October 31, 2010

‘No flying’ week-end

This is the first week-end since MYRO was permitted that I’ve not flown. I was going to yesterday (Saturday) and nearly did but I thought better of it. The weather forecast was for clear, bright conditions with almost no wind followed by rain today and my plan was to get an hour or so in and then try fitting MYRO’s covers. But it was obvious when I set out that there was going to be some rain after all, so I abandoned the idea of flying altogether and decided just to concentrate on the covers.

This turned out not to be a bad thing because of the time it took me to get the covers on. In the event, the wing covers fitted pretty well and when I finish the fuselage section (which I had to get a measurement for), that will fit well too. The big problem was the tail horizontal stabiliser cover which I’d got completely wrong, and this is an important one. I’m finding that rain is entering the cover when MYRO is parked with the elevator secured in the ‘down’ position and cannot then escape until the elevator is raised to the ‘up’ position. This allows the water to exit the same way that it entered but while it is inside the cover, although it can’t do any real harm, it encourages the growth of green algae which would eventually become very unsightly.

So I brought the tail cover back home yesterday and today (Sunday) I quickly finished off the fuselage section and have spent the whole of the rest of the day and part of the evening modifying the tail cover. It has taken me hours to do and now I understand why bought fitted covers cost as much as they do. Anyway, I’ve finished the job and I’m very pleased with the result – I just hope it now fits 😯

The covers are secured by bungee cords with plastic hooks on and I forgot that I’d only ordered a few hooks to make sure they would work OK. They do and I’ve now got more on order. If they arrive tomorrow as I hope, my plan will be to take some time out, nip down to the field and try the redesigned tail cover out because naturally we’ve now got a lot more rain forecast this week. I hope everything goes to plan because then I won’t mind so much if I know that MYRO is outside in it but snug under its new fitted outdoor covers 😉

October 27, 2010

Weather changes

After the glorious Autumn day everyone enjoyed so much on Sunday, since then we’ve had two days of filthy weather. Yesterday we had the worst of both worlds – again – high winds and lashing rain. And I had to look out at it while I was busy working on MYRO’s outdoor covers and while it’s still sitting on the field out in the open in everything the weather is throwing at it 😕

Anyway, nearly done (although I still don’t know how good a fit they’ll be) but I’m just about to run out of brass eyelets, so I’ll have to wait for the extra ones I’ve ordered to be delivered. In the meantime I’ve put together the video I managed to get from last Sunday and put it in the Video gallery. You can see it if you click on the pic below.

Destination: Dartford Bridge

Wonder what the weather will be like next week-end? And I wonder if next time I’ll be able to get the landing? It’ll be about time 😯

October 23, 2010

This and that

No chance of any flying today because it’s been yet another one of those days – cold northerly wind, dull low cloud and shower after shower, some of them quite heavy. Not that I could have flown anyway, because I’ve spent the whole day working on MYRO’s covers. And with this weather, just as well. I just hope that I can get them finished soon – and that they fit too, because I’m working just from measurements that I took last week.

I finished editing the movie footage from last week-end and I’ve put it into the Video Gallery. You can click on the pic below to see it.

Faversham Video

The weather is supposed to pick up a bit tomorrow so although I want to do the fitting of MYRO’s covers, I hope I’ll be able to get an hour so in. May as well because with Autumn and Winter around the corner, the available weather windows could start to get a bit fewer and farther between. It’s tempting to say the weather can’t get much worse than it has been, but whenever I think that, it does 😯

October 22, 2010

Busy busy…

The weather last Sunday was bright and breezy and I got two flights with over 2 hours flying in, which was good. I took my first passenger both times – my old friend Ken with whom I bought the original Our Trike over three years ago. How time flies – it doesn’t seem anything like that long ago 😯

We first flew north-west out of Linton over where Ken lives and later on we flew north-east over Faversham. For once, although there was a chilly northerly breeze, the air was pretty calm and we had an almost smooth ride!

