Autumn mist captured by Darren Elliston on a local bimble this month
In this issue :
Shaw's Report - Ian encourages us all to get together.
Club Night Report - Mountain flying requires focus.
Coming up at Club night - The promise of a very interesting flexwing voyage in Kenya.
Achievements - Congratulations due.
A Place in the Sun - Dave Creedy and Gordon Verity on their Foxbat experiences in Mercia, Spain.
In Search of Autumn Colour - No strings attached to Sharon Cox's recommended Apron.
Clouded Judgement - free to attend webinar supported by CAA.
Students Be Aware - Geoff Weighell's new exam guide for NPPL (M).
The Chronicles of Nynja - latest on the Buckley build.
Bemused by an airprox report - John Bradbury reports an airprox.
IMPORTANT! - Make a diary note of the 'official' Club tours (FAFs) for 2022 (at end of e-zine).
I have to make this a short one for various reasons. Time is a little precious at the moment which is why you have a treat ahead for you on Monday night’s club meet – lets just say ‘back to the future’ for those nostalgic old sages.
There have been lots of committee discussions over the last few weeks – mainly surrounding the decision to Christmas bash – or not? Firstly, our old faithful venue ‘the Wheatsheaf’ has turned our meeting room into a bedroom! Something to do with ‘makes more profit’? OK, agreed we never actually paid for the privilege of meeting there so technically anything they did with that room would ‘make more profit’. A zoo in a room whose sole exhibits were a grey squirrel and a tabby cat would have done – whatever! Don’t they realise this has been the ancestral home of the Cheshire Flyers since the dawn of microlighting - how very dare they!
However, as a consolation prize we have been kindly offered a private bar area for our Christmas shenanigans. We are hoping to see as many of you as possible but understand COVID is ever present and some may well feel uneasy at the prospect of a gathering. Club funds are a little in short supply, given there’s been no income since Shergar was last spotted – we didn’t want to take the risk of organising food if people didn’t turn up. So, it’s a drinks only evening sat around the bar accompanied by lots of banter and stories such as Captain Braders Christmas rendition of how he almost died in the Bristol Channel...(tbc). It would of course be superb to see as many of you as possible – especially those new to our sport whom we haven’t yet met in person.
Stick Monday the 13th December at The Wheatsheaf in your diary and we hope to see you there.
Finally, and on behalf of Cheshire Flyers, I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to Alan Shufflebotham aka ‘Shuff’ who has been a member of the CF committee - probs since the Wright Brothers last flew, and without whose unsung efforts we would never have enjoyed our annual Great Arclid Flying Fundays, the ‘GAFF’, or indeed many of our Christmas past gatherings. Alan has decided to step down from the committee to pursue other passions such as ‘more flying’! We wish him well in his endeavours.
Ian Shaw 😎
Club Night October 18th Report
Many thanks are due to Fiona and Angus Macaskill. What an exciting flying life they lead; they are an inspiration to the rest of us. We were treated to an excellent presentation on Alpine strips and glacier landings from them. I don’t know how Steve manages to find us such good speakers from a range of flying disciplines and experiences. The photos and diagrams included here are copyright Fiona Macaskill so please don't pass them on without seeking appropriate permission.
Fiona spoke about the techniques they learned in order to be able to land on snow in the high Alps. They took half an hour from taking off to climb to the landing areas – often 10,000 feet AMSL. Their favourite experiences looked to be landing on glaciers. Apparently, there are very few days in a year when conditions are appropriate. Never more than 5-10 knots of wind for example, and obviously perfect snow.
The videos that we were shown were breath-taking views of mountain scenery and narrow valleys with short tarmac runways. Apparently, the landing strips are around 200m in the snow-covered Alps and require a different technique for landing than ‘normal’ flying would entail. Fiona showed diagrams of the approach which would be much steeper and faster than lower altitude airfields and then an aggressive flare to touch down at the beginning of the landing strip or area. As most of the landings are upslope – anything between 5 and 7 degrees, and on skis, the aircraft speed over the ground bleeds off very quickly and power is required after touch down to make sure the aircraft makes it up to the top of the sloping strip to turn for a take-off.
Fiona and Angus’ instructor taught them a strict regime of assessing their potential landing strip by completing a reconnaissance flight (La Recco) in a complete circuit of the landing field with a regime of direction checking, assessing the wind and surface conditions as far as possible, and very importantly checking the aircraft drift angle on every leg of the rectangle flown. There are no wind socks visible on a glacier. Flying anywhere new; talking to the locals is of paramount importance as they have the experience and can advise on signs to look for and so on.
