the primer. Lycoming admits in one document that the throttle pump only works as a starting aid at ‘moderate ambient’ temperatures. While they don’t quantify this, my experience suggests they mean above 5° C. Marvel designed the pump to prevent larger engines ‘lean cutting’ when you advance the throttle, not to start them. Starting is a convenient by-product in warmer climes. The real cold starting answer is a panel primer pump. Below left Internals of a retard breaker mag from a Lycoming O-320. Points can wear, alter the magneto timing, and thus the spark energy. Adjusting the magneto to engine timing won’t solve that, you need to fix the points.


3 also contain a simple ‘generator’ which makes them independent of the battery. As the magneto rotates, its ‘generator’ charges the coil and capacitor. When the points open, they discharge creating the spark. For normal running, the spark occurs about 25° before top dead centre. If you tried to start the engine with that setting it would just kick back. To overcome this, most aircraft have one magneto with a starting mode. There are two types in common use. An ‘impulse coupling’ and a ‘retard breaker’. An impulse coupling is a mechanical device within the magneto, which automatically engages at low revs and temporarily stops its spindle just before the normal spark would occur. Thirty engine degrees later it is released. An internal spring accelerates it rapidly to catch up with the engine. Its increased catch-up speed generates a higher voltage for a better spark, while the delay ‘retards’ the spark to the optimum point to start the engine (about top dead 44 | LIGHT AVIATION | January 2022

4 centre, TDC). The impulse coupling disengages at about 400rpm reverting to normal timing. Very simple, and as long as everything is set up correctly, reliable. Such a device can be identified by a click or clunk as you rotate the prop which generally occurs around the compression points. As long as you hear that clunk, it is a good indication that the impulse system is working. The retard breaker magneto is quite different and depends on the aircraft battery to start. Retard magnetos can be identified by having two connections in addition to the plug leads, rather than one and ‘no clunk’. In start mode, the main contact breaker is bypassed and a second contact breaker, set to open later or ‘retarded’ to TDC, is connected to a ‘Shower of Sparks’ (SOS) device. The SOS device replaces the magneto’s internal ‘generator’ for starting. It is a very simple ‘buzzer’ that produces rapid 12v pulses to trigger the coil and produce sparks. Despite its simplicity, it seems

Winter starting

5 more prone to problems associated with cold, damp and poor batteries, but checking one is also simple. Disconnect the wire that engages the starter solenoid and activate the starter switch. If the SOS is working, you hear a constant buzz at about 500Hz. If it is not working or intermittent there will be no starting spark and it needs attention. Magnetos are very sensitive to internal settings (Picture 3). If those settings are not correct, the consequence is weak sparks, out of spec magneto drops and poor starting. Fortunately, there is a simple health check. The magneto to engine timing, should have been matched to a good magneto. If it has moved from that original setting it is an indication that one of the magneto’s internal settings has changed. That cannot be resolved by simply twisting the magneto to correct the timing. The magneto itself must be checked to identify and rectify what caused the shift.

Above The primer diagram illustrating the starting challenge for the accelerator pump.

are like treacle at low temperatures and will certainly make initial cranking sluggish as well as clogging the oilways and delaying oil pressure, risking damage. Use a modern multigrade. My tailored maintenance schedule includes most of these checks as a matter of routine. In winter I pay particular attention to those sensitive items such as plugs and batteries and I can be confident that the engine will start for a winter flight. This is my winter starting process which has worked reliably for my 35 years of flying in a variety of carburetted aircraft. My RV-6 has a retard breaker mag, throttle pump and no primer, the worst winter combination. I have never had much success with Lycoming’s pump and crank method for that set-up, so this is how I do it. I prime the engine with throttle (four pumps holding in for a second or so after each stroke), then with throttle ¼in open (and with mags off and aircraft chocked), pull the prop through two rotations (I don’t use the starter as I don’t want it to cough and use up the fuel yet). I get in and reprime (same process), then open the throttle just a little (Marvel, the carb manufacturer say, 3/32in for the optimum rich slow running spot), crank the engine and it will normally start. In the cold, it is really sensitive to that throttle setting and the pumping action. I don’t crank it for long, respecting the battery and starter maxima. If it doesn’t start in the first five revolutions I wait, reprime and try again. If it won’t fire after a couple of attempts, not unusual if it’s freezing, I use a hairdryer to warm up the carb (pic 6). Five minutes is normally enough. This method has worked on most of the aircraft I have flown. But be careful, live mags bite and dripped fuel can burn. Be safe please. ■


