Updated: Mar 28
Firsts all round - January, flying a tail dragger; Ian Shaw papped at Barton
In this issue :
Shaw's Report - Chairman Ian Shaw looks forward with optimism.
Club Night Report - The Christmas Bash.
Coming up at Club Night in February - Graham Fern with SkyDemon top tips.
Achievements - Congratulations due.
Soft strip landings - The infernal wet weather of late has made grass strips soggy.
Fog on the Threshold - Don Sadbury describes a recent misty experience.
Fog Photos - Ian Macbeth taking flying fog photos again.
Eeeek! - a squawking transgression reported by Steve Kirkham.
Dave, on drones - There are some positives to the advancing technology.
The Sturgate Continuum - David Creedy enjoys the journey and the destination.
Not so far away - Farway Common is to reopen this Spring/Summer.
IMPORTANT! - Make a diary note of the 'official' Club tours (FAFs) for 2022 (at end of e-zine).
Welcome to the first e-zine and Shaws Report of the year. Just in case you’re ‘Billy-no-mates’ and nobody’s wished you a Happy New Year, let me be the first to wish you a “Happy New Year!”
I've just come from a tailwheel lesson in a Citabria with North West Aeros at Barton and am feeling tickety-boo. Despite having its third wheel at the wrong end, all went surprisingly well. It felt good to shake those bushes, putting me out of my comfort zone by trying something different. The whole experience is well recommended.
Whilst great fun, this was also a necessary flight to comply with the latest LAPL licence legislation, which appears to be under constant re-clarification; the latest advice being that the mandatory one hour refresher training must be taken in an ATO / DTO approved training organisation’s aircraft, within the last two years, to keep your licence valid. Meaning if you are relying on refresher training taken in your own aircraft then your licence may not be current.
The remedy is to take a one hour instructor session in a school approved aircraft. An aircraft that you are probably unfamiliar with to assist your flying in an aircraft that you are. How truly bonkers is that? Of course, in the main, none of this matters a jot; we don’t have CAA police waiting at the end of the runway to catch us out or indeed fine us. However, God forbid you have an argument with terra firma and you need to make an insurance claim; those pesky insurance companies would have a neat get out clause if you technically don’t have a valid licence.
So, now that I can legally fly again, I’m looking forward to lots of flying fun this year including planned FAF flyouts, Sunny Sat Navs, Brass Monkeys and of course club nights. We will be keeping to our regular club nights i.e. the third Monday of the month. The aim for this year however is to try and get together a bit more via 'Third Monday' socials at the Wheaty, as many members have been missing the opportunity to meet face to face. These 'Wheaty' socials may be timed to suit the absence of a guest speaker; we'll see how that goes but, generally: if we have a guest speaker we will stick to the zoom meeting format, if not we will meet at the Wheatsheaf for a beer and a chat. Announcements will be made in good time via WhatsApp / email.
That said, we don't have a guest speaker in January and COVID is still a major concern for many so we have reluctantly decided to postpone January's social get-together.
February, on the other hand, however, is onwards and upwards and features Graham Fern who is coming along with tips and tricks on how to get the most out of SkyDemon. Perfect timing for when we all fly to Friedrichsafen in April 😳
Looking forward to seeing everyone very soon with lots of safe flying throughout 2022!
Ian Shaw 😎
Club night report - 13th December, 2021
December and some negotiating and organising by Mark Jealous, assisted by Steve Bettley, saw the first physical gathering of Cheshire Flyers at the Wheatsheaf since COVID began. The stalwart members that could make that evening celebrated the winners of the Club Awards, though unlike usual club nights, the Awards were not a surprise as the winners had been announced in the December Cheshire Flyer e-zine.
Ian Shaw was awarded the Ray Garnham Cup for his unstinting dedication to the Club as Chairman since he was appointed some six years ago when he left the room during a committee meeting. In particular, he received the award for keeping the Club together during the testing Covid times through application of his ‘Master of Ceremonies’ skills in the conduct of a very successful season of Zoom meetings. Ian was unable to attend and Dave West received the Award on his behalf.
