Sadly, the time had come to move the X-Air away from Galinat. I say sadly, because I’ve greatly enjoyed keeping 56NE there and with all the flights that I’ve made from Galinat, I’ve always been glad to arrive back. With its long, sloping runway it’s so forgiving and a joy to land at and any bumpy landings that I’ve had have always been down to me, never the airfield or the approach to it, even though it could be slightly turbulent on occasion.
But move the X-Air I had to. A while back, in an act of pure vandalism, someone cut the wires to 56NE’s rectifier. Everyone here was taken aback that something like that could have occurred and I said that as there was no possibility of finding whoever was responsible, I’d just put the incident behind me. But a few days ago I went to check on the aircraft as I do regularly and found that someone had cut and removed a piece of one of its tie-down ropes.
It was the one on the upwind wing too, and if I hadn’t discovered that it had been done and we’d had a repeat of the north-westerly gales of a few weeks ago, who knows what might have happened. Once again, I have no idea who might have perpetrated this latest act, but as I want to put the X-Air up for sale anyway and cannot afford anything to happen to it this close to a sale, it was time to say ‘good-bye’ to the airfield.
Sadly, being unfenced and at a junction between two roads, I think that Galinat is just too public. This may not have mattered a few years ago, especially in what is really a bit of a rural backwater, but it appears that times are changing. And for the worse, unfortunately.
Wim and Sophie have just returned after being away on vacation for a few weeks and at our resumed weekly ‘apero’ session yesterday evening, Wim kindly agreed to come with me to Galinat and then drive my car back to Malbec. Victor has already mown a parking area ready for 56NE next to Philippe’s hangar, so it would then be just a matter of my flying it over and returning to Galinat in my own time to pick up the concrete blocks etc that I needed to secure the aircraft.
Wim flew into Malbec at around 9.00 am and was there waiting for me when I turned up, closely followed by Philippe in his 4 x 4 who had decided to have a flight too as the weather was so good and the forecast is for it to get worse, with increasing wind. Wim was chatting to Patrick, I think his name is, who had also flown in in his single seat ‘autogire’ so the airfield was buzzing and a bit like Piccadilly Circus at that time of the morning.
I wanted to fly to Malbec via my house so I could take a few photographs now that the contractors have removed all their plant, but even with the slight detour, I’d still be at Malbec well before Wim driving by road. He waited for me at the bottom of the runway to make sure that I had no problems that might prevent me taking off and I then headed for my house. Here are a couple of the shots that I took. They’re rather poor, unfortunately, and I think I’m paying for changing my camera settings. I need to change them back to what they were.
Next, Plazac that I flew almost vertically overhead.
And then Wim’s field.
And then it was time to land at Malbec. Compared to Wim’s tiddly little 160 metre runway, Malbec at around 220 metres, although considerably shorter than Galinat’s 450 metres, is not that short. But I suppose that having just had a poor landing experience in the Savannah, I was letting it intimidate me. I allowed my airspeed to decay too much on the first approach and just before touch-down, I applied full power and climbed away on a go-around.
My second approach was better, but not that much, and although I ended up with a landing that I walked away from and could re-use the aircraft after, it was slow and hard and absolutely nothing to be proud of at all. I mentioned it to Wim after he’d arrived and as a bit of an expert on short-runway landings, having operated from his own short field for so many years, I asked his advice. He said that I was trying to land far too short and even with just 220 metres to play with, I should aim to land at least 50 metres further in than I was.
He said that he’d have a go before he returned to his own field and here are a couple of shots of him taking off and climbing out.
Now a couple of shots of his text-book approach and landing that he made look so easy.
Sure enough, he landed well beyond where I’d tried to touch down and still had plenty of runway left to slow down and turn round ready to take off again. So he’d proven his point very effectively and I now realise that I’m allowing my speed to decay and trying to touch down far too soon.
Now some final shots of Wim’s departure.
I had no time to have another go in 56NE today, which was a Bank Holiday in France. Not only did I have to pick up the kit that I needed to secure the X-Air from Galinat but I also had to try getting hold of a trailer load of paving slabs to prepare the approach to my house in readiness for the arrival in a few days time of my family visitors. I was unable to, unfortunately, so that’s the first job on the list for tomorrow. But at least I know that the X-Air is tucked up safely at Malbec and that I don’t have to worry about anything untoward happening to it before I can get it ready for sale.