The weather forecast for Friday was for a day of sunshine with light winds, but not that warm at around 15 degrees Celsius by mid afternoon. But after two days staying at home to keep an eye on the work Agrafeuil was doing in my garden, I was more than ready to fly the route that I’d had planned for some time to take a few pictures overhead Brantôme. As I’d not flown that sector before, apart from passing close by on our way back from our west coast tour last year, I also wanted to see if I could spot three ULM fields whose overheads I would be more or less passing through.
Here’s a shot of my planned route – around 150 kms and 65 minutes flying time.
The Savannah would be flying at about 140 kmh and using around 15 litres/hour of 98 octane mogas. This makes it about as economical as a luxury family car, but much quicker from A to B, of course, as it flies direct, which is why I’m looking forward to my first flight in it to the UK.
This would be its first time out of the barn since I flew it over from Galinat and here are a couple of shots showing it ready at the top end of Malbec’s runway.
After taking off, I initially did an unplanned circuit of Victor and Medeleine’s house which is very close to Malbec. Victor knew that I was going to fly and I suspected that once he heard me, he’d come out into his garden. And I wasn’t disappointed, so I waggled my wings as he stood below waving up to me.
Then I resumed the first planned leg of my flight, which was to fly past Galinat to take my first shot ever from overhead the airfield. It’s below and although it all appears to be just a mass of green, Galinat’s runway is right in the middle of the picture.
I then wanted to pass by my house to catch a shot of the work that’s been done on my garden. Now that the big old ’tilleuil’ has gone, it’s a little bit more difficult to find, but the next picture shows my house almost in the middle of the image with the big Cat excavator still parked on the front garden. I can hardly call it grass now after it’s driven backwards and forwards over it so many times, but it’ll all be worth it in the end when it’s been landscaped.
I then turned left onto a north-westerly heading towards my first true waypoint, the rural commune of Cubjac on the little river Auvezère. That’s it shown below.
My next waypoint was one of the three ULM fields that I wanted to try and spot, and although it hardly stood out from the landscape as at the moment, at least, it has no markings, I found it without too much fuss. It’s shown below – LF2452, Sanet Agonac with its little 200 metre runway.
As I continued on my way, the airport of Périgueux Bassillac was clearly visible in the wonderful weather conditions off to my left, and here’s a shot of it.
A few minutes later, I was in the run-up to Brantôme and the following sequence of shots shows my approach to it up to when I began my left turn around to its north side to begin the homeward legs of my flight.
Perhaps I’d been building my hopes up too much because we’d enjoyed two lovely days-out there a few months ago and at ground level, it’s such a beautiful place, but I found the experience somewhat underwhelming. I was quite high, however, at over 1500 feet, so maybe it’ll be a bit more impressive if next time I fly a bit lower with a more photogenic approach path.
My next two tasks before heading back to Malbec were to locate two more ULM fields that are not far from Brantôme, and this I did without any difficulty. First up, LF2438, Bas Meygnaud Valeuil with its 480 metre grass runway on the side of a slight incline.
And finally, LF2437, Le Rigola Bourdeilles with its 450 metre runway.
So how did the flight go? Not bad, considering how long 77ASY has had to be parked in the barn and my relative lack of hours on what is a new aircraft to me. It was surprisingly bumpy given the time of year and the relative low temperature and the conditions were playing havoc with Malbec’s approach.
The wind was variable and there are trees below and just before the runway threshold that were generating a surprising amount of lift. The ground also falls away quite sharply before the threshold and Victor has marked the area with arrows to warn people not to touch down there and has also put runway markers down to show where the threshold starts. So as the runway at about 220 metres is quite short and you’re therefore bound to be coming in at relatively low speed, it’s not a good idea to allow your flight path to drop below the height of the threshold, which you can at Galinat with its much longer runway if you’ve got the speed to do so.
Yesterday, I was coming in slowly with full flap (40 degrees) for the first time and mainly because of the turbulence, it just caught me out. 77ASY’s main wheels touched just below the top of the hump and I suffered a horrible bounce as a consequence, which probably felt worse than it actually was, but was still not very nice at all. Luckily the Savannah is built to be a very robust STOL (short take off and landing) aircraft so no harm was done, but it was a somewhat disappointing end to what had been a rather bumpy, but nevertheless enjoyable flight.
What else did I find? Compared to the X-Air, which has no doors, 77ASY is unfortunately not a very good camera platform. You sit close to the door, making it difficult to find a comfortable camera angle, and it’s also almost impossible in bright sunlight, like yesterday, to avoid catching shine off the surface of the window in just about every shot. I also found a secure, almost vibration-free position for my little sports video cam (Go-Pro clone) which worked well until its battery ran out before the end of the flight, but that was my own fault because I hadn’t charged it up enough.
I’d also mounted it on the right wing strut and it’s obvious now that it should have been on the left because I almost always arrange my flights so that all of the ‘views’ are on my, the left, side of the aircraft. I also needed to angle it down more, but that’s easily done next time, and I’ll have to see as well if I can angle it so it doesn’t catch the propeller as the interference it causes can be very annoying. Anyway, I got a bit of footage that will be worthwhile making into a short video, which I’ll do and post in My Trike shortly.
Main conclusion? Just glad to be back in the air again – even if the getting back down again was a bit of a non-event and left something to be desired, landing-wise 😐