CHESHIRE FLYER FEBRUARY 2022

Updated: Mar 28


The sky is a pilot's Valentine 😍



In this issue :

Shaw's Report - Chairman Ian Shaw on flying to look forward to.

Club Night Report - Club night at the Wheatsheaf had to be cancelled.

Coming up at Club Night - Graham Fern with SkyDemon top tips.

Achievements - Congratulations due.

NAV Competition announced - Ian has devised 'the rules' for this year's airfield competition.

Conversion therapy - Daniel Langton describes his conversion to stick-and-rudder flying.

Swapping the Sky for the C - Garry Roberts takes us through his (publishable) thought process.

Mission new plane - Mark Atkinson records a saga of aircraft collection.

Earthed or star-struck? - Steve Kirkham compares his new steed with his previous one.

Clouded Judgement - Sharon Cox muses on clouds 'from both sides' - love and hate.

Daniel flies to Sittles - a tale in verse by Dave Moore.

On Cloud 9 and counting - Daniel Langton's video flying with clouds.

Cheshire Flyers' Weather to fly? - An ode by Dave Moore aka The Flying Bard.

Sunny Sat Nav Success - Cheshire Flyers meet up at Barton City Airport.

Calling all flex-wingers - Daniel Langton hopes for more flexy fly-outs.

App Development Assistance - contact details for anyone interested in testing an app.

Hot or cold accessory - Gordon has a top tip for tired Rotax oil cooler covers.

Another cafe, another fry-up? - Otherton's cafe welcomes hungry visitors at the weekends.

IMPORTANT! - Make a diary note of the 'official' Club tours (FAFs) for 2022 (at end of e-zine).

 

Shaw's Report


First up on Shaws Report is a sincere apology for tampering with Friday’s UK GDP output. The day when the Youtube channel ‘Big Jet TV’ made Cheshire Flyers attention. Watching all manner of jets land ‘live’ at LHR in 40GG53Kt cross winds made for riveting viewing; I couldn’t draw myself away even to make a cup of coffee let alone do any meaningful work. Judging from WhatsApp, many CF members couldn’t either. What a great idea and such a simple concept – stand in a field and stream live, via Youtube, aircraft landing at a major airport, preferably with a massive x-wind! How about a sister channel streaming live student circuits at Dairy House Farm?


Darren Elliston’s first Sunny Sat Nav of the year went superbly, despite a total lack of flying. Darren’s new concept being we meet up somewhere on the first Saturday of the month whatever the weather. So, if the weather isn’t playing ball to get the aircraft out, turn up in your car, classic car, motorbike, bicycle – whatever you fancy. This month Darren chose the Sopwith Café – Barton. I counted 15 CF’ers in attendance, it was safer than flying, and you still got the reward of a full English at the end of it. Result!


A similar concept is in play for the first Brass Monkey of 2022 – that being our trip to Llanbedr for the weekend of 26th February. Mark Jealous our new CEO (Chief Events Organiser) has diligently organised the trip including a meal at the Ty Mawr featuring log fires and everything… Quite a few are going whatever the weather. We’ve not had a Brass Monkey since forever; historically they always deliver some of the best laughs, sometimes ending up in bizarre circumstances, such as one year hitching a lift back home in Rihanna’s Tour Bus!


Finally, some ‘hot off the press’ news. Our events team have been busily working behind the scenes to secure a new venue for our monthly Club Nights. It appears finally as a nation we are getting to grips with COVID, meaning at last we can move our monthly get-togethers back to being physical, rather than virtual. Sadly, the Wheatsheaf is no longer a viable option for us, especially unsuitable for hosting club speakers. Our old meeting room now has an en-suite and it’s doubtful whether any guests would be happy with 50 or so flyers cramming into their bedroom!