Once committed on final, there is no go around option available. This is why la recco is so important and a low pass encouraged to check as well. Ideally some other planes have landed at the chosen location first and the ski marks in a distinct curve are visible. Fiona and Angus were taught to land and keep rolling in a left-hand curve and immediately to take off. They should only stop and turn the engine off on their second landing, making sure that the nose (engine) was pointing slightly downslope of the rest of the airframe.
I think a lot of us were in complete awe. Fiona was an experienced competition paragliding pilot and perhaps still an adrenaline junkie? Angus confessed that they were probably addicted to the mountain flying and they had been trying for several years to gain their mountain flying rating in the Alps. It has been proving a challenge given time and the weather variability; and Brexit and the changes to licensing have made things very difficult.
They will keep on flying and trying though.
Coming up at Club Night Next - November 18th
Steve Rosser has arranged for Hal Colliver, a flying instructor, permit inspector and flight examiner, to tell us all about his extreme adventure flying part way across Africa in 2020.
Hal will be talking to us about his experiences flying a flexwing in Kenya searching for whale sharks. He faced the problems of dealing with huge egos, corruption and having to go in search of an aircraft as a last ditch effort to save the mission from failure entirely. That led to a 300+ mile ferry flight via Mount Kenya in a rain mac, tracksuit bottoms and gardening gloves (this was not an excursion he had packed for). He went on ‘safari’, seeing elephants, lions and tigers, by air, on his ferry flight, with concerns for what might eat him in the event of an engine failure; he saw some spectacular views and was faced with some shocking conditions too.
This should be a very interesting presentation.
And of course we will be talking Club business too.
Well done to Captain Braders who clocked over 18,000 hours PIC in October.
That really is an achievement to be proud of.
A Place in the Sun
Dave Creedy and Gordon Verity on their Foxbat experiences in Mercia, Spain.
Gordon and I were busy spoiling our respective better halves day after day in the Spanish sun when, suddenly, playtime beckoned. Gordon had discovered, and made contact with, a Microlight flying school at Totana airfield (LETX) in Mercia, not too far from where we were staying. The CFI had agreed to field a second instructor so we could fly at the same time. The added bonus was that the ladies could come along and would not have long to wait for us. The attraction to us was the chance to fly an Aeroprakt Foxbat A22. When we arrived at the airfield, two Foxbats were engaged in touch and go circuits.
We introduced ourselves to Salvador, the CFI, who took us on a brief site tour. The big decision of the day was which colour aircraft to choose. I chose the white one, ECGN, because it looked the most attractive and it had flown fewer hours than the red one, which Gordon accepted, by default. Salvador was to be Gordon’s instructor while I would fly with Alvaro.
Immediately on strapping in I discovered there was nowhere to stow my notebook or anything else. The instrumentation was basic and straightforward other than that speed was measured in meaningless km/h. I attempted to memorise stall speeds, clean and dirty, and also the approach speed. The two-stage flap lever was in the roof requiring a reverse Dutch-reach (you will know this term from the new law in the Highway Code) to operate. The dual brake was on the centre stick and locked on as a parking brake by careful spragging with an allen key. The throttle was a Meccano like lever on the left-hand side of the seat. Take off was short, requiring a great deal of right boot and the climb rate impressive. After a few minutes the controls began to feel natural and intuitive. We climbed to around 2,000 feet and slid through a range of mountains towards the sea. The navigation screen was not activated and my instructor talked to Salva and others on the radio in tongues. I missed the comfort of SkyDemon and PilotAware until I realised how essential it is to practice without such aids. Alvaro had eyes like a hawk and had Gordon’s plane in view all the time – I rarely spotted it. Reaching the coast, I descended to low-level until my instructor thought the waves were a little closer than desirable. We followed the coast to Mazarron Port and turned inland.
The next test was a series of touch and goes at the deserted Alhama De Murcia airport. My first problem was an inability to see the runway until I spotted Gordon ahead on final. The first attempt was scrappy, the second was an arrival and only the third could be classified as a landing and take-off with a semblance of tidiness. I found that the high wing got in the way of my view when flying the circuit, but I’m sure with more practice this wouldn’t be an issue, however my preference lies with the low wing Eurostar.
