November 28, 2010

A little bit frustrating

My whole day was running late today because I went to bed late last night and slept in a bit. That’s always a mistake if you want to go flying because it guarantees that the early part of the day is the most flyable and conditions will go downhill after that. And that’s what duly happened, of course.

After a dismal day yesterday which never saw the fog lifting, we awoke today to a very cold, bright morning. There had been a very sharp frost during the night and I heard today on the radio that this is the coldest November on record since 1985. The North has been blanketed with heavy snow (Edinburgh Airport is closed while I type this) but we have been lucky to be spared that so far. The ground and trees just looked as though they’d been snowed on, the frost was so heavy and thick.

Because of lying in, I had to dash round getting the dog and myself organised but eventually everything was sorted and I was able to get away. As I drove to Linton there was quite a bit of scattered cloud around but it was bright with a little bit of ground-hugging mist. I found Bob and Clive in the hut when I arrived but neither planned to fly complaining that it was too cold. Both fly flexwings, of course, but I didn’t think it would be too cold in MYRO at all, especially as I’d wrapped myself up more than usual today. I bought a pair of waterproof boots during the week and they are marvellously warm. I had also kitted myself out in a tee-shirt followed by a polo neck followed by a warm top and I also planned to put on my zip-up jacket as well. But my piece-de-resistance was my lower half (if you’ll excuse the expression). I’ve lost a bit of weight over recent months (on purpose I might add) and I’ve been left with a pair of trousers that are now several sizes too big for me. Up to now, I didn’t know what to do with them and I’d almost chucked them out. Lucky I didn’t, because I found that they’re big enough to comfortably wear a pair of fleecy jogging bottoms under them. Brilliant! Warm as toast, as it turned out, and surprisingly I didn’t look like the Michelin Man in them either 😀

I was delighted to find that MYRO’s covers hadn’t moved a whisker in the two weeks since I last flew, and when I took them off, it was as dry as a bone underneath them. They were covered in rime ice, of course, but there wasn’t much I could do so I just wrapped it up in them when I took them off. And all the while I could see that the sky was getting more and more murky 🙁

Nevertheless, I was determined to get a flight in but it was obvious that today would only be good for a local bimble. I wanted to use the camcorder but after the suction mount complete with camcorder had fallen off twice (something to do with the cold perhaps?) I decided that discretion was the better part before it got damaged, switched it off and stowed it on the seat beside me. I took off from runway 11 at 13:40 and it was obvious that there was weather coming in from the east. The cloud base was at only 1200 feet and it was even lower to the north with a nasty dark look to it. So I decided to stay local and just get a bit of air time in. No point dashing around using fuel unnecessarily, so I pulled the throttle back to 5000 RPM and just ambled along at 45mph, but that was very comfortable and very nice. At one time I got as high as 1400 feet but that was in a gap in the cloud and at that height, I was going into and out of the clag, so I made sure I stayed lower than that.

After a time, the cloud to the north-east began to have an ominous look to it and seemed to be reaching right down to the ground, a sure sign of snow. No point risking it for no reason, so I decided to join overhead and land back on 11. So that was it, just 40 minutes – better than nothing I suppose, but not nearly as much as I’d have liked given that I haven’t flown for a couple of weeks. Clive had already gone and Bob left shortly after I’d landed, after my best landing for some time, I have to say. A fully-stalled greaser, with the nose wheel remaining up for quite a few seconds as I slowed down before taxiing to the end of the runway. Very satisfying 😉

I then had the job of tying MYRO down and covering it back up again. Sure enough, there was just the lightest flurry of snow while I was doing it, so light in fact that you’d have hardly noticed it, and only for less than a minute or so. And when I’d finished and was sitting in my car drinking a cup of hot coffee from my flask at about quarter-past-three, although there was still clag overhead, the sky to the north-east from whence the weather was coming, was as bright as you’d please. So I could have stayed up for longer after all. As I say, very frustrating 😯

November 13, 2010

Looking on the bright side…

… was very difficult today because although the weather forecast was for the thick, grey cloud to clear in the second half of the day, it just didn’t happen. As a consequence it remained very dull and miserable, but at least it stayed dry.

As tomorrow is again forecast to be a bit wet and windy, my plan for today was to do a flight down towards Lydd, then to hit the coast just to the north of the Lydd zone, fly north up the coast towards Hythe and Danger Area 141 and then to head back to Linton via Ashford. Although it was only early afternoon by the time I was ready to take off, it was still so dull and murky, especially towards the south where I’d planned to head off to, that I thought it wise to curtail things a bit. So I headed off on my planned track then with Lydd in view in the distance, I turned to head east and then with Hythe on my nose turned left again to rejoin my planned track at Ashford.

