Updated: Nov 10
Mixed weather in October.... but rainbows are a consolation
In this issue:
Shaw's Report - our Chairman Ian's take on life, the universe and everything
Club Night Report and Achievements
David Duthie on how easy CF editorship used to be
Sharon Cox on fishing (not really) in the Lake District
Ian Macbeth on conspicuity common sense
Our first edition of Cheshire Flyers e-zine and it looks great!
We’ve come a long way since the inception of Cheshire Flyers. Check out David Duthie’s report below which brings back so many memories. It’s really interesting looking at the phone chain where I am notably absent. Why? I’d had my licence for around 4 years in 2001. Truth is I felt just a little too intimidated to take part. That coupled with the fact I daren’t change tanks mid-air on my Flash 2 Alpha flexwing for fear of the engine stopping - which effectively limited my trips to Beeston Castle and back. Sad but true.
It wasn’t until a few years later that I got the taste for flying further afield. For me the catalyst was buddying up with other like-minded pilots such as Rob Reynolds and Marcus Furniss who both went on to become instructors as well as JB of course. And, once I’d started, I couldn’t stop and, when there was nowhere to fly, I invented trips (flyouts) to try and get everyone else to come along, as that’s when the magic happened…
So, the point of this inane ramble is that if you feel slightly intimidated by our flyouts - it’s entirely natural. But, trust me, the only way to get over that is to take part, and I promise you, you won’t look back.
As we stare in the face of another lockdown at least we can reminisce on a fabulous year’s flying, being blessed this year with some incredible trips, and a barrel of laughs with the UK’s best bunch of flyers!
Moving swiftly on, Yahoo is about to disintegrate. It’s served us well over the years but all good things come to an end - except for CF of course, which goes from strength to strength! Our primary method of communication will be the two Whatsapp groups, backed by our fantastic newsletter. We will also maintain a list of member’s email addresses for important club comms – such as the newsletter. We’ll send out a link; please subscribe so you won’t miss out on any important announcements.
We’ve got our Christmas ‘virtual’ party to look forward to which this year will be on Monday 21st December. With lots of home-made fun we’ll be joined by Rob Hughes, Chairman of the BMAA. Of all the flying clubs in the UK, he wants to spend Christmas with ours! It promises to be a great night so stick the date in your diary.
Finally, we’ve got indicative prices for our new range of Cheshire Flyers clothing. We will be taking orders shortly but it would be good to get an idea of quantities, so please shout out on what you would like.
All items have been selected for their decent quality and include the Cheshire Flyers logo on the front.
Russell Mens or Ladies Softshell Jacket - £62.00 – various colours - as worn by Steve Speake
Additional Rear of Jacket Logo - £6.60
Alternative lower cost Unisex softshell Jacket - £44.00 – various colours
Russell Ladies’ or Men’s Microfleece - £28.00 – various colours
Canvas Cap (no top button) - £11.00 – various colours
Baseball Contrast Cap - £9.00 – various colours
Men’s or Ladies’ cotton polo shirt - £19.00 – various colours
Ladies’ or Men’s Long Sleeve T-Shirt - £16.00 – various colours
Printed COVID Face Mask - £6.00 – black
I think the best way forward is to order one of everything initially, then we can check out we are happy with everything before committing.
Any other thoughts, please let me know?
Club Night Report - 19.10.20
Trains and Boats and Planes
We were treated to an exposition on the merits of cruise travel by Peter Hulme who gave us lots of interesting facts about the places he visited on his QE2 Alaskan cruise in May 2019. His presentation was full of photographs of the aircraft Peter saw on his trip – lots of commercial airliners and smaller seaplanes and helicopters. The seaplanes interested me particularly with their colourful liveries and the great flexibility around water, just tying up to a jetty terminal on the lake or fjord. There were Otters and Beavers much in evidence with a variety of Cessna aircraft including Caravans but the fares for sightseeing were pretty eyewatering. The scenery is stunning up in the far north of the American continent and clearly Peter and his wife very much enjoyed the sights on the voyage. They took around 4000 photos between them over the trip, so it was a challenge to distil down to a suitable number to show to us Cheshire Flyers. Thanks very much to Peter for his time and effort in putting together his talk for us
Ian showed everyone the potential new club merchandise, i.e. clothing or caps with the Cheshire Flyers logo embroidered on them, and promised to send out an email with the options soon. This initiative was welcomed by members at the meeting.
