I hardly flew at all last year because of my illness and I’m not exactly doing much catching up this year, partly because of aircraft being U/S (damage to Savannah wing tip when I was preparing to take off to fly to the UK) and also because of the extreme temperatures that we’re getting this year.
With 37° C being forecast again for today, it starts to become dangerously thermic from quite early on, mid-day or even a bit earlier. As Wim was saying on Sunday, the only times you can think about flying are early in the morning and quite late in the evening, from around 8.30 pm, because the high temperatures and associated variable winds persist for quite a long time even after the sun has started to go down.
My plan for today was to finish off the varnishing of the X-Air and with that in mind, I got a reasonably early night so I could make an early start this morning, before the temperature began to build up too much. I also thought that if I took with me the 20 litres of fuel that I had ready, I could also top up the Weedhopper so I could do the same tomorrow, make an early start but this time get a flight in.
And with the frustration of not flying gnawing at me, I also thought that I’d take my flight bag with me ‘just in case’ – after all, you never know, as I had the last flight that I did with Wim still in my GPS, there might be an opportunity to get airborne and repeat it 😉
OK, you can guess what happened. By the time that I’d topped the Weedhopper’s tanks up, it was still fairly cool and calm with a bit of mist hanging over the landscape. What pilot could possibly have resisted it? I quickly got the Weedhopper onto the runway, warmed up the engine (no short-cuts there) and was away at 9.25. Here’s the route that I took, as before.
After taking off, I swung left to fly over Madeleine and Victor’s house and Wim’s airfield. Then I continued up to Rouffignac and with a slight change of course, on up to Coteau de l’Herme camp site where I turned right to head for Condat.
My original intention was to land at Condat but as I could see the owner’s van there, I decided not to but to continue on to Terrasson instead. Whenever he and I meet up, we always end up chatting for ages and I couldn’t risk that today with the threat of heavy thermals building up 🙂
As last time, there was no sign of movement at Terrasson and after I’d landed, it appeared that the grass still hadn’t been mown since Wim and I were last there on 22 July. My flying time from Malbec was 35 minutes and I didn’t hang around on the ground too long, allowing myself only 5 minutes to record my flying times and have a quick pee. As every pilot knows, best to answer calls of Nature when on the ground rather than be caught short while in the air…
Then a take off in the opposite direction to the one in which I’d landed (no appreciable wind) and off to Galinat where I landed 20 minutes later. And not too soon as the approach over the trees was already becoming quite bumpy, so with that in mind another quick turn-round and off back to Malbec.
The climb out from Galinat was actually more bumpy than the approach, which made me wonder what I might expect when I got back to Malbec. I generally allow myself a long, steady approach at Malbec when conditions are like that and did so again today. Even so, the lift and sink as you descend closer to the threshold was fairly violent but I managed to control it and landed just before the marked threshold.
We set the threshold just beyond where the curvature of the slope levels out so as to allow for such eventualities so under the circumstances, I was quite pleased with that and would take it any day of the week. Time from Galinat, 10 minutes as per usual and a total flying time of 65 minutes. Not very long, but every little helps.
I still haven’t got a complete handle on the Weedhopper’s fuel burn, but from what I could tell, it appeared to have used only about 12 litres in that time. So quite amazing compared to what I was getting with MYRO with the same engine and including three take offs and landings too.
As the air was fairly still, I tried to get a feel for the speeds at various rpm’s, which were 80 kmh (normal AX3 Weedhopper cruising speed) at 5200 rpm, 90 kmh (same as the 582 powered X-Air) at 5500 rpm and over 100 kmh at 6000 rpm. The latter cannot be sustained continuously, of course, but is nevertheless quite impressive.
So taken all round, a very satisfying morning. But I really must get around to finishing off the X-Air though… goodness knows when… 😕