September 28, 2013

The weather always wins

In the end, despite all of our super-computers, weather models and fancy forecasting tools, the weather always ends up making fools of us all. All of the weather web sites that I use have been forecasting unsettled weather with thunderstorms for Plazac this week-end (Saturday and Sunday) for the whole of this week. In the event, I wasn’t planning to fly, because I flew on Thursday anyway and when I pre-flighted 56NE I found perished carb rubbers that I flew with anyway but have now ordered replacements for from JBM in the States. But Victor was, and had his flights at Cavarc cancelled because of the forecasts.

Well, this morning was a bit grey and overcast, as it has been in recent days, but I’ve just been outside (at 2.30 pm local time) and the weather seems to be laughing at the forecasters, with bright sunshine and an almost cloudless sky. There’s a freshish breeze from the south, but nothing that would stop anyone flying in an ULM, and I can’t really see any sign of the forecast thunderstorms materialising as things are. But then, what do I know – I could easily be wrong, couldn’t I 😆

September 26, 2013

Northern sector

I’m trying to systematically cover the whole of the local area around Galinat and where I live so I can eventually get to know it and the local landmarks. Once you’ve done that, flying becomes so much more relaxed because you’re never uncertain of your position, plus you can also spend more time enjoying the scenery. I’ve initially covered the western and south-westerly sectors during my flight to Cavarc and my recent local jolly with Wim, so I thought it was now time to head north.

Although I came down from the north in MYRO, I don’t remember very much about it because the vis wasn’t very good and also it was well over a year ago. So I’ve had a short flight planned to remedy that and after waiting a short while for the haze to clear a bit this morning, during which time I did my earlier posting, I decided that I’d do it this afternoon. Here’s a picture showing my planned route in green and my actual track in red.

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As you can see, I initially planned to head north-west up to St Geyrac which is a very small village on the way to Perigueux from Rouffignac. In the event, having flown closer to Rouffignac than I’d originally planned to, I decided to give St Geyrac a miss this time, cut the corner and head straight round to Fossemagne. This is a village on the road east from Perigueux to Brive and I’m afraid that having driven through it, it doesn’t seem to have an awful lot to commend it. However, here’s a picture that I took of it.

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The next place on my planned route was Thenon. This is another village that people tend mainly just to drive through because it straddles the main road and it’s also where you turn right if you’re coming from Perigueux and heading for Montignac. Here’s a shot that I took of it today.

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The road from Thenon to Montignac is fairly flat because it follows a tributary of the river Vézère. There are low hills on either side and roughly mid-way between Thenon and Montignac is the village of Auriac-du-Perigord which is really just a sleepy little hamlet. I don’t think that I’ve ever seen more than a dozen or so people there whenever I’ve driven through it, and that was when there was a group of men playing boules in the village centre. However, it’s very pretty and like all of the small villages in the Perigord, beautifully maintained and looked after. Here’s the picture that I shot of it.

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I then continued on to Montignac which is always worth a fly-by. The picture that I shot today was considerably better than the last time because it was lighter and I was also flying lower than before.

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The same is true for the Chateau de Losse which I took a shot of as I headed back towards Thonac for my approach back into Galinat.

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The whole flight took only 40 minutes and I enjoyed it immensely. Having the rudder pedals a bit closer was much more comfortable and, as expected, my toe brakes were much more effective as well. It took me only 15 minutes to get the covers off 56NE and ready for flight as I’d already fuelled up during my previous visit to Galinat. It took 40 minutes or so to get the aircraft parked up and covered which I’m sure I’ll be able to get down to around 30 minutes in the future. I’ve moved it round to the side a bit away from Regis’s ‘hangar’ as I’m sure he’ll want to park his Zenair there, which is now at Galinat. For the time being he’s parked it up high on an up-slope, which is not very satisfactory, and I’ll also have to take some concrete blocks to the airfield so Regis can have his ones back to tie his aircraft down with. And I’ll also have to let him have his wheel chocks back so I’ll need to make some of my own. But I don’t think that that should be too difficult 😉

September 26, 2013

Next house job planned

The ladder that I bought from Brico Depot to put up my satellite dish isn’t long enough to get me safely up onto the roof of my house so I’ve had to think of another way. I thought that I’d do an internet search for roof ladders – ‘échelles de toit’ or ‘échelles de couverture’ in French – and came up trumps. My thinking is that I’d rather buy the tools to do jobs myself instead of paying someone else to do so because then you’ve always got them should similar problems arise in the future. Or you can always sell them again and get most of your money back, which will always work out cheaper than having someone else do the work, which I’m generally always capable of doing myself. Plus I’ve got the time, of course.