Members were told that yahoo group emails was closing up shop as of December and the club would move to direct emails out. Members need to opt in to the club mailing list to be sure of receiving official club notices and the link to the newsletter.
Ken Watt spoke about his selection of his new aircraft - a TL Sting and why it was difficult to let the Eurofox go because it is such a good aircraft. It was generally agreed that sometimes a new aircraft with the associated new challenge helps to maintain the passion for flying. Ken is looking forward to the change - which is from high wing to low wing and a considerably faster and heavier (600Kg) aircraft, but still a microlight and he will be able to stay at his current home base.
Keith Ingham passed his GST for the second time in a flexwing, having had a longish break from flying. We hope to see Keith at a Cheshire airfield in his Blade 582 very soon. For those that don't know Keith, he trained with Capt. Braders in 1991 and went on to compete for Great Britain in the world microlight championships (with Steve Rosser as navigator), fly the Round Britain Rally a few times, and to circumnavigate Australia in his flexwing [See pics from this trip in CF May 2018].
Welcome to the new digital Cheshire Flyer - I am calling it an e-zine. I hope that everyone will appreciate the better readability on mobiles and tablets, plus receiving the direct link to the website in order to read the latest issue online. It's awe-inspiring really that the Cheshire Flyers Club has so many members happy and willing to share stories and experiences for the rest of the Club. Let's keep that going. So do, please, send in photos and snippets. You don't have to write an essay - a few photos with appropriate captions can be enough to show where you got to and how it went. I like SkyDemon tracklogs and stats myself. It's interesting to see how long the legs are that pilots fly, average speeds, heights, routes and so on. Is that sad? I am sure that lower hours pilots appreciate hearing about longer trips and equally appreciate other novice pilots' experiences. It's also good to be made aware of different airfields' quirks and facilities, so that others feel more confident about their planning choices.
By the way, it is possible to print this using your browser print function and it's mostly OK apart from the page breaks. So while it's not as neat on paper as it used to be, it is still possible to print and read if that's your preference.
With COVID-19 still dominating our lives, we are all now going into a lockdown so for most it means no flying. Frustrating though it is for all of us pilots, spare a thought for the flying instructors and schools and others running airfield cafes, many of whom are going to be unable to earn a living for pretty much all of November and into December.
I asked people to send in photos taken while flying to show off the autumn colours. Jon Down responded with a few photos taken by Rosie his daughter. My favourite is this one below.
Club Night coming up... 16.11.20
Our guest speaker will be Ed McCallum who will tell us all about his epic adventure flying himself to America. I believe it was in a microlight but details will follow in a later email. Make sure you remember to attend the meeting. A zoom invitation will be circulated much nearer the time, as usual. See you there.
Cheshire Flyers Newsletter – keeping up with technological evolution
David Duthie reminisces on the early days of being the CF Newsletter Editor
As Cheshire Flyers moves to a new way of circulating the Newsletter it takes me back to March 2000 when I took over the editorship of the Newsletter on a temporary basis from Dave Creedy. Dave was going to work on a project in China "till sometime in June" and sent a regular “Letter from China” for inclusion in the Newsletter. But by September the writing was on the wall, Dave was still busy with his project in China and wasn’t going to be back any time soon. I wonder if that project has finished yet? This had become a permanent job and I was promoted from Temporary Club Secretary/Newsletter Editor to Club Secretary/Newsletter Editor.