I set the camcorder up pointing out over the nose and this time I angled it more or less correctly. I’m pleased with the results and I’d hoped to have put them into the gallery by now, but I’ve been busy this week and haven’t finished the editing yet. I’d hoped to get a landing on tape but yet again, I didn’t stop the tape while flying and it ran out just as we were rejoining to land back at Linton! I’ll do it one day I’m sure 😕

One of the things I’ve been busy doing is starting work to convert the large tarpaulin I bought into fitted covers for MYRO. I can’t afford new ones so I said, ‘Darn it, I’ll make my own!’ I cut the first sections out of the tarpaulin last weekend and picked up a brilliant over-50 years old Singer sewing machine that I got off Ebay so I’ve been doing some experimenting to find out how the machine works and how to go about making the covers. I’ve got the idea now so I’ll see how things go. This week-end is going to be wet and windy and I would like to have got the covers finished and on, but I doubt I’ll be able to do that in time.

Anyway, watch this space. Must go, busy busy… 😉

October 15, 2010

Nice flight, murky vis

I’ve now edited and put together the video of last Sunday’s round trip to Tonbridge and it’s in the Videos section. You can also view it by clicking on the pic below.

Destination: Tonbridge

It’s a pity about the very heavy Inversion Haze that has rather spoiled it, especially in the parts where I was flying towards the sun. The best thing was that it shows that the sucker camcorder mount on top of the panel is a better position than before and will be worth trying again the next time – especially if I give the screen a good clean beforehand 😉

October 10, 2010

Nice flight

Yesterday was a non-starter as far as flying was concerned. The Met Office forecast said that with high pressure coming into play, we could expect a bright day with a bit of cloud and an easterly wind. Instead we got solid low cloud with no sight of the sun all day so I doubt there was any VFR flying going on in the whole of South-East England 😐

But today was different. It didn’t look as though it was going to be as I was driving down to Linton because although there was sunshine and a fairly brisk ENE wind, there was quite a bit of low cloud scudding across with it too. However, I needed to go to the field anyway because I want to cut my large tarpaulin up to make some better covers for MYRO and I have to have some accurate measurements that I can only get from the aircraft itself.

When I arrived at the field, I saw immediately why it’s urgent for me to adapt the tarpaulin that I used to cover MYRO up last weekend. Lucky I did too because there was evidence that an enormous amount of water had fallen on the field and MYRO during the past week. Somehow the rain running off MYRO’s left wing had found a gap in the folds of the tarpaulin and had flowed into what eventually became a large water container with no outlet. As a result, the weight of the water which turned out to be quite a few gallons, had caused MYRO to tip backwards onto its tail skid. When I arrived I immediately saw that MYRO’s nose was up in the air and the weight of water was such that not only had it lifted MYRO’s nose but also the tyre weighted with concrete that MYRO’s nose is tied down to. Amazing 😯

Fortunately no damage had been done and after I’d released the water, MYRO came back down to earth none the worse for the experience. It was also totally dry showing how well the tarp had worked, but this emphasises why it has to be cut up and converted into ‘fitted’ covers to prevent such a thing happening in the future.

It was gone mid-day by the time I’d got MYRO ready to go. I’d planned a flight out over Leeds Castle, round Maidstone and across to Sevenoaks, down to Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells, across to Pembury and back to Linton via Marden, so as by now the sky was wall-to-wall blue, that’s what I did! I also took my camcorder with me so I could try the other suction mount that I got off Ebay, mounted on top of the panel and with the camcorder facing straight ahead. I set everything up and it was immediately obvious that this is probably a better arrangement than the one I used last time. For a start I could see on the flip open screen how it was aimed and could also reach the camcorder controls to switch it on and off in flight if I wanted to and also check that it was working 😉

So off I went from the short winter runway. There was a strong, gusting left crosswind and as I climbed, I soon found that the blue sky was actually very deceptive. In fact there was an inversion layer topping out somewhere between 1500 and 2000 feet and within it, it was very, very murky indeed. This somewhat detracted from the pleasure of the flight but mainly it meant that whatever happened with the camcorder, the results were bound to be rather poor. As it happens, when I checked the footage afterwards, I found that the results were not as bad as I expected. Not good, but not that bad and certainly a good enough test of the new camcorder position 🙂

Just as well really, because although I took my still camera with me, I only took a single shot, of Leeds Castle when I flew to the west of it, and here it is.

