Updated: Jul 19
Every picture of the Western Isles is a postcard... Ian Shaw
In this issue :
Shaw's Report - our Chairman Ian's summing up of FAF2 with some stunning photos.
Club Night Report - Thanks to Ian Shaw for hosting and presenting the June club night.
Coming up at Club Night - Bigg on the Brabazon.
Achievements - Congratulations due.
Dave Moore on the poetry of FAF2
Recycling aircraft bits - .Ken Watt advises on DIY
FAF2 - Frustrating And Fantastic - John Bradbury on flying in his favourite place
Fun Facts from FAF2 - Sharon shows a smidgen of the history of Kirkbride
Plan C for Scilly not silly at all - Charlie Appleby flies solo to St Marys
Alphabet airfields - competition closes in about 6 weeks.
I’m delighted to report that FAF2 is safely in the bag. The aim was (as usual) Orkney. However (as usual) we failed, but we enjoyed a superb, few days touring the Scottish Western Isles as a consolation prize.
I say consolation prize, however, I’d happily forfeit the winning goal any time for a tour of the Western Isles of Scotland – which is, without doubt, the most beautiful scenery I have ever experienced from the air.
Having had the privilege of touring all of the UK and much of Europe by air, it simply doesn’t get better than the Western Isles – and they are practically on our doorstep.
Couple that with a great bunch of fellow flyers and you’ve got a perfect flyout recipe.
However, that neck of the woods isn’t without its challenges, although unusually for Scotland much of the weather we experienced was contained to England and our route there and back. The weather was very localised, due to convergence clouds or something – and so difficult to predict. Those pesky Met Office ‘dark cloud symbols’ were all over the place but, generally, the planned coastal route was forecast clear.
Still, on more than one occasion, we had to divert as our route ahead was unpassable to all but ducks. So the ‘top tip’ in this scenario is to plan your divert options well in advance. Treat the route as stepping stones from one divert option to another – then it doesn’t come as too much of a shock if you can’t get any further and have to turn back to wait it out on the ground. It can be helpful to sketch the runway layouts on your chart, jot the circuit direction and radio frequencies down too. Then, If it all gets a bit stressful, scrabbling around, flipping pages in your Pooleys Airfield guide to work out runways etc. is one less task you have to worry about.
We all got back safely, although G-ZIZY (Ken’s aircraft) decided it needed another week in Glenforsa, to get over the first one - due to its fuel pressure having a party all on its own and becoming very high.
Club Night June 21st Report
Many thanks are due to Ian who manfully held the fort and reminded us all about his rubber suit and the more serious prospect of surviving a ditching.
Club Night Next - July 19th
Our guest speaker will be Chris Bigg, a retired manufacturing engineer who worked in the Bristol Aerospace industry for 52 years. He started in 1963 as a craft machinist apprentice. Over the years Chris had many roles including planning engineer, machine programmer jig & tool designer and computer programme key user; he worked for British Aircraft Corporation twice and Rolls Royce twice. Chris took early retirement at the age of 59 and worked for the City of Bristol College as a NVQ Assessor based at Airbus Filton. He regarded that occupation as the most rewarding part of his working life
Chris's lifelong hobbies are Aviation and Photography.
Chris intends to tell us about the Brabazon, which was the largest landplane constructed in the UK and was designed to carry passengers non stop across the Atlantic. Conceived during WW2 the Brabazon was the most prestigious of five types of aircraft considered. Bristol won the contract partly due to the work done on an aircraft designed to bomb Germany that was never built. The aircraft was not a success but was very advanced for its time with features such as fully powered controls and AC electrics. Its first flight was September 1949 and it flew 164 times before being scrapped in 1953
Well done to Rob Scothern who did his first microlighting solo
And Congratulations to Ian Shaw for making 1000 hours of flying in his logbook.
Well done both!
Dave Moore on FAF2
Lamb Holm was the Flyers' target,
Base for Orkney bimbles.
Few short hops would get them close,
Past the Scottish pimples.
All the planes were flying Northward,
Some stopped Cark, or Bute.
