Hot toddy anyone? Jon Down's tranquil shot of the distillery on Islay back in September
In this issue:
Shaw's Report - our Chairman Ian's take on the past year for Cheshire Flyers
Club Night Report and Achievements
Jon Down describes a tough decision which foxed him for a while
CAA safety guidance on returning to flying after a period of abstinence (........from flying!)
The LAIT report from Gordon Verity
Clued Up - GA Update December 2020 - Winter flying - why not?
John Bradbury explains the rules on revalidating your microlight ratings.
Ken Watt on being stung into action to take on new challenges.
It’s the final SHAW’s Report of the year giving Sharon the Christmas holidays to create more ingenious ways of cajoling me into producing next year’s Shaw's reports on time. Equally however I’ve got the holidays to dream up more excuses for not…
This closing report is always a good time to reflect on how the year has gone and as a club what we’ve done right and what could we have done better?
And what a weird year we’ve had! On the whole however, given this damned corona-climate and against all odds, we’ve had a pretty active and successful 12 months.
Despite my initial reservations the zoom club nights appear to work really well, they keep us communicating, just as club night at the Wheaty did. However, they also permit many members to join in the fun who would otherwise be unable due to distance or timing, as well as widening the net for our guest speakers to participate.
Could this be the future? I would hate to lose the interaction of face-to- face club nights, but online does tick a lot of boxes. Maybe the future includes a combination of both?
Flying-wise the year has been equally successful. When the opportunities arose, we collectively took to the skies with some great ‘almost socially distanced’ club trips including Sandown, coastal tours, as well as our fabulous Anglesey outing.
These have all been faithfully documented by our magnificent newsletter which is creatively, diligently and skilfully published by Sharon. Not forgetting of course, the dozens of wonderful articles written by ‘Cheshire Flyers’.
Is this the best flying club in the world? – Probably! It certainly refreshes the parts other flying clubs cannot reach…
Before I sign off for 2020, don’t forget to join in the fun with our ‘Christmas Club Night Zoom Bash’ on 21st December. We’ve got Rob Hughes along from the BMAA for a chat, a bonkers quiz, home- made cocktails, our coveted club awards to dish out, as well as some bizarre video footage.
See you all on the 21st…
Club Night Report - 16.11.20
"I was spellbound; I'm speechless... what a 'bonkers, epic trip - inspirational". Ian summed up his own impressions of Eddie McCallum's incredible achievement flying his CT microlight from his home base at Athey's Moor to Oshkosh and back, via Greenland and Canada.
All of the members who logged into the zoom club night were treated to Eddie McCallum's matter of fact description of his momentous journey to Oshkosh. Eddie showed some stunning and, quite literally, awe-inspiring, images of the cloudscapes, seas, rivers and mountains that he overflew on his trip to the USA and back. Eddie was beset on the way out by poor weather, worse visibility and the challenges of flying long distances over sea and inhospitable terrain, all of which he overcame with admirable presence of mind. He had to press on to Iceland, for example, being unable to land at his planned original lunch stop in the Faroes due to cloud obscuring the airfield. Out of everything he experienced while on trip, Eddie said he enjoyed meeting friendly and super-helpful people along his journey most of all.
In answer to one of the many questions he was asked after his presentation he said the worst part of the journey was the interminable leg over northern Canada which was mostly trees and water, nowhere to land at all. If he went down on the ice pack he would have the prospect of polar bears as well as very cold water to contend with; in Canada it could be grizzly bears or wolves. We all laughed to hear that Eddie took some bangers (the firework variety) that he purchased in Newcastle, in case he needed to scare off any carnivorous plane spotters.
Of course Ian asked about the survival suit which Eddie swore by. His was a drysuit designed for survival in the coldest seas for some hours. Eddie would not fly over water without one. He even used it to swim in a fjord when he lost a bet on a football game's outcome while on the trip.