Thankfully the Market Tavern in Sandbach has come to the rescue and are keen to host us for our regular 3rd Monday nights.We’ve got a bit of tech tweaking to sort out first but it’s looking like our first get-together could be the GASCO meeting in March, where we can watch the event zoomed live on a large screen. We’ll keep you up to date via the usual channels. Personally, I can’t wait to welcome everyone back together again which is as most will agree is well overdue.

Ian Shaw 😎

 

Achievements


Zara Rutherford, 19-year-old Belgian, flew a Shark microlight solo around the world - an awesome achievement.

18th August 2021 - 20 January 2022



Congratulations Zara; what an epic flying journey she completed. That is a tour and a half and puts the Cheshire Flyers FAFs into ‘beginners’ territory. Although Zara has been featured on the world’s news channels and lauded by our own BMAA and Flyer magazine and so on, I wanted to add Cheshire Flyer’s own congratulations to the large stack of compliments that Zara has deservedly received. This should be a massive inspiration to other youngsters to take up flying and other challenges.


Her haul of countries on the world trip comprises Belgium, UK, Iceland, Greenland, Canada, USA, Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, BVI, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Mexico, USA, Russia, South Korea, Taipei, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, India, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Greece, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Germany, Belgium; 31 in total. It is difficult to comprehend how a 19-year-old flying solo in a microlight had the presence of mind and stamina to endure the long legs over mountains, deserts and oceans, meeting a huge set of weather challenges along the way.



The stats for her achievements are on her website (www.flyzolo.com), as is a lot more information on Zara, her sponsors, the aircraft and her route.


Her media reel can be found at: https://youtu.be/b8xGBV-naac

You can also watch interviews with her on the Flyer website.


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Fully licensed - Ceri Richards

With the ink barely dry on his new NPPL (restricted) attained in December, Ceri Richards has already managed to complete his qualifying cross country flights with Cheshire Microlight Centre. Ceri’s un-restricted NPPL has now been received. Well done Ceri, we look forward to seeing you on club fly-outs this year.


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Cheshire Flyers ‘NAV Competition’ – 2022

Introducing Cheshire Flyers ‘New Airfields Visited’ (NAV) Challenge.


The idea is to visit as many ‘New’ (to you) Airfields during a 12 months period as you can; but here’s the rub: a new airfield is defined as one that you haven’t visited in the last 5 years.


Ha, not so easy now is it? Makes it a bit more challenging for older sages and gives new flyers a competitive edge.


Those high-ranking flyers from last year’s Alphabet Airfields Challenge aren’t sitting so comfortably now are they? None of those can count!


The winner is the pilot with the biggest bribe or, failing that, it’s the one who bags the highest number of ‘new’ airfields flown to or from, between 1st March 2022 and 28th February 2023.


Rules are as follows:

  1. The challenge commences 1st March 2022 and closes 28th February 2023.

  2. The handling pilot (must be logged as P1 or PUT in their logbook) is credited with the airfield which can be utilised either from a ‘take off’ or ‘landing’. For sharers, one can fly in, the other can fly out, and both can claim. Full stop landings only, so no sneaky touch & go’s / swapping pilot mid runway.

  3. The airfield must not have been visited by the handling pilot within the preceding 5 years to count.

  4. The winner is that pilot who gains most New Airfields Visited (hence the catchy title NAV Competition)

  5. The chairman’s decision is final – so it may well be possible to bribe your way to victory…

Good Luck...🙂🙃🙂


Ian Shaw


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Conversion therapy

The Story of My Sooner-than-expected Death-bed Conversion to Stick-and-Rudder by Daniel Langton


Some time ago in an ambitious and, as it turned out, overly-optimistic return to the judo mat following a ten-year break, I suffered an ACL injury. While waiting for reconstructive knee surgery, the medical advice was clear: I should not aggravate the leg by pulling open heavy hangar doors or ground-handling my flexwing. I was dismayed at the prospect of no flying, and so was my wife. As much as she looked forward to having me around the house more, she selflessly suggested that perhaps now was the time to convert to fixed wing, as I’d long said I wanted to do. Or take up another hobby. Or something.