As with any petrol engine, an aircraft engine requires a richer mixture to start. On a car this is achieved by the choke, but on older aircraft engines, by priming. Priming is squirting fuel directly into the inlet port with a primer pump, or pumping the throttle which injects extra fuel into the carb (Picture 4). This latter system is very sensitive to low temperatures. With a throttle pump, fuel is squirted toward the bottom of the throttle vane of the carb rather than into the inlet manifold (Picture 5). If it is too cold, the extra fuel hits and condenses on the throttle vane and most of it drips back out. While the engine might cough a bit, the mixture is too weak to start it. This is the most common cause of winter starting problems in otherwise healthy engines. It is important to use the best fuel and oil for the winter season – 100LL deposits lead all over your plugs, mogas deteriorates rapidly and starting is difficult. If it’s permitted for your engine, use UL 91, long lasting and no lead. Straight oils

6 Above A couple of homemade fibreglass joints and a scat tube connect a hairdryer to the carb inlet. Five mins with the throttle / carb-heat open normally resolves any starting difficulty. You can get 12v or rechargeable battery ones too for those out in the sticks. January 2022 | LIGHT AVIATION | 45

LAA Strut News

Alan James celebrated the day in style with a flight in a WWII Spitfire Mk9 from Sywell, having arrived in his Isaacs Spitfire. Later on, and still smiling, he flew into Turweston.

The Cornwall Strut scrambled three aircraft – a Zenair, an Aeronca Chief and a Vagabond – when they spotted a weather window in what began as a dismal day.

Struts 4U by Anne Hughes


ndoubtedly 2021 was a year without parallel and for many the opportunity to open the door to a new year can’t come soon enough. For those of us who thrive on social interaction the consolation was that many had thought ‘outside the box,’ bringing a new way of doing things to brighten our days. Struts normal monthly gatherings and events were shunted along the calendar. Communications through newsletters, kept a focus on all things aviation. Strut websites and social media were also invaluable to aid communication. Hopefully in 2022 we will return to ‘normality’, in being able to choose the type of meetings and Strut events our local group will most appreciate.

One innovative idea came from the Wessex Strut, a ‘Wessex Aviators Leisure Klub,’ to start organising monthly walks, often with an ‘aviation’ theme, where members could explore local areas of interest while keeping fit and actually meeting up. Among the highlights of the year was the LAA’s 75 Celebratory ‘Fly-It’ day where Struts were encouraged to take to the air on 26 October, the LAA’s anniversary. We thought we would revisit that very special occasion with photos of your participation, which you provided for the LAA. Low cloud brought challenges for aviators in some areas of the UK, but well done to everyone who took part… whatever the weather!

Right Gary Badham, from Devon, managed two circuits to celebrate two 75s, the LAA and the Aeronca’s birthday!

Left Graham Wiley from the West Midland Strut enjoyed a flight and found some sunshine in his Aeroprakt Vixxen, G-VXXY.

Right Another shared 75 birthday was with Nic Orchard’s Aeronca G-TECC, which took to the air from Headcorn, Kent. The flight included an aerial visit to Capel-le-Ferne’s BofB Memorial.

Left Peter Adams, Air Search, also celebrated the day in Kent with his Cavalon gyrocopter.

46 | LIGHT AVIATION | January 2022

LAA Strut News Left Meanwhile, at Stow Maries, in Essex, Terry Dann gave two air experience flights in 75-year-old Beagle-Auster Terrier G-ARUI, sharing the LAA’s 75 birthday.

Left The Wessex Strut took six aircraft flying, including Nick Long’s Beagle Pup, the Norman Freelance, Cessna 150, RV-9A and John and Jenny Whicher’s Ninja.