Weather could have served them better, made them change their route.
Planes were watched from far away,
(Flight Radar Twenty Four).👀
All were seen, except their chairman's,
(Mode S?, What a bore!).🤫
Sadly, Orkneys not to be,
Weather just too wild.🌨️
Try again another time,
The weather gods may smile.🌅
Ken Watt on the art of recycle maintenance
There is an ancient proverb which says he who sees through the words of proverbs is he who is blinded to the truth. My dad was an uneducated clever man who lived through the Blitz in Liverpool, and he used to say waste not want not. It’s all a bit confusing really but Bob Dylan seemed to know that ‘the answer is blowing in the wind’, which could well take your aircraft out to play without you, when you’re not looking.
This non-technical article will offer amateur guidance on avoiding that particular scenario. It will explain how to build some half decent tie-downs for a small aircraft from stuff lying around, or bought on the Internet.
We’re going to need some quite light, but quite strong, metal, to form the base of our project. I’m talking about the sort of stuff microlights are made of; the tube bit of a rag and tube plane. Some of us have actually bent our own, but most of us know somebody else who has bent one, and may have bits left lying in the corner of the hanger. That’s the stuff we want: 15-30mm diameter will do nicely. “A” frame or base bars are good. For each piece we need a length equivalent to your foot.
Big people have to fly big aeroplanes; they also have big feet; so this is an excellent way of ensuring the dimensions of this piece are scaled correctly for the size of your aircraft.
The next step is just a little technical: drill four holes in the tube. These need to be not too close to each other or the end of the piece of tube, else the metal will be weak, and not too close to the middle either, as there won’t be enough room for the attaching loop to slide around to take account of when we peg it in the wrong place. This happens all the time.
Two of the holes need to pass vertically through the tube, two horizontally. The best way to achieve this is using a pillar drill, but as the pegs will be under the ground no one will be able to see if you get this bit slightly wrong using your Black & Decker. Remove any sharp bits left around the edge of the hole with a piece of sandpaper or a file, otherwise they’ll rip any straps or fingers that come into contact with them.
Attaching the rope to the base piece is best done with some flat nylon strap, which won’t wear against the ground in the same way as a round profile rope just wrapped around the base. To get this piece right you need a length of strap three times longer than your mobile phone; fold it like a letter Z, and squash it to make two loops. Now the hard bit, you have to convince somebody to stick it on a sewing machine. You can do this yourself and it’s really quite fun. Make sure the loops are big enough for the base tube to fit through. I stitched an oblong with the diagonals filled, but most patterns would be ok I think, more stitches means more strength.
Next you need to choose a piece of rope long enough to go from the ground to your plane and back to the nylon strap with a bit spare left over to make a knot. The extra friction of going back through the nylon loop means the rope can be a bit looser but still prevents movement. If you melt the end with a lighter it stops the rope fraying.
Now you have the opportunity to spend hours on YouTube: first you need to attach a rope to the nylon strap. You can do this by splicing a loop into the rope; YouTube has some great videos on this, with some very enthusiastic presenters. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WT9Q8e8bY1g
My dad was a merchant seaman and he taught me how to do whipping which is the technique I used, also complete guidance available on YouTube. A length of heat-shrink makes the job look neater. If you’re not bothered what it looks like, you can just tie a knot. There is a huge community of knot tiers who are ever so pleased to share their skills with you, also populating YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3X8drKsdf5E
The finished article doesn’t weigh very much, but the final weight depends on whether you buy posh camping pegs made of strong alloy, or use cheap, heavy, camping pegs made of big nails. This link is to the manufacturer; eBay or Amazon may be less expensive. https://alpkit.com/products/spikes
The posh ones look better, and you get 3 for the same weight as a big nail.
Finally convince that lovely person who stitched your strap to make you a drawstring bag, put the tie-downs inside with a plastic hammer https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/182083081095?epid=21043292013&hash=item2a64ff5387:g:~OUAAOSwtUtXBLoF and you’re good to go, whilst your aircraft is good to stay.