Anyway, I found just what I was looking for on, surprisingly, Amazon.fr, where I can buy a roof ladder of just over 5 metres in length for less than 120€ including delivery. A wooden one is fine for what I want to do – replace some ridge tiles, re-render my chimney and fix some tiles on its top – a fancy aluminium one would cost a lot more and only be worth buying if I was going to use it regularly, which hopefully I won’t be. The ladder doesn’t come with a ‘hook’ to hang it from the ridge by – a ‘crochet de faîtage’ in French – but I can get one of those for just under 60€ without wheels, or 90€ with, from another supplier in Bordeaux.

So I’ll be getting those delivered next week and then I’ll be all ready to do the work. I was quoted a starting price of 400€ by a contractor last year, depending on what he found when he got going, so the saving will leave me with a handy contribution towards my 56NE fuel fund – I’d rather be flying after doing the work myself instead of standing on the ground watching someone else do it. And I’ll have the ladder afterwards so I’ll be able to fix some broken tiles I’ve got, clean moss off the roof, stuff like that. All round I think it should be a ‘win-win’ situation 😉

September 24, 2013

Annoyed and disappointed

This afternoon I found that for the second time since I’ve been in France, someone has stolen the fuel cap off my car. Unfortunately, the fuel flap on the side of my Astra only locks when I lock the doors and the fuel cap inside simply unscrews. Quite often, like today, I don’t bother to lock the car when I leave it in the supermarket car park and someone was obviously close enough to see that I hadn’t. I thought that the first time was just a ‘once off’ and I’m disappointed that such a thing should have happened for a second time. It’s sad to think that such people are amongst us. Luckily, I still had the temporary cap that I bought to get myself out of trouble the first time, so could just put it straight on. Last time I bought a replacement cap off Ebay. This time I don’t think that I’ll bother 🙁

September 23, 2013

A good afternoon’s work

When I began to re-assemble 56NE in my back garden in March of this year, one of the first things I found when I was doing the tail was that instead of the rudder cables being attached directly to the operating horns, they were each linked by a small stainless steel shackle. These had the effect of slightly extending the lengths of the cables but at the time I didn’t think any more of it.

However, when I started flying the aircraft, I found that although I could safely fly it, the rudder pedals were a bit too far forward for my comfort. And then various things began to link up in my head – I could never properly reach the toe brakes, which wasn’t a problem in the English X-Air that I’d flown, and when I did apply them, they were never effective enough for my liking. Readers might recall that I spent some time trying to adjust them a short while ago, without complete success, I must say.

Then it finally occurred to me. Bertrand, who had been 56NE’s main pilot before I bought it, is very tall, well over six feet, and is very long in the leg. Let’s just say that I’m not. By extending the rudder cables, he had effectively moved the rudder pedals forward to fit his legs in more comfortably, and this is why I was having the problems that I was. Even the toe brake problem I surmised – by tilting the rudder pedals forward, it would make it much more difficult to get your toes on them properly, so if the pedals were moved back, I thought that not only would I be able to operate the rudder more comfortably but I’d also possibly get more effective toe brakes.