I suspect I am not alone among flexwing pilots to have often been asked by curious passengers whether I could also fly a ‘real plane’. This usually results in a long lecture from me about the dangers of flexist prejudice and how, happily, societal attitudes are changing for the better. But I’ve also always liked the idea of being able to shrug my shoulders and confirm nonchalantly that stick-and-rudder held no mysteries for me. Turning up at a flying school where the physical rigours would be limited to twitching a joystick and applying flaps sounded like just what the doctor ordered. True, I had until that time thought that conversion to fixed wing was something I’d get around to when I was older, a kind of death-bed conversion. I still loved the adventure of the flexwing’s open cockpit and I still believed that true flight was to be able to say with Yeats-Brown upon take-off, ’There’s a cold wind blowing up my shorts.’ Yeats-Brown, the author of Lives of a Bengal Lancer (1930) who had served as a Royal Flying Corps observer in Mesopotamia in 1915, had enjoyed only a short flight preparation course. As he recalled, ‘Ten minutes ago I was an ignorant earthworm… I am lord now of another dimension; the air is my hope and my love.’ I myself was reconciled to a somewhat longer campaign to be signed off, but the speed of his induction was impressive and it did make me think that I might benefit from some military instruction.


I pulled down from my bookshelf Squadron Leader Nigel Tangye’s Teach Yourself to Fly (1938). What could be better than a manual recommended by the Air Ministry to generations of prospective RAF pilots? I flicked through the pages which looked full of practical and reassuring advice such as ‘On principle, keep clear of your friends for your introduction to the air’, and ‘Never move an inch without making quite certain that there is not a lawn-mower or something else in your way’, and ‘You require great patience and a will of iron, and then everything will be all right.’ A passage about over-confidence in one’s knowledge and abilities before one even begins flight training caught my eye: ‘Four years before I had an opportunity to be flown in an aeroplane, I started to learn to fly. A few months later, when I had studied every text book on the subject that I could find, I passed myself out in my mind as a fully qualified pilot.’ I chuckled at his naiveté. I, of course, would barely need a briefing. John Bradbury and Mark Atkinson of the Cheshire Microlight Centre would have it easy with me, since I planned to have mastered three-axis flight before I even started training with them, thanks to this classic instruction manual.




So it was that one cold, clear morning a few weeks later I clambered into an Ikarus C42, and yelled at the top of my lungs ‘CONTACT! CHOCKS AWAY!’’ A startled Mark Atkinson who had not yet had his morning coffee almost fell out of the plane. I gently chided him for forgetting his flying goggles and he rolled his eyes in delighted anticipation at the hours to come.


We had just before walked around the plane, and, frankly, I was not feeling quite as comfortable as I was letting on. It all looked very rigid and brittle with lots of parts that might easily crack if one stared at them too hard or for too long. There was much less of the geometrically-reassuring triangulation and tough-yet-flexible dacron sails that characterise a flexwing. I tried to remember Tangye’s reassurances: ‘The machine, to your unpractised eye, will appear to be a frail craft in which to trust your life by taking you up into the air at a hundred miles an hour. Remember that the aeroplane is the strongest machine for its weight that has ever been built by Man, and take comfort accordingly.’


I wasn’t much comforted on take off. Every bump and bounce on the grass runway was an existential crisis, threatening at any moment to snap off a wing or the fragile-looking front wheel. But Tangye was right: ‘This juddering will diminish, until, when the wheels have kissed the grass a brief farewell, it will have stopped altogether, and you are floating smoothly on an invisible sea, the earth speeding beneath your wing-tips.’ On that first flight, we flew away from circuit, climbed to 1500ft, and, after a few demonstrations, I was informed that I had control. This seemed rather foolhardy of the instructor, but I humoured him and was soon busy trying to co-ordinate the rudder and the stick, and to align the top of the dashboard with the horizon to keep my altitude on a turn, and to control the power with the lever between my knees rather than with a pedal.


