September 30, 2017

Aérodrome Figeac-Livernon

Friday 29th was a glorious day with a high of 29 degrees Celsius and after turning the idea over a few times in my mind, I decided to take a ride down to Aérodrome Figeac-Livernon in the Lot. It’s only 60 or so miles away, but here in rural France that means a journey time of 1½ hours whichever route you take.

Some readers may recall that I landed at Figeac last summer in the Savannah and I happened to take a few photographs at the time. I’ve been passing my time lately designing airfield sceneries for the X-Plane flight simulator and having just completed Castillonnès LF4722, I was thinking what to move onto next.

Sure, I’ve got Malbec and even Galinat in ‘work-in-progress’ but always in the back of my mind was the flight I did landing at Figeac, having also taken in Égletons in the Corrèze and Aurillac in the Auvergne. When I checked, I found that there are already passable X-Plane sceneries for Égletons and Aurillac so it seemed sensible to bang out a scenery for Figeac-Livernon.

And I was really pleased with the results that were coming out, as can be seen from the shots later on in this post. Now it just so happens that the ULM Club de Quercy building is the first and the main one any visiting pilot sees when arriving at Figeac, and I was lucky that I could make a very close model of it using Sketchup and my photographs.

But then it occurred to me that this was not enough. I hadn’t taken any significant shots of the hangars or any other installations on the airfield, and if my scenery was to do justice to the venue, I needed to rectify that position.

So that’s why I headed off down there and in some ways it was a weird feeling as I approached the airfield, as though I was taking part in my own scenery! Here’s a general shot of part of the ULM club building.

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OK, so now let’s look a bit more closely at some real shots and some shots of my model taken from different angles.

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You can see why I’m so pleased with how it’s coming out! I’ve even managed to model the wall-mounted air conditioning unit and the four post boxes in 3D because it’s so much esier to do so in Sketchup than in Gmax, the 3D design software that I was using when making sceneries for MS FS2004 and FSX.

Now just a whole series of shots of the model. I’ve had to leave out the hangars, which for the time being are untextured. But not for much longer!

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And to finish off, a couple of general shots showing what I mean about needing quality shots to do the scenery justice. The second hangar shot is not one that I will use as it was taken ‘angle-on’ to the hangar side. I could have ‘knocked up’ some hangar textures from pics that I’d found on the internet, but I’d never have been happy with them and they would never be able to stand up against the real things!

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My thanks to the aeroclub’s chief instructor, Bernard d’Abbadie d’Arrast, who I bumped into while I was there and was perfectly happy to allow a complete stranger to wander around the airfield taking lots of photographs after I’d explained what I was up to. Mind you, I paid dearly for my excursion. By the time I arrived home, I felt awful and this feeling continued right through Saturday such that I spent the whole day in bed.

And to make matters worse, after feeling very woozy while I ws getting ready for bed on Saturday evening, the next thing I knew I was waking up in a crumpled heap on my kitchen floor. I have to say, that did give me bit of a shock (it’s that ruddy white blood count again) and it’s something that I’ll have to raise on Monday/Tuesday when I get the results of Monday’s blood test.

September 20, 2017

Turned the corner, perhaps?

I’m due my next chemo tomorrow and we’ve had a bit of a fuss about it over the past couple of days. I get my blood test results now on the same or the next day, over the internet, so I’m as well informed as my medical team. And I found that my white cell count was lower on Monday than on the corresponding day before my last treatment, which they thought twice about proceeding with for that very reason.

So I suggested to the hospital that we should postpone tomorrow’s treatment for a week to allow the level to recover, as I’ve had two weeks of misery since my last chemo due the level being so low.

They’re a great team at Périgueux and instead of looking down their noses at the patient of all people for having an opinion about their treatment, as I knew they wouldn’t, they suggested a compromise. This was for me to have two more Tevagrastim booster injections yesterday and today and then to attend as usual tomorrow, when as last time, they’d do a blood test. Then, depending on the results, which take about an hour, we’d decide whether to go ahead with the chemo or not.

So I had my second booster this afternoon, as planned. They’re amazing over here how quickly things can be laid on and made to happen, without delay, unlike what seems to be the general experience now in the UK when it seems usual to have to wait weeks for your next ‘appointment’.

OK, there’s a high degree of patient involvement over here and it was up to me to take the prescription to the pharmacie, order the Tevagrastim, pick it up later in the afternoon, place it in my fridge and take each dose to the nurse in the ‘Cabinet d’Infirmières’ at Rouffignac at the scheduled times for her to do the business and inject it into the wall of my stomach (sorry for any readers of a nervous disposition).

So I received the second one today and as I was already feeling better than I had for most of the past two weeks, I thought I might take the afternoon off and slip into Malbec, which is only just down the road from Rouffignac.

And am I glad I did because it was absolutely gorgeous there today, with a clear blue sky and lovely warm sunlight that was just right for me without being too hot. As I stood outside the hangar and looked around, I felt that I was coming to back life again and I had a genuine feeling that today was a kind of watershed and that I’d turned a corner.

Yes, I know that there’s still a way to go with my treatment and that I’m unlikely to get little, if any, respite before my next scheduled scan on 30th November, but I have this really positive feeling now that I really am closer to the end than to the beginning.

If any other sufferer of this repulsive disease is reading this and is still at the lowest point of their cycle, please take that thought and hang onto it. I’ve now had feedback from several other people who’ve all been treated and cured and they’ve all said that the same thing happened to them. So even though it might seem a distant objective, take heart because it will also happen for you.

