At the end of this month I want to take the Chipmunk in for its annual check at Abbotsford. Meanwhile I am enjoying my time in England.
I am always ready to go to
work, in fact I prefer to be doing something, but since I am
here, there, and everywhere, work is not always available when I
am available. To an extent I am allowing fate to take its course.
Instructing in BC is alright, but there are times of plenty when there is demand for my time, and then there are slack times when there is too little to be done. Add into the equation the cancellations and the weather, and earning a long term living is precarious in the Vancouver area where the cost of living outweighs my long term income. I can not thrive there.
So I am more than happy to be somewhere else for a while and let the potential business build up to a short term squeeze... Make some money and then escape for the slack times.
If work is there I am ready
and willing and so when I was asked to drive the van from the
University of Southampton to Thorney Island to spend the day on
an exposed disused airfield in a cool wind I took the job.
Up early to drive down to Southampton to be there for 07:00 pick up the van and drive the M27...
After arrival at the University I had to reposition my car in the car park... A sudden loud clacking noise from the engine. Tappets?, a failed valve lifter?, a valve kissing a piston? These gave me something to think about while I stood out on the airfield.
On my return later I found a loose plug lead to number four spark plug. The opening allowed for an expensive sounding noise that disappeared when I pushed the plug lead firmly into place.
The van I drove is full of
computer electronics, transmitters, and receivers in support of a
large Unpiloted Air Vehicle (UAV) the Universty is experimenting
Thorney Island is an ideal spot for such a large unpiloted aeroplane to operate from and the University is allowed to operate depending on the tides... The tides are an important consideration as the local seals and birds must not be disturbed at certain times.
The UAV is the size of some of the aeroplanes I have flown, but as it is somewhat secret I can not post any pictures of it on this site.
We were there all day, and
then joined the traffic back along the M27...
The important consideration was of course my attendance at the Bricklayers Arms that evening, and I was only a little late.
The crew had decided to eat at the cheap army mess at Thorney Island before our departure, so I ate here. That meant I only needed to top up with apple crumble with loads of custard at the pub later.
Colour in the grounds of Guildford Castle.
I am idle most of the time, and so I fill this time by driving to airfields and by taking walks.
Guildford is a very historic and scenic town, and there are plenty of interesting walks here.
The owner of Old Sarum wanted to build houses on the field, and still keep the runway.
This is one of the oldest airfields in England and it still has historic World War 1 hangars.
Because planning permission has been refused, all aviation businesses have been given their notice to leave.
On Friday I went for a ride with Paul in his Bulldog to Compton Abbas, then to Popham for fuel, and then back to Bourne Park.
All airfields we flew to are grass.
Compton Abbas operate a Chipmunk, a Stearman, and a Harvard to give air experience flights to people.
Like at many airfields here
in England there is no denying the importance of Cake... North
America has its pies, but here in England it is all about cake.
At Compton Abbas Paul had a large chunk of Chocolate Cake covered in cream, and with a mug of tea o the side. I had a mug of tea and no cake; my stomach is giving me trouble at the moment with a lot of acid reflux, and so I need to be careful.
Some of it might be stress, some of it might be the fact I'm over weight, and all of it is a worry for me. So I will reduce my weight from 80kg or whatever it is now, and I will take care of my stomach.
I've seen a few discarded Tomahawks lately... The Murphy Rebel was someone's diesel nightmare.
Visibility has been brilliant this summer, much better than the BC Lower Mainland where pollution and forest fires reduce it.
Fuel has gone up to £1.71 per litre at Popham which is one of the cheaper places to buy Avgas 100LL or 95UL.
We landed at sunset at Bourne Park after a pleasant afternoon's flying.
David has had G ARUG since early 1987...
When David and John turned
up with G ARUG at Redhill they were eager to fly... They'd bought
a four seat aeroplane for £9,000 when a Cessna 172 would cost a
Bargain the Auster was, but I warned them they would have to learn to fly it well, and still it would eventually catch them out!
They would also have to spend more money on maintenance than for a Cessna.
