Flying a EuroFox

Thursday 8th December

The first thing to be done was to give the aeroplane a full inspection as it hadn't flown for a while.
The brakes had been serviced and the fluid level was low and so this meant acquiring a syringe and some Fluid 4 to top it up. The master cylinder is inconveniently placed behind the blind flying panel...
The brakes were noted to be 'soft' but in fact they held well enough and during the progress of our flight got slightly better as perhaps tiny bubbles worked their way up the line.

Then we took off and tested the aeroplane. It was full with 85 litres of fuel, Alex, and me.
The aeroplane leapt off the 350 metre strip at Pattaya Eastern easily and we climbed to 2,000 feet.
Stalls were at 43KIAS with no flap, and 38KIAS with full flap (flaperon). This aeroplane has no vices and is easy to fly as it has had a long development life, unlike many of the other aircraft in its class.
Safe manners come at the expense of performance. This aeroplane cruises comfortably at 85KIAS and 4,600 RPM, it's not worth the extra fuel consumption to go five knots faster.
Not as quick as some of the other LSA aircraft, but you are a lot less likely to spin it in turning finals!

Bang Pa Kong ahead

Our routing took us past the following reporting points: Ban Nam Peio, Ongkharak, and Hin Kong.
Radio reception became poor on 121.7 and so Bangkok QSY'd us to 119.4 which was scratchy but fine all the way until we cleared the Bangkok zone.

The fuel gauges are not so clear plastic tubes in the wing roots and so I used a small torch to check their levels.
This was a long leg to fly and so at 14:07 I turned the right tank off and now we were flying solely on the left tank. If the fuel flow suddenly changed or the engine spluttered I'd switch to the right tank and turn the left off.
I left it like this until 14:47 before turning the right on and left off. Both were switched on on final.
Phitsanulok picked us up on the radio at 50 miles out and we had an easy run the rest of the way. Landing was at 14:52, engine stop 14:58.
On the ground 51 litres 100LL filled the tanks, (total = 85 litres) after flying a test flight: 18 mins air time + 2 hours 56 minutes cruising at 4,600 RPM enroute to VTPP.

The problem with such a rush is you need to give the controller your radial outbound and your ETA... Both of these I fudged badly... Partly because I'm used to adding seven hours for zulu time (GMT/UTC) rather than subtracting seven hours as here. My watch is 12 hours not 24 hours otherwise it would have been simple.
A while later I confirmed 90 minutes enroute and gave ATC the actual radial I was outbound on, from the GPS of course, no VOR in this aeroplane!

Busy day; 7th December

It's amazing how much one can get done in a day if one is lucky!
On Wednesday I was lucky... I went to the Immigration office by Chiang Mai Airport to get an 30 day extension to my 2 month tourist visa. You can do this only if you have this visa, and you need photocopies, a passport size photograph, and 1,900 Baht.
Often it takes time, 3 - 4 hours, but I spent less than two and was issued my visa just as the office closed for lunch at 12:00.

My next appointment was at Sri Phat Rongphayaban (hospital) where I went in and had an x-ray and a consultation with the orthopaedic surgeon who had operated on my arm in February. All is well and the bones are knitting together nicely. I was lucky, the x-ray machine broke down that afternoon and the doctor's previous patient had been unable to get her x-ray done!

My Thai flight was not too late leaving in the evening and I made it to Suvarnabhumi only ten minutes late, but we were bused from the aeroplane to the gate and this added time.
I'd packed for the EuroFox and so I had no 'checked' luggage; this saved time.
It seems they are giving out their nice boxed snacks on Thai on some flights, I didn't get one on my flight back on Monday though.

Alex was there to meet me.
His truck was parked in the multi storey car park which is still full of dusty dirty cars parked there for the duration of the floods in Bangkok!
We drove down the M7 to Pattaya and booked into Baan Khun Poh on Sukhumvit, a place I've stayed several times before.

Disused airport besides 34 road

Sunset is always around 6pm here in Thailand and so you have to be going in a reasonable time.
Preparation and test flying had taken their time, and so it wasn't until 11:56 that our wheels left the ground enroute for a fuel stop at Phitsanulok.
We flew north over Bang Phra and contacted Bangkok Apporoach on 121.70 who then cleared us via the VFR route to the east of Suvarnabhumi (a long way east!).
You see strips from time to time as you fly about Thailand, and I spotted one besides the south Bangkok - Chonburi Road (Sukhumvit) as we approached the first reporting point, Bang Pa Kong.

As we approached Tantawan I called Khok Kathiam (Lopburi) as we enter their zone immediately on release from Bangkok Approach!
I got through and we were cleared to transit their zone north.
Then we enter the big Takhli zone, this is a major military base in Thailand, but got no reply on 124.0, so I called the tower there on 133.25... No reply from the controller even though we could hear him talking to other traffic.
It's common in Thailand to lose contact and sometimes this is difficult for us.
We carried on northbound at 2,000 feet with the transponder replying mode S, and staying 25Nm east of the Takhli aerodrome.

My camera was running out of battery and so I plugged it in when I went into the terminal to charge for 25 minutes while we sorted fuel and landing fees out.
I wrote our arrival in the movemnets logbook which is in the terminal and then went to the airport office to pay the 85 Baht landing fee.
We bought some drink and sandwiches in the terminal before proceding back to the aeroplane.
Time was moving on, and we must land before dark... A Nok Air 737 was loading... I suggested we get going ASAP and try to get off before the commercial aircraft as this would have delayed us for a while!

The tower controller told us to wait for taxy, the 737 was to go first... I told her of our time critical situation... Then the Nok pilot chirped in in Thai and suggested we could go first to the controller.
We got our clearance and I noted the engines firing up on the 737 so asked for and intersection departure from India rather than taxying behind the jet to the beginning of the runway.
I thanked the Nok Air pilot and we were off five minutes after engine start; taking off at 15:42.

The Garmin 296 has an inset that shows the yellow and red colours denoting high terrain as we fly along.
I of course have a map in my lap, it's an old one, but the terrain hasn't changed.
This was Alex's first encounter with the mountains as we cross a couple of ranges enroute to Chiang Mai. It's always a concern the first time one flies over high terrain, but for me it's normal, and I reassured him that we wouldn't hit any mountains, and we didn't!
Initially we flew at 2,000 feet then up to 3,000 feet and then to 4,500 feet over the mountains.
Phitsanulok handed us off to Lampang Approach who then passed us to Chiang Mai Approach.

We landed at Chiang Mai International at 17:27 and were instructed to park at stand number 9.
The other aircraft which had flown in earlier from Chiang Rai were over on 11 and 12.
The bill would be paid the next day, but there was concern that we must be off that stand before 13:30 when Lao Airlines would arrive to use it.

The other three aeroplanes had flown from Pattaya and Bang Phra on a trip around northern Thailand and had flown around the east and then to Chiang Rai before arriving at Chiang Mai where we were to meet them.

The trip was arranged by Fernando (Spanish, CT LS) and Dr Rolf (Remos), and Alasdair and Gill were along in their Ekolot.
Ed was going to join them together with a couple of pilots from Nok Flying Club for dinner at a Tapas bar in Chiang Mai. I hitched a ride with Ed.
There was no need for me to stay in a hotel in Chiang Mai.

Back to