The Social Fly In Scene

Always somewhere to go and something to see in England during the summer months.

Trevor needs to get his hours in, and so he took me to North Coates for the Fly-In there.
North Coates was a WW2 airfield and then during the Cold War it was a missile base with Bloodhound ground to air missiles on site and ready to give a warm welcome to any (Russian) aircraft entering British airspace with malicious intent.

Against a strong northeast wind it took two hours and five minutes for the Aircoupe to fly up to North Coates which is north of Boston on the east coast of England. The wind was "bracing" there.

From time to time European manufacturers have challenged their American counterparts

North Coates was a relatively small Fly-In when we were there on the Saturday, but there were plenty of people to see and to converse with.
The usual barbeque burgers and sausages were there and very welcome after our flight, washed down with tea, and in my case followed up with cake and a KitKat.
We added 40 litres of 100LL which I would rather avoid. 84 worth, but with sufficient 91UL (unleaded Avgas) to at least reduce the lead effects. Of course we leaned the mixture on the way back, a journey of one hour and forty minutes.
Both ways the visibility was excellent.


This is the only one of its type in Britain

Popham is a very welcoming place with all kinds of flying activities from microlights to multi engine aeroplanes, many historic vintage aeroplanes, autogyros, and the occasional glider 'land away'.
One can never be bored at Popham, not even the most exasperated disinterested wife. There's always conversation, socialisation, tea, biscuits and cakes (until 4pm), and a proper English breakfast in the morning.

One of my dislikes is solo swinging of propellers; this activity has lead to a few nasty accidents.
So on the 21st I swung Robin's Tiger Moth (JJ) and just after he took off another Tiger Moth arrived for me to swing later.
26th May I did it again for a visitor from Lea On The Solent; when I'm on hand to swing a propeller I do not mind doing so.

You don't have to fly to Fly-In events when you are based at Popham, there are many such events here during the summer.

On Saturday it was the Vintage Piper Fly-In with Cubs, Vagabonds, Caribbean, Pacer, Tripacer, Colts, as well as many other visiting types. It was a fantastic turn out of aeroplanes with nosedraggers far out numbered by tailwheel types.
Rich Wald came in by road, he used to own a J3 and years ago he was a partner with me in a few aeroplanes. Rich insisted I join the VPAC and he paid my 10 membership fee... Of course I will have to pay myself for future years.
If you check out the Popham Facebook pages you'll see just how busy this friendly airfield is.

I remember those days of no radios, no transponders, and no GPS's.
Simple flying, cheaper flying, and so much pleasure outside of controlled airspace.

David and his then aeroplane partner, John, bought this Auster in the mid 1980's, and I checked them out.
In 38 years David has had many adventures in this very capable aeroplane with its lovely Blackburn engine.


Manston was opened for a Fly-In on Sunday... A very rare event at this 'disused' airport, and handled very well by Polar Helicopters who are based there.
Manston has been closed for a few years... It has been used as a lorry park when Dover and Folkestone, and the Cross Channel Tunnel were unable to cope with the amount of traffic... This due to the Covid restrictions, and then to the reduction of French Customs and Immigration agent availability.

There was a strong east-north-east headwind which meant it took one hour and eighteen minutes to reach Manston from Popham flying low at 1,400 feet whilst avoiding controlled airspace.
There's a Garmin GPS fitted to the Aircoupe, but this fails with the heat of the Sun upon the antenna (why there's a green cloth over it)... But I have Sky Demon on my phone and my iPad. The iPad connects to a Sky Echo 2 ads-b device via Wifi and this provides traffic as well when that traffic is Mode S or ads-b equipped.
Not all traffic is so equipped, and so you do have to keep a good lookout as ever, and I have seen aeroplanes and helicopters that do not show up on my screen.

This was based at Middle Wallop, I'd need to check my logbook from 1986...