Thank you very much to Eddie for taking the time to sort out some photos and tell us the tale of his Oshkosh Odyssey. It is truly remarkable to make all of that distance in a microlight. Those of you that missed the talk can read a bit about the trip in Microlight Flying December 2014, where you can see some of the stunning images that Eddie showed us during his presentation.
Eddie is planning a trip to Scandinavia next year with some flying mates and extends an invitation to any Cheshire Flyers that "would like to tag along". This trip will be in his CT2K; but he also plans to fly his 2 stroke Quantum to Orkney at some point in the year, if anyone is interested in joining on that trip. He will send the provisional itinerary when it is planned. Let me know if you want Eddie's contact details.
Comfortable Crossing (of the Atlantic)
Kevin Edmunds made us all wish we had a private jet to fly, complete with a case of Bollinger. Rapidly putting together an interesting set of slides, with only a couple of hours notice of being asked, to describe his Atlantic crossing experience as a comparison to Eddie's, Kevin was full of genuine admiration for Eddie's accomplishment - which he described as a feat requiring considerable courage.
Kevin explained that he preferred to fly over to the US at 43,000 feet AMSL, where the sun always shined; and there was a particular set of coordinates for the location which Kevin had worked out was exactly halfway – known as 30 degrees West - where he always felt a small thrill of fear. It was the point in his flight where he had calculated that if the aircraft had any problem there would be no salvation; 90 minutes flying time to the nearest airport anywhere. However, Kevin was comforted by the essential mod in his cockpit that would always provide the solution to any malfunction – the red PANIC button. That made him feel he was in control.
Kevin also marvelled at the way in which Eddie managed to find some fantastic food on his journey whereas Kevin led us to believe that he tended to have to hole up in a hotel with dubious catering as a stopover on his visits.
It was an entertaining look at a different aviation sector so thanks very much too, to Kevin for his contribution to the club night.
Congratulations to several of Captain Braders' students at Cheshire Microlight Centre who recently passed their Radio Telephony examinations with Kevin Edmunds.
Christmas Club Night coming up... 21.12.20
Our guest speaker is Chairman of the BMAA - Rob Hughes. As Ian said - "Of all of the flying clubs in the UK, Rob has chosen the Cheshire Flyers to spend Christmas with". In reality we have Geoff Hill to thank for the suggestion and the persuasion. We look forward to what Rob has to say.
Don't forget that the Club Awards will also be presented virtually so make sure you attend in case you are a winning recipient.
We will have a fun quiz put together by Nick Buckley, Garry Roberts and John Skelley - so that should be a laugh. Plus we have Nick's rendition of Freddie Mercury to look forward to.
As if all that wasn't enough, Ian has a cunning plan to give us some cocktail recipes so that we can have fancy drinks alongside us for the club festive occasion.
Be sure not to miss logging in. And remember that yahoo mail will have stopped by then so you need to opt in to the club email list to receive the emailed link from John B. Link follows (you need to hit the button to show 'yes' before you submit):
Down unearths his Fox
Jon Down explains how he made his latest aircraft purchasing decision
How do you choose between a Foxbat and a Eurofox?
What a privileged dilemma to be in!
How fortunate we are to live in the 21st Century, with the luxury of being able to climb into your own private aircraft and take off into the skies. Leonardo would have so envied us.
'Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward. For there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”
Leonardo Da Vinci
My own personal journey started almost 20 years ago with a chance tandem flight in a paraglider and, from the moment I left the ground, I was hooked. In no time at all I was learning to paraglide and paramotor, following which I embarked on my PPL. In just a couple of years I had gained my IMC, night and twin tickets and was taking every opportunity I had to get into the air.
Owning my own aircraft was my dream, and it wasn’t long before I’d bought myself a share in a Skyranger. At this stage in my flying career, many of my fellow Cessna and PA28 pilots couldn’t understand why I was “downgrading” to a Skyranger, but I never felt it was a lesser form of flying. In fact, mastering the skills required to fly a microlight seemed harder, as the aircraft was so light, manoeuvrable and responsive unlike the lumbering GA aircraft I had been used to. These are the reasons that microlights are so much more fun to fly.