Gordon Verity, Steve Dancaster and Steve Webb were jointly awarded the Noel Alms Trophy for their close and effective liaison with Manchester ATC on Manchester low-level corridor safety issues, initiatives for reducing infringements and establishing safe, legal and workable procedures for Hawksview arrivals and departures. Steve Dancaster received the award.
Alan Shufflebotham (Shuff) was awarded the Senior Mug. Since time began, Alan has been responsible for organising our excellent Christmas Parties and he has been the workhorse behind mobilising facilities for the annual GAFF (Great Arclid Fly in Funday). Ken Watt was the previous keeper of the Mug and since neither Ken nor Alan were able to be at the Wheatie, that presentation will have to happen some time this month or at the next club night.
Congratulations to Paul Macavoy who completed his First Solo on 16 December, 2021.
Soft landings are not always desirable - care required
Sharon Cox reminds us of CAA Safety Sense leaflets with valuable tips.
The extremely wet few weeks we have recently endured reminded me that even when grass strips are deemed safe to use some adjustments to one's take off and landing techniques are often required. Wet grass, in particular, is likely to occasionally surprise us in its grip on our wheels, and spats can quickly fill up with mud residues.
The CAA is gradually updating and modernising its safety leaflets. Its Winter Flying leaflet (Safety Sense 03) has useful reminders of the need to be diligent and vigilant. There is a great deal of information in this pdf so worth following the link. Take off and landing considerations are extracted below (spot the typo 🙄). [A link to Safety Sense Leaflet 7 is available within the pdf.]
It is not only the ground conditions that can be tricky when flying in winter. Fog and mist can catch us out too. Yan Shore and Capt. Bladders, A.K.A Don Sadbury, know this only too well.
The CAA has produced a short Youtube video on Winter Flying, but this is not a substitute for reading the Safety Sense Leaflets 03 and 07. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TS3do0aE45M
On the Threshold of Fog
Don Sadbury reflects on a most recent misty experience.
Thursday morning this week (13 January) I was delighted to be taking an enthusiastic chap for his first flexwing flight in the clearest and brightest conditions imaginable. There was isolated fog in the forecast and from aloft you could see quite clearly defined and substantial areas of it. Our flight track took us in perfect conditions around most of Cheshire, but I kept a close eye on a bank of fog over and to the east of Crewe. Returning to Dairy House Farm, said fog bank had now expanded to reach exactly the threshold to runway 30.
The whole of the runway was bathed in crystal clear sunshine, yet it was not possible to see the eastern perimeter fence of the airfield, only 50m or so from the threshold. With the wind favouring RWY 30, and the depth of the fog layer estimated to be around 200ft, this meant that at worst I would only be in the gloom for a few seconds over the last 200m or so of the approach. So I decided to give landing on 30 a go….four times! The first three attempts resulted in me being misaligned with the runway by about 30 to 40m and going around; the fourth time a near perfect landing was made, albeit quite long.
At no time did I feel safety was compromised, especially as I knew the obstacles on approach so well; I would certainly not have attempted this at an unfamiliar field. Nevertheless, and with hindsight, there is no doubt that a downwind landing (towards the fog) would have been a better option, especially as the wind was less than 5kts.
I’m pleased to report that my passenger in the rear seat was delighted with his first flight and amazed at the agility of the flexwing; he will almost certainly be signing up for lessons.
Ian Macbeth is up there taking pictures of mist and fog again...
Steve Kirkham reflects on the reasons for his incorrect squawk in the LLR, with which he is very familiar, for all our benefit.
MAN RADAR -“G-**HJ Manchester Radar”
MAN RADAR – “G -HJ are you squawking 7366”
G- HJ “Yes, err.. No”
Confession time, I have recently been guilty of an Airspace Infringement. No, I did not stray off path or fail to seek a Zone entry, what I did was fail to satisfy the requirement that all transponder-equipped aircraft, using the Manchester Low Level Corridor, squawk 7366.
