With all of the time I had to devote to getting my house ready to hand over to its new owners, acquiring the land for my new house, finding a contractor, sorting out the electricity and water services (the list goes on and on…), flying my ULMs has had to take a back seat over the last few months. It’s been ages since I even started their engines and even longer since I flew them.

So now that I’ve reached a bit of a hiatus in all of the other things that I mention above, I decided that I have to get back onto my Savannah and X-Air. We’ve had unsettled weather for the last few days and with a change forecast for Sunday, that was the day that I’d had ear-marked for some time for getting going. I got a few things out of storage that I thought I might need – buckets, battery charger and some other bits and pieces – and shortly after lunch I started on the Savannah.

It’s been months since I last cleaned it and unlike the X-Air, which is covered up, the Savannah has been standing in the open barn, so as well as being covered in a layer of brown dust, parts of it, especially the empennage (tail section) were covered in tiny bird droppings. That was because they were immediately under roof beams on which the little buggers perch and poop, and whereas most of it came off very easily, the large splodges left by the bigger birds were much more difficult to remove.

However, after an hour or so of elbow grease, the Savannah eventually came up beautifully – possibly the cleanest it has ever been. I didn’t even have to use any detergent in the water, possibly because the dust acted as a very mild abrasive. I then removed the engine cover and checked the oil (OK) and water (needed topping up) as well as giving the engine a general check-over. No birds nests or anything else that shouldn’t have been there and all looked clean and tidy.

So then it was time to start and run the engine. In view of how long the Savannah had been sitting, I thought that its battery might have dropped to too low a level to swing the engine over. But no, it started quite normally. Despite having swung the engine over manually several times to prime the oil pressure though, it took a few moments to come up, which caused me some alarm, but then everything was perfect.

Here are some shots that I took after I’d finished the cleaning. I wanted to take them while the Savannah was outside but before I could, the only cloud in the whole of the Perigord centred itself over Malbec – over the Savannah to be precise – and began to deposit rain on it. After moving the Savannah back inside I had to leather it off again, but maybe that wasn’t a bad thing because as the rainwater was nice and clean, it came up even better and shinier than before.

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I ran the engine until it had warmed up and then switched off, meaning that after I’ve put a bit of air into its tyres (next time) the Savannah will be ready to fly. The weather forecast is pretty good for this week, so I should soon have it (and myself) back in the air. I’ll also get the X-Air out this week and do the same with it that I did with the Savannah. I topped up the Savannah’s tanks with about 12 litres of fuel and the X-Air’s with 20 litres, so if the X-Air’s battery has also stayed sufficiently charged, both aircraft will be ready to go. And I can’t wait to do it!

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