And so it turned out this afternoon. I couldn’t just remove the shackles as there are solid steering rods connecting the rudder pedals to the nose wheel that would need lengthening to compensate. Each rod is only held on by two nuts so it didn’t take long to remove them, take out the shackles and reconnect the rudder cables. I ‘guesstimated’ how much I’d need to lengthen each rod based on the shackle size and I turned out to be dead right in one go, so the steering rods were back on in a jiffy. Time to jump into the pilot’s seat and try them out – perfect. And what about the toe brakes? They now felt as though they’d hold the aircraft while I do my mag checks, which they wouldn’t before. So a good afternoon’s work, taken all round. And I even managed to do my washing as well 🙂

By the way, it appears that we enjoyed a high of 28 degrees Celsius today. I think it was probably hotter on the airfield – my car temperature gauge showed over 30 degrees when I got in to come home – and it certainly felt sweaty enough for that while I was working. The weather forecast is now giving 32 degrees by the end of the week (Thursday and Friday) but with an increasing chance of showers at the same time. So it looks and feels just like summer at the moment – and the sky couldn’t have been bluer today. But it can’t last at this time of the year, and it looks as though we’ll be back to a more seasonal 24 degrees come Saturday and Sunday. So I must take the chance to get the capping tiles onto my chimney this week as then I’ll be able to install my wood-burner at my leisure even if there are showers.

September 21, 2013

Great fun!

Wim knew that I wanted to fly today so he phoned this morning and suggested that we might go together – he in his Weedhopper and me in 56NE. The trouble was that although the weather forecast was for virtually cloud-free skies and a temperature of 22/23 degrees Celsius, at the time he phoned it was still overcast with hill fog. In fact, not only couldn’t I see the other side of the valley where Galinat is, from my house, but I also couldn’t see beyond the end of the field opposite. We knew that the low cloud would probably burn off, but the question was, by when.

In fact it cleared with plenty of time for us to meet at Galinat as agreed, at around 2.00pm and as I got 56NE ready to fly, I heard and saw Wim flying in from his strip at Fleurac. He shut down his engine after landing but within a few minutes I was ready to go and he started it up again and took off. As this would be the first time we had properly flown together (I’d followed Wim over to Galinat in my first flight in 56NE when I’d taken off from the cow field near my house) I said that I’d follow him leaving a reasonable distance between our aircraft so I could gauge the difference in cruising speeds and see how stable 56NE was flying at around 80 kmh, which is less than optimal. In fact it wasn’t difficult controlling the distance between our aircraft but I did find that because 56NE was flying at a high angle of attack, the extra drag made me use higher engine revs than I otherwise would have in the cruise, even though I was flying more slowly.

After take off we turned left to follow the river Vézère down to Les Eyzies, which I’d done previously when I flew down to Castillonnes. Then I watched Wim sweep round to the right as we headed back up to Fleurac. We flew over the chateau as I did in my previous flight but this time I spotted Wim and Sophie’s house easily, which I couldn’t do before. Then we continued up to Rouffignac and when he arrived there, I saw Wim sweep round to the right again, which I did too several moments later. That took us on a heading towards Plazac and as Wim was then going to land at his strip, he started to descend. I carried on at the same altitude and was surprised how difficult it was to keep his aircraft in constant sight against the textures and colours of the ground at this time of year. I watched as he turned onto final and then turned my attention to my own landing at Galinat.

I had an amusing experience. Whereas I’ve spotted Galinat without too much difficulty each time I’ve flown previously, this time I was a bit too blase and found myself lined up on an adjacent farmer’s field which I was surprised to find looked very similar from a distance. The clue was that as I approached it, it turned out to be far too scruffy to possibly be Galinat, so I decided to do an over-pass and look for Galinat, which I immediately spotted to my left, a little bit lower down the hillside. It was easy enough to safely double-back in a large S turn for an approach and landing on the correct runway this time, and although it all went well, it served as a little lesson that you can’t afford to relax too much down here, until you’re sure you’ve spotted your destination airfield and runway.

Although I didn’t pre-plan the flight into my new little satnav, I did have it running to record the track of the flight, which you can see below. The sharp left and right turns to land at Galinat can be clearly seen in the image.

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I’ve checked the speed profile of the flight and sure enough, it comes out to an average of around 50 mph (80 kmh) which is roughly the speed at which Wim’s Weedhopper flies. However, it’s noticeable that it varies between roughly 40 mph at times when I was climbing, and 60 mph, as I tried to maintain my distance from Wim’s aircraft. I’ll need to watch this in future, as although 40 mph is above 56NE’s stall speed, it’s not that far above it.