There are, as we all know, several other requirements but they are not the subject of this discussion.
How did this happen? Had I been flying from outside the area it might perhaps be easier to understand, but I was flying from an airfield located in the LLR itself, as I have done for several years. I have attended the LLR briefings, I am well acquainted with the requirements for using the LLR. Had someone told me that I was going to fail to squawk correctly while flying inside the LLR, I would have been sceptical but clearly I did.
No excuse then, but there is an explanation and it is the reasons I ended up doing the wrong thing that I want to share with you, or at least one in particular; and no, it’s not because I’m a complete prat (though the jury may be out on that one).
It was a normal day. One of those after a spell of poor weather, where you’ve looked at the sky, checked the various sites and apps, consulted the weather gods, touched your talisman and thought it might be possible at last to fly. The recent lengthy period of unsuitable weather had made it a month since my last flight and this was a significant factor in what later occurred.
Having arrived at the field and completed the pre-flight inspection, I discussed the possibility of a fly out with a couple of the other pilots. We agreed on Welshpool, as other options weren’t particularly favourable and we went our separate ways to prepare.
Unfortunately, the aircraft battery had gone flat. Fortunately, I had a booster pack with me but, when shutting down after the previous flight, I had permitted the engine to run for longer than usual with the main fuel tap turned off, before shutting down. The consequence of this was that the depleted battery had to pump through fuel in addition to turning the engine over and it wasn’t going to start easily. In fact, I did not think it was going to start at all and I advised my fellow pilots of this, saying I would either meet them at Welshpool or cancel the PPR as appropriate.
The engine did start and run smoothly, some 5 minutes after their departure. Thinking that I might be able to salvage the flight, I proceeded to run through my checklist and this is where I made my big mistake.
Before shutting down at the end of the last flight, I had inadvertently departed from my usual procedure. Normally, I would reset the transponder so that the active code was 7366 and the standby 7000 but, on this occasion, I held the VFR button for more than 3 seconds. On my transponder, this saves the current squawk (in this case, the one previously given for Radar Controlled Zone Entry) as the VFR value.
When running through my checklist I saw VFR in the standby squawk position, which puzzled me and without giving that further thought I simply tapped in 7000.
I ran through all the points on the checklist but, if I’m honest with myself, I was in “hurry up” mode by this time and you can end up seeing what you expect to see.
I completely failed to observe that the soon-to-be active squawk was the previous Zone entry one.
I had also been having an exchange over Safety Com with another aircraft departing ahead of me. Having backtracked for the appropriate runway, I made my last calls on Safety Com, activated the transponder and changed the active radio frequency to Man Radar, putting Safety Com on monitor.
During take-off climb and while looking out for traffic, I heard my call sign. I was too busy to respond and also thought it was the same local aircraft; consequently it was only after the third such call that I realised it was in fact Manchester ATC and I then responded ( Manchester was not busy that day).
Upon checking my transponder, I was shaken to note that the active squawk was incorrect and activating the standby made matters worse as it then broadcast the general conspicuity 7000. I confessed my confusion to Manchester over why I was squawking incorrectly.
The ATC remained positive and friendly, giving a code for a RADAR CONTROLLED SERVICE, even though there was no question of having strayed from the confines of the LLR laterally or vertically. Having successfully entered 7366 into the standby squawk, I requested the opportunity to change once clear of the LLR. This was confirmed successfully and later still, so was 7000. It was clear the fault lay with me and not the transponder and I apologised for my error.
I was fortunate in being able to talk through the events with fellow Cheshire Flyers during that day, while the details were fresh in my mind, and I value greatly the advice I received.
Having had the chance to think things through, I realised where the mistakes had occurred but, while not in any way belittling the severity of the squawk error, it was also clear to me that I had uncovered a potentially more serious failing.
I had been in guilty of “normalising” my checklist and in doing so could easily have masked a potentially life-threatening fault in the aircraft. Had I properly engaged with my checklist then, despite the distraction caused by earlier events, I would not have infringed.
