January 28, 2012

Good and bad news

The bad news is that yesterday I lost the house I wanted to buy in Plazac. The agent was as astonished as I was because the property had been empty for nearly two years and after showing it to over 30 people, in that time there had only been one offer for it that had fallen through. Then after all that time, after I’d made an offer which had been informally accepted by the vendor, another buyer came out of the blue and made a higher offer at the very last minute. I was due to view the property again on Monday and had even booked my Eurotunnel tickets to drive over. Gazumping is unheard of in France so how ironic and typical to find that the other buyer is also English. There is also a possibility that they don’t even want to live in it because they already have a property in Spain and another already in France, apparently. If so, that makes me even more disappointed, if it’s true 🙁

So I now have to begin searching for another. I can’t afford to stop my sale in the UK for fear of losing my buyer, so I could well end up with my own property sold and the furniture and belongings that I want to keep, in storage. However, if I could then dispose of my business so I have no ties whatsoever, I could then spend my whole time in France looking for another property, and given that I was only there for a few days and found this one, there must surely be a chance of finding another. But it’ll be a very hard act to follow because this one had so much going for it, being close to my friends and the airfield I’ll be using and in such a perfect area for me too 😐

So what’s the good news? Well, after receiving MYRO’s permit a couple of days ago, I was back flying again. It was a bit touch and go, though, because although the wind was not too bad, the weather was very murky with lots of low cloud around. I busied myself taking MYRO’s covers off (the wing covers are still in my garage waiting to be repaired after the high winds), putting fuel in the tanks and mounting the new placards that need to be displayed while a clump of low cloud went through and when it was clear that the cloud base had risen quite a bit, I got off at 2.00pm. As I’ve now got the twin tanks working nicely, I loaded 28 litres of fuel, more than enough for my planned flight and sufficient for me to check that the tanks are actually performing correctly (which they are). First I did a circuit to get the feel of things again. That went really well and I made a really decent job of the cross wind landing onto 06. So after a touch and go, I decided to leave the circuit and head north over the Thames into Essex via Canvey Island. It was pretty obvious that there was still a lot more clag to come from that direction so I curtailed my flight north and headed west alongside the north bank of the river. Then I crossed back into Kent and headed down to Ken’s place where I knew he was working outside. He saw me but I didn’t see him but I was able to do a PFL into the sheep field by way of practice.

Then I headed back to Stoke where the low cloud I’d spotted earlier in Essex was just coming in and landed on 06 in a light shower. The cross wind landing was a greaser and without wanting to boast, a chap who had seen it (a PA28 Cherokee 235 owner) came over and complimented me, which was a nice end to the afternoon after my disappointments of the past 24 hours 🙂

OK, I’ve just popped back to add one little thing that I’ve just remembered, which was a lesson for me and may be a warning to others. Because MYRO has flown very little lately, I decided to do power and mag checks before lining up for take off. Usually I just check the mags once after start up and then make sure I’ve got full power when I give full throttle for the take off. Well, today because the brakes and the grass were a bit wet I guess, although I had the heel brake bar pressed pretty hard, when I opened the throttle and began my mag checks, MYRO began to creep forward. More than creep actually, so I had to close the throttle, get the nose wheel under control and get the brakes back on again a bit sharpish. When I came to take off and during the flight when I applied climb power, I noticed that my revs were a hundred or so on the low side and thought that maybe I had a problem with my throttle cables stretching a bit or something.

The flight went fine though and MYRO performed very well – it seems to fly much better since the repair and the rudder especially is much better and in balance with the ailerons. Even Martin commented on it during the test flights. I also found that with the new Ivo Prop, I’m getting a higher air speed than before at 5500RPM – 55-60mph whereas previously I had trouble getting 55mph. It may just be down to the cold weather, but I don’t recall noticing it last winter. But I mustn’t digress – what did I find when I came to switch off after landing? I’d flown the whole flight, including the take off on just one mag! I obviously hadn’t switched the mags back on properly in all the kerfuffle to do with the power checks right at the beginning, so there’s a lesson for me and possibly others too. If your revs look lower than you expect them to be, they probably are, so investigate. Don’t just accept the situation. I also found that after an hour and a quarter’s flying, I’d used 20 litres of fuel which I thought was a bit on the high side but probably a reasonable price to pay if I am getting 5mph more air speed for the same revs as before. But in fact it looks as though the consumption is over-stated because of my mag cock-up. I’ll bet when I fly properly on both mags, I’ll find it’s a lot less. Or I’m a monkey’s uncle 😉