I had another amusing experience after I’d landed. As I taxied round to where I park 56NE, a figure in tee shirt and shorts appeared out of the bushes clutching a camera. After starting to speak in French, he turned out to be an American visitor named Mark who was renting a house locally with a group of friends. He related how he’d watched me fly around, line up and land and seemed quite excited by the whole thing. He said that he wasn’t a pilot himself but that he was very interested and could I take a picture of him sitting in the aircraft? I agreed of course, and he eventually went off the proud owner of a couple of shots taken from each side of the aircraft 🙂

But that wasn’t the end of it. Just afterwards, a middle-aged French couple stopped and asked me the way to someone’s house, who turned out to be the owner of Galinat. So I gave them directions, and off they went too. In the meantime, I had been tweaking some of my tie-down ropes and putting on 56NE’s covers. I then had another visitor, who turned out to be the owner of the single engine aircraft in the hangar at Galinat. It turned out that he’s unable to fly because its certificate has expired and needs renewing but we had to spend several minutes chatting, of course, and catching up on the latest Galinat gossip.

The outcome of chatting with all these visitors was that I didn’t get away from the airfield until nearly one and a half hours after I’d landed, but then again, that’s half of the fun of flying, isn’t it 😉

September 19, 2013

She was all dressed in black

The last time I saw her…

I cut and stitched the last two sections of 56NE’s covers yesterday, for the over-wing centre section and the rear fuselage. I was then waiting for the brass eyelets that I needed to finish them off, to arrive, which they did in the post today. It didn’t take long to pop the eyelets in, although the hole cutting tool is getting a bit well-hammered and blunt now, after all of the eyelets I’ve inserted, and after lunch I was straight over to Galinat to see how they fitted. It was a bit overcast today, but you can see the results in the following picture. It’s a bit fuzzy because I didn’t take my camera and I grabbed it off a clip of video that I shot while I was there to make sure my old Canon camcorder was still working OK.

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I’m very pleased with the overall results. These covers really are waterproof. After the showers we’ve had since I put the wing covers on (temporarily!), when I arrived today there were puddles of water lying on the surfaces of the wings that were horizontal. That would never have happened with the old covers, and it meant that even though the rain was quite hard at times, 56NE’s wings have remained totally dry. The last two sections that I added today will complete the job, apart from the undercarriage, which I’ll make some covers for later.

Although the covers aren’t perfectly fitted by any means – you can’t really expect them to be, having been made using measurements taken from the aircraft, then drawing outlines of the cover sections by eye in chalk on sections of tarp laid out on my lawn with a bit added all round for turn-over edges, and then just running then round on my old ex-Ebay Singer electric sewing machine – they’re not too bad for all that and will keep the weather out! They’ll certainly keep 56NE dry come rain or snow, until I can eventually put up a T-hangar some time early in the new year. I still have to insert some more eyelets and add some elastic ties in the tips of the wing covers, and add some ties to join the wing covers together, but that won’t take long and I’ll do it when I next take the covers off, hopefully when I fly this week end, if the weather forecast is correct. They’ll work in the meantime and still give 56NE the full protection that they’re intended to do.

I mentioned that while at Galinat today, I’d shot a few video clips to check out my old Canon camcorder, which actually produces higher quality results than my new small one, that I mainly use for recording flying videos. I’ve turned the clips into a short video that has views of Galinat from several different positions, showing that it’s not ‘yer average airfield’. You can see it by clicking on the following pic.

Galinat Airfield

After fitting the covers today, my mind can now turn to the next job, which is installing my wood-burning stove. It’s already doing that with thoughts of my climbing up onto the roof to fit new chimney cap tiles. Rather than get someone in to do it, I’m now determined to do it myself. After all, my friend Wim did his himself, so why shouldn’t I 😉

September 15, 2013

Getting ready for winter

Quite a few tractors drove up and down outside my house yesterday delivering trailer-loads of wood to houses along the road. My next-door neighbour had an enormous load delivered and it reminded me, if I needed reminding, that I really must get my wood-burning stove installed. If I miss doing it this month, the weather is bound to change and I couldn’t face a second winter without it. To top it off, we had a bit of a deluge yesterday evening and I’ve not had as much water come down my chimney before, so that makes the job twice as pressing 😐

