50 Hour Inspection

The Cub was recently in with the engineers for a 50 hour inspection…

…so it was time to break out the RV6 and get airborne on a rather soggy day. We flew northeast from Perth and found a patch where the sun was trying to peek through:

Montrose Harbour:

After turning at Montrose I spotted this grass airstrip which I had never seen before. They are everywhere if you just look for them…

The patch of sunlight hadn’t moved too far when we passed it again:

Back towards the airfield, there was quite a bit of low cloud around:

Blairgowrie is under all that cloud…

A quick look at Blairgowrie and Rosemount Golf Club before heading back to base to land:

The next day, the Cub went from this:

To this:

So it was time to put some fuel in and go for a gentle cruise around the Perthshire countryside on a nice sunny day

The thing about the Cub is that unless you have a plan to actually get somewhere, it is very easy to just potter around the countryside using those huge windows to inspect anything interesting on the ground. Here’s the Skydemon trace of the flight:

We tootled around at about 1000ft looking at shapes and colours on the ground, occasionally circling back to get a better angle for a photograph. Here are some of the better ones:

Lovely autumn colours in the low sun:

The northern limit of our travels that day. Dunkeld – it’s only about 10 miles from Perth Airport:

The bridge over the River Tay at Caputh, taken on our way back towards the airfield:

On landing I had an email from the engineers with an invoice attached. As I like to say in justification – “It’s all part of being custodian of a piece of history.”

And it is worth it.

Cub Trip Across The USA

by Danny Linkous, guest contributor

Danny is the original builder of the replica P47 that I owned about 15 years ago, and we have kept in touch. He’s a former USAF F-4 Phantom pilot who moved to the airlines. Recently retired as a 767 Captain, he was still flying big jets as a delivery pilot for JetBlue before the downturn. He and wife Diane fly a Chipmunk from their home on an airpark in North Carolina.

A few weeks ago Danny got an offer he couldn’t refuse. He takes up the story:

About two weeks ago, I got a call from a guy who had just bought a 1940 Piper J-3C Cub.  The airplane was located at the Conroe, TX airport, just north of Houston.  The guy asked if I’d be interested in flying it to his home on an airpark about 15 miles north of where I live.  I decided to do it.  I mean, a flying job’s a flying job, right?

I plotted out a course on ForeFlight:

I packed everything I thought I would need, then took an American Airlines flight to Houston on the morning of the 19th.  I Uber-ed to the airport in Conroe. I inspected the plane, finding a couple things I was concerned about.  A visit by two very friendly mechanics put my mind at ease, so I rolled the airplane out to start it and check out the engine. I quickly rolled it back in the hangar as the weather had other plans…the sky opened up in typical Texas thunderstorm fashion:

About 90 minutes later, the weather had abated and I began my journey.  I was hoping to average about 65 knots.  Winds are predominantly southwesterly, but for some reason, I had a headwind every day.  My average ground speed was about 55 knots. But the weather was absolutely beautiful, so I counted my blessings and kept droning on to the northeast.

I was only able to fly one leg that first day, spending the night in Jasper, TX.  I met some very nice people there (and a couple of nice dogs), including Sully, a 4 month old Black Mouth Cur:

Departure was delayed on day two due to fog.  After it burned off, I launched and flew three legs, winding up in Jackson, Mississippi for the night.

I crossed the Mississippi River at Vicksburg, Mississippi:

Day three, I was able to fly four legs.  The weather remained beautiful.  The headwinds remained consistent.  But the flatlands I had been flying over were behind me and mountains, beautiful mountains, were now on the route.

I spent the last night of the trip in Cartersville, GA, just north of Atlanta.  My goal was to fly to Toccoa, GA leaving early the next morning.  I got to the airport before sunrise and prepared for what I hoped was the last day of the journey:

My original routing had to be modified because it was going to take me two+ hours to fly some of those longer legs (130 miles) with the ground speed I was getting.  Toccoa weather was good, so I launched to find my groundspeed was 45 knots and the ridges were obscured.  After flying about 20 miles, I diverted into Cherokee airport and waited for conditions to improve.  

After about a 90 minute delay, I took off again and was happy to see that my ground speed was now about 50-52 knots (I never thought I’d be happy about 52 knots of ground speed!).  A couple of fuel stops later and I delivered the airplane to its owner at Marchmont Airpark in Advance, NC.  His house is the last one on the right side of the runway:

It’s kind of ironic that about two weeks before the Cub trip I attended a 5-day JetBlue A320 recurrent training class.  I was re-qualified as an A320 captain and then put that training to use to fly a Piper Cub half way across the United States!  There is no JetBlue flying in my immediate future, unfortunately, but the company wants to keep the delivery group pilots qualified in case things turn around.