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So that was it. It was a nice flight and I’m really glad that I was able to do it. When I’ve had a chance to edit the camcorder footage I’ll see if it’s worth including in the Gallery. It probably will be. And just to finish off, I must mention the landing back at Linton. I knew that it was going to be tricky from my take off earlier because the wind was gusting up to 30 mph or so from about 30 degrees left of the runway centre line and when I got back, it was obvious that nothing had changed in the meantime. When I was on final, I tried a crabbing approach, then a wing down approach and then a combination of both. I was working hard with the stick and rudder the whole way down and for a time it felt as though I was stirring porridge, I was waggling the stick so much around and from side to side. In conditions like that, you have to watch your speed very carefully – be a bit too fast if anything because with a strong ‘on-the-nose’ wind component, even with a short runway to land on, you’ll still pull up with plenty to spare so long as you don’t take it too far.

And so it proved. Although I was ready to bang power back on again and go around, it wasn’t necessary and I ended up with quite a controlled, gentle touchdown. I unfortunately heard afterwards that Lee, who had come in a bit earlier in his Quantum, hadn’t been quite so lucky. The wind had caught him out and unfortunately his nose wheel also appears to have found a soft bit of runway and dug in, causing damage to his forks. He wasn’t hurt at all but I just hope the damage to his Quantum isn’t too bad.

October 3, 2010

Where I live

Everyone wants to fly over where they live and what better time to do so than in the first few weeks after your aircraft has received its Permit to Fly. So that was also one of the reasons why I wanted to fly to the top of Wrotham Hill yesterday, because that’s the area in which I live. Although the weather wasn’t up to much, I was lucky that in the few minutes when I was approaching and flying around the area, the sun just managed to weakly break through and allowed me to get the following pictures.

The first one was taken as I approached from the south-east. I was flying at about 1600ft on the QNH and as the elevation is around 400ft, I was about 1200ft above the ground.

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The dash of red in the left backbround is Brands Hatch racing circuit. They used to run the British Grand Prix there up until the 1960s when it was decided that as a venue it was just too small. Now amongst others they run rounds of the Touring Car Championship there and also the Super Bikes which are both hugely popular in the motor racing calendar.

The next shot was taken roughly from the east and my house is in the middle of that lot somewhere 😉

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And this one was taken a little further on, approximately from the north

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The last pic, below, was shot roughly from the west as I got ready to turn south-east to head back to Linton. You can’t really tell from the picture, but already the amount of low cloud was beginning to increase as more and more began to drift up from the south.

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The main obstacle on the top of Wrotham Hill is the TV mast but I was flying a bit to the north of that so it wasn’t a worry. However, there are also a couple of other radio towers (microwave and such like) because of the elevated location and I had to fly around one of these to get onto heading. By now, because of the low cloud, I’d had to descend a bit to keep clear of it and in sight of the surface. Although I was still at 1200ft on the QNH, because the elevation of the land was about 400ft, it meant that I was down to around 800ft, still legal but not nice if you’re on the ground and an aircraft unexpectedly flies over you at that height. So this meant that as well as keeping clear of obstacles like the radio tower, I also tried to make sure that I didn’t fly directly over any houses or buildings.

Within a minute or so the ground suddenly fell away below me as I reached Wrotham Hill and within a moment or two, I was back at 1200ft. It was then just a matter of beating it back to Linton before the weather closed in, which I talked about in my previous post and sure enough, not that long after I’d landed while I was covering MYRO up, we got the promised rain which has continued on and off ever since and does so even now, while I’m typing this at mid-day on Sunday 🙁

October 2, 2010

Good in parts

Probably the best way to describe today. We’ve had so much rain lately and with so much more forecast in the next few days, I’ve been getting very concerned about MYRO standing out in it totally uncovered. So I wanted to get down to the field today anyway because with calm winds forecast, I thought I might be able to get MYRO covered up. And, of course, I also hoped that I might be able to get a short flight in too in the first part of the day which was forecast to be dry.

