September 30, 2020

Bumpy flight

Up to yesterday I hadn’t flown in either my Savannah (77ASY) or my Xair (24ZN) since July when I took Sophie’s granddaughter up in the Xair. The Savannah had been fuelled-up ready to go for a couple of weeks or so, but I’d not been able to find either the opportunity or the motivation to get airborne so as the weather is now becoming rather autumnal and opportunities might start becoming few and far between, I thought that I’d better make the effort before I lost my flying mojo.

The daily weather forecasts for this week were not too encouraging but although yesterday started out cloudy and dull, it brightened up considerably during the afternoon and as there was also little wind, I decided that it would be a good time to go flying. In fact, although the temperature was only around 19 or 20 degrees Celsius, I was surprised to find as soon as I took off that it was surprisingly bumpy.

As I knew I wouldn’t be taking off until late afternoon, I thought that I’d go for a fairly short flight, from Malbec to Figeac-Livernon in the Lot and then back to Malbec via Sarlat. The planned flight time was 65 minutes but with taxying, approaches and landings, the total came out to 90 minutes. Here’s a pic of the route.

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I mounted a GoPro behind me in the cabin and although I planned to get more, I shot a video of just the leg from Malbec to Figeac-Livernon, including the take off and landing.

There’s a reason why I didn’t get as much video as I wanted to. While I was on base leg at Figeac, I heard another aircraft call up to say that they were coming in for a touch-and-go somewhere behind me and to my alarm, I heard him call final while I was on final myself. Figeac has no taxiway and it’s normal practice to backtrack after landing to exit the runway on the short length of taxiway down to the parking area.

However, knowing that this other aircraft was behind me, I thought that it would be prudent to go for the grass and it’s lucky that I did, because in the time that it took me to turn 180 degrees, he was landing beside me. It’s not a good idea to taxy on the grass on an unknown airfield because there are often hidden objects and/or rabbit holes that you can taxy into and damage your propeller and engine, but I watched closely what I was doing and taxied slowly and with great care.

Even so, it was a bit much for this other pilot to just assume that I’d be kind enough to get out of his way and he should really have extended his circuit or approach to allow me to land and clear the runway. That’s what a British pilot would have done anyway. Here are a couple of shots that I took of 77ASY in its ‘usual’ parking place opposite the flying club clubhouse and airfield offices. Unfortunately, however, the bumpy surface of the grass had caused the GoPro to fall down and as I didn’t notice, that was effectively the end of videoing for the day.

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That’s a Maule, the first one I’ve ever seen, in the second shot above. It looks just like the one in Microsoft Flight Simulator, and even had a ‘N’ registration!

After a brief stop, I took off to head for Sarlat. By now as the afternoon wore on, the turbulence was beginning to subside and the flight was fairly uneventful. There was one annoyance though. A student pilot, evidently with an instructor on board, was flying circuits and ‘touch-and-gos’ there in a Robin and the problem was that he was flying absolutely huge circuits which were totally uncalled for and unnecessary.

In fact I saw him climbing out and thought from the height that he climbed to that he was going to fly away from the airfield, but no, after flying a huge cross-wind leg and turning downwind, he called downwind to land well after he’d passed the runway landing threshold. And then he carried on so far that I lost sight of him.

This caused me problems because in the time that it then took him to fly all the way back again, I could have cut in and landed, but you can’t do that sort of thing. So I had to also fly an extended circuit until I could see him on final and turn in to land myself. What the instructor was doing I do not know. That is not the way to train a student pilot to fly circuits, even in an ‘avion’ (Group A aircraft).

Here are some shots that I took at Sarlat.

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The very pretty Piper Cub was on the parking area. It transpired that the owner was looking to sell it. It could be a bargain for someone as its engine is almost out of time and will require a complete overhaul. However, even if its selling price reflects that, which it should, I can say with some certainty that that person will not be me!

After filling in the movements sheet at Sarlat, which the majority of visitors don’t seem to do, I then took off to head back to Malbec. I heard the student pilot start taxying for another session of circuits so made sure that I climbed away and cleared the area as quickly as I could.

