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 🙂