January 31, 2017

Is it Spring yet?

Well, no, but today was very spring-like with a high of 17 degrees Celsius. And my car temperature gauge at one time showed 22 degrees while it was standing in a sheltered spot in direct sunlight, but I believe that that really was a bit too optimistic! But I had a couple of things to do over at Malbec so I took the opportunity to get over there this afternoon while the weather was so pleasant.

The first job was to stick the labels onto the Savannah’s new switch panel. The label sheet arrived from LAS in the UK a few days ago and I’ve been wanting to get the job done so I can cross it off the list. Here’s how it looked afterwards.

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Drat and double drat – even though I stuck a line of masking tape onto the face of the panel to line the labels up on, they’re still not all quite in line. But too bad, they’ll have to stay as they are, at least for now, because there are spares remaining on the sheet. I also think that I’ll have to apply ‘On’ stickers above the switches as I don’t think they look quite right without them.

The other thing I wanted to do was bring back MYRO’s old inter-wing covers that I’d taken to Malbec in case I needed to use them for 28AAD, my French Weedhopper. I didn’t and now I need to cut one of them up so I can make little patches to velcro to the Weedhopper’s top cover where there are holes for the exhaust strut from when it had a 582 engine and its old ballistic parachute.

I tossed them in the back of my car and as 77ASY was standing outside in the sun, I couldn’t resist taking a couple of shots of it.

ICP Savannah MXP 740

ICP Savannah MXP 740

Apart from starting on the general external tidying-up work that’s needed, cutting the carpet that I have to go on its cabin floor and revisiting the panel edge trim, it’s in pretty good shape and more or less ready for the coming season. After I’ve done its oil change and changed its plugs, that is. I’ve already got some great flights in mind with more ideas in the pipeline, so I can hardly wait. I’ll post more details when the time comes đŸ˜‰

January 27, 2017

Condat go-around

On Saturday 21st January I repeated the flight that I did on 17th December but this time in the other direction. I’ve got the video thing cracked now and recorded footage of the whole flight, but as nothing much new happened, I won’t be putting together and posting a video of all six take offs and landings. However, I had to do a go-around at Condat, my first port of call, and as that was quite interesting, I have put together a short video showing what happened.

As Condat is an ‘altiport’ airfield, meaning that you have to land uphill and take off down, there was a pretty brisk tailwind on final. My first attempt wasn’t helped by 77ASY’s flaps that I’d set at 15 degrees for landing, unlocking and snapping themselves closed on downwind. It took me a few moments to reset them and as a result I ended up too high and too fast for a controlled landing. So I decided on a go-around and just as I climbed out a helicopter crossed my path at circuit height, joining to land.

The video can be viewed by clicking on the image link below.

January 25, 2017

Flight on 17 December 2016

My last flight of 2016 was in lovely weather and took in six local airfields. I set up my little video camera under the right wing and recorded the whole flight from beginning to end. I have since edited the recording into a video of nearly 20 minutes duration which can be viewed by clicking on the image below.

The six airfields are just a handful of the many that there are within a very small area and reflect the variety of types that we are fortunate to be able enjoy. Three of the six, Malbec, Condat and Galinat, are type ‘altiport’, meaning that landings have to be uphill and take offs down, while the others are conventional.

All six are accessible without formalities or landing fees except that in view of the heightened security level that currently prevails in France, DGAC permission is required to land at Belvès and that of the proprietor, at the demand of the local Préfecture, to land at Condat.

January 21, 2017

Too good to miss

Today wasn’t an ideal flying day by any means, but with fair to good visibility, a forecast high of around 10 degrees Celsius and fairly light east to south-easterly winds it was too good to miss. And all the more so as I’d not flown since just before my visitors arrived dead on five weeks ago.

I added 25 litres of fuel to 77ASY’s tanks yesterday and was rather concerned that when I poked my fingers in I couldn’t feel the fuel level in either tank. My initial assumption was that I’d made an error in my fuel calculations when I last flew and had landed back at Malbec with much less on board than I’d thought. So I bought another 50 litres on the way home yesterday evening and today began to add it to what was in my tanks.

