I’ve just downed my last microwave dinner (Chinese style sweet and sour chicken and egg fried rice) which was OK actually. The best of all the Asda supermarkets microwave dinners – I know, as I’ve tried them all. The evening outside is lovely. The howling wind that we’ve had to live with, non-stop day after day for nearly two weeks has dropped to practically nothing and I’ve had to open the caravan windows and doors as I type this as it’s so hot inside.

I wish the wind had dropped earlier this afternoon when I took 24ZN for its final air test. I’d been unable to do so before, after doing the work on its ignition stator, and although I’d done a ground run, which indicated that all was back to normal, I dearly wanted to check things out in the air. After all, with a Channel crossing planned only a few minutes after I take off from Clipgate, you can’t be too careful.

The forecast said that the wind wouldn’t drop until the early hours so when it dropped sufficiently this afternoon for me to take off, I took the opportunity. Ideally I’d have preferred not to have flown because it was still pretty breezy and bumpy at altitude and although I did 25 minutes and got back down safely in the teeth of a rather nasty gusting 80 degree crosswind that was rolling over the trees, I found that the work I’d done had been successful.

There was one thing though. Previously London Information had checked 24ZN’s old 25 kHz radio as ‘readabilty 5’ after I’d fiddled with the volume and squelch and the signal I heard in my headphones was pretty good. Now, although I could hear stations adequately, but not well, I was being dogged by a loud buzzing that rose and fell with the Xair’s engine.

This is invariably a sign of a simple ignition problem eg a bad HT lead, and indeed I’d checked them previously and found that one pulled easily out of its Ducati ignition unit and had an inner that looked burnt. This is a sign of arcing and although I’d intended to replace all the plug leads when I got to France, I thought that it would be better to do that particular one now.

So when I popped out to get a drop more fuel, of which more in a moment, to top up my jerrican after topping up the tanks when I’d landed, I also picked up some HT lead from a motorbike store which is just down the road on the way to Dover. And I’m delighted to say that it has 99% cured the problem, which is a relief as I’ll have to used the radio when I’m approaching the airfields in France where I’ll be landing.

And finally, the fuel angle. I was a bit worried while 24ZN was suffering from its stator problem because of the rate at which it was using fuel. 7 or 8 litres in the 20 minutes that it took to get back to Clipgate after running out the other day, or something like 20-24 litres/hour, would not only have thrown my fuel calculations for the flight into disarray, it would have meant a complete re-think as they were based on the much more usual 582 Xair figure of 15 litres/hour.

I’m glad to say that after my 25 minute afternoon check flight, despite being somewhat battered by the wind with revs and altitude rising and falling all the time, it only needed 7 litres to top the jerrican back up again, which compares perfectly to the 15 litres/hour figure that I’ve assumed.

So now I’ve got to load the two jerricans and as much else as I can this evening into the Xair, mount a couple of video recorders as I want to record the flight out of Clipgate to Calais, check that my phone and the GPS I’ll be using for navigation are charged up and see about turning in early for a good night’s sleep, because tomorrow at around 7.00am it’ll be get set and go in quick succession and the Xair’s flight to its new home will have begun. Can’t wait 😉

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