Scottish Scenery

Just a few photos to keep us going during the winter months. No idea where this first one was taken…Perthshire somewhere I think.

This is looking north up Loch Lomond. There’s a nudist colony on the island in the foreground, allegedly

The bridge at Ballachulish, between Oban and Fort William…

The town of Rothesay on the Isle of Bute. The oval sports pitch on the left half way up is where we land the air ambulance helicopter to pick up patients for Glasgow.

…and finally, this is Helensburgh, on the northern shore of the Firth of Clyde. No need for a helicopter to get you to hospital from here, there’s a road

Skydemon Spaghetti

This is what it looks like on the Skydemon trace when you get airborne with no real purpose and just float about looking at things, also known as going for a “bimble” – it’s a very relaxing to spend an afternoon. No plan, no deadline, no pressure…

Obviously you don’t switch off totally, it’s bad form and considered ungentlemanly to bump into another aircraft, but as Richard Bach says “The sky is a great place to go and not think”.

Plus you get too see some cool sights…

Here’s the Blairgowrie and Rosemount Championship Golf Course (recently home to the Junior Ryder Cup). Or in aviation terms – a waste of a good grass airstrip.

This next one is Murthly. In the summer when the level of the Tay drops various sandbanks get exposed. We once landed the air ambulance helicopter on one to rescue a swimmer who was half drowned. Even got nominated for an award. Didn’t win.

And finally, Griffin Windfarm near Aberfeldy. Eagle eyed readers will notice that this couldn’t have been taken on the flight logged above. It was another from the works helicopter. These wind farms used to be quite good navigational features, but nowadays there are so many of them. We’re looking forward to flying across northern Germany, Denmark and Sweden where we’ll be able to see hundreds in one sweeping view…

Winter Flying

Cold, clear skies and an aircraft heater that works. Heaven. Some great views to be had during the winter. There are folk who put their aircraft away and tinker on it over the winter, preferring to fly when it’s warm and sunny. Obviously at work we fly all year round, and on days off if it’s not foggy, icy, snowing, windy or low cloud we also like to get airborne in the Sting.

Over the Ochill Hills looking towards Loch Leven and the Lomond Hills

Overhead Glenshee Ski Centre (spot the wing!)

Looking towards the Ochills from the south

Winter Aerial Sightseeing

And finally, it’s all very nice up there but it pays to keep a close eye on the weather. When a snow storm like this is bearing down on you, it’s time to head back to the barn.

Avionics Airtest

It’s done! The new Trig TY96 8.33 spacing radio has passed the airborne check with flying (ha) colours, so the aircraft is ready for the change in requirements coming at the end of 2017. The radio is excellent and has some really cool features including the play button to replay the last received transmission. Saves having to clutter up the airwaves with “say again?”

The paperwork has been sent off to Engineering at the Light Aviation Association and we’re waiting for the avionics approval to come back. The airtest also tested the transponder and altitude encoder so it involved heading down towards Edinburgh and getting help from ATC.

Trig Avionics is located in Edinburgh so it was good to support a local company and “shop local”

If it’s an avionics airtest then I must be a test pilot…right? Right?

(With apologies to Tom from my RAF Jet Provost course, who really IS a test pilot)

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to my readers! Both of you. As a present, here’s a picture of Beith, southwest of Glasgow airport, half-in and half-out of winter fog.


…and on the Sigurd Martin / Sierra Mike front, we’ve just had the new 8.33 spacing radio fitted a whole 12 months before mandatory compliance. Just the airtest and paperwork to follow. If only the weather would oblige.

Aerial Geography Lessons

This is cool. It’s the River Isla joining the River Tay near Meikleour in Perthshire, taken after heavy rains and flooding in the Isla catchment area. The Isla is full of sediment and the Tay is clear. The distinctive two tone river continued for quite a way until the first shallow bit which mixed it all up. My friend Andy from Uni (now Professor of Physical Geography at Newcastle University) says the interface between the two flows of water shows nice Kelvin-Heimholz instabilities, but he always did talk dirty…


Everybody remember oxbow lakes from geography at skool? This is near the Balhaldie Services on the A9 between Dunblane and Gleneagles. The river flows from left to right and has broken through the neck. On closer inspection it almost looks too clinical, as if there has been a bit of man made encouragement, maybe a digger.