I’ve not used my 12V fuel pump since I had the fuel spill accident that damaged 77ASY’s windscreen and although I’ve now put a jubilee clip on the outlet hose, it’s leaking for some reason or other. So instead I’m transferring fuel into a 5 litre container and using that to pour fuel into the tanks. I was merrily pouring the first 5 litres into the left hand tank when just as it was finishing, horror of horrors, the tank overflowed onto the wing.

Luckily the overflow couldn’t go anywhere near the new windscreen but I had to move very quickly and mop it off the paintwork a bit smartish. Later on, I also had to turn the aircraft on the slope at the top of the runway as fuel again began to flow over the wing out of the swan-neck vent tube in the tank filler cap as it was so full, so it was a lesson learned – the hard way, as usual.

I was more careful filling the right hand tank and again just under 5 litres went in, so at least I was able to calculate back and confirm that when I landed after my last flight I must have had 35 litres, or half tanks, remaining as I’d thought.

But back to today’s flight. While the days are still so short making long-distance flights more or less impossible, I’m trying to make the best use of my flying time by getting in as many take offs and landings as I can. In my last flight, I did a circular tour of five local airfields that gave me six take offs and landings in a relatively short period of time, so today I decided to repeat the exercise but in the opposite direction.

That meant that I’d take off from Malbec and then head off for Condat to the north-east with its long hard ‘altiport’ (land uphill, take off down) runway. From there I’d make the short hop back to Galinat with its ‘altiport’ grass runway and then continue on to Sarlat-Domme. Then I’d make the hop to Belvès before continuing on to Castillonnès from where I’d commence the return flight back to Malbec.

I suspected that time would be of the essence with the afternoon being relatively short and the likelihood that I’d meet people to chat to along the way, and I was to be proven right. I set up my video under the right hand wing and managed to capture the whole flight again.

I also took my little Nikon camera with me but didn’t take many shots as I didn’t have much time on the ground and in any case, the view of the ground through 77ASY’s left window left a lot to be desired with the sun being so low in the sky. Here are the few that I did take.

First, a shot of Plazac off to my left as I flew by on my way to Condat.

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On the ground at Condat. There was more of a tailwind on landing than I’d expected and I had to go around the first time. The helicopter in the shot was just crossing the upwind end of the runway to join downwind and land as I was climbing out but we saw each other with plenty of time to ensure that there was no risk or danger to either of us.

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Now a shot of Sarlat-la-Canéda as I flew by on my way into Sarlat-Domme.

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I had a useful conversation with a guy at Sarlat-Domme about my radio. He said that he could hear my transmissions but that there was what sounds like engine interference that is breaking up the signal. My new plugs and oil have arrived for the engine service that I propose to do and it may well be that the sound will disappear when I change the plugs. However, I’m thinking now that I may also replace the plug leads and caps so I know that I’ve done as much as I can to deal with the problem at this stage.

From then on time was becoming more pressing so I only stopped long enough on the ground to make a note of my flight times before continuing. That meant no shots at either Belvès or Castillonnès but I took a couple over Lalinde as I headed for home. They’re not very good because of the light and first here’s a shot of Lalinde itself.

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Now a shot from overhead Lalinde looking east.

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By the time I arrived back at Malbec, the sun was already touching the horizon and light was beginning to fade. There were more guys there than when I left and the first thing that I noticed was an ‘autogire’ up on a trailer. It seems that he’d dropped in earlier and had taken off to head south to Sarlat when he had an engine failure just after taking off. Luckily there’s a large field that’s ideal for an ‘autogire’ to land in in the valley and that’s what he did without harm to either himself or the aircraft. The pilot thinks that it’s not a serious problem, just fuel starvation, so he hopes to sort it out quite quickly.

Before they left, they offered to give me a hand to push 77ASY back into the hangar, but I declined and off they all went leaving me to sort myself out. By the time I’d finished doing so, dusk was heavily falling and here’s a shot of the sunset that I took from the top of Malbec’s runway.

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A great end to another brilliant flying day I thought đŸ™‚

January 18, 2017

My new landing light

The forecast high for today was 3 degrees Celsius but according to my car temperature gauge it was 8 degrees in this afternoon’s bright sunshine. And with little or no wind it was a good day to go flying, but although I was at Malbec I had other things to do, in the shape of fitting my new landing light.