( I should add a warning that some of the younger members may need help in understanding some of the things mentioned in this article.)
At that time word processing was quite basic: Wordstar and Word Perfect were still available but Microsoft Word was taking over as the preferred word processing software; desk top publishing for home use was just making an appearance and was quite expensive. The Newsletter was printed in black and white on both sides of A4 paper with grainy photographs, sometimes only two sides but usually more. All contributions were welcome and I was frequently handed a newspaper cutting or a hand written note to include. Fortunately, home scanners were available but they were more expensive than the all-in printer/scanners we use today.
This was still a big move from the early days of the Newsletter which was compiled with scissors and a stapler or stick of office glue – the original “Cut and Paste” – and then photocopied. Have a look on the archive of Newsletters on the website and see for yourselves what the first edition of October 1991 and others of the 1990’s looked like. In fact, there are many interesting and amusing articles in the back copies.
When it was ready for publication, I printed the odd numbered pages first then turned the paper over and printed the even numbered pages and then stapled the sheets together. This would be in time for the monthly meeting but anyone who missed the meeting would have the Newsletter posted to them. That entailed putting the Newsletters in a large A4 envelopes and addressing the envelopes. This of course meant that I had to keep a list of everyone’s address which probably wouldn’t be acceptable these days. Then off to the Post Office to buy some stamps and stick them on the envelopes; the stamps were not self-adhesive at that time, so I used a damp sponge in a saucer to moisten the stamps.
It was sometimes a struggle to find enough material to fill the Newsletter. A regular feature was “The Cheshire Flyers ‘Phone Chain” as our way of keeping in touch between meetings. WhatsApp is the method of choice for sharing information quickly nowadays but twenty years ago, without smart phones and the internet, we didn’t have such a convenient way of communicating so to spread the load of passing information the phone chain was devised and because people would misplace their copy it was included every three or four months in the Newsletter
JB (as he was referred to in his pre-Captain Braders days) was always very good at sending me his Chairman piece in good time and as members became more adventurous over time, quality articles were submitted regularly. One that stands out was “Shuff and Rush go to Ireland”, a really big achievement at the time and it was reprinted in Microlight Flying, the first of many Cheshire Flyers adventures to be printed in the national magazine. The annual Round Britain Rally always provided plenty of material and JB’s contribution one year was particularly memorable and was accompanied by a photograph of a DC3 Dakota in the roof of a house at Ruislip.
From what I see with the advent of modern microlights, members are flying more often and with the club’s own Travel Agency - Shaw’s Tours - going on more adventurous trips and for longer, so there is also no shortage of material. I’m not sure of the timings but along the way colour printing became widely available and the Newsletter was graced with a jaunty colourful logo of two microlights, a flex wing and a fixed wing on a blue background circled by the words “The Cheshire Flyers Microlight Flying Club”. Steve Rosser organised some clothing, a polo shirt, a sweatshirt and a fleece all sporting the logo.
Things took a turn for the worst when the Post Office changed postage rates and an A4 envelope was classed as a large item and cost more to send. So, to avoid the extra cost of postage a box of A5 envelopes was acquired but that meant that the Newsletter had to be folded to go in the envelope, and the stamps still weren’t self-adhesive. Around this time the internet was becoming more widely available and members had email addresses so that heralded another change. Some copies were printed to take to the meeting but no more envelopes and stamps as the Newsletter was circulated by email. However that had its challenges as, amongst other things, I now needed to keep a list of member’s email addresses. The newsletter was circulated as a Word document (home conversion to PDF was a thing of the future) over a dial-up connection, as there was no broadband at that time. There was a limit on the size of an attachment to an email so the Newsletter couldn’t have too many photographs and there was also a limit on the number of recipients; the way round that was to send the Newsletter in four batches. Remember that this was on a slow dial-up connection so each batch took up to ten minutes to send while my wife was telling me to hurry up as she wanted to use the phone. Next came Yahoo Groups and the ability to convert Word documents to PDF at home. This made things a little easier with one simple email to the Group to say that the Newsletter was available and that a copy was in the files section of Yahoo. The latter also became an archive of back editions for anyone who was interested. I was now working in Manchester and although I was doing a lot of microlighting stuff, I wasn’t doing very much actual flying, which made the hourly cost high so I decided to sell my Thruster. About a year later, in May 2007, and because I wasn’t flying, I decided to stand down as editor which as it happens was a good move as I had a heart attack later that year. I think that Sharon is the third editor since my time and with the benefit of her charm and skill with publishing software the Newsletter looks much more professional. Sadly, history is repeating itself and Sharon is finding it difficult to find time to fly and with other pressures is now changing the format of the newsletter.