January 25, 2012

Yet more Dordogne

While in France in the first part of this month I naturally had a look around the local area where I would be living and also viewed a few potential home purchases. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I actually did find a house that I do want to purchase and my plan is to return to the Dordogne by road this time, as early as next week if possible, to view it again and discuss purchase terms with the estate agent. The reason for my apparent haste is that on Monday last I received an offer for my house in the UK, which I accepted and which would make it possible for my plan to come to fruition in as little as 6 weeks or so! I could never have anticipated that things might move so quickly 😯

Because of this and because of a childishly superstitious idea that to show pics and talk about the house might somehow put all of this in jeopardy, I won’t be showing any until I get back after my next visit when hopefully everything will be more firmly in place. Until then I’ll just show some pics of the village, called Plazac, that the house is close to, and some shots of two other properties that I saw besides the Perigord cottage that I showed in the video in the previous post.

There are a few British and other nationalities in Plazac but it’s still predominantly French, which is how I like it. The village has a large medieval church and castle at the top of a cobbled hill at its centre. The church was built in the 12th century and used to be the seat of the bishops of Perigueux. The first pic is taken from just outside the church looking down the slope towards the village.

null

The next shot was taken from further down the slope and shows what used to be the main street of the village from right to left. The village buildings are all either old or very old 🙂 and the old main street presents a charming walk if you like such things, which I do of course 😉

null

The next pic is of La Marjolaine (The Marjoram) the village watering hole which is on the main road that now passes through the village. When I was introduced as a friend of Bob’s I was greeted with the customary kiss on both cheeks and made to feel very welcome. I speak pretty good French, which hopefully will get even better, and that always helps as far as the French are concerned, who are very effusive in their praise for your language skills!

null

So that’s a very brief tour of what if all goes to plan will become my new home. Now some shots of two properties that I viewed but turned down. The first two are of a converted stone barn in a similar style to the home I want to buy but which was rather tatty, had not been converted to a very high quality and was, in my opinion, totally over-priced! I’ll just leave it at that 😕

null

null

And finally, two pics of what was a very ancient and quirky property, lots of property for the money actually, but which would never have been suitable for me. The estate agent said that it is probably medieval in origin. The reason is that in those times, before roof tiles began to be commonly used, the peasants made their roofs from carefully piled stones, and this property still has some around the base of the roof of what was the original part of the building. I was quite prepared to believe him!

null

null

So that’s it for now and I’ll have more Dordogne news when I get back from my planned visit, hopefully next week. In the meantime I received another bit of good news today – MYRO’s permit was issued this afternoon so I could well be flying it at the weekend. But not for too long though as now I have far too many other things to do connected with my move to France, plus I’ll also need to start thinking about saving my Euros for when I get there 😉

January 24, 2012

More Dordogne

I took my little Canon camcorder to France with me and shot a few clips with it while I was out and about. I wish I’d taken more actually. I’ve now made them into a short video that you can see by clicking on the pic below.

null

I didn’t dwell on the events at Fanlac during WWII but you can easily find out about those yourself. Click on the following link and get Google to translate it. It makes incredible reading and really brings to life the intensity of the struggle in a way that I’ve never appreciated before.

http://www.ww2-derniersecret.com/Aquitaine/24-2.html

Later on in the video I show a fairly brief shot of the cave fort named Maison Forte de Reignac. Click on the following link to see the super web site about it.

http://www.maison-forte-reignac.com

An English version of the web site is available but the video it contains is still narrated in French unfortunately.