In other strut news…

At the Southern Strut’s Christmas Dinner, David Faulkner-Bryant arrived to present Tony Palmer (above left) with the DFB Award for Tony’s work with the Strut. The shield will arrive a little later on! The Oxford Strut enjoyed an evening at their new venue in Kidlington with Travis Ludlow (above right), the youngest pilot to fly solo around the world. They were also joined by Sywell Air Scouts. Please contact your Strut to check the details before attending the calendar events. Some Struts are using the Zoom format during winter months as we continue to follow government guidelines. ■

Strut Calendar hroughout the winter there will be a mix of programmes for the Struts, some of whom are returning to meeting in person and others are planning to use the Zoom format. As Struts often publish programme details very near to

Andover Strut: Spitfire Club, Popham Airfield, SO21 3BD. 1930. 10 January - Operating Duxford’s Lysander by ‘Rats’ Ratcliffe; 14 February – Historic Army Aircraft Flight (Middle Wallop) by George Bacon. Contact Bob Howarth e-mail: Phone no. 01980 611124 Bristol Strut: BAWA Club, Filton, 1930. Bristol Strut: BAWA Club, Filton, 1930. 4 January – Last year, this year, and ILAFFT; 1 February – TBC. www. Cornwall Strut: The Clubhouse, Bodmin Airfield. 1 January – New Year’s Day Fly-In at Bodmin. Virtual Zoom meetings throughout winter months. Contact Pete White pete@ 01752 406660 Devon Strut: The Exeter Court Hotel, Kennford, Exeter. 1930. 13 January – Project Pegasus and counter terror landscape presentation by Sorrel Layne (Counter Terror Awareness Advisor). Contact: East of Scotland Strut: Harrow Hotel, Dalkeith. 2000. Contact: 0131 339 2351. East Midlands Strut: The Plough, Normanton on Soar. Contact: We also have a Facebook group and upload recordings of some meetings where we have speakers. Gloster Strut: The Victory Club, Lypiatt Road, Cheltenham, GL50 2SY. Contact: harry. Highlands & Islands: Highland Aviation, Inverness Airport. Contact: b.w.spence@ 01381 620535.

the date of the event in the winter, it is always best to check with your local Strut to make sure you are up to date with programmes and arrangements. They would certainly love to see you – one way or another!

Kent Strut: Cobtree Manor Golf Club, Maidstone, Kent. 2000. 27 January – Kent Strut AGM. Contact: Steve Hoskins hoskinsltd@ 07768 984507. LiNSY Trent Valley Strut: Trent Valley Gliding Club, Kirton Lindsey. North East Strut: Fishburn Airfield. Brunch third Sunday of each month. 1130-1330 at Fishburn Aviator Cafe. Contact: alannixon297@btinternet. com North Western Strut: Veterans Lounge, Barton, Manchester, 1930 for 2000. Contact: cliffmort@ 07813 497427. North Wales Strut: Caernarfon Airport, Dinas Dinlle. First Sunday of the month – HEMS Bistro Café. 1300. Contact: Gareth Roberts gtrwales@ 07876 483414. Oxford Group: Sturdy’s Castle Country Inn, Banbury Road, Kidlington, OX5 3EP. Second Wednesday each month. 12 January – AGM, 9 Feb: TBC. 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 second Thursday of the month. 13 January – A Career in Aerobatics and Low Level Wingwalking by David Barrell. Contact: Keith Taylor Southern Strut: The Swiss Cottage, Shorehamby-Sea. First Wednesday of the month 2000. Contact Strathtay Strut: Scottish Aero Club, Perth

Airport, Scone. Scone Clubhouse. Contact: 07785 244146. Suffolk Coastal Strut: Earl Stonham Village Hall, IP14 5HJ. 1930. 19 January: Aircraft shares and Groups – Strut group discussion on starting/running a group aircraft and managing shares 16 February – Low Cost Airlines by Tim Gibson Contact: Martyn Steggalls events@ / 07790 925142 Vale of York Strut: Chocks Away Café, Rufforth East Airfield.19.00hrs Contact: Chris Holliday 07860 787801 Wessex Strut: Henstridge Airfield Clubhouse. Monthly meetings TBC after Christmas. Meanwhile local fortnightly Strut walks organised by Wessex Aviators Leisure Klub. Contact neil. West Midlands Strut: Navigator Café, Halfpenny Green Aerodrome 19.30. 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 NB: Thank you to all Struts and clubs for getting in touch. If you have any stories, items you wish to share or updates for the calendar, please contact me at January 2022 | LIGHT AVIATION | 47

Meet the Members

Living the dream…

We hear from Sam Tomline, who, having learned to fly, has set up his own business doing his dream job – restoring and maintaining light aircraft…


ello Sam. Why aviation, and what sparked your interest?

