February 24, 2020

Just my luck

Like I said in my last post, we’ve been going through a spell of lovely weather that’s been perfect for flying and with signs that it’s coming to an end from tomorrow, with drizzle and cooler temperatures being forecast for the next few days, I’d banked on getting away for a flight in my Weedhopper today.

I’d had a route worked out for a while but it had been impossible to use Malbec up to now because it was still too soft after the winter rains. In fact it was really still a bit soft today, but I knew that if I didn’t get my first flight of the year in, the runway could well get soaked and would need to be left for who knows how long to dry out all over again. We’ve played that game a few times…

So after the bright sunshine of the last week or so, what did we wake up to today? Yup, you’ve got it, fog! To be honest, I didn’t think that a flight would be on at all but it did begin to clear as from late morning. So I watched and waited and decided to give it a go from mid-afternoon. Here’s the route I’d made up.

null

After taking off from Malbec, I wanted to head north-west towards Fleurac and then north to take a look at some local features that interested me. Then I wanted to head south-east via my house and Thonac for a landing at Galinat, whose long grass runway I checked the other day and found usable.

From Galinat I wanted to fly to land at Condat on its long hard runway returning via Thonac for another practice landing at Galinat from where I’d head off south to Sarlat. Then I’d head north-west via the magnificent Chateau Beynac and St Cyprien for a return to Malbec.

Well, I completed my route alright but in awful conditions with the most foul vis as a result of a filthy little low-level inversion. If it hadn’t been my last chance to fly for I don’t know how long, I’d not have bothered to be honest.

I set up one of my little Chinese sportcam camcorders on the Weedhopper’s right wing which yet again let me down and switched itself off even before I’d taken off, so once again I got no record of my flight. Those things really are junk and I’m more or less resigned to having to get myself a GoPro if I’m going to continue videoing flights, which I do want to do.

At Condat I bumped into Roland, the airfield owner, and as we always end up chatting with me always having to refuse a beer, I lost a bit of time and had to leave in a bit of a hurry. I completed my second landing at Galinat but took off again straight away without turning my engine off.

By this time the afternoon was wearing on and the vis was actually getting more filthy. I wasn’t surprised to find that there was no other traffic at Sarlat so I just did a touch-and-go and headed off north-west to return to Malbec and cut the corner a bit to save a bit of time.

At that time of the afternoon, it’s usually easy to spot Malbec from quite a way away, but not today in the filthy haze that was increasing by the minute. But eventually there it was and I had a nice landing, a bit long on purpose to clear the softish landing area at the foot of the runway and taxied right up out through the runway entrance, that I’d left open, and onto the area outside the barn.

So although I was glad that I’d taken the opportunity to fly, I can’t say that I’d enjoyed the flight that much. But what really surprised me today was that I’d calculated my route on the basis of an airspeed of 85 kmh, which is good for a 503 powered Weedhopper and which the leg times showed that I achieved.

But for a total flying time of 1 hour 45 minutes, I’d only used 20 litres of fuel, giving a consumption of only 11.5 litres/hour. That was totally unexpected as I’d been anticipating a figure of around 14-15 litres/hour, so that was truly my highlight of the day. Amazing!