The years went by until, out of curiosity, I tried a share in a Flight Design CTSW. The speed, comfort and touring ability of a CT are extraordinary, and I would definitely recommend having a go in one if you get a chance. One word of caution though, the landing skills required are considerable and these aircraft are not for the inexperienced. Being precise with your speeds is essential.
STOL – Short Take-Off and Landing
So, what could I fly after the CT? I fancied looking for something with more of a STOL capability as I’m fortunate to live on a farm. The fantasy of having my own wings at home and taking off and landing in my own fields became my quest. Off I went in search of the perfect STOL flying machine at the BMAA and LAA rallies. With so many shapes and colours to choose from, where do you start?
A Google search for STOL aircraft narrowed it down to half a dozen or so available in the UK. Some of the aircraft that tempted me were the Zenair CH750, the Kitfox, the Savannah Classic, and of course the Eurofox. After much deliberation and some good selling skills from the representatives on the stand, I signed on the dotted line, handed over my money and bought a Eurofox tail wheel kit.
A year later I was up up and away; it wasn’t long before I embarked on a journey across Europe to Slovakia. What an experience, and what a plane to fly.
The reputation of the Eurofox is certainly high, and the performance I was promised was always achieved. Comfort, speed, reliability and looks make it very desirable, and I was being noticed everywhere I went. People would come over to my reliable red tail dragger and take photos, ask questions and ask to feel the quality of the finish. If you’ve never looked closely at a Eurofox, I urge you examine one if you’re thinking of changing aircraft.
Here are 10 of the features of the Eurofox 912iS Tail wheel I really like:
1. Great carrying capacity - my LAA version had a max take off weight of 560kg, which allowed for plenty of luggage, fuel and company on long trips.
2. Fast and economical – my 912iS was able to comfortably cruise at around 95kts at 4600 rpm and a fuel burn of around 12 litres ph. It had a fuel capacity of 86 litres and a range of around 5 or 6 hours, well beyond my bladder!
3. Good STOL performance – if you look on various websites and at the POH, you’ll find figures quoted of Take-off Ground Roll at MAUW - 139 Metres and Landing Ground Roll at MAUW - 130 Metres. These figures are really impressive, but with my limited skills, I was never really able to match these. I’m not sure why, but I always found I needed more runway than I expected. I found the Eurofox loves to float! However, if you talk to other Eurofox pilots in the Cheshire Flyers you’ll find many of them can take off and land in the quoted distances.
4. Excellent glide ratio – the glide is 9:1, which gives you comfort when flying over water. It did however give me some issues on landing when I had to adjust my approach on finals with a sideslip.
5. Spacious comfy cockpit – the width is 44”, which even for two fatties is plenty of room. The seats are really comfortable, so on long journeys I never got sore.
6. Excellent climb – quoted figures at MAUW are 816 ft/min. In my experience, I never found it to be as good as this, but again this was perhaps down to my lack of skill.
7. Moderate cross wind limits – these are stated as 15 kts, but with practice you can probably do better than this. With a tail wheel and cross wind, there is always the risk of a ground loop.
8. Low stall speed – the Vso (stall speed flaps down) and Vs (stall speed flaps up) are 30 kts and 37 kts. In my experience these figures are a bit generous, and I was finding the controls mushy when flying at an airspeed several kts higher than these.
9. Reduced hangarage costs – the Eurofox has an incredibly quick and easy wing fold, and for me this saved a handy few quid. By folding the wings before pushing her back into the hangar, the storage footprint was halved, and consequently my monthly parking fees.
10. Outstanding finish – the quality of the paintwork on the wings, fuselage and undercarriage are exceptional, and with the Ferrari red colour, and vintage shape, the Eurofox tail wheel is a photographer’s dream.