So I have to press on and get 56NE’s covers finished and fitted so I can turn my attention to these other things. The wing covers have been ready for their trial fitting for a couple of days, so as more rain is forecast and it’s a bit of a dull, grey day, I decided I’d do it this morning. I tried the left wing cover first and was quite pleasantly surprised by how well it fitted. The covers are OK for length, but I’ve made both of them quite a bit too big in the chord. I should have known because I made them bigger than MYRO’s old covers, which actually fit 56NE’s wings quite well. My option will be to notch the covers where the struts are, which will then allow the front and rear ‘underlaps’ to wrap under the wings, so I’ll think about that later on. Here are a couple of pics showing both of the covers fitted temporarily.

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I left them on, actually, as more rain is forecast and they were on quite tightly and won’t blow off even though I’ve not yet fitted elasticated ties to join them on top of the wings. They must work better than MYRO’s old ones, which are getting to be on their last legs and are not at all waterproof now the plastic weave used in their construction is weak and loose. I can tweak them later on when I take them off again. In the meantime I can order some more brass eyelets that I need to finish them off and for the remaining two covers for the central over-wings and the rear fuselage, which I will hopefully be able to get cut and stitched over the next couple of days. The weather forecast is for unsettled weather so it will be a good way to use the time and when they’re done, 56NE will be more or less ready for the winter. Ah, yes, I do want to make some undercarriage covers as well, though but if necessary they can wait a week or so while I deal with the other more urgent matters that I mentioned at the beginning.

September 13, 2013

Mouse alert!

Yes, it happened again! I had another little visitor, which was not surprising really as most days the kitchen door is left wide open and any small creatures can and do just come strolling in at their leisure. The first signs that my new uninvited guest had taken up residence about a week ago were an up-ended open bag of pistachio nuts that I found on my kitchen work-top one morning surrounded by nibblings, followed later that morning by several whole nuts that had been secreted behind a row of storage jars.

There were few other signs for a few days, but then I began to come across several of those special unhygienic little calling-cards that mice always leave behind them wherever they roam, so I decided that I’d have to do something about it. After my previous experience, I decided that setting up my so-called humane trap would just prolong my agony, so I went straight to plan B, the super-snapper trap that I hoped would despatch the little creature without too much ado.

The morning after the first night that I set up the trap, I came down to find that although I’d set it up properly, the little beggar had succeeded in snaffling the bait off it without setting it off. That was because I’d pushed the tab with a hole in it that holds the bait, too far up the little bar that retains the snapper, but even so, it demonstrated that the clever little devil could operate with a very light touch and some skill! So the next night I bent the tab down a bit and re-set the trap, only to find in the morning that I’d gone too far, that the bait had just been swiped and again the trap hadn’t gone off, because it couldn’t. And I managed to do the same thing again the next night, which probably made the mouse think that he’d found a handy mouse feeder!

But maybe that wasn’t a bad thing, because I guess by this time it was being lulled into a false sense of security. Last night I took special care to set the bait higher by bending the tab a little more and setting it in ‘hair-trigger’ mode right on the tip of the snapper retaining bar. This time the tiny rodent’s luck ran out and I entered the kitchen this morning to find that the trap had done its job. I don’t like having to kill anything if I can avoid it, but my previous experience showed me that when mice move into your house, you have little choice. However, I’m glad to say that the unfortunate little animal, which was actually quite a bit bigger than I’d expected, didn’t suffer and had obviously been despatched quickly and cleanly. And it had also enjoyed the benefit of several warm, comfortable, well-fed days of hospitality at my expense before its sudden and unexpected demise.

September 12, 2013

A usefully productive day

Max and Katie left late this morning with their little caravan, having decided to head north via Clermont-Ferrand in the Auvergne and the Massif Central. It was nice having someone around the house and I’ll miss them, as will Toddie, because Katie spoiled him something rotten and he loved her for it 🙂

After a brief lunch, I decided to get stuck back into 56NE’s new covers. I want to get them finished because the sooner I do, the sooner I can get onto installing my wood burner and stopping the rain coming down my chimney, both essentials for this winter. Wim and Regis dropped in for a coffee yesterday and said they’d give me a hand when I’m ready, so I’d like to get cracking on it as soon as possible before the weather changes for the worse.