Finally, the Perigord cottage that I show at the end was actually for sale and I shot the video during a viewing! We think that it had been lived in by elderly people who’d died and then been used as a second/holiday home by their children who were now selling it. If you purchased it you’d get to keep all of the contents so you’d have a really pretty, old, original Perigord cottage. But I decided that although it might be fine as a second home, it wasn’t suitable for me to live in permanently. A bit too rustic even for me 🙂

January 22, 2012

While In The Dordogne

I met a couple of other microlight flyers. One had a single-seat AX3 that was very reminiscent of MYRO and shared a lot of common parts. Its owner had decided to extend the wings by about a meter on each side which he did by removing the tip tubes, shoving in some extensions with wooden ribs and covering them with Oratex (you are allowed to do anything you want in France – there are no permits, no inspections etc etc). He then found that he had problems getting down because the extensions provided so much extra lift and ended up having to cut the engine on approach. The reason for the extensions is because he wants to remove the 447 and fit another lower power engine so he ends up with a sort of ULM motor glider concept for semi-soaring, low speed flight. Imagine if he tried doing his experiments here in the UK!

But that’s not all – he says he’s going to do away with the Ultralam wing covers and battens, make up a set of light weight ribs and cover the wings in Oratex. I told him I’d watch his experiments with interest 😯 He said if the weather had been better while I was there, I could have flown it. I think I was fortunate that the weather gods were on my side that day and there was drizzle and low cloud 😀

The other pilot owned an aircraft called a Mustang that you can’t get in the UK. He’d had a slight accident in it a while back and damaged the main tube. A simple repair was effected by finding another similar damaged aircraft, cutting it’s main tube and joining the two undamaged sections with a sleeve held in place by pop rivets. Here are some pics – you can see the pop riveted sleeve that connects the two different main tube parts just behind the front seat in the second one. You can tell they come from different aircraft because the back bit has a pinstripe that stops at the sleeve 😎

null

null

null

They had some high winds down there about the same time as we did a few weeks ago and they took half of the hangar away that the aircraft was in as you can see. We called the owner and helped him cover the aircraft up when he arrived. Beforehand he decided to run the engine – a pretty good low hours 582 actually. After emptying out the carb bowls which were full of water the engine started and ran immediately! So there you go. All ready to taxi out and take off 😕

January 14, 2012

Moving forward again

And in all sorts of directions, which I’ll come back to later. After some to-ing and fro-ing, it seemed that there was a chance that MYRO’s test flight could happen today. The day dawned bright and freezing cold with hardly a breath of wind and having given MYRO a general check over yesterday following the very high winds that we had a week or so ago that blew over and destroyed John’s AX3 that had been tied down next to MYRO, I decided to get down to the airfield bright and early to re-attach the pitot tube that had been broken off (just two small cable ties) and make sure MYRO was all ready to go just in case.

In fact Martyn, the test pilot, arrived by air at about the same time as I did and it was agreed that today would indeed be the day. The first thing we found was that as had happened down at Linton, rainwater had been blown into the right elevator which this time had frozen, so time had to be allowed for that to thaw out and drain away before MYRO could be flown. I also found that a safety ring had disappeared from one of MYRO’s aileron attachment bolts (the second one) which was a bit of a mystery, but luckily I had a spare. An inspection revealed that the only damage that MYRO had suffered was a small nick in the rudder fabric where the wind had forced it against the elevator trim operating lever, so I could really count myself lucky given that John’s AX3, which had been only yards away from MYRO and facing the same way, had been blown over and Ken and Peter’s X’air had suffered slight damage to its elevator bracket from having been blown backwards until it had made contact with a wooden fence. Unfortunately I couldn’t say the same about my home-made wing covers which had been given a fair old pasting by the wind and quite a few of the eyelets had been ripped out. I rolled them up after getting as much of the hoar frost, which was a good centimeter thick in places, as I could off them so I could bring them home to repair in the coming week.

Eventually I took off in MYRO with Martyn as pilot and me as observer and it was great to be back in the air in it again. The air was cold and very calm and we both noticed how well MYRO flew. In fact MYRO behaved impeccably and actually there were two test flights, one with and then one without doors on. What a day to be flying without doors! Brass monkeys had nothing on this, especially when we had the doors off. There is a speed for all aircraft called Vne, which is the speed that should never be exceeded because of the chance of damaging the aircraft in flight. In the case of the AX3, this is 90mph. I had never taken MYRO up to that speed before but I felt quite relaxed with the doors on because it was pretty obvious that MYRO was flying very well without any vibration or control flutter of any kind. When we came to check out Vne with the doors off, Martyn said that I had the option of selecting a lower speed but I said that we should give it a go and decide what speed to go up to depending on how MYRO felt. Well, to cut the story short, we ended up at 90mph again with the doors off and MYRO felt just as stable as before. The only trouble was that the blast of air blowing round the sides of the screen was icy cold and whereas I could raise my arm to protect myself, poor Martyn couldn’t. As we dived earthwards to allow the speed to build up, he said that the side of his face was beginning to freeze and he couldn’t speak properly. Quite honestly, I’m not at all surprised. The price those poor test pilots have to pay to ply their craft 🙂

