December 20, 2010

No fly zone

I took Toddie down to Linton on Sunday but unfortunately forgot to take my camera. Definitely no flying but it was a glorious sight under three or four inches of flat, even snow cover. Flat that is except for the rabbit paw marks of which there were hundreds and Toddie was soon in his element following all the scents. I left the car off the field and entered on foot so the rabbits didn’t hear us coming and as we turned the corner a couple dashed off through the hedge and another seemed to shoot out of a small gap under one of the hangar doors and disappeared off in the distance to join the others.

The reason for my visit was to check that MYRO was OK, remove the snow from its wings and tail surfaces, which I did with a small broom that I took with me, and place a wooden prop under the tail. The reason for this was that when we had a much larger amount of snow a couple of weeks ago, Bob noticed that the weight distribution caused MYRO to settle back on its tail skid. This was not a serious problem in itself but the nose is tied to a tyre that’s weighted with concrete and when it lifted it also lifted the tyre as well. The fuselage is strong enough to take the weight but there’s no reason for it to do so if it can be prevented, so that’s why I wanted to put a prop under the tail to prevent it dropping down.

A length of timber that I found in my garage proved to be just the right length without any need to cut it, although I’d taken a saw just in case, so the job was soon done. The wing tie-downs on one side had come loose but it only took a couple of minutes to re-tension them. A walk-round after brushing the snow off the wings and tail, of which there was a surprising amount actually, showed that with the covers I made, MYRO is perfectly OK out in the open in these weather conditions. I think that heavy rain will actually be far worse than snow, so I don’t have too much to worry about for the time being.

Except for the lack of flying that is. I’d hoped that I’d be able to use the time off between Christmas and New Year to get a decent bit of flying in, but it doesn’t now look as though that will be possible. The forecast is that this ‘cold snap’ could last for a month or more which would take us well into the New Year and if it stays this cold throughout, we could keep the snow cover for the whole of that time. Indeed, the chance is that we could have even more, in which case Linton could be a ‘no fly zone’ for quite a few weeks to come, unfortunately 🙁

December 12, 2010

Consolation prize

Luckily I’d kept one of the old tubes from when I fitted the new tyres in the Summer otherwise I’d have been stymied today and have had to wait until I could get hold of a new replacement. As it was, I was able to repair the wheel this morning and with the weather forecast being for broken skies I was off to Linton as soon as I could get away.

Today I was the only one around and after I’d opened up, braved the mud and got MYRO ready to go, I was all set for the off. By that time the forecast broken skies had become solid, murky, low, grey cloud but I was determined to get some time in the air today. I’d planned a flight over the River Thames into Essex again but I decided that with today’s weather conditions, that would have to be for another day. I set the camcorder up and yet again it came unstuck from its vacuum mount twice before I’d even started the engine. I noticed that somehow the connecting jack plug had become bent since I last used the camcorder but it seemed to be OK when I connected the lead up with the comms system. I managed to get the camcorder mounted securely, started MYRO, got the camcorder going and set off.

I headed north along my planned route but decided that in view of the low cloud and murk, I’d head up to the east of Gillingham and Rochester over the Medway estuary to the Isle of Grain and than head back via the north and west of Rochester to link up with the final return leg of my originally planned route back to Linton. Looking west from the north of Rochester the murk and gloom was very bad and for a while I thought that the perhaps the cloud base was lower than I’d originally thought. In fact it was not too bad along my planned route so I continued as planned back to Linton, which was by now in a sunny break in the cloud. After a few minutes flying locally to the north-east of the field I decided that it was time to rejoin and land. Afterwards I checked the camcorder and found that the recording was hopeless – the camcorder was aimed too high and because the auto-focus system had nothing to centre on, even when the ground came into view it was totally blurred. Also, presumably because of the problem with the jack plug, there was no sound, so I’ll have to try to resolve that before next time.

So nothing to show for the flight by way of a recording but at least I’d had the consolation prize of an hour and fifteen minutes flying, so I was grateful just to go away with that, really.

December 11, 2010

I don’t believe it

I had a Victor Meldrew moment today alright. The weather forecast was for the grim, low, grey cloud to disperse by the middle of the day and for there to be some sunshine in the afternoon. I got myself ready to go with a flight already planned and kept looking out, but as mid-day approached there was no sign of any change in the weather. Then suddenly the clouds parted as if by magic and there was blue sky up above.

I packed everything in the car and dashed off and despite the traffic, made it to Linton in good time. Bob and Paul were there and Paul was getting his Quik R ready to go as well. After a quick ‘hello’ I walked down to MYRO to get the tie-downs and covers off and couldn’t believe the sight that greeted me – the left main wheel was completely flat. I thought I’d try pumping it up but when I went back to the hut, the foot pump that I’d used before, the only one that fits, had disappeared.

So that was that. I decided that the best thing to do would be to remove the wheel and take it home for closer investigation and lucky I did really because after I’d bought a foot pump in Halfords after checking all their stock until I found one that fitted (yup, I took the wheel in with me), I found that the valve stem was leaking where it attached to the main tube. And this was one of my new tubes that I’d bought at the same time as the new tyres when MYRO was permitted back in only August. Yes, you’ve got it, I don’t believe it…. 😯

December 9, 2010

Ruddy snow

We could handle the cold but when the snow hit us in the South-East a week or so ago we were slightly overwhelmed to say the least. Everything ground to a halt for several days, shops and supermarkets were blitzed by panic buyers who seemed to think the end of the world was nigh, everyone gave up any idea of leaving their homes and going to work, schools were shut in their droves and all hatches were battened down.

To say that flying has been out of the question is an understatement. Linton itself didn’t get anything like the amount of snow that we did at home (see pic below) but Bob reported that getting onto the airfield was well nigh impossible in a normal car initially because of ice and then because of mud when the snow that did settle (about 6 inches) began to melt. It has since frozen again so at the time of writing, we still have the worst of both worlds.

Here at home we got the best part of 3 feet of snow and after more than a week, we still have about a foot of frozen snow and paths that are solid ridged sheets of ice that to walk on is to take your life in your hands. The picture below was taken looking out of my conservatory window into my small back garden.

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We thought the snow was bad enough last Winter but we have already had much more than we did then and so much earlier too. We rarely get snow this side of Christmas and I hear that this is the coldest start to Winter for well over 20 years. We are expecting a bit of a thaw in the next day or so but that will be rather relative as the temperature is unlikely to get much above freezing, so it’ll be doubtful that the snow will melt much before it freezes again. So there’s a big question mark over whether any flying will again be possible on either this coming Saturday or Sunday.

So I’ve been taking a bit of time over the past few days looking at video editing software as hopefully when the weather does at some time begin to pick up and I’m able to start flying over longer distances, I’ll be getting my camcorder on the go more and more. I’ve tried many packages but the ones I’ve come out most in favour of are Corel Video Studio Pro X3 (the same as what Tony H-S uses and recommended by him, so thanks Tony), Pinnacle Studio 14 Ultimate HD, and either Cyberlink Power Director or Magix Movie Edit Pro 17, although for me both of the latter come some way behind the first two. I’m currently favouring the Corel package and having put together a video of my landing back at Linton after my flight to Essex on 6th November initially using Moviemaker (free), then Pinnacle and ultimately Corel Video Studio Pro X3, none of which I put into the gallery here on My Trike, I’ve now decided to include the Corel-created version. You can see it by clicking on the pic below.

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I’ve still got several days of the free trials to go before I need to make up my mind (getting a bit tight on Pinnacle mind…) so I’m not about to dash out cash in hand to make a purchase just yet. And anyway, who knows what Santa Claus might bring 😉