I wish Sharon all the best in her editorship and hopefully I will be able to keep up with this modern technology and continue to enjoy the wonderful and widely renowned Cheshire Flyers Newsletter.
Lure of the Lakes
Sharon Cox recounts a scenic flight to Troutbeck
Hooked by John’s suggestion that the plan for our previously agreed Wednesday flyout could take in a couple of new (to both of us) airstrips, I agreed with enthusiasm to a trip to the Lake District. Light winds and good visibility peppered with possible showers was forecast so, with open minds, we set off roughly in the direction of Windermere, intending to land at Rossall Field and then Troutbeck; however, Cark was our potential divert if the clouds were too low over the Lakeland mountains. To continue with fishing references: trout-fishing is generally done using lures; and if only the divert airfield was Carp then that would have completed the catch! Enough of fishing.
We have been to Berrier, from where the owner Roger Savage has been flying gyrocopters for years. Roger has developed a new strip at Troutbeck, to which a number of Cheshire Flyers have already flown this year. Our main instruction on seeking PPR was to stick to the runway, park somewhere off it and to avoid taxying ‘cross-country’ up to the hangar, as the ground was very boggy. Otherwise we were welcomed as pilots who knew how to land at slightly challenging strips, given that John had landed at Berrier in the past, which has a somewhat intimidating approach over lumpy ground higher than the runway.
It was sunny with a patchy blue sky leaving Dairy House Farm and we flew up the Low Level Corridor on a listening squawk to Manchester. Once out of the Corridor we headed north-north-west up to Rossall Field, which I found challenging to spot. John had talked to James Walker the CFI there (Attitude Airsports) for PPR, who has, incidentally, now recruited Dan Roach (author of a new book called ‘Inside the Cyclone’, amongst other writings) as his AFI. We met James, as well as a couple of flyers out of Barton, one in a flexwing. There was also another pilot there who turned out to have been a student of John’s when he was an AFI at Rufforth. He remembered his training in the eighties and is still flying microlights thanks to Capt. Braders for whom he was full of praise.
We had COVID- secure cups of coffee and tea made by James who has nice facilities at Rossall but we didn’t tarry long. He teaches in a new Eurofox which he sang the praises of. For us, next stop, hopefully, would be Troutbeck, with a direct-ish route up Windermere. This was not to be – but before we approached murkier conditions, we flew in good visibility over the Lune estuary where I spotted Glasson Dock next to a larger marina. In a previous life when I was conducting a research project for the Department for Transport on coastal shipping and inland waterway freight transport, I visited Glasson Dock. It was strange to see it from the air which gives a wholly different perspective. I had this odd recollection of the tidal dock (with lock gates to keep a level at all stages of the tide), being at the edge of the sea i.e. the Irish Sea, as I had visited it on a wild day at high tide or thereabouts, somewhere around 1982. It is located at the seaward end of the Lancaster Canal. It transpires that it’s quite far from the sea proper when viewed from the air. John orbited so that I could take a half decent photo.