But they would also become passionate about it, and so it happened, all these years later David still owns and flies this aircraft, and yes it has caught him out a few times!
I spent many hours with
many laughs in G ARUG, but only a few of these hours shows up in
my logbooks from that time as like with many pilots, although
they were being taught to fly tailwheel by me, they were logging
these flights as Pilot In Command, and so for most flights I
logged nothing! (A side issue was the fact that I could not
charge for my time; my life then was a crime of passion against
At the Fly-In David recited words of instruction and advice I had given him all those years ago, so some instruction I have given has made a permanent impression.
One memory that comes to
mind was when the aeroplane came back from its annual inspection
at Sywell (in 1987)... This was not done properly and it arrived
with the exhaust barely attached to the engine.
Many of the studs had sheared, and one of these I could not extract. So I had to remove a whole cylinder with its head attached, give it to Bill Wilks to have the remains of a stud spark eroded out, have a new set of exhaust studs made, and refit the exhaust. In taking this Blackburn Cirrus Major III engine apart I disovered a thing of beauty, and changed my mind about fitting a crude Lycoming engine to this airframe.
While this was happening David and John went back to flying TB9 Tampicos from Biggin Hill to revalidate the bad habits they got away with in this type... So there we were on a shallow power on approach in the Auster, I thought 'this is going to be interesting', and so it was with a sub orbital bounce followed by a go around as the aeroplane re-entered the atmosphere.
Austers can be unforgiving aeroplanes, like cats they purr, stroke the ground softly and there's no trouble, be slightly rough and they will take a swipe at you.
I may be poor now for the lifestyle I have lead, but if there's a balance for effort and good deeds I think my account is in good shape. Perhaps this will be good Karma for a next life if there is one.
Classic aeroplanes are still active in passionate Britain
This aeroplane type was well ahead of its time; a 1970's plastic performer and a favourite of mine.
There were about fifteen Austers in attendance at the Popham Fly-In, but I showed a lot of these aircraft in last year's report, so I show various other types this time.
The Beagle Husky is a far better performer and utility aeroplane than the current Aviat Husky
The Pobjoy engine is one of the most efficient aircraft engines ever built. Like the Rotax, it is a geared engine.
Last week I met Aourhegan
(Gaelic - Brittany name) at Popham. She had just arrived by boat
from France, had gone to her homestay in Winchester, dumped her
bags, and got on a train to Micheldever to walk to Popham
Airfield! It's the sort of thing I would do!
A twenty year old enthusiast for all things aviation and a pilot with mechanical experience, of course this sort of person is to be encouraged.
As the Fly-In was winding
down I was given the opportunity to go flying with her in the
It's been a little while since I have flown a Katana, but I did set up a flying school with these aircraft and that experience has never left me.
We had a nice flight in the clear visibility down to the coast, and around Thorney Island and Bosham before heading back.
England's passion was well displayed for our French guest as a steam locomotive obliged us by chuffing along the Watercress Line below, and on the way back there were many hot air balloons taking advantage of the light breezes over the sunbathed countryside.
It was a lot of fun, and I am thankful to Matt and his flying school for allowing me this privilege. (Website displayed on the Katana below).
Airbourne Aviation operates this Katana as well as a fleet of Icarus C42s
Digital camera's have a
limited life it seems... I look at second hand cameras I might be
able to afford, but I think of their sensors, and like old film
will they not be as good as they once were?
The G1X I use now is not producing the results I am used to and so many of the pictures on this report are from my Samsung Galaxy S4 phone, and in many respects these are better.
I am always having to use the software 'sharpen' and 'contrast' features to improve the images taken with the Canon camera.
I have to live with this for the time being... Gone are the days when I could go out and buy a new Hasselblad to do the photography job properly.
At weddings I used my medium format Hasselblad for the formal shots, and the Voiglšnder Vito BL 35 mm camera for candid shots, likewise I use the digital camera for the important shots, and the phone for candid shots now though the quality of these is inferior to the old film cameras I used. But the phone now seems to be better at producing sharp shots, although its quality is poor when exploded.
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