The whole lot weighs a bit over 600 grams; that’s 2 x tie-downs and a hammer, not too shabby.
The piece of bent aircraft is now allowed to go on fly-outs again; you’ve made an old piece of tube very happy.
FAF 2…….Frustrating Also Fantastic 2
John Bradbury describes the fun and frustrations of touring
Frustrating (1, of many) because my personal goal of Orkney was thwarted yet again by poor weather to NE Scotland. Three days prior to departure, a zoom meeting by fellow faffers concluded that our hotel reservations for Kirkwall should be cancelled. After drying my eyes I threw in a curve ball: the weather to the Scottish Western Isles looked excellent and, what’s more, I had discovered the Glenforsa Hotel on Mull had seven rooms available for Friday night. This was a unanimous’ no-brainer’ so I was given an instruction to get them booked without delay, with which I willingly obeyed…(Fantastic 1 of many).
Our first rendezvous was Kirkbride (10 miles west of Carlisle) for a picnic lunch and fuel for those who needed it. The plan from here was a bladder stop on Bute then to Oban for fuel. However, as we could see cloud on the mountains north of the Solway Firth, a valley route was chosen. Halfway up said valley the cloud blocked our way and we had to retreat. This meant a substantial detour SW then NW to hit the coast at Turnberry (15 miles south of Prestwick). Further frustration as a wall of very low cloud prevented further progress north...(Frustration 2).
Turnberry is shown on the 1/2mill charts as an active airfield, yet it doesn’t show at all on Skydemon. It was clear from above that this had been a WW2 airfield now incorporating a large golf course. Lots of air-to-air discussion on 129.835 took place on the best plan of action, between our FAF squadron of 5 aircraft as we were in various locations, orbiting and avoiding each other. I took a couple of low passes down two of the runways to check the surface which seemed quite good. We also contacted Prestwick ATC for advice/assistance. Interestingly, Prestwick offered us radar vectors to their airport where the weather was apparently reasonable. I obviously declined this offer as I had to remain VMC and also had no artificial horizon. I subsequently advised ATC that I was going to make a precautionary landing at Turnberry to wait for the weather to clear; to which came the reply: “You can’t land at Turnberry”. Hindsight now tells me Donald Trump owns the airfield and golf course and probably made it quite clear to Prestwick that nobody is allowed in. Meanwhile Ken flew off as agreed that he should check out Kilkerran.
Prestwick suggested we all divert to Kilkerran airstrip, about 6 miles to the SE. This turned out to be a delightful long grass strip where we all landed safely…(Fantastic 2).
A discussion followed around possibly not getting to Glenforsa that evening (Frustration 3). However, to avoid the cloud hugging the mainland coast, a plan to island-hop via Arran was devised. This turned out an excellent idea with an uneventful flight into Oban for fuel. The final leg was the short hop over to Mull in wonderful weather for our landing at Glenforsa, the best airfield in the world. Some went straight to the hotel bar (less than 50m from the aircraft); others checked in, then went for an evening jolly in the perfect calm conditions. I’ve been to this airfield and hotel many times; its idyllic setting never fails to please…(Fantastic 3).
Following an evening of food, drinks and banter whilst watching the sun set over the sea and our aircraft, we retired to the splendid log cabin hotel beds…(Fantastic 4).
Over breakfast the next morning (Saturday), we discussed the possibility of a flight down the Great Glen to Inverness, then on to Orkney. Potential low cloud in the Glen, coupled with an awful Orkney forecast, meant we had to abandon this idea…(Frustration 4). Now resigned to not reaching Orkney, our attentions turned to a Western Isles tour; my favourite flying area of all time…(Fantastic 5).
The next consideration was where to overnight. Amazingly Glenforsa had 6 rooms available; another ‘no-brainer’, so I was instructed to get these booked. Although this required a slight re-jigging of rooms, it meant we had another night in paradise…(Fantastic 6).