The harbour at Glasson originally opened in 1787, following the demise of Lancaster as a port, and allegedly at its height was the largest port in the north west, importing cotton, sugar, spices and slaves. The Lancaster Canal was important in affording swift distribution of cargo landed at the port into the heart of industrial Lancashire. Glasson is still, today, a small port handling over 150,000 tonnes of cargoes annually; commodities such as animal feeds, fertilizers and aggregates.
The weather looked promising as we flew north skirting the edge of Morecambe Bay (no life-vests being worn) until we looked over in the direction in which we wanted to head. Given our recent experience around the ‘cheese-grater’ cliffs of North Devon I was very unkeen to be scurrying low level on a weekday in the Lake District. The cover photo shows the view at the point when we decided to go further west, though we did not see any need to land at Cark.
We carried on, looking east continually to gauge the suitability for heading towards Keswick in terms of cloud cover, and at the chart for the height of ground and orientation of the valleys. Ian Shaw mentioned in his discussion on the trials and tribulations of the Newquay adventurers that it’s good to share the workload in less than perfect conditions. In this case the situation was quite different but I appreciated the opportunity to confer and agree on the route for sure. The skydemon track log at the end shows the route taken as we plumped to risk turning inland following Bassenthwaite lake to then route east to Troutbeck. You can’t blame me for being sensitised to avoid flying in super-murk given the Woolacombe experience. The cloud was hanging in patches though so it was not really a problem of visibility overall.
Looking left .......... and then right!
The terrain eventually flattened out and we hunted for Troutbeck airfield.
Troutbeck runway is uphill (or downhill) and I was happy that this was John’s leg (I suspect he was too in all truth) because there was a good chance of it being sticky with the amount of rain we have suffered lately. The strip itself was fine if quite tough grass and off runway didn’t look too bad. We only realised how wet it was on jumping out of the plane. The grass is that coarse moorland grass which looks OK until you put weight on it and then becomes a puddle causing you wet feet as it soaks over your shoes or boots.
A little after us a yellow piper cub flew in. The pilot spent quite a while faffing while we ate our packed lunch in the hangar as there was a cold, sharp, wind blowing which made it too draughty to sit outside with the sun frequently passing behind the clouds. He turned out to be a touring pilot who had spent the summer flying around Britain, which he was enjoying immensely. He was on his way back south, taking his time. He appeared with his Broughton fold-up bike and tent on his back. He planned to camp for the weekend probably and await good enough weather to venture onwards. He was based at Denham.
Roger Savage the owner turned up and he explained his vision to have touring aviators stay there; he welcomed campers and he was planning at some point to put some limited accommodation in a mezzanine within the hangar, which is already equipped with toilets and kitchen and dining area. Roger loves the idea of packing a tent and touring around small airfields. And he’s clearly a convert to the microlighting end of GA flying. He talked about possibly buying a Eurostar and was keen to pick John’s brains about what to look for in terms of issues or problem areas and what sort of prices might be involved. It is good that there are individuals prepared to invest their time and money in providing such facilities for the rest of us to enjoy.
Eventually, we thought we had better head home as we were still going to try to fly down Windermere on the way back. My turn to fly this leg and, as luck would have it, the low cloud had largely cleared away and we enjoyed a very scenic flight back. I love to fly lower than the tops of the hills. And I particularly love to see geomorphology in its natural state – ‘U-shaped’, glaciated valleys; remember those from geography days? Seeing the natural landscape is one of my favourite things about flying and in this country, we are blessed with a huge variation in landscapes courtesy of our geology in the main.
Windermere was spectacular as usual and looking busy with sailors and steamers plying the lake. Once out and past the lake we saw a couple of military jets quite far distant on our left, heading in the opposite direction. We continued on, retracing our route around the now tide-out Morecambe Bay and flew, without stopping further, all the way to Dairy House Farm, a near record for Capt. Brader’s bladder – 1.5 hours.
A great day, flying amongst some of England's most spectacular scenery. What's not to like?
