How cool is that? David Cyster in his Tiger Moth alongside (ish) a Lightning.
David tells me this photo was "Taken by a mate in another light aircraft close to my base in 1973 at RAF Wattisham when I was with 29 Squadron. The Sqn Boss was flying the Lightning with flaps down at minimum speed (140kts). I was at max speed at 2000ft (approx. 75kts ) and the ‘passing’ photo taken rather well by the photographer. A perfect demonstration of angle of attack for an aerofoil. Published in Roger Bacon’s column in Flight International. Happy Hooligan Days!"
In this issue:
Shaw's Report - our Chairman Ian's worries about low level takeover by UABFs
(un-visible f-ing big quadcopters) and other such droneage.
Club Night Report - including Sharon's write up of some David Cyster's England to Australia trip.
David Creedy draws our attention to the importance of vigilance in the face of unmanned flying objects - a.k.a. drones, and their operators hoovering up our airspace; several proposals which may directly affect Cheshire Flyers' summer flying.
Gordon Verity alerts us to Deja Vu or VFR Minima - the future becomes the past.
Dave Moore, A.K.A the Flying Bard, is optimistic about returning to flying.
Coming up next Club night.. GASCO; NOTE - EVENT STARTS AT 1930 AND YOU NEED TO REGISTER WITH GASCO (see link at the end to do this). There will be no zoom link sent out by John Bradbury.
Shaw’s Report is getting more difficult each month to compose. Clearly there has been no flying - if only I could find something positive to write about!
I’m trying to be optimistic - but its oh so difficult.
We managed to run up RKID’s engine at the weekend. No sneaky circuits allowed - obviously.
However, even the damn plane appears to have caught a virus. It took ages to coax into life and when it did run, switching the RH Magneto brought about much coughing and spluttering. I thought machinery was immune?
This drone stuff (see DC’s excellent report below) has gotten me slightly spooked too. Evidently the market for drones is not going away. I’ve no issue with ‘Pete’ or whomever down the road playing with his drone on the local fields, however the market appears to be morphing into something quite different and, if left unchecked, this could be problematic for us simple GA folk.
Imagine all of Amazon’s deliveries made by drones, how much airspace would that require? Obviously, that is a long way off but I wager not entirely far-fetched. In the meantime, what happens to GA airspace; we are being squeezed from above and the sides by ever more airspace grabbing commercial entities. No doubt ‘droneage’ (is that a word?) will then make a play for all the low level airspace – with us stuck somewhere in the ever decreasing middle.
Still, at least we’ve got club night to look forward to, and this month is given over to the superb GASCO and all about how not to kill yourself…!
I wonder if they cover alcohol poisoning?
Aha – actually, I have found something positive to talk about – our club merch has arrived! No idea how to distribute it all – still working on that one, but it does look superb meaning we are deffo going to be THE most stylish flying club on the planet.
Looking forward to our first fashion show at an airfield - to be decided…
Club Night Report - 18.01.21
We were privileged to hear David Cyster's tale of his flight in his own Tiger Moth from England to Australia in 1978. I have attempted to summarise his talk and include a few cheeky screen grabs I took of some of his photos during the evening. David graciously agreed for me to use them in our club e-zine.
David Cyster bio
David Cyster is the son of a hop farmer in SE England. Expecting to follow in his father’s footsteps, he studied agriculture at college and went on to study hop growing in Australia and New Zealand and also in the US. This was to prove a turning point in his life. Whilst working on a large hop ranch near Yakima in Washington State the owner who was a private pilot said “You oughta fly boy”. He went to the local flying club at Yakima and, on the 29th May 1966, what was to be a lifetime of flying began.
On returning to the UK, he joined the Royal Air Force in 1967. He was selected to fly fighter aircraft and spent the next 5 years flying Lightning fighters both in the UK and in Cyprus. Then came Central Flying School to train as an instructor and was subsequently posted to the Advanced Flying School in North Wales where he instructed on Gnat and Hunter aircraft for a further 5 years. Later he moved on to flying Phantom F4s in Scotland in the air defence role.