That is a good question…! I’m really not sure how it all started. It’s been aeroplanes since day one. I was born and raised in a small village just outside Oxford, not much more than a stone’s throw away from Oxford (Kidlington) Airport in fact, and went to school in Woodstock. One of my earliest memories is watching aeroplanes overhead. Oxford was, and still is, a busy airport, so it must’ve played a part in my curiosity with aviation. My parents picked up on my interest and were very encouraging. They would supply me with books on aviation history and I’d read about Louis Bleriot, the Wright Brothers, and Neil Armstrong etc. I was around five years old when dad took me to RIAT for the first time and I remember parking up and seeing lines of C130s and just being spellbound. Then as the years went on we went to visit Duxford and Shuttleworth, and if I wasn’t already totally infatuated with aeroplanes and flight I was then! But to pinpoint a start in my passion I couldn’t say, maybe it’s something one is simply born with – the desire to fly.

48 | LIGHT AVIATION | January 2022

Above Sam Tomline in the Midland Aeroplane Workshop with an Auster undergoing restoration

When was your first flight?

It was in a DH82a Tiger Moth, G-AHAN. I felt very lucky indeed to have my first flight in a Tiger! It was then based at White Waltham and was a gift for my 10th birthday from a next door neighbour, whom I believe at the time had a share in it. While I was still at school I undertook a gliding course at Oxford Gliding Club, which saw me go solo. After leaving school I went on to do a six-year joinery and wood machining apprenticeship, and it was at this time that I was just about able to afford to do my PPL, along with helping out at the flying club at weekends.

What did your apprenticeship involve?

It was at a small local company which was very close knit and was very much one to one training. I’d start off learning to make different joints by hand, identifying timber, selecting timber and sharpening tools. This then led to setting out and technical drawing, which were all skills one had to master before going onto machines and starting your own project. It was a very ‘old school’ approach, but the best one in my opinion, and certainly gave me a good foundation.

Meet the Members

Once I completed my apprenticeship I then went self-employed to undertake and help out in various projects such as boat building, cabinet making, aircraft maintenance and restoration, and ground crewing for a local company running Tiger Moth experience flights. I even somehow managed to squeeze in a few good holidays in Europe and a few weeks travelling around California. Of course, I had to visit Chino, Planes of Fame and Yanks Air Museum while I was there.

Have you always enjoyed working hands-on with materials? Yes, it’s always been the case and it comes much more naturally than my ability to do any theoretical work! It started when I was growing up. I would always be making model aeroplanes, from free-flight balsa wood and tissue gliders, to bigger remote control scale models. My family have always been quite hands-on. My dad is in construction, and one of my grandfathers was a mechanical engineer, while the other was a pattern maker.

Where did you do your flight training?

My flight training for my PPL was done at Enstone Flying Club and took me just over a year. In the beginning, I was working weekends at the club to help fund it. It was a magical time. I completed my tailwheel course not long after my PPL, too. I then went on to do my night rating and IR(R) at Pilot Flight Training, Oxford. Then finally my aerobatic course at Turweston Flying Club, where I’m still a member. I did a season of glider tug flying, which was great fun and if I still had some spare time then I’d definitely be doing it! It’s a great way to develop your flying skills. There’s lots of variables, and the basic stick and rudder flying is good to hone your discipline.

And, you won an Air League bursary?

I was lucky enough to win two, in fact. I was awarded two bursaries over the years from the Air League, firstly for my IR(R), and secondly for my aerobatic course. It does fantastic work and I don’t think it gets quite enough exposure for what it does. It certainly helped me achieve something I could not afford otherwise and allowed me to add to my skill set. I am very grateful to it for the assistance, and encourage other young pilots to take advantage of its scholarship offers.

Top While still at school, Sam went solo at Oxford Gliding Club. Above and left Sam has enjoyed flying the Turweston Flying Club Piper Cub Cruiser – sometimes with his dad as the back seat passenger. Below Sam’s first flight was in a Tiger Moth at White Waltham.

