Also known as “Engine Health (2)” – this time it was the Cub’s turn. It can be a bit of a pain as the aircraft is tucked away in the hangar behind a Cessna 182 which takes a bit of muscle power to move out of the way:

Fortunately there were a few others at the hangar that day and we helped each other wheel our aircraft out onto the icy apron. It was so cold that Robert had a hairdryer in the RV9A’s engine compartment to pre-warm the oil; I had refitted the Cub’s battery after charging at home in order to have as much power as possible to help get the engine started.

The Cub came out with its nose in the air, almost like it was saying “This is nothing, you should have seen winter ’44! Let’s go!” – but then it was reluctant to start. Eventually after a secret combination of primer, mixture setting and throttle position I got it started. I say secret because I have forgotten what I did, and I’ll have to experiment all over again next time. Maybe I’ll just put a hair dryer in the engine compartment to pre-warm the engine? It worked for Robert.

Soon we were off and heading northwest to follow the A9 for a bit:

In the lower parts of Perthshire there was not too much snow lying around:

But the further north we travelled the whiter the ground became…

Northwest of Bankfoot there was some low cloud around. It felt a bit like that scene from “The Battle of the Bulge” movie where the spotter aircraft was looking for enemy forces in the fog. No Tigers spotted here:

What unseen enemy forces lurk in this little Belgian village? Are those tank tracks coming out towards the woods?

Vehicle tracks and shell craters in this field?

Since we didn’t see any enemy, we flew up the A9 to the Dalguise area before turning back southwards. For the non-aviators reading this, IFR should stand for Instrument Flight Rules, like airliners way up high, using beacons, waypoints and designated routes to get where they are going under the watchful eye of Air Traffic Control.

In the case of the Cub, IFR stands for I Follow Railways. Here we are following the Inverness to Perth line, with the A9 trunk road and the River Tay running along the valley as well.

IFR = I Follow Roads / Rivers / Railways (delete as applicable)

That old IFR joke has been around since Pontius was a pilot. So has the Pontius one…

Here’s Dunkeld from the north:

After Dunkeld we wandered all over the countryside with the window open taking photos. There will be another picture post soon with the best of those.

After 50 minutes the weather was slowly starting to deteriorate so it was time to head back to the barn…

Engine run and oil warmed up, photos taken and pilot frozen…mission accomplished!

Can’t wait for more normal times and warmer weather and longer adventures. In the meantime, we can dream. The Buck brothers flew a Cub all the way from New Jersey to California when they were 17 and 15 – Flight of Passage is the story of that trip, and much more.

A great book…well worth a read.

Engine Health

Lockdown again. Not much flying going on outside of work, but engine health flights are still classed as essential so every four weeks I can go for a blast. The purpose is to get the oil temperature up to the range where any water condensation inside the engine is well and truly boiled off. If left to fester, the water can start an unseen corrosion process inside the crankcase. This is obviously not a good thing.

A ground run won’t cut it; The best way to get the oil temperature up is to go flying. The Cub’s fuel tank was more or less empty but the RV6 still had 45 litres of fuel onboard, so we went for a zoom around at 140kt…

Routing south from Perth following the M90 motorway through the hills towards Loch Leven, just visible in the distance:

There were a few other aircraft about, all doing the same thing. The traffic display on Skydemon showed one ahead of us descending into Balado airfield. If it had been closer it would have shown on the dark traffic screen bottom right as well as on the map:

There was a target for the flight. Renowned aircraft photographer Wallace had been stuck at home and was going stir crazy, resorting to taking photos of high flying cargo planes with a very long lens. I thought I would go and orbit his house and give him something different to shoot. He lives in among the houses at the T-junction top right of the photo:

Here’s the Skydemon trace imported into Google Earth in 3D. One orbit of the target before climbing away and heading back towards Perth.

This Google Earth 3D trace has become my new toy. It’s fascinating to go back through the logs and see what we did. It’s accurate enough to show the route of the works helicopter vacating the runway and following the taxiway before landing on the helipad.

We scrutinised the logs for the 2018 Sweden trip and were able to see the point where I vigorously manoeuvred the aircraft to avoid conflicting traffic. This really close threat turned out to be a Luftwaffe Transall transport aircraft about five miles off. Plenty of time for us to get out of the way. The “smartly executed deconfliction manoeuvre” shows as a little kink in the trace.

After Wallace’s house we flew back towards the airfield, passing to the west of the field…

…before coming back in for an overhead rejoin. Here you can see the trace coming in from the top of the picture at 2000ft, then descending to 1000ft on the dead side to the south of runway 27 and joining the circuit on crosswind. Downwind at 1000ft before descending on base leg and final to land. The bit going left is the take off from earlier:

So, the engine had a good run and the pilot had a good workout. The landing was acceptable too. I think flying the Cub has honed my tail wheel skills.

Wallace missed the flypast, but the RV grin is back. We’ll count that one as a success:

Later at home, I was thinking about the Google 3D thing, and had a look at the Christmas tree effort on 24 Dec which came out all wrong on FlightRadar. It’s awesome in 3D…

Flushed with success, plans are afoot. The Easter Bunny is next….