During that time, in 1978, he undertook an RAF expedition to fly his Tiger Moth bi-plane solo between London and Sydney Australia to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first UK/Australia flight by Sqn Ldr Bert Hinkler in Feb 1928. As it turned out, this would be the last long distance aerial expedition to be undertaken with topographical ‘thump over map’ and compass. GPS and satellite navigation aids are now too tempting and arguably essential in today’s airspace.
Two years later again he led an RAF expedition on a round trip from London to Cape Town in a Dragon Rapide retracing the route flown by British pioneer Alan Cobham.
In 1984 he was selected to attend Advanced Staff College in India as the RAF exchange student. On return he was posted as Personal Staff Officer to the Air Officer Commanding No11 Group Bentley Priory.
Upon leaving the RAF after 22 years service, he became an airline pilot and spent the next two decades flying throughout Europe. The last 10 years was spent as a training captain with British Airways. His joy of flying continues, now flying with the Air Squadron, regularly giving displays, organising and participating in charity events, and with his wealth of experience coaches and teaches the next generation of budding aviators and aerobatic competitors.
Fame to a Moth
Sharon Cox on David Cyster's journey from England to Australia
David Cyster – well………. I don’t know quite how to begin to describe our guest speaker. What an engaging narrator of amazing adventures and, clearly, he has so many more stories to tell of his varied flying career and experiences. We will prevail upon him to come and tell us more – hopefully in person. He seems to be able to land anywhere in the Tiger and he did offer to fly down to see us. So, we can look forward to meeting him and his trusty steed in person, with luck, a fair wind, and a favourable sky.
The front-page photo is David flying his first Tiger Moth purchased (in 1972) in some proximity to a Lightning jet (aircraft that he flew in his RAF days). The Moth he flew to Australia is his second owned such aircraft (we don’t know yet what happened to the first) and it is still in his care – currently hangered at Bagby in Yorkshire.
If David succeeded in explaining why he embarked upon his mission to fly in the contrail of Bert Hinkler from London to Australia on the 50th anniversary of that flight, I must have missed that bit. I guess it’s because he could, and it seemed a wheeze of an adventure. His presentation had some excellent photos, taken in the days of film, plus some clips of newsreel interviews which reminded us of how technology has moved on since David’s flight. No such thing as mobile connectivity or blogs, vlogs, twitter and so on, in those days. David’s solo journey feels to me so much more ‘on his own’ than adventurers can be in today’s world and, accordingly, just amazing. He had no support crew other than meeting up with his wife a couple of times en route; she brought him a few spare parts such as spark plugs and tail skids.
And so – to the journey
Bert Hinkler (more about him later on) left Croydon on February 7th, 1928. To the day, 50 years later: 7th February, 1978, David left Dunsfold, bound for Australia, armed only with topographical maps – no such thing as GPS in those days. His aeroplane, a Tiger Moth, had to be modified for such a long trip. Firstly, fuel endurance; David had additional fuel tanks fitted, each allowing 4 hours flying. So those, coupled with the existing fuel tank (2.5 hours endurance) meant that the aircraft had 10.5 hours endurance, depending of course on the flying conditions, particularly wind direction and strength. The oil capacity had also to be increased as the Gipsy engines typically burned a lot of oil in operation so two additional tanks for oil were fitted, all linked together. The third modification was to fit a slightly bigger visor to avoid the ‘head-buffeting’ that is normal when flying a Tiger.
David rattled through his journey’s description but a few things stuck in my mind, which I have hopefully remembered faithfully. Along the way, some of the situations that he found himself in could have gone differently but, thankfully, he had some extraordinarily good fortune to compensate for some of the less desirable events and everything came right in the end.
David’s first leg was Dunsfold to Marseilles. His route is shown in the map following. He had all sorts of issues with clearances and red tape along his journey. His difficulties with ATC and ‘officialdom’ in general started almost immediately as he crossed the Channel into French airspace. French ATC kept ordering route diversions – ‘dog-legs’ to identify him on radar – that quickly irritated David because they were affecting his fuel endurance calculations and so on. So, he pretended to have radio failure and turned the radio off, flying in blissful silence, the length of France, keeping to his planned route, outside controlled airspace. About 15 miles out of Marseilles David turned his radio on and stuttered deliberately into the radio pretending to establish clearer comms finally.