The flight back to Malbec was in almost clear air in contrast to when I took off and I landed without incident shortly after 6.00pm. I’d enjoyed my first flight in something like 6 weeks but I was glad to be back again and also pleased that despite the break, all three of the landings I’d done were very respectable if not actually greasers 😉

September 24, 2020

Nighttime visitors

A few evenings ago I turned the lights on in the small area of garden behind my house and this was the sight that met my eyes.

We’d had showers over the previous couple of days that had made the weeds shoot up again even though the grass is still burnt after the summer. Three small deer, called ‘chevreuil’ here, were eagerly eating them, which they can come back and do any time as far as I’m concerned, just so long as they leave the plants in the front of the house alone. It was about this time last year when I looked out in the morning only to find that the tops of half of them had been eaten during the night. Maybe this three had returned to the scene of the crime looking for easy pickings.

Sorry about the quality – I had to grab the video very quickly using my phone camera in poor light.

September 19, 2020

More quadcopter videos

Have been dealing with a few other things in recent weeks so have not been posting much on My Trike. I made another couple of videos using my Fimi quadcopter, see below. The first was another ‘end of summer’ video showing how things are changing here now that the seasons are drawing on.

The second was in ‘response’ to some ‘reviews’ of the Fimi that I’ve seen on Youtube that I think cast it in completely the wrong light. I wanted to show a completely different side of the story and how well it’s been performing for me.

I had an amazing day last Saturday. A next-door neighbour has a small vineyard and Saturday was the day of the annual ‘vendange’ (grape picking). He’s interested in my drones (he introduced me to another neighbour a short distance away, Bernard from Belgium, who also flies quadcopters) and asked if I’d like to take a few shots on the day. In fact I went even better and did a complete video showing the day from beginning to end. I was super-pleased with it but unfortunately I can’t post it here on My Trike as it shows lots of local people and neighbours – about 50 turned up to give a hand of which 30 joined in a superb meal afterwards – and it would not be right to offend their privacy.

After the grape-picking was over – it only took until mid-day – we all sat down for an ‘apero’ followed by the most hearty French meal that I’ve ever enjoyed that started at about 12.30 pm and just went on and on. I left at about 5.30 pm and more than half were still there. I lost count of the courses. We started with soup then had shrimps, whelks, wild boar with haricots verts, cheese – they just kept coming. Every time my glass emptied it was magically full again with last-year’s vintage red wine, as did it also when we got onto the plum brandy at the end of the meal. I felt highly privileged to be invited and being regarded by the locals as ‘one of them’ is a great feeling.

I still haven’t flown since the one flight I did in the Xair after bringing it over from the UK. I keep being distracted by other things and I’d hoped to get a couple of flights in this coming week. The weather is changing, though, and although it’s now becoming cooler, which will be a good thing, it looks as though it could also be wet for the next few days. I’ll just have to wait and see.

September 2, 2020

Another quadcopter video

My new phone was delivered on Monday and I couldn’t wait to try it out with my Fimi and Hubsan Zino drones. It took a day to get it configured with all my apps and settings and I was able to give it its first runs yesterday morning. It worked well with both of them and as I was especially pleased with the footage that I got with the Fimi, I thought that I’d make a video and upload it to my channel on Youtube.

There’s very little lag between the drone and phone video and the new phone’s screen also seems a bit brighter. There’s just one thing with it though. My old phone had a USB 3 connection while the new one has a USB-C. This is OK as far as it goes, but for some weird reason the latter keeps turning itself off in certain situations once it’s been used. I don’t know why, but it does this with both drones and if you disconnect and reconnect them for any reason the phone has to be rebooted for the connection to be restarted.

This must be some kind of unintended glitch or flaw in its design but I guess I’ll have to live with it unless and until I come across some way around it. However, it doesn’t stop it being very annoying, especially as it wasn’t something that happened with my old phone, which was an earlier version of the same model 🙁