The only thing I didn’t like about the Eurofox tailwheel is how it once bit me hard with an expensive ground loop. I guess I was at the 200-hour stage where you think you’ve mastered the beast, and therefore, maybe, I had become a little too confident and relaxed.
After that experience, with reluctance, I decided to move on to another aircraft. I made the incredibly hard decision to sell my Eurofox and buy an aeroplane with a wheel at the front. Indeed, some of the Cheshire Flyer pilots regard a nose wheel aircraft as being a proper aeroplane. I did consider a nose wheel Eurofox, but on a whim I preferred to look around for alternatives.
The amazing Aeroprakt A22LS Foxbat Supersport 600
My encounter with the Foxbat was more by chance than by planning. Trawling through the columns of Afors and UKGA, I stumbled across an advert for a second-hand Foxbat not too far from home. A few phone calls later and I was sitting in a smart, white, aircraft lined up on runway 29 at Otherton. With the pre-flight checks complete, it was full throttle and off we set.
I have to say I was so impressed with the performance of this aircraft. Powered by the Rotax 912S engine, it took no more than 50 metres before we were climbing away at an incredible rate. The runway is a mere 210 metres long, yet we were already at 300’ by the end of the strip. The circuit was tight yet totally controlled, and in no time we were on short final and landing, in just 50m! Ridiculous I thought, as the winds weren’t that strong either. The following 3 circuits proved that the STOL performance of the Foxbat I had experienced was no fluke.
A local flight with Ray Everitt to demonstrate the cruise performance convinced me that this was the aircraft for me. We shook hands, and another deal was done.
Here are 10 of the features of the Foxbat A22LS I love:
1. Incredible STOL performance – the POH states Take off/Landing run of 100m (328 ft), with the aircraft getting airborne before other aircraft airspeed indicators starts to tick over. If you need convincing of its take off performance, take a look at this short video. https://youtu.be/NvOm3JELt54
2. Outstanding climb performance - The climb performance data of the A22LS in ISA conditions at MSL and maximum take-off weight are: Best angle of climb speed Vx 49 kts; Best rate of climb Vy 54 kts. Maximum rate of climb at Vx and Vy 650 fpm.
3. Very spacious – the cabin is actually wider than the Eurofox, so no risk of being cramped with two people on board.
4. 360 Visibility – you really do get panoramic views from the cockpit.
5. Stability - being a high wing aircraft, it is naturally stable. This is especially noticeably when flying slowly.
6. Variable cruising performance - you can happily cruise anywhere between 35kts and 95kts. That’s quite a range!
7. Long distance aircraft – with a fuel capacity of 110 litres of usable fuel, you can go anywhere within reason without having to stop to top up.
8. 600kg – with 40kg more capacity than the Eurofox, you can either afford to put on a few pounds over Christmas or carry a few extra snacks when out on a jolly.
9. Big wheels for rough ground – whilst I haven’t fitted the tundra tyres yet, I do have the larger wheels which enable me to taxi, take off and land on most surfaces, even if the field isn’t in perfect condition.
10. Large access to rear storage – in my Foxbat I have a large side door in the fuselage, allowing me full access to the rear storage area. No problems with carrying larger items.
What’s the conclusion over which I prefer?
Overall, I think I can honestly say that I love both these aircraft. Neither of them has any terrible vices, both have superb handling in the air and give you a feeling of comfort, reliability, excitement and fun. In my limited experience with it so far, the Foxbat is my preferred aircraft as I’ve always found it better in the climb, more stable during slow flight, with a better STOL capability and, being a nose wheel, it won’t bite me with a ground loop.
Having said that, I have flown alongside my old aircraft several times with its new owner, and he is delighted with his purchase. It’s also worth saying that my old Eurofox does have the edge on fuel economy (it has the more efficient 912iS engine) and is perhaps slightly faster (wing profile is very different to the Foxbat).