Flying over the Alps had been challenging and the Mistral was blowing quite hard in Marseilles, although the 30 knots surface wind was blowing straight down the runway. After landing, David stopped quite short, almost on the piano keys, but didn’t dare to vacate the runway because the aircraft would be flipped if he turned across the wind. He was extremely unpopular with ATC by this time (given the radio comms), but fire crews arrived to help. Luckily for David a burly fireman held on tightly to the wing strut that he had in his charge and managed to prevent the aircraft from being blown over (although the same fireman put his elbow through the leading edge of the wing – ironically the only airframe damage sustained by the Tiger on the trip).
Next day’s flying; the weather over Europe was not that good but David got through to refuel in Iraklion, Crete and then on to Cairo. Much to David’s consternation something he thought was haze turned out to be a sandstorm. He climbed to avoid this because sand was coming in everywhere, under his goggles, into his engine; but he could then not see the ground. Fortunately, after a time, he cleared the sandstorm and was able to find Cairo, albeit his landing was less than desirable. The necessity of dealing with the 15-knot crosswind meant he had deliberately to leave the runway weather-cocked and ended up in a sand dune. Cairo was not David’s favourite place to put it mildly. He was parked up near all the garbage containers, nothing worked – the hotel plumbing, drains and so on – and after an early rise (4.30am) to take off in good time he was not allowed airside because he did not have a boarding card. David was handed from official to official eventually to reach someone senior in a grand-looking uniform who finally agreed to allow David to get to his aircraft.
To add insult to injury, Cairo’s final farewell to David saw him at the hold on a downslope being forced reluctantly to turn off the engine, because on idle the aircraft was creeping forward and he had no brakes. This meant he had to dismount and find something to tie the tail to so that he could restart safely at a point when he felt he would have sufficient separation from traffic to be able to take off. David had no chocks with him but had brought a length of rope specifically for this sort of purpose. There were no handy signs or trees available nearby so he had to use the taxiway lights to secure the tail of the aircraft with the rope. When it looked a bit quieter in traffic terms David restarted the engine and could see that the aircraft was tugging on the rope given the gradient; and he knew ATC was unhappy with him. He believed the traffic had lightened sufficiently so he untied the rope, ran to the cockpit and jumped in switching on the radio, and requested immediate clearance to take off. He didn’t even strap on his harness as he was so desperate to leave Cairo.
From Cairo David flew south to Luxor. He had to concentrate very hard on this part of the journey since there was the ever-present threat of being shot down if he departed from the permitted airways. He crossed over the Red Sea, only to be arrested when he landed in Al Wejh for illegally entering Saudi Arabia. Eventually the officials there contacted Jeddah to learn that David’s was a legal flight, with flight plan filed and so on. They released him to fly on and he landed in Bahrain where he met up with his wife Cherry. It was there that the photo of Concorde was taken by Cherry.
David says the flying from Bahrain was very boring – just following the coastline; more sandstorms and several long flights. He eventually reached India, Ahmadabad, where he faced an exhausting mountain of bureaucracy and the consolation of meeting up with a friend. After the deserts of Egypt and Saudi Arabia it was a joy to fly across India where navigation by surface features was so much easier. Every village had a reservoir with a dam and it made finding position more straightforward. Unfortunately though, one of David’s fuel tanks ruptured on the way to Nagpur. He attributes this to the terribly bumpy landing at Ahmadabad previously and mentioned as an aside that Francis Chichester was his hero. Chichester had advised in his book that flying a biplane at a significant altitude meant landing could be disorientating and he counselled that pilots should fly for a while at 1500 feet before making their approach to land. David said after his experience at Ahmadabad that this was good advice.
Anyhow, the ruptured fuel tank meant that fuel was literally sloshing around David’s feet, soaking into the sheepskin lining of his flying boots. This was a serious, potentially life-threatening problem that left David feeling very afraid that his aircraft would catch fire on landing. It was the front tank which was full when it sprang the leak. The drains on the Tiger had been used for other purposes so the fuel in the cockpit had nowhere to exit. This was particularly worrying because a Gipsy Major throws 2-3 feet of flame from the exhaust when flying. David was 2-3 hours from Nagpur and not flying over benign territory so he was unable to land.