I don’t know how the pilots reading this organise their checklists. I know some simply use a mnemonic to recall the details of the checks and this may work for you; for myself I prefer to create my own detailed list, in which the shorthand for the checks is contained.
I have given some significant consideration to this and tried to be honest with myself. I feel to create too lengthy a list might increase the urge to take shortcuts but, equally, I don’t want to allow stress to permit some elements to be forgotten. I have arrived at something I hope works for me and I would encourage you to do the same.
I may be doing some a disservice but, I suspect several of you might have had a similar experience with checks (when a JB or CC is not watching) and subsequently realised that you have omitted something. It is after all a human failing and this is why we have checklists.
In due course an email containing details of the infringement arrived, with an invitation to afford an explanation.
I honestly hope none of you ever receive such an email, but I did find the experience of being honest about my failings and the clarity that analysis brought with it a cathartic experience. I hope that this episode has made me a better aviator and, if that’s true, we can all accept that is a good thing.
Drones can have useful purpose.
More droning from Dave Creedy 😉
An autonomous drone has helped to save the life of a 71-year-old man who was suffering a cardiac arrest. - news from BBC
The drone delivered a defibrillator to a doctor helping the man, who became ill while shovelling snow outside his house in Trollhattan, Sweden.
The company behind the drone says it meant that defibrillation could begin before the arrival of an ambulance. Everdrone says it took just over three minutes from the alarm being raised until the Automated External Defibrillator (AED) was delivered.
The Sturgate continuum
David Creedy succeeds in his quest to visit this airfield and be well-fed.
In November of 2021 I met Steve Dancaster at HV with a plan to visit Sturgate, a first for both of us. Like all good plans, similar to those that made many of our explorer ancestors famous for their disasters, it was doomed to failure. Light rain in the corridor was not a deterrent but the double layered, featureless, cloud over the moors was. Our pre-planned divert was immediately activated. The beautiful grass strip of DHF soon welcomed us. A quick enquiry to a truck driver gave us the co-ords for the famous pie shop lauded by John. After a few minutes’ walk we were in paradise. What an amazing choice of perfect pastry. Pies were followed by cream-packed fruit turnovers washed down with coffee at the alfresco dining tables. A de-fibrillator on the wall seemed ideally located. Two sated gastronomes contentedly returned to the airfield and bumbled back to base.
I was beginning to think that Sturgate would become my “Orkney”. However, later in the same week the TAFs were unexpectedly aligned and a second mission was launched. Steve and I enjoyed clear air but as we flew eastwards the wind strengthened, becoming decidedly lumpy in places.
There was a feature I wanted to inspect along the journey’s route - the massive 12MW solar power installation occupying the reclaimed site of Welbeck colliery. To me it was a wonderful sight, a powerful symbol of the transition from coal to renewable energy.
We knew there would be a challenging crosswind at Sturgate and had identified an alternate airfield with an into wind runway if necessary. Against few odds, the landing challenge was met and we parked up after I took on fuel. There is no landing fee, although an optional charity donation is welcomed, and no requirement for PPR at this friendly airfield. The next task was to evaluate the café. The simple portacabin proved to be warm and cosy - the strong wind was biting. We enjoyed a superb “small” breakfast and both agreed that the “large” option would have tested us to the limit. The return flight was idyllic with the wind speed falling under a lowering sun.
Not so far away
Sharon Cox has fond memories of visiting Farway Common on a summer FAF.
Flyer magazine recently (11 Jan) reported that Farway Common is to re-open. The airfield was up for sale after the death of Terry Case, the owner that several Cheshire Flyers have met over the years. The new owner is a chap called James Hartrop, who flies a Navion. James told FLYER’s Ian Seager, “Somehow we managed to buy an airfield! We have some big plans. First will be a housewarming fly-in in May/June time.”
If anyone is flying to Devon this year, Farway Common is a useful stop for a break; if you want to locate it, look south of Dunkeswell towards the coast, and north of Branscombe Farm.