It was quite a little adventure, four days/12 legs/17.8 hours of flight time.

The Cub had a wind-driven alternator mounted between the landing gear struts.  It provided power to the cockpit mounted hand-held radio (the antenna mounted over the cockpit), a Garmin 396 GPS (which I didn’t use as I had my iPad with Foreflight installed) and a USB port to plug Apple devices into.  The electric system worked flawlessly during the whole trip.  

There was no starter.  Getting underway always included “flicking the screw”, as they say in the UK.  If anyone was around, I enlisted their help, either “flicking” or manning the mag switch while I “flicked”.  Several times I was alone, so I either chocked the airplane or tied the tail down and did a solo start.

Actually it was 13 legs, not 12.  I forgot to include the early morning divert leg in the total.  When I think that I flew only (only?!?) 13 legs and 17.8 hours of flying time, I think it just HAD to have been more than that.  There were times during the trip that it certainly FELT like I was doing more than that!

Would I do it again?  Well, of course!

Autumn Aerial Photos

More aerial photos from the Cub through the open window. An experiment with the longer lens. It does allow getting a lot closer to the action but even with a high shutter speed camera shake can be a problem, especially if the end of the lens is sticking out into the airflow. A lot of photos were discarded…these are some of the survivors:

More experimentation required. It looks like we’ll have to go flying again before it gets too cold to have the window open!

Three in One

Three aircraft in one day! That was the plan, we have to take advantage of good weather when we can. This is Scotland after all. First was a blast around in the RV6, over to Crianlarich, Rannoch Moor, Loch Tay, Glenshee and back to Perth… 1.3 hours.

Then we pulled the Cub out and refuelled:

Brenda’s first flight in the Cub was for 0.6hrs up to the strip at Kirriemuir, mostly at lowish level:

Enjoying the views:

At Kirriemuir we bumped into some of the RV gang who had been to Oban for lunch:

The Cub looks right at home on the grass. As well as Brenda’s first Cub flight it was my first grass landing in the aircraft. Got high and had to go around but the second attempt worked OK.

I tried to make the photo look old by filtering it on the computer, but it just looks like a monochrome modern picture:

On the way back to Perth (0.4hrs), Chris and Ian in the RV6A managed to snap this shot as they sped past:

I ran it through what I call the “olderizer” at http://labs.wnakoto.jp/olds – this fades it, monochromes it and adds a few blemishes as well. The result is much more realistic. Unless you notice the wind turbines in the background, but they could be smoke I suppose…

Finally a quick after-hours blast in the Eindecker Replica. 0.6hrs flown. (Photo by Wallace Shackleton as usual)

Just under 3 hours flown in 3 different aircraft in 1 day in glorious weather. A great day. Hoping for more days like this…maybe not with all three aircraft though, I was nackered!

Aerial Photography

Some shots from a recent flight in the Cub with the windows open. No captions, just patterns and shapes in the Strathmore countryside to the northeast of Perth:

The Cub is a great platform for photography, as you would expect from a military spotter plane. This one is more in keeping with the role – no enemy seen at the bridge:

I love the Cub, even though I am still frozen!

Life In The Slow Lane

It’s official.

I have just picked up India Yankee, the 1943 L4 Cub.

The aircraft was at Church Fenton/ Leeds East, and a bit of logistical planning was required. Brenda was bribed with the promise of a night in a hotel and the use of the car the next day to visit daughter Ellie and newborn Arthur, so I now had a lift down and the added bonus of space for any extras to come back.

After the formalities and with a full main tank and a full auxiliary tank it was time to set off northwards. I had planned a fuel stop at the halfway point – the delightful Northumbrian airfield of Eshott. It is a sign of the aircraft’s slow speed and the headwind on the day that Brenda was able to drive to Eshott and be there to meet me on landing. With snacks.

The route was north from Church Fenton, passing east of York and over the North York Moors to the coast at Redcar, then following the coast all the way past Hartlepool, Sunderland, South Shields, North Shields and Blyth before turning inland for Eshott.

The high wing and copious amounts of clear perspex make for good views, especially as I kept the height down as much as possible to get out of the teeth of the wind:

Cruising speed was 80mph, which is about 70 knots, and with a 30 knot headwind at times the groundspeed was down to 40. I could feel myself going grey. At one point passing Teeside I was convinced I was getting overtaken by an oil tanker on its way up the coast…

The wire fuel gauge seemed to go down really quickly, and I was thinking I would have to divert to Fishburn for fuel if I couldn’t transfer the auxiliary fuel from the wing tank into the main. Happily on opening the fuel valve the level in the wing went down and the wire in the main started to rise again until it was almost full. Loads of fuel! Panic over.