David contacted Nagpur who would not countenance a landing off the tarmac runway on grass due to the presence of monsoon drains every so many metres. So, he requested the fire crews as he was afraid that the sparks from the tailskid on landing would ignite the fuel. Needless to say, David flew slowly and carefully to Nagpur and he planned his landing during that time. He undid his harness before landing and landed tailskid up, shutting down the engines and then, as the tail touched the runway, he threw himself out of the aircraft, somersaulting over the tarmac. He watched the aircraft veer off towards the runway edge and with great good fortune, it came to rest at the side of the runway with a hissing sound and a white plume of petrol vapour; fuel running out of the rear tail drain was hitting the hot tailskid. However, the aircraft was intact and nothing ignited.
Amazingly David found someone to weld the tank next day and re-fitted it ready to fly on.
His other tank issue related to oil. He found a major oil leak when he landed in Rangoon and realised that he did not have enough oil to get to Singapore so he landed at Kota Bahru where he had the tanks fixed and filled up with more oil and headed on to Singapore.
Meeting the chief of the Indonesian police in Surabaya was a real stroke of luck. David prevailed upon this chap, who was an aviation enthusiast, to see if he could get him permission to fly south east to Timor rather than the direction that the aviation authorities were insisting on, which would have involved impossibly long and risky legs over sea with no land in sight in the event of emergency. David’s pleadings were successful and he was allowed to take a copy of a secret map on the wall which would help him to navigate the new unplanned route through normally forbidden airspace down the string of Indonesian islands.
From Timor, David flew out but recognised that he had such a stonking headwind that he wouldn’t make his destination so he turned back after 4 hours 10 mins, taking just under 2 hours to return to his starting point. Next day he made it to Darwin. From Darwin, David flew on down to Sydney where one or two aircraft came out to greet him and he was put into a holding pattern over Sydney Harbour bridge and the Opera House.
Upon being congratulated, David modestly pointed out that (to him at least) Hinkler was the real hero as he did not even have a radio, which for David (apart from France) had been a comfort.
Bert Hinkler, by the way, according to the Wikipedia entry, was something of an aviation genius – described as “an exceptional mathematician and inventor” he made all sorts of aviation instruments. Following WW1, he had various adventures, winning awards and accolades for his achievements. The trip that David commemorated was made in an Avro Avian, G-EBOV; Hinkler broke the England-Australia previous record with a time of 15.5 days. Hinkler went on to fly his most remarkable feat in 1931. He flew in a de Havilland Puss Moth from Canada to New York then non-stop to Jamaica, then to Venezuela, Guyana, Brazil, and then across the South Atlantic to Africa; from West Africa he flew to London. This was the first solo flight across the South Atlantic and Hinkler was only the second person to cross the Atlantic solo, after Charles Lindbergh in 1927.
What an amazing achievement; awesome in the true sense of the word. Thanks very much to David for sharing with us.
Club night part 2
Ian mentioned York Aviation’s study on a network of airfields. One of their consultants has been conducting research into the smaller airfields and had a conversation with John Bradbury. John was pleasantly surprised that he appeared to be very receptive to the need for airfields and genuinely interested in the story of Arclid’s demise, saying that even though it was not strictly part of his remit in that it no longer existed he felt it was an important perspective to cover in his report. We await publication so that we can use the report to support our sport – particularly in relation to planning applications.
This led on to a discussion on the proposals for a permanent Danger Area at Llanbedr. This would be the first civilian-operated such area. The operators want to be able to encourage aviation activities and to be able to test unmanned aerial vehicle flying amongst other things, which include a Spaceport facility. There is also a proposal for a temporary danger zone for drone activities unrelated to this proposal.
David Creedy has kindly summarised the Llanbedr proposals for us – see later on.
There was a bit of discussion on looking after aircraft during the lockdown as well as being prepared to have to remedy problems before taking to the air. Such delights as rodent infestation, degradation of rubber hosing and tubes, sticky oil and deteriorating fuel. There are lots of experienced aircraft keepers in the club so if anyone isn’t sure, consult your club colleagues and take advice.
Walnut Tree Farm Planning Application
Latest news on this is that the deadline for submissions for letters of support will have passed by the time this e-zine is published.
Thanks to all club members who made submissions – there are lots of quality arguments being put to the planners. Fingers crossed that they take note and we get our replacement for Arclid and its previous residents.