I’ve ordered the items that I need to give 77ASY an oil change and new plugs but as they won’t arrive for a few more days I thought that I’d refit the engine cowlings that I removed a few days ago to install the new landing light in the lower one. The reason is that Saturday looks as though it should be another good flying day, and just in case I’d like to be ready to take advantage.

But as this was the first time that I’d removed 77ASY’s engine cowlings, I took a few photographs before replacing them.

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Considering that the Savannah is now almost 16 years old, I don’t think that things ‘under the hood’ look in too bad shape, although I’ll be giving all the tubes, hoses etc and the engine frame a good check over when I do the oil change. Then it was time to refit the cowlings and connect up the new landing light and here’s how it looked when I’d finished.

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By this time the sun was low and shining directly onto the nose of the aircraft so although I switched the light on to try it out, it wasn’t really a fair test.

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Having completed the landing light job, it was time to turn my attention to the floor of the hangar in which 77ASY is temporarily residing. It slopes downhill and when I came to refuel the aircraft a few days ago ready for my next flight, I found that almost all the fuel on board had flowed into the lower wing tank. I also noticed that the lower filler cap was below the higher tank and if therefore I’d added more fuel there was a real risk of it leaking out of the lower filler cap vent over 77ASY’s wing.

That’s all I need after having had the recent fuel leak that damaged 77ASY’s windscreen, so I thought it best to leave refuelling until I’d been able to level the hangar floor up a bit. And that’s what I decided to also tackle today. I didn’t want to make a big job out of it because when the hangar has been cleared out a bit (my French Weedhopper is also in there for the time being) we’ve decided to lay a level concrete platform for the aircraft to stand on, so today I just dug out a channel for the higher wheel to stand in.

And it worked very well as the following pictures show.

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So that was it for today. Tomorrow I’ll go back and top the tanks up ready for my next flight which with a bit of luck should be this week-end. I hope so as I haven’t flown since mid-December before my guests arrived for Christmas and New Year, so I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed đŸ˜‰

January 16, 2017

A good day for doing ‘stuff’

A belated ‘Happy New Year’ to everyone who’s still with me and following My Trike at this stage of my meanderings through my life in France. I really do appreciate all the messages and comments that I receive so a big Thank You to everyone concerned.

Well, Christmas has come and gone and here we are already over two weeks into the new year. My sister and brother-in-law who joined me for a month over the holiday period left on Saturday so now it’s time to get back into the stride of things.

There were a few fine days while they were here but not that many to speak of, so I didn’t miss out on much flying. And although it was bright today, it was rather cold with a bit of a northerly breeze, so not one to be thinking about getting up into the air. And I didn’t want to anyway as I had other plans.

I removed 77ASY’s engine cowling yesterday and as I don’t know when it last had a service, I’ll give it an oil change and new plugs during the coming couple of days. The other thing that I wanted to do was fit the new LED landing light that I’ve had in the boot of my car for several weeks so when I returned home, I brought the lower section of the cowling with me.

I’ve been thinking about how I might secure the new light in place and eventually came to the conclusion that as the old one was merely held in situ by silicone sealant and it hadn’t budged the whole time, I’d just do the same with the new one. All I needed to do was enlarge the existing hole to take it and ‘Bob’s your uncle’.

Well, not quite, because although I wanted it to be a nice snug fit, I didn’t want it to be forced in in such a way that it was trying to pop out again. Plus I also had to adjust the shape of the hole to take account of the curvature of the cowling, so that was today’s conundrum.

I did the work in my kitchen where it was nice and warm. The body of the lamp is 65mm in diameter and its rim 70mm and luckily I had a 64mm hole cutter handy. So the first job was just to use it to enlarge the size of the existing hole and then it was a matter of carefully enlarging it further and changing its shape, checking all the time as I went, until the light went in.

It went pretty well as the following pictures show.

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The silicone sealing job is not my best ever as it was difficult both holding the cowling firmly and applying the sealant at the same time. However, one thing I have learnt about using silicone sealant is knowing when to stop and I decided that enough was enough before I spread it all over the cowling and the light itself.

I think it’ll do the job and enhance the appearance of the Savannah. Now I can’t wait to get it connected up and see how it looks đŸ˜‰