The most striking impression I can remember from my first few flights was the sense that I was not controlling a plane so much as trying to co-ordinate a large number of disparate parts of a plane. Navigating through space in a closed cockpit felt very different from flying a flexwing, where, it seemed to me, one flies much more instinctively as part of the wing itself. Something about the open cockpit and the use of one’s whole body to make large control movements gives one a sense of much greater commitment to any manoeuvre and consequently a much rawer and more visceral experience of flight.


There are, of course, several other aspects of flying a three-axis plane that will inevitably unnerve the trike pilot. The arrangement of the pedals springs to mind. As every owner of a soap-box go-kart knows, if you want to turn to the right, you push the left foot forward. Perversely, the reverse is true for a plane with a rudder, and this takes some getting used to. Another issue is the matter of slowing down in the air. It is of course a little odd at first to have to pull back the stick rather than push forward the control bar, but what is odder still is that the cockpit itself pitches up initially, rather than just the wing as is the case in a flexwing. Most disconcerting.


Of course there are also many differences in the flight experience that are more welcome. First among them is the dampened effect of thermals. The kind of white-knuckle, stomach-churning thermic day that prevented me from releasing the flexwing control bar even to reach down six inches to change radio frequency, or that left me unable to unclench my buttocks for several hours after landing, would barely register in the C42. And then there is ‘side slipping’. What a marvellously scandalous activity it is to deliberately set the rudder and stick against each other and tip the wing down jauntily in order to make the plane fall out of the sky faster than the laws of physics actually allow; when the instructor first encouraged me to try it, I thought he’d lost his mind. Landings also struck me early on as easier in a fixed-wing microlight. Once set up for the approach, only tiny motions are needed to make corrections or to flare. Admittedly, with regard to cross-wind landings there is an interesting philosophical debate about whether it is best to come in crabbing and correct with the rudder just before touch down, or come in straight using the rudder and correct after touch down. Please allow me to end this long-standing and needlessly acrimonious debate by making two sets of observations. (1) A flexwing has only two axes and cannot yaw so that the only option is to crab-and-correct; a flexwing is superior to a fixed wing; ergo it follows that a crab-and-correct approach must be the superior technique. (2) If God had intended us to make a straight approach in a cross-wind, then we would have been born with rudders affixed to our rear ends. Q.E.D.


Another interesting difference was the dash panel. I was enormously impressed with the bank of knobs, dials and gauges on the C42, which to my eye was barely distinguishable from the flight instrumentation panel of an Airbus A380. It felt very sophisticated to flick on a row of switches. On the other hand, I began to realise that the more complicated the aircraft, the more ways there were for something to go wrong. My instructor would watch me work through my pre-flight checks very carefully, frequently having to remind me to turn on the fuel pump or the transponder, neither of which I’d used before. In the air he would be extremely quick to call out ‘Watch your speed!’ when I was setting trim or applying flaps. I thought of Tangye’s observation: ‘Almost gone are those happy, carefree days when a new type of aeroplane would appear out of the sky and land on the aerodrome, and the owner would come over now to you and say, “Like to try her?” There are alas too many gadgets about an aeroplane now for an owner to feel so confidently generous.’ It did not take me long to discover the most important gadget, namely, the heater. That was the one knob that no-one needed to remind me to turn on.