I ended up with a flight of 1 hour 5 minutes so I was pleased with that, and by the time I’d replaced the covers and tied MYRO down, it was so dark that it felt like dusk. I even had to set the padlocks in my car headlights, and it wasn’t even 5.00pm 😯

I am pleased to say that MYRO’s covers saw off the terrible weather we had this week. I was surprised and rather dismayed to find that some water had still managed to find its way into the elevator – but only on one side! How it did that I do not know – maybe a quirk of the way the wind was driving the rain. I took great trouble this evening to make sure the covers were all nicely fitted and I’ll have to see how they fare next week-end as we already have more rain and storms forecast for this coming week.

But at least we only have a relatively few more weeks now, and the evenings will start to draw out again. That’s looking on the bright side, anyway 😉

November 11, 2010

Very windy

We’ve had the most atrocious weather over the last day or so – lashing rain and very high winds with gusts up to 60 or 70 mph in places. This is something we don’t see that often and just my luck to have it come along just after I’ve put covers on MYRO for the first time. I hoped they would do their job but I was more worried about them being lifted and then damaged by the wind before I’ve had a chance to get the bungee cords set to the correct tension. So as we have yet more extreme weather on the way, I decided to nip down to Linton this lunch time to see how things were going.

Things were not half as bad as I’d feared because this was the sight that greeted me as I walked down the taxiway.

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This may not be the sternest test that the covers will have to undergo, but so far they are doing pretty well. They are flapping around a bit at the tips of the wings which I want to modify as soon as I can in the same way that I did the tail horizontal stabiliser cover, so I hope that they will at least see this current blowy spell through without damage until I can do that work. Other than that they have stood up to the winds pretty well and apart from increasing the bungee cord tension, there’s not much else to do. Apart from make covers for the pod and windscreen and the tail fin that is.

I took these other shots before I left.

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I’m glad I went down because with the wind gusting so much, all of the tie-down ropes had been loosened and I was able to put them all back under tension as well, to stop any movement in MYRO. Hopefully that will now see MYRO through. We have even more high winds to come, but with luck they will affect the north of the country more than the south. However, we’ll just have to wait and see and keep fingers crossed in the meantime until this spell of weather blows itself out.

November 8, 2010

One for Tony H-S

As we approach the fag-end of the flying year, the number of good flying days must be expected to diminish as the ground gets wetter, the days get shorter and the weather becomes less predictable. But that doesn’t mean that there won’t be any more good days, and Saturday was one of them. All the while I’ve still got only the one fuel tank and my flying time is therefore limited to something like 1 1/2 hours, I like to head off in the direction that the wind is blowing in from so I have it on my tail during the return leg. So with the wind coming from the north-west, I decided to head off over the River Thames into Essex and maybe this time get up closer to the Dartford Bridge.

I had to be a bit flexible because I haven’t flown in the area to the north of the Dartford Crossing for many years and I know that there has been a lot of building and development going on there in recent times. Although it is now legal to fly over built-up areas in a microlight, you have to always have the ability to land clear in the event of an engine failure, so this means that there must be an open area nearby and reachable in a glide at all times. This clearly excludes cities and large towns and would also exclude areas of any kind which are heavily developed with shopping centres, industrial estates and the like.

And this is exactly what it’s like just north of the Dartford Crossing. But although I decided that it would be unwise to approach the north side of the Bridge from the east along the edge of the River Thames, I found that there were actually plenty of fields further north, either side of the A13 main road and the M25, so that’s the route I took. I did decide as you can see in the video that I took, to swing westwards away from the Bridge to skirt round the power station next to it on the south side of the Thames and I did that because of the number of oil containing tanks that were below me. Just imagine the head lines …. 😯

And this time, smarting as I was after Tony H-S’s cruel comments about my apparent reluctance to record my landings, I made sure that I switched off the video during the flight and switched it back on again with enough tape left to record the landing back at Linton. Fortunately I’m glad to say it went pretty well too 😉

If you want to see the video, just click on the pic below.

As well as having had a good flight, I also managed to do quite a bit more with MYRO’s covers which now fit pretty well and should do the job. Just as well because today we’ve had high winds and lashing rain which are forecast to continue into tomorrow. Even though I thought I’d ordered enough extra hooks for the bungee cords that secure the covers, I ran out yet again, so I’ll have to order even more. I’ll also order some more cord because although most of MYRO is covered, which makes me feel better with the current weather, the tail fin, pod and screen are all still uncovered and I’d now like to finish off by making covers for those too. Then I really will be happy while MYRO is standing out over the Winter, completely under wraps 😉