So that was it. MYRO passed with flying colours and I hope to be able to pick up the paperwork from the airfield tomorrow. I’ll then be able to get it off to the BMAA and hopefully MYRO should then be permitted in time to fly next week end.

So what other progress have I made? Well, the most major is that I have taken the decision to sell up and move to France. I’ll go into the reasons for this in another post in the future but suffice to say that I now want to stop working and retire in order to enjoy the rest of my life, and whereas I can’t afford to do so in the UK, I will be able to in France. I have friends in the Dordogne who I visited for a week, returning home last Wednesday. I originally only intended to scout around the area and check the availability of suitable property but in fact ended up finding a house, a converted stone barn, that I want to buy. So now all I need to do is sell my house to make the move. This also coincides with the conclusion of a divorce which has ground on for the best part of two years so at last I can now look forward to a new start and a new life. And to be honest I can now hardly wait 😉

January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

Well, here we are again, the old year finished and a new year just begun. Here’s hoping that despite the gloom being peddled by the doom-mongers about there being even tougher times ahead than last year and the possibility of a new European, or even global, recession, things turn out better than we all could possibly hope for as things are now. After all, it’s in our power to make things happen if we really want to and we’re not just victims of ‘the way things are’. As has been proven so many times in the past, Man has the power to shape the world in which he lives, not merely be a victim of it. All it needs is for the right leadership to come to the fore and be prepared to pick things up by the scruff of the neck and shape them. The question is, do we have the such people around at the moment?

I can’t talk for the rest of the world, but a good few thousand souls were able to put smiles on their faces in London to bid farewell to the old year and welcome the new one in, and my friend Mary and I were lucky enough to be part of the celebrations in the heart of it all on London’s Embankment. You had to get there hours early to get a place anywhere near the front, and we did. We had to brave a few showers while we were waiting, not to mention a continuous blast of over-loud, distorted pop music played by ‘Nihal (pronounced nee-hal apparently), Radio One DJ’ who proved that he knew his own name and could tell the time very accurately by continually reminding us of the time left up to midnight. But we all kept laughing and when the time came for the BIG EVENT, the showers had stopped and we were able to enjoy one of the warmest December nights that I can ever remember.

The scene was added to by a flotilla of cruise boats that had come up the Thames to the London Eye loaded with passengers to watch the fireworks and they and we were not disappointed by a world-class spectacular that went on for eleven minutes. If you click on the following pic you will get a good impression of what it was like, although the quality is not brilliant because of the low light level.

null

We’d left our car in south London at Clapham and paid to come in from there by Tube. The train in was amazing – nothing like the usual dismal atmosphere you get in the morning Rush Hour. The carriage we were in was full of young people all brightly dressed and going off to have fun, laughing and chatting. It was like the party was already underway and we loved it. Even getting away after the new year celebrations wasn’t anything like as bad as I’d feared it might be. The police fed everyone into one route which I think was a mistake because some people began to panic when they couldn’t find a way off the Embankment and soon there were floods of people going in both directions and creating a dangerous crush.

But never mind, it all worked OK in the end. After 11.45pm on New Years Eve, travel on the Tube, buses and some rail lines was free and when we eventually got onto our platform we were amazed to find that our train was relatively uncrowded. By the time I’d taken Mary home, who had to get up relatively early this morning, I got home myself and tumbled into bed at 4.00am which is the latest I’ve been for a while. Maybe I’m starting 2012 the way I intend to go on 😉

And if you had a good New Year, I hope that you are too. So here’s wishing a Happy New Year and a safe and prosperous 2012 to everyone.