The Warmth of Achievement

A trio of February flights in cold, clear, still weather. In fact there was no wind, perfect for the Eindecker but it would have been far too cold for the pilot…

Here’s the Sting using the power of the sun to warm up on the grass. Refuelling is by jerrycan but the aircraft has to be on the grass. Any spillages on the tarmac dissolve the stuff and are frowned upon. Because of this, we usually push the aircraft out of the hangar, then start the engine and taxi onto the grass. It also helps to warm the engine, making starting a lot easier when we actually do go flying.

Making our way down runway 09 to the grass runway 33. Normally at this time of year the grass runway is waterlogged and unusable, but with freezing temperatures after a dry spell it’s now just hard. Perfectly usable.

The Skydemon trace of the trip up to the hills:

The view north from the edge of the hills. There’s another aircraft somewhere in this picture. Click on the picture to view the big version and see if you can spot it…a head-to-head competition between both my readers!

Snow coverage was patchy. Here we are east of Kirriemuir. The industrial complex within the woods in the centre of the picture is what’s known in the trade as a GVS. It stands for gas venting station and this has an avoid area around it up to 2900 feet. On occasions the pipelines need to be vented for maintenance or cleaning and when they do a column of high pressure natural gas comes up into the atmosphere. It doesn’t happen very often but when it does you don’t want to be flying through the plume. Engines and humans don’t run very well when there’s no oxygen to breathe, so it’s best to keep away…

Winter flying is great. The aircraft and engine perform better in the cold air. By the time we got back to Perth the snow was mostly melted, apart from in the shadow of the hangar. The Tiger Moth was just going up for a jaunt – that must have been COLD. Not taking the Eindecker was a good decision.

Clear and dry the next day, with a bit more snow overnight. Time for a trip over Fife…

The trace of the flight: east from Perth around the north of Dundee with more snow on the ground…

The turning point at Monikie Reservoir was really hard to make out. It turns out that frozen water with snow on top looks just like a field from 4000 ft.

Snow on the Sidlaw hills:

Dundee from 4000ft:

Once into Fife there was a distinct line on the ground where the snow finished. No gentle change, one field had snow and the next was clear. This next wing view shows the former Naval Air Station at Crail on the tip of Fife. It was known as HMS Jackdaw, and is acknowledged as the best preserved abandoned military airfield in Scotland. You can still land there, but one of the old runways is now a drag racing strip.

By now we were down to 3500 ft, and with the power settings just right were getting 120 kts indicated air speed:

Once back at Perth it was starting to cloud over. The forecast for the next 48 hours was pretty dire, precluding any thought of aviating. My run of flying every day in February lasted for just two days.

I love putting the aircraft away in the hangar after a winter flight. The engine is still warm as you put the covers on. It’s a different type of warmth. Sure it’s just molecules vibrating at higher frequencies because they have more energy, but it feels totally different from putting your hand on a warm heater. The difference is that the heat is a slowly dissipating memory of when the engine was working, powering the aircraft through the sky, giving the occupants unique memories of their own, having defied gravity one more time. I call it “The warmth of achievement” – I quite like the term.

On the 5th the weather cleared enough for a quick trip round the local area:

And we even managed to get 125 knots, although looking at the Skydemon altitude trace above the speed might have had a little bit of a gravity assist – not defying gravity 100% but just like NASA, using the gravity well of a planet to add energy. Does that make me an astronaut? Space cadet more like.

125 knots is pretty good on 100 horsepower. But as we said after the Sweden trip more speed, more baggage space and an autopilot would be handy.

We have recently returned from Dublin where we looked at, inspected and flew such a machine. Which was for sale.

More news soon! Watch this space…