Replica Fighters … why?

What is it about replica fighters? My first aircraft was a WAR P-47 Thunderbolt replica, powered by a 100hp Continental o-200 engine. It was small, cramped, sometimes tricky to land and GREAT FUN!
p47When I (temporarily) lost my medical in 2006 I sold the aircraft and the new owner found it a bit of a handful at his small grass strip. He quite quickly arranged to sell it on. Unfortunately on the day before the delivery flight to the next owner, the aircraft was flown to a nearby airfield to refuel and on landing back at the strip, in his own words – “I had just started to open the throttle to go around when the hedge jumped up and grabbed me”

The aircraft went from 100mph to zero across the width of a minor country lane, flying through one rather springy hedge and coming to rest with the nose buried in another. Although the aircraft was written off, the pilot walked away with just a scratch.

Fast forward 10 years and I have another replica fighter. This one is slow, has unlimited headroom and is quite forgiving and benign on landing (…so far!)

Powered by a 40hp engine (Briggs and Stratton conversion), it flies at about 45mph and doesn’t go very far. It once took me 40 minutes to fly from Perth to Blairgowrie and back. That’s 10 miles.


It’s freezing in there, but great fun when wrapped up warm against the winter cold. The real WW1 pilots 100 years ago must have had anti-freeze in their veins.


I think this was taken before flight as I’m smiling…after 30 minutes of wind blast my face would be frozen solid.

The Eindecker is a toy for fun on light wind days. Here is something more meaty which has the range to go places fast.


It’s a replica of a P51 Mustang, the B model rather than the more commonly seen bubble-canopied D model. All metal construction, auto conversion engine, and built at home from a kit. It’s only about £60k…see for more details and some seriously cool videos.

I’ve already got the leather helmet…

Hangarage Fees….

When we bought the Sting we already had a hangar space, occupied by the single seat deregulated microlight Fokker E111 Eindecker replica. That had to be derigged and go into a 20ft storage container in one of the other hangars to free up the space. e111But now there is another free space and the Eindecker has clawed its way back to the top of the waiting list.

We’ll soon have two aircraft in the hangar again…and be paying two sets of hangar fees. But as the wise man once said, money which isn’t spent on flying, dining or keeping your lady happy is just wasted.

Plus I’ll get to freeze my arse off on patrol over Strelitz wood again.eindecker

Day at The Races

A wee jaunt around Perthshire and Western Fife…first flying past the new house at Wolfhill:img_0544-1

…then down the A9 to Stirling and left turn to follow the line of the hills eastwards. Here we are looking towards the Forth bridges, way off in the distance.bridges-from-afar

Continuing east we passed the Knockhill race circuit, perched on the side of a hill. Hence the name. At work we thought we would be here quite a lot, but for events like the Touring Car Championships they have their own private ambulances and medical staff on site. I’ve never landed here.

and then north back to Perth. For lunch in the “greasy spoon”…img_2106

The Wreck Of The Zephyros

The Zephyros was a greek registered freighter which dropped anchor off Tynemouth on 26 February 1947 at 0400 in a Force 8 to 9 gale. By 0600 the anchor had parted and she was adrift. By 0700 she was aground in Brown’s Bay. The full story and photos can be found at

So what’s the relevance to a carbon fibre flying machine in 2016? Well, as we flew down to Fishburn to our unplanned meeting with the scooter rally we flew down the coast past Blyth, North Shields, Tynemouth, South Shields. Brenda was taking photos with her phone. Later on, when looking at the photos, the option came up on the screen to “tag” the location…the photo below gave the options of “Tynemouth” or “The wreck of the Zephyros” – we flew over the wreck location and didn’t even know it!


Flying over the site of the wreck of the Zephyros – who knew?

Bridges, Rocks and Locks

A few more aerial photos, this time taken from the work machine. Can’t have the east coast bridges hogging all the fame so here’s the Erskine Bridge over the Clyde between Glasgow and Greenock:


Dumbarton Rock further west along the Clyde:


and the eastern end of the Crinan Canal at Ardrishaig near Lochgilphead:


The Bridges

A wee jaunt down to Edinburgh to see the bridges and the progress of the Forth Crossing. Started at Perth in beautiful sunshine as visitors began to arrive..


Then airborne and down to Falkirk to see the Falkirk Wheel (no photos this time). Edinburgh ATC very accommodating as usual with zone transit from Falkirk to the bridges and then northbound across the Forth to follow the M90 past Dunfermline to leave the zone at Kelty.


View from South Queensferry looking north. Bridges are youngest on the left, oldest on the right. From L-R – new Forth Crossing (2017?), Forth Road Bridge (1964 – same age as me!), Forth Rail Bridge (1890). It looks like there’s no room for a fourth Forth bridge…

Back to Perth passing Kinross and Bridge of Earn. To the airfield at 2000ft for an overhead join to land, noting that the slackers at work are sitting drinking coffee and not out on a job…Air Ambulance helicopter just visible parked on the light concrete apron at the base of the tower.


Fishburn – Ride to the Runway

Day out to Fishburn. If Fife Airport was Brenda’s first £40 cup of coffee, Fishburn was the first $100 hamburger, as the cousins call it. It’s a lovely little airfield south east of Durham near Tony Blair’s old constituency of Sedgefield. A grass strip with a bit of a slope on it, no air traffic control and a recently refurbished clubhouse / restaurant.

The outbound trip involved crossing the Forth from Earlsferry to North Berwick, negotiating the restricted area at Torness nuclear power station, getting past Newcastle airspace along the coast and finding a grass field in a sea of grass fields.


Southbound past Torness (just next to top left corner of iPad) Click on any picture to open the full version – in this case you can make out the cooling water outlet from the power station.


Routing southbound along the coast past North Shields towards Tynemouth


Arrival at Fishburn


New clubhouse in the distance

When we got to Fishburn, we noticed some sort of event going on. Tents and stands and marquees. And a load of scooters parked up. It turns out we had arrived in the middle of a scooter rally The 2016 “Ride to the Runway”


There was no food in the clubhouse as the event had the concession for the day, so we got some chips from the burger van and a cold drink from the bar (non-alcoholic!). The cost was kept down by the “Free Landing Fee” voucher from one of the flying magazines – we saved a tenner!

After refuel for the crew (no refuel required for the Sting), the return route was inland to the west of Newcastle airspace via Visual reference Points (VRP) of Derwent Water  and Stagshaw mast, then turning for Rothbury to see the WW1 trenches dug for training by Northumberland Fusiliers over 100 years ago in 1915.

For the aerial view see:

And for a bit more detail.

The Met forecast a front from the west and  it was looking a little bit grey on the left as we made our way to North Berwick for the Forth crossing, but where we were was good flying conditions, if maybe a little bumpy.


Northumbria coast in the distance, good weather to the east


Bass Rock and the Isle of May, viewed from the south

We landed at Perth in good weather. After 40 minutes of putting the aircraft away, tidying kit and wiping off the bugs it was raining. The front had arrived.