Was it a big step to start your own aviation company?

Yes! I started The Midland Aeroplane Company (TMAC) around two years ago with the help of some good friends, and we specialise in the maintenance, repair and restoration of vintage, light and classic aeroplanes. We have a good solid team of three full-time engineers, plus there’s myself and three part-time engineers. We’ve all got individual specialisms to draw from and have been professionally trained in various corners of the industry over many years, but also can get our heads together as a team for everyday tasks as well. We take on a lot of major repair and restoration work, from sheet metal to wood and fabric. As well as ongoing maintenance, we also offer a homebuild completion facility and avionic re-fits. Some of our latest big projects we’ve January 2022 | LIGHT AVIATION | 49

Meet the Members

completed include a Cessna Airmaster rebuild and re-cover, and a Piper L21 rebuild. We also look after a large number of Chipmunks and are well versed with their various foibles and details. It’s a dream job to do, working with like-minded people who have an enormous amount of pride in their work, and collectively share a passion for aeroplanes and flying. Day to day, it really is the team that makes it.

How has the LAA helped you?

It has always been very supportive and shown a keen interest in the business. Any time I need to raise a query, it has always taken the time to help. It really is great to know that the LAA is there, and that there’s a vast amount of knowledge and resources to draw from.

How many types of aircraft have you flown?

To date I’ve flown 14 different types, mostly various tailwheel types, and I have around 300 hours – a comparative drop in the ocean!

Do you have a favourite and a ‘not-so-keenon’ type? My favourite type, so far, has got to be the Chipmunk. It’s a wonderful hands-on machine, from manually priming for an engine start, right through to the looping and swooping. Oh, and then cleaning the oil off afterwards! It’s everything I like

50 | LIGHT AVIATION | January 2022

Top Sam kneeling on the wing of a P-51D Mustang, while his dad sits in the cockpit. Being in the right place at the right time meant Sam was lucky enough to get what he rates as his best flight so far, in the Mustang’s back seat. Above left One of the latest Midland Aeroplane Company projects was the restoration of the UK’s sole Cessna Skymaster. Above right Sam, hard at work doing some ironing…

about flying, a real charm. I can’t say I’ve flown anything that I considered not to be enjoyable, but I guess there’s still time!

Any current or previously owned aircraft?

Currently I own a Taylorcraft Plus D, or Auster MkI, depending on your persuasion. She’s an ongoing project and I’ll be covering her over the winter period.

What’ve been your favourite moments in aviation?

My best flight so far has to be a back seat ride in a North American P-51D. I was very lucky to be in the right place at the right time, and it was an incredible experience! Once those 12 cylinders rumble into life it summons up all sorts of emotions. It feels like a shiver runs through you and the aeroplane simultaneously, and the thought never escapes your mind that 20-something youngsters with barely a few hundred flying hours were taking these into combat… My best aviation moment was probably flying my dad into Abingdon Air Show in a Cub, which was where he and my grandad would go to watch many airshows in the 1970s and 1980s. It was good to take him on ‘the other side of the fence’ as a thank you for all the support he’d given me, and it really felt like the completion of the circle.

Do you have any aviation heroes?

I could list so many, but one that always stands out to me is

Meet the Members

Francis Chichester. His flying is often overshadowed by his sailing feats, but he had a lot of aviation ‘firsts’. These include flying down to Australia solo, then across the Tasman Sea and then up the South Pacific to Japan – incredible stuff. He also pioneered a lot of astro-navigation for flying. A much underrated aviator.

Any aviation lessons learned?

On my QXC, way before the days of SkyDemon, when I got a little preoccupied on a leg flying over Wales somewhere. When I finally landed at my destination I took a little too long deliberating and realised I probably should be making my way back. Once airborne I suddenly thought, “It’s early January and quite late in the day, what time is the official sunset?” I flew that last leg the best I could, picking out every feature and reference and sticking to my planned heading, making it back with about six minutes to spare. There were plenty of little lessons learned that day, but mainly it reminds me to stick to the 6 P’s…

Above Sam’s favourite type – so far – is the Chipmunk. Below Having started out at Turweston Aerodrome, The Midland Aeroplane Company has recently moved to new, bigger premises at Oxford Airport.