I’d finished stitching one wing cover as of a couple of days ago, so this afternoon I started on the second. The new sewing machine needles have turned out to be a real godsend. Whereas I was snapping my original Singer ones every few minutes it seemed, the ‘cheap Chinese’ ones that I bought off Ebay have been working like a charm! Today I managed to stitch the complete second wing cover, which came as a surprise in itself because the first one took much longer to do, but without snapping one needle! OK, the thread snapped a few times but you expect that with heavy work such as this, but I think it didn’t take as long as the first one just because I managed to complete the whole cover without having to keep changing needles!

So tomorrow I’ll be able to insert all of the brass eyelets and hopefully, in the afternoon, go over to Galinat and try them out. I’ll also at the same time be able to measure up for the central over-wing and rear fuselage covers, neither of which should take that long to make with the new method I’m using compared to how I made MYRO’s covers originally, and with those the new covers will be more or less complete. I’d like to make some ‘spat-type’ wheel covers to keep the rain off them and also a new, slightly larger engine cover if I can, although the latter’s not essential if time becomes a problem as the current one covers the engine and exhaust quite adequately.

So all in all, I’m happy with the way things have gone today, and I’m now enjoying the glass of red wine that I’m sipping while enjoying the soothing sounds of Classic FM before having an early night 😉

September 11, 2013

Some pics at last

A few of my friends have been interested for a while now in seeing pics of my local area, especially ones taken from the air. But it’s been difficult for me to take any up to now as getting to grips with 56NE, which I still must regard as an unfamiliar aircraft, and getting to know the local area, have taken priority over taking pics. But today I was able to divert my attention a bit to taking a few as I’m now pretty confident in the aircraft and more familiar with the local terrain.

Max And Katie came back to my place yesterday after suffering a minor mishap with some bolts shearing off on their caravan, so we went off to Brico Depot yesterday afternoon to buy some larger bolts, nuts etc to do the repair. We decided that as it wouldn’t take that long, Max ought to do a proper job that would last rather than a quick repair, so after he got cracking this afternoon, I was able to leave him to it and get a flight in in 56NE.

None of the pics are of very good quality, I’m afraid. The reason I think, is that my little Pentax Optio has now seen better days. It’s been bashed, banged, sat upon and generally knocked around and I doubt that it’s giving even the 7 Mpixels that it was only ever designed to do, let alone anything like the quality that point-and-shoot cameras are routinely capable of nowadays. So it’s obviously time for me to look for a replacement. In the meantime, I’ll just have to make do, however, and here’s a general shot I took while heading towards Fleurac.

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I took it to give people a general idea of what it’s like flying here. I don’t think it’s everyone’s cuppa tea, especially if you’re the kind of pilot who constantly worries about engine failures and forced landings, who I’m sure would find it a bit of a nightmare. I’m not one of those, but even I’ve taken some time to get used to looking down and seeing just hills and trees and remaining relaxed about things. Now here are some more. Almost immediately after taking off from Galinat, your track takes you over the beautiful Chateau Belcayre, on the bank of the River Vézère.

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Then I turned left today and headed towards the village of St Léon sur Vézère, which came up under my left wing

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The village is incredibly pretty but actually consists mainly of several rather up-market restaurants. Then I turned north to head up to the village of Fleurac. I didn’t take a shot of the village itself because it’s tiny and dominated really by the Chateau de Fleurac, as below, which has its own helipad.

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From Fleurac, it’s only a skip and a hop over to Rouffignac, which is shown in the following pic.

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I then turned onto a south-easterly heading to skirt round the southern edge of the village of Plazac, to the east of which, on the top of the hill, I live.

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I then flew over my house and although I couldn’t see Max or Katie (they saw me though), I could spot their little caravan on my front grass. I didn’t take any pics for safety reasons, as I’d descended quite a bit, and I then turned to the north-east to pass by the little village of Fanlac as shown below.

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After Fanlac, I turned onto an easterly heading for Montignac. By this time, the cloud cover had increased and the additional shade began to make the shots I took a bit dark. Here’s a general shot of Montignac.