Tracking PAW Prints – Low Cost Electronic Conspicuity
Ian Macbeth explains and dispels the myths
As we probably all know by now, the CAA & Department for Transport are offering financial support to buy Electronic Conspicuity (EC) equipment (“Grant’s grant”). The scheme is open to applications for a 50% refund on currently available EC kit up to 31 March 2021 or until the money runs out. PilotAware (PAW) Rosetta is included.
There is some “noise” out there as to whether PAW is a proper, grown-up system. Some cite SkyEcho or ADS-B as approved alternatives. Apart from being more expensive, these other systems don’t come close to the richness of EC that PAW offers. But I’m perhaps biased.
Good Old ADS-B
ADS-B is being adopted as a standard internationally as a means of broadcasting your position and callsign. If you have a suitably equipped Mode-S transponder (such as a Trig TT21), you currently squawk (respond to ATC) and squit (broadcast without interrogation). By adding GPS information you can issue an “extended squit”, and this can be done by coupling a suitable GPS (for example PAW) to your Mode-S to include your position in your broadcast.
Great so now you are broadcasting ADS-B. This system grew out of a 1970’s secondary surveillance radar system. It works line-of-sight, so other aircraft and ATC within range can “see” you. (Hopefully).
ADS-B uses a series of pulses to communicate and has no encryption to validate its origin and separate it from other transmissions. These pulses can be entangled with other ADS-B pulses being broadcast at the same time, and so both signals can get corrupted. Imagine what it will be like when everyone (including drones?) is broadcasting. So ADS-B, heralded by the CAA as a technological advance for aviation, is in reality an old dog that cannot be taught new tricks. This could be fixed easily, but that isn’t happening.
PAW’s idea was to scoop up signals from ADS-B, other PAWs, Mode-C/S, and (free of charge) FLARM. The FLARM bit uses ground stations to relay airborne FLARM signals. These ground signals are not subject to licence-for-use, unlike the air-to-air equivalents. Nifty. PAW also uses time-of-flight of the signals to different ground stations to calculate positions of aircraft. Even niftier.
This Open Glider Network of ground stations has evolved to also broadcast PAW signals using special add-on kits. And it has evolved further as new sites that were never in the FLARM network are added as ATOM|GRID, (sites like Hawarden). Through these you can see all of the aforementioned signals from all aircraft and their positions, line-of-sight or otherwise.
As if that wasn’t enough, it is now relaying METAR information into the PAW receivers so it can appear on the PAW radar or on other connected software like SkyDemon, Air Navigation Pro, XC Soar and many others.
To achieve all this, the simplest installation is the Rosetta unit with integrated antennas. You plonk it on the console, plug it into the ciggy lighter socket and connect your tablet via WiFi (after a little setup jiggery-pokery which really doesn’t hurt). Your SkyDemon will then show lots of little planes that look like they’re on your wingtip when in fact they’re 4 miles away. Reception in a metal tube or cage can be flaky, so external antenna kits are also available.
The whole point about PAW and avoiding transmitting on the (licensed) ADS-B band is safety at an affordable price. For around £325 (less 50%) you get more information about other aircraft than most ATCs get. And they all get to see you too. And yet people moan about it not being “proper”.
PAW is a non-profit, spare-time, energetic, enterprise passionate about common sense EC. For this, Keith Vinning has just been awarded an OBE for services to aviation safety. So now we know what the Queen thinks.
And if you still need convincing - listen to Paul Kiddell who flies a humungous number of hours and is an ex RAF radar person, and he sings the praises of PAW (as do Gordon Verity and most other posters on the Microlight facebook page). Ed.
DATES FOR YOUR DIARY
16th November: next Club Night
21st December: Cheshire Flyers Christmas Club Night
TOUR DATES 2021
- GET THEM IN YOUR DIARY. Book your leave, start amassing brownie points, do whatever you need to and ensure you can join at least one. If you need motivation, look at back issues of Cheshire Flyer to get in the mood for FAFfing.