Do you have any other non-aviation interests or hobbies?

I enjoy a lot of music and play the guitar – pretty badly! I also like to draw and have an appreciation of people who have a real talent for creating good art. I love the countryside and taking the dog for a good long walk. I’m really interested in history, particularly military history – I’m most certainly a WWII buff.

Any advice for fellow pilots and aircraft owners and operators?

Time spent in the cockpit before you start, even if it’s just a few minutes of contemplation and thought, is something that has always served me well. It gives you time to get in the zone and to think through the flight ahead. If you’re an owner, don’t be afraid to get stuck into understanding the inner workings of your aeroplane. Even if you don’t think you’re that practical, just helping to de-panel it when the annual is due, you’ll be surprised how much more you can learn, and it can help keep you ahead of the aeroplane when it comes to noticing potential issues. ■

November 2021 | LIGHT AVIATION | 57

Where to go



selection of events for the beginning of the year, and some you might want to plan for in the summer months. While they’ve yet to publish a list of events, don’t forget GASCo are running some Safety Evenings up and down the country. Keep an eye on their website,, for further updates.

January 1 1 1-3 8-9 23

Popham. New Year Fly-in Bodmin. New Year Fly-in Nothrepps. New Year Fly-in Weekend North Coates Brass Monkey fly-in. Sywell Secret War – Lysander’s role in SOE Operations

February 5

Darley Brass Monkey Balloon Meet

March 5 15-16 26

Compton Abbas Vintage Saturday Fly-in. CAA/MAA Pre-Season Air Display Symposium. Defence Academy Shrivenham Compton Abbas Open Day

As always, check the Royal Aero Club Events website for the latest information and web links for many of the events: Our thanks to the RAeC and to Dave Wise for the use of their data. If you have an event you want to advertise on the list, please email the details to Dave at:


Planning ahead…

2 Compton Abbas Vintage Fly-in 2 Bodmin Vintage and Aerobatic Fly-in 5-10 Lakeland, FL. USA. Sun’n Fun 16 Perth ACS Aviation Festival of Flight 24 Henstridge Wessex Strut Fly-in (PPR) 27-30 Friedrichshafen, Germany. AERO GA Exhibition 30-1 May Popham Microlight Trade Fair

May 28-29

May 1 Old Warden Season Premier Air Show 2 Popham Aero/Autojumble 7 Bodmin Ladies Day Fly-In 13-14 Wycombe Private Flyer 14 Compton Abbas Microlight and Light Aircraft Fly-in 14 Sywell Europa Club Fly-in/Dinner

Jun 23-26 Jun 16-18 Jul 15-17 Jul 15-17 July 23-24 Jul 26- Aug 1 Aug 5-7 Sept 2-4 Sept 17

Perth Fly-in & Meet the LAA Day [PPR] Goodwood Festival of Speed Kemble Aero Expo Fairford Royal International Air Tattoo Air Display Brienne le Chateau RSA Rally Bodmin VAC Fly-in & Meet the LAA Day Oshkosh, WI. USA EAA AirVenture Rufforth East LAA Vale of York Strut Fly-in & Meet the LAA [PPR] TBC LAA National Rally and Exhibition Rougham Fly-in & Meet the LAA Day [PPR]

LAA TOUR OF SCOTLAND: 22-29 MAY 2022 A short update from tour organiser Neil Wilson


his year we will try again to tour Scotland, mostly based from Perth, as this will give us options for weather, places to fly to and if all fails and we cannot fly for a day, we can catch a train into Edinburgh. The aim of the tour is flexibility. Designed so that you can do the whole trip; one weekend; join up as we fly past – or just duck in and out as time allows. Each individual pilot is responsible for their own flight, as well as food, accommodation fuel and landing fees. The intention is also for you to do things at your own pace. Camping is allowed at all venues. Sunday 22 May Official start at Breighton an overnight stop. Evening meal and breakfast offered. Monday 23 Fly to Eshott, where you can refuel and there will be a BBQ lunch. On to Perth for the first night, followed by an evening meal in town. Tuesday 24 Head to the west coast, onto the Isle of Skye for a fly-in at Broadford to see our ex-chairman David Faulkner-Bryant. Parking is limited, so this will possibly be in split groups, with an alternative of Plockton for lunch. On to Glenforsa for a night stop, with an evening meal and breakfast the next morning. Nearby Oban has fuel. Wednesday 25 Will be weather dependent. Options are to look around the Isle of Mull (including Tobermory), while others may wish to refuel at