Saturday was a brilliant classic Western Isles tour in lovely calm weather; the sea was glass smooth…(Fantastic 7). First stop Tiree, then on to Plockton via Coll, Muck, Eigg, Rhum and Skye. Plockton is idyllic, with only a 20 minutes’ walk into the most picturesque village in the UK…(Fantastic 8). A great lunch stop and ice cream before heading back to Glenforsa via Oban for fuel.
Oban is where Council rules and inflexibility made me ‘spit my dummy out’. Fuel closed at 17:15L; some of our squadron made it just in time. I advised Oban I had 10 mins to run (eta 17:20L); Oban responded with ‘fuel closing 17:15L’. Having applied full power and advising 3 minutes to run to landing, I asked if I could be allowed to land and uplift fuel along with most of my colleagues who were already there. The response was ‘fuel closes in 2 minutes’…(Frustration 5). Team TU & TZ put this issue behind us and went on to Glenforsa, enjoying the beautiful calm evening conditions. With the weather being so perfect, several of us took to the skies for an evening bimble…(Fantastic 8).
Yet another great sociable evening of banter, food and drink was had. This was followed with a night cap sipping Rusty Nails in the idyllic upstairs lounge overlooking the sea and planes at sunset….(Fantastic 9).
Discussion over dinner concluded that to get back to Cheshire the next day (Sunday), would mean an early departure due weather closing in from the south…(Frustration 6).
Having failed to uplift fuel at Oban, I had asked the Glenforsa hotel proprietor Brendan if he could run me with two of his jerry cans to the local village garage. Although the village petrol station didn’t open until 10:00L on Sunday, Brendan agreed to be ready by then to take me. Brendan and wife Alison are the most fantastic hosts and can’t do enough to please. It should be recorded that several faffers expressed their disappointment at the lack of langoustines on Friday, so Brendan went fishing and came back with loads!...(Fantastic 10).
Unfortunately, Ken had a sleepless night worrying about excessive fuel pressure in his fuel-injected Sting S4 912iS. The problem was almost certainly a blocked filter which is on the pump delivery. Following much internet research, it became obvious the aircraft shouldn’t be flown. As the filter is a special Rotax part and Ken needed to get home for a golf tournament, the aircraft had to be abandoned….(Frustration 7). Ken’s journey home is a story in itself!
Sunday morning at 10:00L Team TU are standing-by for Brendan. 10:15L we are still standing-by. At 10:30L Alison tries to find Brendan. About 11:00L Alison discovers that Brendan had gone fishing and must have forgotten all about us!...(Frustration 7). The only option then was to reluctantly fly to Oban for fuel, by which time the rest of our squadron were well on their way.
By the time we reached Prestwick the weather had started to deteriorate, necessitating a divert through their airspace and a long detour to Kirkbride for a much-needed comfort stop. Well ahead of us and beating this weather, the rest of the FAF squadron made a direct flight home.
Although the weather at Kirkbride itself was reasonable, we had seen a wall of cloud and rain over the Lake District that spread to the coast. Whilst sitting it out in the hope it might clear, en-route METAR’s confirmed that IMC weather was already arriving further south…(Frustration 8).
Resigned to going no further that day, we enquired about lodgings for the night. John at Kirkbride was particularly helpful and suggested the ‘Inn at the Bush’ about two miles away. What a great place this turned out to be, with the owner giving us a free lift in his vintage bright orange London cab…(Fantastic 10). It seems the cab is used to give free lifts to customers arriving at the airfield on a regular basis; a great idea in this particularly remote area.
Having checked into our rooms, we went to dine and were given a front row table next to the TV where the England v Italy final was about to start…(Fantastic 11) The place quickly filled with locals and the atmosphere was buzzing; well at least until the penalties!
The next day (Monday) it became apparent that the weather through Lancashire and Cheshire wouldn’t be flyable all day. Although the Inn was a great and convenient overnight, the thought of being stuck in this particularly remote area all day and another night wasn’t ideal… (Frustration 9). Explaining our situation to the Inn’s owner Colin, he offered use of two of his bikes for sightseeing. This turned out to be a splendid idea, with a cycle route on flat land over miles of National Nature Reserve in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty…(Fantastic 12).
Before leaving on our bike ride, we ha