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This was as far as I went today before turning back towards Galinat and heading for home. But before I got there I passed over the magnificent Chateau de Losse, just to the east of the village of Thonac, and Thonac itself. The following shots do neither justice, I’m afraid.

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From well before Thonac, the strip at Galinat was clearly visible and once I’d turned left over the village, I was in effect on a long final. I landed safely and shut down after a flight of only 30 minutes, but it was one that I greatly enjoyed after not having flown for over two weeks, since I refurbished 56NE’s prop. I’m now looking forward to many more of the same – and especially with a half-decent camera 😉

September 8, 2013

Back in the groove

On Thursday my dear friends Ken (who owns the X-Air that I helped get re-permitted back in early 2011) and Pauline dropped in on their way back to their home in England from Spain. It was lovely to see them and chat under my old lime tree over a meal and a few drinks. We enjoyed a temperature of around 31 or 32 degrees Celsius but apparently they hadn’t been so lucky in Spain, having had to endure almost a week of cold days and nights and torrential rain! It just shows you how fickle the weather gods can be!

After they’d left, Max, a fellow member of microlightforum.com, and his lovely girlfriend Katie arrived. They had been in France for a few days and were on their way further south, to Carcassonne and Montpelier, before returning home this coming week. They had what Max referred to, a bit optimistically, as a ‘teardrop’ caravan. In fact it rather resembled an escape pod after it had been detached from the mother ship, but being towed on mini wheels, and as I told him one evening, it was about as big as a medium-size saucepan. However, it somehow accommodated the both of them which I thought was a great testimony to the flexibility of youth, as I think I’d have had problems just climbing into it through the two little side doors 😀

They stayed over for a couple of nights and we had great fun and a lot of laughs together in that time. I was able to show them quite a bit of the local area and although we couldn’t fly, they got a bit of an idea of what it’s like having a microlight down here when I took them to see 56NE at Galinat. The long spell of warm, sunny weather came to an end on Friday and we had lunch under cover at an outdoor cafe with the rain falling outside. They left yesterday morning leaving behind showers and rumbles of thunder, so I hope that the weather will be a bit kinder to them as they drive further south.

Yesterday we had a dull day which was much cooler than recently, with low cloud and showers. However, I was pleased when La Poste arrived and deposited the new sewing machine needles that I’d ordered and my new 5″ satnav, in my post box. As I couldn’t do much else anyway, I adapted the satnav straight away to run my MemoryMap system and was absolutely delighted with the results. In fact, it’s better than my previous 5″ model that has stopped working properly, so at least something positive has come out of having to buy a replacement. The screen of the new one is fractionally (only a millimetre or two) smaller than that of the original but somehow, although the original’s was bright, the new one’s screen is even brighter! That will be a considerable advantage down here when the sun’s at its brightest.

This morning I awoke to steady light-to-medium rain which, at the time of writing – about 12.15 pm – has just stopped. The forecast for the week is for much cooler (down from the low 30 degrees Celsius to the low 20’s), more unsettled weather, although I hope to be able to get some flying in. The winds, although predominantly from a north-westerly direction, are not forecast to be very strong or gusty and the forecast indicates that although possibly staying a bit cloudy, some of the next few days will remain dry. But even so, now I’ve got my new sewing machine needles, I’ve got plenty to do finishing off 56NE’s new heavy, waterproof covers. So it looks as though I’ve got a plan for the coming week and I’m right back in the groove again. Time now for another cuppa tea 😉

September 3, 2013

Drat and double drat!

To use those immortal words. I still haven’t flown since I refitted 56NE’s prop but I don’t mind too much as the rather brisk northerly breezes have persisted ever since. Instead, as some thundery showers are possibly now being forecast for the end of the week (Friday maybe, but certainly going into Saturday) I decided that my time would be better spent on finishing off 56NE’s heavy new wing covers, since as I found out the last time it rained, MYRO’s old ones, which are on at the moment, are nowhere near waterproof. As you can see below, I’ve cleared a space in my lounge for the job as the wing covers are not only pretty big but also a bit stiff and inflexible to work on.