Having terrified the rabbits and livestock we returned to base for more excitement. We had survived a touch and go and were downwind when Alvaro shut off the throttle and declared an engine fire. My first thought was to turn off the fuel but my instructor advised against it for the purpose of an exercise. I followed Alvaro’s guidance and just made the runway with some critical intercession from him. Now totally shaken, we were on the climb-out when off went the engine again. He announced engine failure, no alternative landing site, execute a 180 degree turn and land. Alvaro’s English skills were limited but I got the message. I managed to turn and was very low approaching the downwind threshold (there was negligible wind) when I requested engine input. The request was denied emphatically and he called for more speed by dropping the nose. I wanted to maintain best glide rate. He pushed the stick to demonstrate the benefit, whipped on two stages of flap pulled back and rolled onto the tarmac. It was incredible. He explained his theory later.
Gordon had some fun too and here are his highlights: Having done some advanced research into the opportunity of flying in Almeria whilst on holiday I bit the bullet and rang the Microlight Flight School I had found on the Internet. A tricky conversation followed with the owner Salvador in broken English but a deal was done to have two aircraft for an hour so that Dave and I could fly in loose formation. Having admired the look of the Foxbat and read about its STOL capabilities I was keen to give it a go. The agreed date arrived and Dave and I mounted our respective steeds. I took off first, and enjoyed a swift lift-off. We heading towards the coast over some large mountains. The visibility, which had been rather poor in the early morning, was now starting to improve. I soon started to get the feel of the aircraft. The build of these aircraft is very solid and functional. Use of the rudder pedals is required most of the time to keep the aircraft in trim, very different from the Eurostar.
Turning back inland, after cruising along the coast, we headed to Alhama De Mercia Airpark, a developer’s folly with its huge tarmac runway with roads and unbuilt housing plots, now owned by the bank following the failure of the project. Being careful to not infringe the nearby new Murcia International Airport Zone, we executed three touch and goes, each one being a little better than the previous. Finally, it was time to head back on the short flight to Totana a narrow tarmac strip of 500m for a further two landings.
We both agreed the Foxbat provides a stable, solid platform and is fun to fly. After a few more hours we would have both felt comfortable soloing. There was no doubting the exceptional skill and knowledge of the instructors. The limited two-way language communication between pupil and instructor was not a barrier. It was one of the most intense and exciting 60 minutes of flying that we had each experienced.
For further details of the flying school see: https://www.saflyx.es/
Dave C and Gordon V
-free to attend webinar supported by CAA
VFR turns into IMC - how to avoid a catastrophic outcome
AAC Workshop: Inadvertent IMC
Astral Aviation Consulting (AAC) has produced a new article “actions on entry to inadvertent IMC” and is holding a supporting workshop on the subject on 17 November at 19:30 GMT
AAC is a third-party supplier to the CAA, providing support on GA Safety promotion
Student's Be Aware
Geoff Weighell has written a book for microlight students to help with studying for exams
It has not been for sale via the BMAA website as it was felt that it could not be sold there while Geoff was employed at BMAA. However, now that he has resigned his CEO post it may be worth checking the BMAA website to see if the book is now available from there. Otherwise - it's ebay or Pooley's site.
John Bradbury, CFI Cheshire Microlight Centre, our Cheshire microlight school, says that "It looks very helpful".
In Search of Autumn Colour
Sharon Cox recommends Retford/Gamston
Where to go for a short, day trip?
Criteria: not been before, enough potential comfort stops, not a headwind for the return trip ideally, not too far given short days now, a café for lunch, an into-wind runway as the wind was forecast to be fairly brisk.
Conclusion: eastwards, Retford/Gamston for lunch, given its café is reputed to be good, back over Chatsworth for scenic views and plenty of time to return before sunset.
And it was lovely…. a bit of cloud to fly over the top of (always in sight of the ground of course) but then skimming and weaving through the gaps to avoid infringing East Midlands airspace, blue sky, and sun to show off the autumn colours below.
I found Watnall, our first Braders, I mean bladder, stop, to be a short strip which meant I almost kissed the hedge on the way in (thinking it looked very short and over compensating) and then landed only halfway down – OK, as it sloped away and too far in on wettish grass might have led to running on. Watnall had a real windsock and a pants windsock. Yes – literally, a pair of high-viz trousers stuck up on a pole and blowing out nicely.