No digger for this one. This is the Lairig Ghru, one of the mountain passes in the Cairngorms. Gouged out by ice. Lots of ice…


This almost vertical shot (iPad mini again) was from the works helicopter, not G-CESM. Next is Devils Point at the southern entrance to the Lairig Ghru


Here’s a random Scottish hill:


Regular drivers of the M90 might recognise the hill. It’s south of Kinross (the motorway was directly under the aircraft at this point). Loch Leven is in the background with Portmoak gliding airfield just beyond.

Despite what Professor Andy says, geography isn’t just landforms and erosion and Kelvin-Heimholz instabilities. This tank farm is part of the industrial geography landscape. Etc etc. I just like the picture…


And finally, the snows have arrived and the ski centres are opening. We hopped in the Sting and with the excuse of needing to check out the heater, got airborne and headed north from Perth. Got to overhead the Glenshee Ski Area and then routed home via Pitlochry and Dunkeld. Sierra Mike / Sigurd Martin has now flown over 200hours (about 12 with me at the controls). The heater worked fine.


The Eindecker Flies Again!

Bloody freezing! That’s what it’s like flying on open cockpit Fokker E-111 Eindecker replica in the winter skies of Scotland.

She gave up her space in the hangar for the Sting and then spent 5 months in a 20ft shipping container, but we were recently informed that there was hangar space again so it was time to put the Eindecker back together.

Unfortunately the fork end from a turnbuckle on one of the flying wires had gone missing during one of the moves. We couldn’t find it anywhere so there was a slight delay while we tried to find another. I ended up emailing Dave Stephens (the original builder) for advice and he came up trumps, telling me which bit to get and where to get it (a yacht chandlery in Essex!)

So after rerigging, tensioning the wires, connecting the ailerons, charging the battery, checking the oil, a ground run and refitting the cowling it was finally time for the Eindecker to fly again…on the coldest day of the year so far.

It was cold. So cold that I had to land after 15 minutes, drag the Sting out and go flying for another 25 minutes with the heater on full blast. This video was made last year, but gives you some idea. Lots of headroom but the cockpit heating leaves a lot to be desired…


A Tale of Two Captains

It’s November, and it seems that all airline captains whose first name starts with “D” can expect to retire in November. I know of three this month, so it must be true.

Duncan and Dave and Danny all retired this month, but then again so did Iain and Paul, so maybe the November “D” thing isn’t a hard and fast rule…

Captain Dave Dickie of Thomson Airways (formerly First Choice, formerly Air2000) and I spent many an hour in 757s and 767s trogging backwards and forwards over Europe and the Atlantic taking holidaymakers to and fro. We first met at Loganair in the 80’s when he was on the shed (Shorts 360) and I was a lowly Pilot’s Assistant on the Twin Otter (flying with the aforementioned retiree Iain).


Photo: Capt Peter McC

Capt Danny Linkous and I have never flown together, but we have met. A former USAF F4 Phantom pilot, he flew for Piedmont and US Airways. Living in North Carolina, he flies light aircraft for fun and lives on an airpark where his Chipmunk is kept in a hangar about 15 seconds walk from the house.

We met when he and his wife Diane came to Perth Airport in Scotland to look at the replica P47 Thunderbolt I owned ( see ). Because he was the one who built it! He got to sit in the cockpit and tell stories. At the end of the visit I gave him a Spitfire book and he gave me a dodgy brown envelope full of photos and articles and other stuff about N47DL, as it was originally registered in the US.


A long and happy retirement to both Dave and Danny, and of course the others not pictured – Duncan, Iain and Paul.


Aerial Archaeology

Most people think that Hadrian’s Wall is the high-water mark of the Roman Empire in Britain. But there are lots of old roman sites much further north in Scotland.

Just a few hundred metres from Cumbernauld airfield is the Antonine Wall, and even further north there are several sites of old forts and signal towers.

Ardoch is at Braco, off the A9 on the road to Crieff. It’s the earthwork remains of a fortified camp, and looks fantastic from above, especially in winter with low sun and long shadows.


From a much more modern era is this site at Ardyne Point opposite Rothesay, one of the many construction sites for the Mulberry Harbour pontoons used to turn D-day beaches into working ports


Not all land based, This is the “Sugar Ship” in the Clyde, which was deliberately run aground after starting to take on water. It’s been there since 1974. See for more…


And finally… If you have lots of spare cash lying around and fancy living in a genuine (converted) WW2 Royal Air Force control tower have a look at this. Sadly it’s surrounded by the rest of the development. It’s at Clathymore on the former airfield at Findo Gask, west of Perth, and is surrounded by mud in the photo below…


More details from – but they don’t mention a price!