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I had two sewing machine needles left when I started yesterday and one of those broke yesterday afternoon when I was turning the cover in the machine. So although I ordered some more the other day, I’ve been very careful with my last one ever since. Well, I was sewing away happily a few minutes ago and there was an ominous loud bonk which I immediately knew signalled the end of the needle and therefore the end of sewing for today. And not just today, until the new needles arrive actually, which could be tomorrow if I’m lucky but is more likely to be Thursday. I doubt that’ll give me enough time to finish the covers off in time before the rain arrives, so it’s a bit irritating. But c’est la vie, I suppose. The upside is that I might just as well go and buy some more fuel and go flying, nothing else for it. Can’t think of a better way to pass the time while I wait for the new needles to arrive 🙂

I’ve just come back at 6.45 pm to say that I could kick myself. I drove up to Rouffignac this afternoon and bought some petrol so I now have a fresh 20 litres of fuel for 56NE. When I got back I checked out some video stuff, had a leisurely meal and then took Toddie out for a stroll around the estate. I’ve now realised that it’s a perfect flying evening – it’s still over 30 degrees Celsius but the heat of the day has passed and the wind, which has been quite brisk all day, has fallen away to nothing. If I’d been paying more attention, I could have hoofed it over to Galinat and got a flight in. Sunset isn’t until 8.30 pm but by the time I’ve got myself organised, driven there, taken all the covers off and fuelled and pre-flighted the aircraft, I’d be pushing myself for time.

Stupid – there’s a chance that the same thing could happen tomorrow but it’s the wind that is the wild-card at the moment. It didn’t drop last night the way it has this evening, so what’s the chance it will again tomorrow? Only way to find out is to pay a bit more attention 😐

September 2, 2013

To Montignac and back

The internet is incredibly slow down her, but I managed to upload the two videos that I mentioned in my last post by leaving the computer running while I was in bed. So here they are, and you can view them by clicking on the pics below. But beware, as I shot the whole journey there and back, each one is just over 19 minutes long!

To Les Briconautes

Back from Les Briconautes

I know that the videos ran fine on my computer before uploading them but haven’t been able to check them in full since because there isn’t the band-width down here. So if anyone finds any errors, I’d be grateful if they’d drop me a message to let me know.

I also recorded my drive out to Galinat and back yesterday to refit 56NE’s prop, so I’ll process those and upload them too as soon as I get the chance.

September 1, 2013

Prop back on again

I drove across to Galinat this morning and refitted 56NE’s prop. I had a bit of a late night last night messing around with video stuff and left home later than I’d originally planned, so by the time I’d finished the job, it was a bit too late to fly. But the weather was a bit ‘funny’ this morning and the wind was much brisker than had been forecast, so I’d decided that I wouldn’t fly today anyway, and leave it to during the coming week when hopefully conditions will be better.

When I arrived, I was pleased to find 56NE exactly as I’d left it with the covers all in place and the tie-down ropes all still nice and taught. It didn’t take very long to get the prop on and while I was doing it, I revised my idea of what the securing bolt torque should be. The figure of 20 ft-lbs that I quoted in my last post I decided was a bit high and was for one particular make of wooden prop that I’d found on the internet. I think that a lower figure of 11-14 ft-lbs is more typical and as I didn’t want to risk crushing the wood, I ended up torquing the bolts up to 15 ft-lbs. I’ll be monitoring them every flight to start with and re-torquing after a few hours, so I think that it’ll work out OK at that figure. If they do slacken off significantly, I’ll soon know and be able to add a bit more to them. Here are a couple of pics showing the prop finally back on the aircraft. I think it doesn’t look too bad.

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When I drove to ‘Les Briconautes’ and back for the extra paint stripper that I needed to finish the job, I rigged up a camcorder mount in my car and recorded the drive in each direction. These are the videos that I mentioned above, and I’ve now knocked them into shape so they’re ready to view. I also recorded the drive to Galinat and back today but haven’t had a chance just yet to turn them into proper videos. I’ll be putting the ‘Les Briconautes’ videos onto My Trike as soon as I can – they are each over 500 MB in size and uploading them will take time because of the slowness of the internet down here. When they’re up, I hope that people will be able to get a better idea of what it’s really like here, and when they’re done, I’ll also be uploading the Galinat ones as well.