I flew a Cessna 150, G BFOG, from Blackbushe just after it was assembled after import from the USA.
On it's first flight I observed the oil pressure drop and oil temperature rise just after takeoff, and so I did a split-arse turn and landed back.
After landing I investigated the reason. It turned out that there was a blued broken oil control ring in the oil tank; I felt it with my little finger through the oil plug hole.
Bits had damaged the oil pump and this lead to failure of the centre main crankshaft bearing.
I had done the top overhaul, and on the bench there were four complete sets of rings. I slid off all four cylinders and checked that the oil control rings I had fitted were there and complete. They were, and so sometime in it's USA history someone replaced a broken oil control ring and left the broken bits in the oil tank.

What's this to do with G ATEX?
'TEX donated its engine to the Cessna 150, and so, when another engine was found, this went into the Airtourer.
A strange thing; the out pipe from the vacuum pump for the gyro instruments was connected to the crankcase breather, giving positive pressure, and this was clearly wrong!
When the new engine was installed (not by me!), they reversed the pipes...
So when the aeroplane was flown overhead Blackbushe to test run the engine the vacuum pump drew oil and air from the engine, and pumped it into the gyro instruments.
The Mk1B artificial horizon's glass was held in with putty, and warm oil has the effect of softening putty... So the attitude indicator (modern parlance) slowly filled with warm oil, which then cascaded down the pilots' trousers when the putty softened and the glass fell out.
In my opinion the vacuum pump air should be exhausted freely, and the crankcase breather pipe should likewise not be connected to anything unless an oil recovery system is fitted.

As an aside, and to underline the fact that the most hazardous time to fly an aircraft is when it has had maintenance done to it, there was another problem with G BFOG.
I did a very careful walk around... The controls had been given duplicate inspections and were signed off by the licensed engineers, but the aileron control cable on the starboard side was outside a bracket, and scraping it, rather than being against a pulley, and with a split pin safety to prevent it coming off that pulley.
In the port side wing, the control and balance cables were twisted three times around each other, no wonder the controls were stiff. These snags were sorted before the aeroplane was flown.

In order to make the most of the tailwind I thought I would fly higher on the way back, and so I was at 2,500 feet, showing FL22 on the transponder return. This was soon the base level of the London TMA, and I took a little while before I thought it would be wise to descend 200 feet to be well below controlled airspace.
The Sky Demon trace showed me just nudging the base of the airspace for a few miles on my return leg, this is GPS altitude, but the Pressure Altitude never went above 2,200 feet (QNH 1023). I descended and maintained FL20 on the transponder, indicating 2,200 feet on the altimeter. They are very sensitive to airspace incursions here, with plenty of examples of action taken against pilots who infringe controlled airspace.
Like speeding tickets on the road, most pilots are very aware of the perils of airspace incursion.
It was a bumpy ride too, with many updraughts.
As I signed off from talking to Phillip at Redhill to switch to Farnborough when north of Box Hill, Dorking; first I had a downdraught, and then an enormous updraught which meant throttling right back and lowering the nose quickly. There's a bump in the Sky Demon trace when this happened which fortunately just kissed the base of the TMA. Ouch, that could have been bad!
When I arrived back at Popham, I discovered that there was a 3 hour gap in the recording, because I had failed to turn off Sky Demon on the iPad when on the ground at Manston. I also switched on Sky Demon on my phone, but then didn't activate my flight by selecting "Fly" and then "Engine Start" and so the phone had not recorded my flight back... I know the way, and I had the moving map on the iPad, so I did not look at the phone after I placed it on the back shelf.

With the tailwind I logged one hour and two minutes back to Popham.


These creatures are tiny.

On a walk in Redhill, Khun Ko and I looked in on a couple of pools that were full of spawn which soon developed into a mass of tadpoles...
As we passed from time to time we would check on their development... Then the rains, the incessant rains, stopped, and the pools began to dry up.
So we collected tadpoles and delivered them to a local pond. Some we brought back to the house and placed them into a dustbin which had collected rain water, placing a rock and some pieces of wood for the developing frogs and toads to be able to climb out when they were ready.
Yesterday we delivered the rest of these amphibians to the pond where they might thrive.
Among the collection of creatures we also found a couple of Newts... We did our bit to help Britain's amphibian population, and I am sure we made merit in the eyes of Buddha.

Back to