Over a few months, as time went on, I found myself a little more at home in the C42. Things began to become a little less mechanical so that combining several control movements at the same time became increasingly intuitive. It was soon possible to savour the same kind of delights in the fixed wing as in the flexwing. Tangye is surely right when he says ‘Gliding is amongst the most pleasant sensations in flying… Free of the roar of the engine, it is a delight to glide smoothly down invisible paths in the air’. And who can disagree with his claim that ‘to treat every landing as a forced landing is a grand game to play, compared to which any other is child’s play’? I was less convinced about his advice: ‘Fly accurately, and you will never get into an unintentional spin. Even fly badly, and you will not get into a spin. But fly very badly, and the spin may prove your passport to a happier land, if you have not been left enough height to recover.’ What exactly did he mean by flying ‘very badly’, how did that differ from flying ‘badly’, and how on earth did he know it’d be a happier place? Tangye also cautioned with regard to estimating height or speed or compass direction that ‘Your instinct will often play you false when flying. Treat it as a fickle jade, and you will do much better.’ At one point I can remember suggesting to Mark that perhaps he might consider 'fickling his jade' more often, just as I had learned to do, and he murmured something I didn’t entirely catch about his profound gratitude for the aviatic wisdom I was able to pass on.


Finally the day came for my first solo in the ‘real plane’. I’d completed a few decent circuits that warm autumnal evening and was feeling pleased with myself. John must have needed a cuppa quite badly because he jumped out and suggested I try the next circuit by myself. As he walked away, leaving me alone with my swirling thoughts and dog-eared checklists, he called over his shoulder, ‘Don’t break my plane.’ I nodded wryly to myself, remembering Tangye’s insightful comment in his preface that ‘No aeroplane-owner welcomes the man who cracks his aeroplane up for him.’ Following some extremely meticulous checks, I announced on the radio to no-one other than a few bemused cows in the nearby paddock that I was lining up for an immediate take-off, and shortly thereafter found myself alone in an Ikarus C42 in a purple-hued sky.



The plane had leapt off the ground, obviously as delighted as myself to share the adventure, and I savoured the five minute epic journey over the Cheshire fields and farmlands in the last light of the setting sun. On approach it was necessary to ‘rumble’ slightly, a term which Tangye defined as ‘using a saving burst of engine to scrape over a hedge’. But the touch down was so perfect that I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. Back-tracking along the airstrip in triumph I realised I’d had my death-bed conversion and would shortly be signed off for fixed wing. But more than that, I realised that I was a convert.



Daniel Langton is hangared at Hawksview in Cheshire. He remains for the time being a loyal GT-450 flexwing pilot.

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Swapping the Sky for the C(42c)

Garry Roberts explains his musical planes


“Oh, my goodness, it’s a Girl; what a beautiful baby” I said to my wife in November 2021. Closely followed by my wife’s response of “No it’s another blooming plane Garry”. Getting a new plane is like having another child in the family (but one you actually like) or finding that last bottle of beer, when you’ve completely gone through all the gin and meths. It’s a fantastic privilege and something that I certainly never thought I would be able to afford.


But if we take away the money/forgiving partner, which is the better plane to buy?. Why did I leave the land of the Skyrangers’ and throw all my hard-earned pennies into a new C42c? Having done that, what are the differences between them and is the C42 that much more of a machine?


As background and to set the scene: it was May 2018 and I was 10 lessons in; I certainly had the bug. I had spotted a nice little Skyranger Swift 1 that I suspected the owner wanted to sell but it was way too big a leap to buy this outright. So, I showed my wife the picture of the plane we could afford (the Thruster) and let her suggest we get the much nicer Skyranger next to it. I think the words she used were “I will never get in that, don’t be so stupid” followed by “What is up with that one?”. After a month or so of stripping it down and rebuilding it we had a lovely new (to us) aircraft.



The Skyranger served me well and I got all my lessons and’ cross-countries’ out of the way; it had everything I needed, and the handling was superb. She was the 100bhp model (a theme that seems to follow me) so had plenty of power and handled like a dream. I had my wife and John take her for the first test flight, as I wanted to use people in there that I had no emotional attachment to.




Following the closure of Arclid International Airport I moved to a different airfield where, seeing a Skyranger that was being rebuilt, I decided to swap out and upgrade to that newer model. So, away went the old one and in came the aptly named “Orange God Of The Skies”. It had taken a while to think of this name; I wanted something that wasn’t pretentious and was nice and subtle.