52 | LIGHT AVIATION | January 2022

Oban and head up The Great Glen towards Easter Airfield in the north. You may need to camp out for a night, as accommodation is more restricted around here, but some is available. If things get tricky weather-wise, some travellers may wish to stay over at Oban for the night and eat out in nearby restaurants, then try The Great Glen on Thursday. Thursday 26 Head back to Perth for two to three nights. Depending on where you are, and the weather, you may wish to fly up The Great Glen, if not achieved the previous day, or via the lowlands (if not already in the north). Evening meal in Perth. Friday 27 Fly to East Fortune to visit the aviation museum and see the building of a 1 1/2 Sopwith Strutter. The East of Scotland strut will be our hosts. Landing fee goes to charity. Back to Perth for a BBQ and possible Caleigh band, with a free landing. Saturday 28 Perth Fly-in and Meet the LAA Day. Free landings. A day of chatting, socialising and meeting others. Trig and Pooleys hope to join us on site. Probably an evening meal in town. Sunday 29 Goodbye Scotland – and fly home. If you have a longer flight home ahead of you, I have spoken with Breighton and Leicester Airport who will welcome us. Cafés and fuel will be available at both venues. If you would like to join us, or be kept informed as more things develop, please email me at

Get ready for the New Year

All Log Books £12.50 each

Log Books Binder


Pooleys Flight Guide 2022 £27.50 Prices include VAT where applicable

Lockyears Farm Strips & Private Airfields Flight Guide. 6th Edition


Landing vouchers

LANDING VOUCHERS While it might be winter, here’s hoping for some cold, crisp flying days so that you can enjoy these three FREE landings in February with your Light Aviation. Our thanks to Dunkeswell, Fishburn and Land Ends for supporting our FREE landings for LAA members

✁ Aviation LIGHT

FREE Landing February 2022 Dunkeswell 01404 891643

An ideal airfield to visit in the winter, as it offers two hard runways, east- west 22/05 and north-south 17/35. The restaurant offers a good choice of food, with views over the airfield to watch the world go by. Offer open to LAA members with a LAA Permit aeroplane. The local, and very active, Devon Strut are based here. Free fall parachuting can take place, so please keep a good look out and listen for movements. No overhead joins. Avgas and Jet A1 available. Radio is 123.480

✁ Aviation LIGHT

FREE Landing February 2022 Fishburn 07877 118280

This is a friendly airfield that is ideal for touring or a short visit. Self-service avgas is available with credit card facility. Please avoid local villages and farms. A great new clubhouse has been built. Please make blind calls if unmanned. While visiting, why not go to the local Hardwick Hall Country Park that is only two miles away? Radio 118.280

✁ Aviation LIGHT

FREE Landing February 2022 Lands End 01736 788944

With both hard and grass runways, this LAA-friendly airfield is a great destination, as the flight down gets better the further you go, when the coasts merge. A great restaurant is on site. Local attractions include The Lands End Experience, lovely coastal walks and beaches. The airport is a good place to stop before visiting The Isles of Scilly. Avgas and Jet A1 on site. Please PPR. Radio is 120.255 Closed on Sundays and Saturday afternoons. Wear a hi-viz please.

36 | LIGHT AVIATION | July 2021


scheme. Please be sure to thank them for their participation by buying some fuel for your aircraft, or when on the obligatory trip to the cafe, fuel for you and your passenger! Above all, fly safe, and have fun!




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: 18 January 2022 If you would like to place an aircraft for sale advert please see details below: MEMBERS’ ADVERTISEMENTS Up to 30 words: £6; 31-50 words: £12 Up to 50 words with a coloured photo: £45 NON-MEMBERS’ADVERTISEMENTS 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.