Anyway, onto other things. I took a few pics while I was at Malbec and although unfortunately I only had my phone with me, they show what a truly joyous afternoon it was. First, the runway from outside the hangar, straight into the sun I’m afraid so the quality is especially poor.

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Here’s a shot that I took after I’d opened the hangar up.

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Victor and Madeleine are away for a short while at present so I thought that I’d have a go in Victor’s absence at doing the work to secure the Savannah’s nose wheel cowling. Here’s a shot of it standing in the hangar.

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Victor and I had been struggling like mad to get the fixings to align the last time we worked on it and Victor had left me with a long screw before he left. Would you believe it, it went in like a piece of cake this time and when I established that all was well, I brought it home with me to cut down to fit it permanently.

Here’s a shot of 77ASY from the other side with 28AAD in the background that I took after I’d fitted the screw.

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And finally, a shot of 28AAD itself, my lovely little French Weedhopper standing at the back of the hangar.

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The way I feel today, I can’t wait to get that little beast back together and ready to fly. That unfortunately probably can’t happen until 56NE, my X-Air has been sold so space is vacated in the barn. But never mind, I can wait, and it’s just great to have these positive feelings again and the knowledge that yes, never fear, I will be back up there again. Maybe not tomorrow or next week, but sometime not too far away, I just know it 😉

September 19, 2017

So what’s new?

We’re now slipping into Autumn here in the Dordogne and suprisingly quickly compared to previous years since I’ve been here. Quite a few leaves have already fallen and we’ve experienced a bit of a cold snap over the last week or so which has made me turn the heating on during the evenings and sometimes during the day as well to keep my house at a reasonable temperature.

Some of that is due to my health – I’ve found that I’m now experiencing the cold more as well as the heat when I didn’t too much before – but hopefully that won’t be forever.

I’ve had some good news on the health front. My consultant told me a week or so ago that according to the last scan, I’m effectively cured as there are now no signs of the disease, although they will continue with the treatment as scheduled as they must do to make sure. So that was good news.

However, the scanner expert picked up another small anomoly that they don’t think is serious but needs to be investigated. So in the event the news was a bit mixed and life will continue for now much as it has done for the past few months.

The main result of that, of course, was that I completely missed out on Summer – flying, going out to eat, meeting friends and especially going out to the local ‘marchés gormands’ (gormet markets).

These are where a whole range of food providers gather in a car park or some other area in a village or commune and you go around them all picking and choosing what they have on offer to make up whatever meal you want. And then you sit with all your friends to enjoy their company, the food you’ve just bought and as much cheap wine as you can drink. They are a highlight of the Summer down here and I’ve really missed not being able to go to any this year.

But the main thing that I’ve missed is the flying, not having been airborne since late April. The buyer for 56NE, my X-Air, didn’t materialise but I’m not too worried about that right now. It would have been nice as then I could have replaced it in the barn at Malbec with 28AAD, my Weedhopper, but I’ve waited a year since I completed the work on that and it became flyable so a few more weeks won’t matter.

But my main concern, of course, is 77ASY, my Savannah. Due to my health, the nose wheel work still hasn’t been completed so its new propeller is also still unfitted and leaning against the back of the sofa in my lounge. There’s only a tiny bit of work to be done to secure the nose wheel faring and adapt the mountings for a tow-bar, but I just haven’t been able to do it. Hopefully that situation will also change in the coming weeks.

On a lighter note to finish, as I mentioned in a previous post, because I’v been ‘confined to barracks’ for much of my time over the past weeks in order to avoid the chance of infection, much of my time has been involved with X-Plane 11, the latest version of that particular PC flight simulator, which I greatly enjoy.

In past years I used to create airport and airfield sceneries for Microsoft FS2004 and FSX but lost interest, but my surfeit of ‘spare time’ over recent weeks has renewed my interest in the genre and I began working on several local sceneries for X-Plane.

The main one was LF4722 Castillonnès in the Lot et Garonne where I was signed off for my French licence and I was very pleased when I finally completed it a few days ago. I put together some shots of the new scenery for a flight simulator forum of which I’m a member but I won’t include them in this post, which is now long enough. Instead I’ll put them into a ‘special’ post probably next time, which will include just them.

September 3, 2017

Nice surprise

Wim dropped in for his usual coffee this morning and told me that while in Périgueux yesterday, he’d bumped into someone who might be a buyer for my X-Air, 56NE. So we agreed to go to Malbec together straight after lunch, get it out from under its covers and get it ready for the guy to come and view it in the early evening.

That was a nice surprise and it also gave me an opportunity to finish off the little bit of cable-tying that was still left to do, making the X-Air fully flyable again and ready for sale.

It didn’t look too bad at all after it had been pulled to the front of the barn where it’s been kept, as the following few shots show, and I’m thinking that with my next treatment due on Thursday, I might try and get a short flight in in it before then.

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The guy arrived as planned and it turned out that he’s a student at the ULM school that’s now at Périgueux Bassilac. He’s about to get his licence and is looking for his first starter aircraft, as we all did at that stage.

He spent quite a while looking around 56NE and said that he’d give me a call after he’s thought about it. So I’m waiting for his call, but in any case, I’ve now got some good pictures to list the aircraft for sale on Le Bon Coin.