The £1000 Free Pen

I got a free pen! It has a stylus end for iPaddery and a little torch that comes on when you put the cap on the other end. It was handed out on Day One of the Rotax 912 Famil / Line Maintenance course run by the UK dealers CFS Aero. I thought I’d better do the factory course so that I can have a better chance of knowing what I’m doing when tinkering with the engine in the Sting. As it turns out I now have an authorisation  number and am an iRMT – independent Rotax maintenance technician. So I can even do maintenance for others, if they want. I didn’t do it for that reason, I’m just happy to know a lot more that I did before and have the confidence to maintain my engine. But most importantly – free pen!

The course ran over two days in Coventry and cost £894, so they probably can afford to be a bit generous with their pens. Adding accommodation and travel brought the price up to over £1000, but the education as well worth it.

Day one was mostly theory in the classroom and also on the cutaway engines and components which they have in abundance.

Seeing the inner workings makes understanding what’s going on inside the thing a lot easier!

Day two was mostly practical. We changed oil, changed spark plugs, removed and inspected oil filters and much more including carburettor balancing on a running engine in the test bay…in fact everything required for a 100 hour service on the engine up to and including removal of the gearbox to send away for overhaul. Here Peter from Shropshire Light Aviation in the blue shirt is asking Hans from Franz Engines (Germany) about torque settings while Dirk from Styl Aviation (Antwerp) looks like he’s checking his phone.

And this is what a Rotax 912 looks like with the gearbox removed:

It’s all very well looking at the training engines on their stands with all round access and half the systems removed, but now I have to put the knowledge to use and service this baby…

Wish me luck! But first, I have to buy loads of tools


Friends In High Places

Perth. Taken from the Captain’s seat of a British Airways Airbus on its way to Aberdeen from Heathrow. Captain Mike was on my RAF Jet Provost course (along with test pilot Tom already mentioned).

I flew SM that day and have scoured the photo to see any sign of white pixels in the shape of a Sting…sadly not.

First Flight Of March

Photo taken by the BMAA’s roving reporter Paul, who used to have a share in the Eindecker when it was based at Eshott in Northumbria. I was just about to get airborne for a quick local flight when he arrived at Perth in his shared Eurostar.

It looks as if there’s not much room – in fact I’m leaning in to monitor the engine instruments as the oil temperature warmed up. There’s loads of headroom.

The aircraft is a Sting, built from a kit manufactured by TL Ultralight in the Czech Republic. Pilot magazine’s flight test of a similar aircraft can be read at:



Caution: Naval Content

Just for Uncle Johnny…some warships on the Clyde.

This first one was making its way out of Faslane. Not sure if it’s an RN one or not. It had disappeared beneath the waves when we were on the return journey.

This next one is quite sad. This is HMS Ark Royal, which was decommissioned in 2011. I seem to remember this was her last visit to the Clyde before the end, which is why we went up specially to take photos.

Ark Royal from another angle, showing Merlin helicopters and Harriers arranged on the flight deck in an eye pleasing manner. Definitely a PR visit rather than operational.

Looking up Gareloch to HMNB Clyde, the submarine base more commonly known as Faslane. We’re not allowed any closer, as it has its own restricted airspace.

One of Faslane’s residents proceeds along the channel in the Clyde after departing Faslane (“Slipping and proceeding” in Navyspeak). Off to who knows where…

More soon…

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)