Falconar F-9. Three-year old restoration of this brilliant 1970s VW-powered single-seater. Leburg ignition. TTAF 1,770, 190 since restoration. TTE 190 since full overhaul. Read all about it in the Light Aviation flight test, October 2020. Always hangared. Selling to make room for next project. £6,500. 07948 048990 1957 PA22 Caribbean Bi-Pacer bush plane, total time engine and airframe 1,122 hrs. O-320 150hp , new constant speed prop. Tundra tyres, good fabric, auxiliary fuel tank. In need of restoration. Sensible offers please to Ken 07870 973499. 1947 Cessna 120. G-JOLY (see photos on internet) 0-200, 2,050 hrs. 8.33 radio, original A.I plus SkyEcho. Permit till June 22. £17,500.

EUROPA XS Kit number 467 and metal build Stand, High Top Fuselage, Tri gear, Speed Kit, Firewall forward kit, with many other modifications included.

PROJECTS Project for sale due to the sad death of the restorer. Unique Nord 858/9, designed for glider towing. Dismantled and in storage awaiting restoration. Contact P Lovegrove. Tel: 07967 135376

AIRCRAFT PARTS Continental A65 Parts. Crankcase 1 VG, Crankcase 2 worn. 4 cylinders. 4 pistons, conrods, gudgeon pins. 4 rocker covers. 8 rockers, pins. pushrods. engine back plate. oil pump, gears. camshaft. oil sump. oil pipe. dipstick. induction inlets. induction tubes. OPV . Various fittings etc. Photos. Contact Pete White 07805 805679.

Cavalon Gyrocopter, pearl white, 662hrs engine time. Rotax 914 Turbo, full hose change, New Permit Dec 2021 100Mph 17lph, 5 hours duration. Heater, full normal instruments, ADSB out transponder, TM250 traffic avoidance, dual altimeter, HSI, lights, Strobe. Dual control, Full service history, Dream to fly, tuition available. Smart, go places gyro. £39,850. Tel no 07485 015257,

SERVICES 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.

WANTED Druine Turbulent; wanted: gear struts. Pair of gear struts seeked after, preferably rubber shock absorbers. Please contact: Eric Pinon 07552 241137 or

MISCELLANEOUS Pilot/farmer requires help with a/c maintenance, plus gale damaged door repairs. Possible hangarage on grass strip near NE. 21. Suit aeromodeller, mechanic, W.H.Y. Enthusiasm essential, expenses paid. 0191 414 2025 FOR ALL MEMBERS CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING ENQUIRIES CONTACT SHEILA



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

January 2022 | LIGHT AVIATION | 55





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56 | LIGHT AVIATION | January 2022

HAPPY NEW YEAR TO MY CUSTOMERS & SUPPLIERS If it’s good enough for sailplanes, your plastic fantastic?





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January 2022 | LIGHT AVIATION | 57

From the archives

FROM THE ARCHIVES The stories behind items in the LAA’s collection PRACTICAL MECHANICS – OCTOBER 1937


ne of the unsung secrets available to any members visiting LAA HQ (in post-Covid times) is our Members Lounge, which contains an archive of magazines predating even the earliest years of the Ultra-Light Aircraft Association. These include old editions of The Aeroplane and Flight, as well as this gem, a copy of Practical Mechanics from 1937, serialising the plans and building instructions for the Luton LA.4 Minor. The articles were the initiative of the aircraft’s designer, Cecil Latimer Needham, a former Educational Officer, who was based at RAF Halton until 1935, when he started the Luton Aircraft Company. He’d previously been involved in designing the Halton Mayfly and Minus ultralight light aircraft for the Halton Aero Club. While only a handful of Luton Minor aircraft were built pre-war,

58 | LIGHT AVIATION | January 2022

the design was set to become one of the first successful ULAA types after WWII. The first to fly under ULAA auspices was built to the pre-war Practical Mechanics instructions by Flt Lt James Coates DFC. Named Swalesong, after Coates’ native Yorkshire dale, G-AMAW is preserved today back in Yorkshire, at Breighton, with the Real Aeroplane Company. Later Luton Minors owe their success to the irrepressible Arthur W G Ord Hume. He worked with Latimer Needham, ultimately taking over the design rights and redrawing the design to accommodate VW engines. In the 1950s, Arthur also arranged that the design and instructions were again syndicated to Practical Mechanics, aided and abetted by the editor, Frederick J Camm, the brother of Hawker designer, Sydney Camm. Steve Slater

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