As it was, by the time I’d got all the little chores and things done that always stop you dashing straight out, I got to the field at about 1030am. Everywhere was drenched, of course, and I already knew the main runway would now be closed. But much as I’d worried about MYRO, these AX3s are tough little old birds and as soon as I saw it I knew I didn’t have too much to worry about after all. In fact, when AX3s were used at Popham for training, they all stood outside with just their engines covered, like MYRO has been doing, some of them for years, with no ill effects at all. And so it was this morning with MYRO. The wings and other surfaces were dripping but very little water had found its way into the cabin, and when it does, it can only drop onto the floor where it can do no harm at all. In fact, it gave me a chance to give MYRO a good wipe over with the wet cloth and at the end it looked cleaner than it has done for quite a few weeks now 🙂

Before I’d left home I’d planned a round trip overhead Sevenoaks, Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells but I knew that would be out as soon as I got to the top of Wrotham Hill. Below me I could see patches of fog and low cloud and with rain forecast for the afternoon, I doubted that that would get enough of a chance to burn off in the weak sun that was now just breaking through. In fact for a time, I doubted that I’d even be able to risk taking off, but by the time I’d finished MYRO’s wash and brush up, the sky looked clear enough to give it a go.

So I decided to head west towards Wrotham. With the weather coming in from the south-west I thought that would give me enough time to get back if I saw anything nasty weather-wise coming in. I’d not taken my camcorder today because I had too many other things to sort out without that distraction, so I made do with my little Pentax digital. Because it was so dingy, the shots I took were all rather dark and as a result do not blow up to full size too well, but they give an excellent idea of what the conditions were like today.

I took the first shot a few minutes after taking off as I was heading towards Yalding. I’d had to keep a good lookout as I’d spotted a red Jetranger helicopter working at low level just ahead of me but by this time I’d cleared him.

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Now you can see what I meant when I said fog and low cloud. By this time, most (but not all) of the fog had disappeared but there was still plenty of very low cloud hanging around. Here’s another shot a little bit further on with Yalding just coming in to view.

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I took the next shot as I passed overhead Yalding. It’s amazing to think that just a few short weeks ago the river and the boatyards below were bathed in sunshine and a hive of activity.

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I took the next shot a bit further on as I was approaching the M20/M26 junction at the foot of Wrotham Hill. Not many hardy souls out on the golf course, as you can see.

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Notice how the low cloud is thickening at the foot of Wrotham Hill as the airflow moving up from the south is forced to rise by the slope of the hill. I flew on and took some shots as I approached some lumps of the cloud but none of them came out well enough to include because they were all too much out of focus.

After a few more minutes I didn’t much like the way the weather was turning, so I decided it was time to get back to the field and land fairly pronto. The horizon to the south was becoming much darker and the amount of low cloud was increasing quite quickly. I found my way back to Linton very easily, especially with the help of my little GPS, joined overhead and descended into a left hand circuit to land on 29R, the winter runway.

You have to do a few little jinks to avoid houses and a couple of other things on the approach and you only line up with the runway quite late on final. It’s also a bit more challenging with the winter runway which is much shorter than the main one, because everything has to be dead right. And today it wasn’t. With no wind at all, I was a bit high and couldn’t bleed off the speed. As I approached the threshold it was pretty obvious that I was going to land far too far into the runway for comfort so I decided to go around. Better safe than sorry, especially with the grass being so wet, and the next time I got it on the button.

I then spent the next two hours getting MYRO nicely covered. In the process I got rained on (although MYRO didn’t 😉 ) and the next shots show the final result.

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Not too bad, but it all depends how strong the winds are over the next few days which are forecast to be very wet indeed, starting from tomorrow with just the odd respite during the coming week. I hope the coverings do not move too much.

So that was how my flying day ended. As I said, good in parts – although any day which includes an hour’s flying should be described as a good one, really, I suppose 🙂