It transpired that the surface wind was more north-westerly than Gamston’s main runway in use so John had to use all his experience to land in the 19knot crosswind. Lots of tarmac to play with though he didn’t need it.
What a treat the Apron at Retford/Gamston is. I mean the restaurant not the area in front of the hangars and Control. I had expected it because researching the PPR on the website and the café opening hours meant I took the precaution of booking a table as is recommended. Although the excellent bakery and drinks are served all day, breakfast and lunch are between set hours.
The menu is changed daily and the food is well presented and delicious; table service of course.
Having rubbed shoulders with the business jet pilots and other GA folk, we managed to taxi for departure before the twin jet blew us off the apron and I took off just around the intersection without bothering to backtrack the runway in use.
Off to Chatsworth which is located in a stunningly beautiful valley; manicured green fields with autumnal trees and a silvery river winding its way through. The russet-coloured moors behind the big house glowed in the autumn sun. Indeed, so taken with photographing was I that only an extreme manoeuvre by John (who had taken over PIC so that I could take some photos, while gripping my phone with both hands 😂) made me look ahead in sufficient time to miss seeing the aircraft which had been on a reciprocal course towards us. 😮
We orbited so that John could prove that an aircraft had flown past us, i.e. that I believed he had avoided a collision. I saw it flying off into the distance. They had been enjoying the beauties of Chatsworth too, I guess.
An uneventful flight back and a good landing at Dairy House Farm ended an enjoyable short day out.
The Chronicles of Nynja
The Who, the Why and the Where - Nick Buckley is progressing the build.
Chapter 3: Getting it right
Nick has completed 6 videos now on his Youtube channel 'Lets go flying'.
There was a bit of a delay while he waited for the new 600Kg legs. These look a lot 'meatier' than the original ones on the lighter weight Skyrangers. Nick has also completed the bracing on the fuselage, fitted the flap lever and the wheels.
In Nick's words:
I have had a busy month doing not very much on the build for a few reasons:
Firstly - I managed to somehow wrongly drill one of my elevators which massively dented my confidence. It wasn’t an expensive mistake but it did cost me a lot of time and a trip to Flylight to get a new tube fitted to one of the elevators so that I could have another bash at it! I didn’t have the time to just go there and do this so I was aiming to combine it with the trip to pick up the 600kg wing tubes and 600kg landing gear, however, it kept getting put back due to shipping delays and before I knew it, four weeks had passed without doing anything on the plane. This was extremely stressful and frustrating!
The dreaded elevator bolts!!!!
The call finally came and I made the trip to Sywell to have the elevator re-tubed and pick up my missing items. I removed my temporary 450kg landing gear and took it with me to swap over. I returned to Ashcroft with everything squeezed into my campervan and unloaded.
I then realised that there were no instructions to fit the new landing gear so I got in touch with Paul Dewhurst who advised me that there wouldn’t be any for a week or two as they had not yet been written. I decided to have a bash at fitting it myself, which I have now done but I have left the bolts loose so that I can compare everything to the instructions before they get tightened and I can put this chapter behind me.
Next job is to build the wings. Mark Hilton has uploaded a video to his “Wing Nuts” channel which will be very helpful to me as a reference. The timing of its release is absolutely perfect. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LPvF1IHmnQ
Once I have tightened up the gear, built the wings and fitted the brakes and wheels, I can then get on with fitting the engine!
When I achieved a rolling airframe I will be able to breathe a sigh of relief! This whole experience has been very positive so far but there have been some very stressful moments for sure!
Bemused by an airprox report
John Bradbury reports his reported airprox and the resulting report
Earlier this year I was conducting a training flight with Sue Beesley in her syndicate Eurostar G-TZ. We were south of Oulton Park in class G airspace when we encountered an Airprox. The Airprox Boards final report can be read at:
The summary of the Board (part B) is quite frankly bizarre. Although we were not in receipt of a radio service, we spotted the other aircraft (PA68 Twin) well in advance of the airprox. On first spotting the PA68 we made turns to increase separation and several wing waggles to enhance our presence. Despite Liverpool ATC making the P68 pilot aware of our presence, the P68 turned directly towards us. I’m completely bemused at why it is suggested that we would have been better off with a basic radio service from Liverpool. We had seen the PA68 and were taking avoiding action; the PA68 was told of our location and turned towards us!