Unmanned aerial acronyms
David Creedy discusses the contagion moving into our favourite flying spaces
A number of companies are looking to develop commercial delivery systems using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) which will operate beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS). These new transportation methods referred to as Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) have applications within the e-commerce, medical and logistics sectors.
Potentially, they represent a new and variable constraint to our flying activities as well as an outbreak of unmemorable acronyms. The technology has yet to mature. While the UAS may have the basic requisite performance to fly specified routes, they do not have a “see and avoid” capability. In both CAA’s and our terms, such aircraft can be considered unsafe to operate – an unacceptable hazard. Even though they may be “visible” to other aircraft equipped with electronic conspicuity tools, that is little comfort to a non-transponder equipped flexwing pilot.
The Air Navigation Order sets down the legal constraints. UAS will not be permitted to share our airspace until their operators can demonstrate that the aircraft have the capability to comply with the same rules of the air that we are required to adhere to and also that they do not unreasonably inconvenience other airspace users.
In order to develop the technology and explore commercial feasibility, the operators need access to airspace. Until UAS can comply with the requirements for flight in non-segregated airspace, BVLOS UAS flights outside permanently established segregated airspace can only be accommodated through the establishment of segregated airspace on a temporary basis in the form of a Temporary Danger Area (TDA). These cannot be requested at will, there being a statutory obligation to consult other airspace users and relevant stakeholders. Early experience is that some UAS developers have attempted to expedite the consultation process and obtain CAA approval for a TDA before the aviation community had chance to review the proposal and respond accordingly.
There is little doubt that this disruptive technology will become fully capable in the near future. Segregation of airspace is not a permanent solution as it would not provide the flexibility required by the operators. Moreover, it would be totally unacceptable to other airspace users, already being squeezed by overexuberant expansion of controlled airspace, especially the GA sector. The only satisfactory answer is integration. In order to help achieve seamless integration, we must ensure our voice is heard and encourage our representative organisations to maintain a dialogue with the CAA about ongoing developments.
In recent weeks, the Cheshire Flyers, as well as many others, have been in correspondence with Skyports, the company seeking to establish a TDA in the Western Isles of Scotland. Paul Kiddell of Eurostar fame brought it to our attention. The trial operation is planned for three weeks, starting on 8 April 2021 and ending on 30 April 2021. The aim is to transport medical supplies including COVID-19 testing kits and samples between Oban, Isle of Mull and Coll and is a response to a request by the NHS, presumably as a demonstration of principle. According to Skyports, the project is part funded through a joint initiative by the European and UK Space Agencies for the utilisation of space-enabled technology to assist with the COVID- 19 response.
Skyports’ initial application showed a TDA flight corridor which would have hindered access of light aircraft to Glenforsa, the holy grail of Scottish airfields. As a consequence of the negative responses to the proposal, the operator changed its plans to ensure significantly reduced impact on other airspace users. This demonstrates that concerted and rational response from the aviation community can encourage such operators to amend their plans so it is always worth responding to consultations that affect us as a flying community.
The subsequent mitigation proposals published by Skyports include:
1. Glenforsa Airfield: o We have rerouted and redesigned the TDA away from Glenforsa so as not to undermine access to the airfield. o We propose only operating on the route past Glenforsa during the first two weeks.
2. Activations: o We have tried to provide better visibility of what TDAs will be activated together and which will as a consequence will be deactivated. o We have also provided details of likely length of activations and tried to provide reassurance of deactivation of TDAs outside of notified hours. o We have removed the Oban-Easdale route which has a TDA Upper Limit that was a little high. o We can commit to not operating on Saturdays, Sundays or any Bank Holidays that take place during the proposed period of operations. o We have reduced the duration of operations to 3 weeks and 1 day (8 April - 30 April 2021). o We are exploring a means of sharing our indicative schedule of operations with stakeholders to provide as much advance notice of what is expected to be happening and when.
3. TDA Upper Limits: o All Upper Limits are expressed in AMSL, which is why they look high, but the unmanned aircraft will not be operating in excess of 400ft AGL – and will be operating lower than that. o We have reduced the Upper Limits on the TDAs that were higher because of the terrain.