Things felt more solid in the new one; it had wingtips and instruments that I actually wanted. I still had to do some work on her to make her right for me but the base aircraft was a lot better to work on. When the wind blew I didn’t feel like I was about to die so much, and I really truly had stopped screaming.

I completed my GST in the Skyranger with John but somehow hadn’t managed to mention that this would be the second time I had flown her. I tried emergency landing at a clay pigeon shooting range during it (I kid you not). I still to this day wonder if it scared me more, looking out at four people with guns, or them, seeing a plane spluttering 12 inches off the deck. Either which way John was right, and it was “a totally unsuitable emergency landing strip”, however the drugs had worked and he still passed me.


Skyrangers come in many flavours but if you are in the market for one I would say get the Swift. There isn’t a lot of difference between the models but the Swift (or Ninja) seem to have better handling capabilities (shorter wings in the main). Take off and landings are always the places where you will want this!


The questions come, I think, when you want to do more; the storage isn’t ace, the seating position isn’t the comfiest and, if you have any intention of going any distance, make sure you are not a chunky monkey like me. Hence the swap to the C42c, which I bought to be able to go further in more comfort.

The new model is stunning. It takes off in about the same time as the new Skyranger, cruises faster, yet can still land short. The aircraft is more of a handful but only in the aspect of getting used to the extra buttons. It has a laundry basket in the back which can carry a whopping bag or tent or small child (chopped up), superb Beringer brakes, oh, and a draught-free, heated, cockpit that is so efficient you could bake a cake in there. The aircraft body is all a mix of Kevlar and GRP and truly you can feel how solid it is. The only thing I can find wrong is a ridiculously hard flap lever but you know what, I can live with that.

Garry with his new baby; GEE.
 

Gee - that was some trip to collect the aircraft

Mark Atkinson has recorded the mini saga on Youtube.


https://youtu.be/CtnIjowzCjk


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Earthed or star-struck?

Steve Kirkham compares his new steed with his previous one.


I’ve often been asked to compare the EuroFox aircraft I have now, with the Eurostar I flew before. I will but, you might imagine, it’s a very subjective impression and not one that will please everyone who has experienced one or other of these aircraft.


The Eurostar has achieved, if not legendary status, then at least a position towards the top of that list of desirable aircraft and for those who have flown it, a place in our hearts. It is simply gorgeous to look at and the first experience of being in that goldfish bowl cockpit sat on top of the wings, is breath-taking. The visibility around and above you is almost unrivalled but, like all low wing aircraft, the opposite is true for below.


It is surprisingly light on the controls and the need for rudder in light turns is negligible, one soon becomes accustomed to holding the control column lightly between finger and thumb. A lot us us will have had our training in Eurostar school aircraft and their ability to tolerate our errors and soak up the hours is incredible, a testimony to the wonderful slippery design and quality construction. Clearly their popularity is no mistake then. We all know of Eurostars that have flown for intergalactic hours that, with care and diligent maintenance, still look smart and fly like new.


So what are the negatives, as obviously there are some? The cabin of the older variant is fairly cosy and storage limited; you’ll certainly have to get used to rubbing shoulders but, the 450kg MTOW of most variants will limit the need for storage anyway. The later variants have addressed the issue of space but the MTOW has increased only modestly even in category A. That amazing canopy does create a lot of cockpit heat in sunny weather; it’s rare to see a Eurostar without the obligatory sunscreen or the pilot without a baseball cap. Thankfully the cockpit ventilation is good, although I wish I could say the same for the heater. At this point all the flexwing pilots will be muttering negatively about the hardiness of those who have chosen to go the “dark side”, (neatly ignoring their Michelin man appearance and the army of heater coil cables emerging from almost every orifice of their flying suits) and I admit, looking good (snigger) does come at a price. That wonderful alloy finish has to kept scrupulously clean to prevent etching of it by the body fluids of insect corpses and the bubble canopy is vulnerable to scratches, but a well-kept Eurostar is a sight to behold.