Eshott was windy, but straight down the runway so the landing was acceptable. I taxied up to the fuel truck and shut down one hour and fifty minutes after leaving Church Fenton. The airfield was quiet and it took some time to find a refueller but eventually the “almost empty” tanks took a grand total of 42 litres. Both tanks full is just under 80 so I had almost half the fuel left!

We took off again, the Cub and I, from Eshott and set course northwest. Now we were straight into wind and it took ages for the shadow to cross each field:

Eventually the coast of East Lothian crawled into view and we set off across the Firth of Forth towards Fife. Height by now was a little higher to give more options in the event of a problem. The auxiliary fuel transferred as advertised once again and endurance was no longer a concern.

Passing a rig off Kirkcaldy the wind shadow gives an idea of the strength of the wind:

Finally back over dry land at Leven. Onto the home stretch now…

Crossing the flat part in the middle of Fife near Ladybank:

And finally into the traffic pattern at Perth, an OK landing and taxied up to shut down at the work hangar, causing a bit of excitement:

Home at last…

After almost four hours of flying I wasn’t in the mood to wrestle the aircraft into its new spot in the aero club hangar, so we put it at the back of the work hangar. Total and utter coincidence that the “CUB” lettering is the right way up:

Next day I moved the aircraft into its new home, but not without going for a wee flight first:

Proving once again that it is a great little spotter plane. Awesome views from low level:

And finally into the new hangar spot. Eindecker and Cub back-to-back:

Sigurd Martin now stands for “Speed Machine” if it’s the RV6, or “Slow Machine” if it’s the Eindecker or Cub.

A couple of days later at work I rediscovered the excellent Mountain Weather Information Service website at http://www.mwis.org.uk – their simplified chart for the day of the ferry flight looked like this:

If I had seen the word “gale” before setting off I probably would have left the aircraft in the hangar!

That Escalated Quickly…

The “Panic Buying” post on 2nd April concluded with the line:

I think I’m going to wish for a Piper Cub. J3 or L4. Either is fine

Then in “That Was Quick!” on 1 May I told you how my 1:48 scale model L4 Cub had arrived as a present (Thank you Ian). It’s now in the throes of construction:

Then on 24 May, in “Inspection Time At Last”, I wandered off on a tangent, got distracted and HEY LOOK A BUTTERFLY. Sorry, I wandered off on a tangent, got distracted and mentioned that I had come across a REAL live ex-USAAF World War 2 L4 Cub for sale. Came to the conclusion that it would be cool to own, but three aeroplanes might be a bit too much…and yet, the quote was:

I cannot promise to not go and inspect the Cub when lockdown eases!

Guess what? Lockdown eased and I didn’t go to inspect the aircraft. And then I got an email from the VPAC – Vintage Piper Aircraft Club (I’ve been a member for years).

The email was to advertise another L4 Cub for sale. So now it might be worth a wee trip to have a look. I got in touch with the owner and found out that the aircraft was based at Leeds East Airport, our old friend formerly known as RAF Church Fenton (See trip report in the Sting at http://www.sigurdmartin.se/2018/05/04/return-2-church-fenton/ ) and with the other L4 being based at Blackpool just over 2 hours away from there a road trip to view both was in order.

I packed away my L4 inspection kit: overalls, face mask, hand sanitiser, inspection mirror on a stalk, notebook and pen, torch, another torch, headtorch, spare batteries, spare pencil and midge net. The midge net was a mistake, I just grabbed the spare battery pouch from my work flying suit pocket and the midge net came along for the ride. All this stuff was packed in the authentic looking replica holdall which we bought at the D-Day Experience museum at “Dead Mans Corner” in St-Côme-du-Mont near Utah Beach. ( https://dday-experience.com/en/ ).

Always knew it would be useful one day…

Road Trip Day One was driving down to a hotel near Selby, ready for an early start the next day, to the old Jet Provost hangar at Church Fenton. First impression was: WOW

The aircraft is almost museum quality (don’t tell the D-Day Experience folk or they will want it). It turns out that the aircraft had a full rebuild in 2013, after being imported from Switzerland. The paintwork, fittings, cables and perspex were almost immaculate:

Inside is evidence of a (very non standard) electrical system, powering the lights, radio, transponder and engine starter.

The aircraft has a documented history with 79th Infantry Division of the US Army, and would have come ashore on Utah Beach between 12 and 14 June 1944, about a week after D-Day. It may even have flown over, but in the early days of the Battle of Normandy most came off the beach in “Deuce and a Half” trucks and had to be reassembled in the field, so that’s more likely.

The paint scheme reflects the Normandy period, with the black and white invasion conspicuity markings on the wings and fuselage. I did read once that the hurried application of these stripes only a few days before D-Day exhausted the UK’s entire stock of white paint! There are also a couple of modern 79th Inf Div stickers:

After the war in Europe was over, a large number of these aircraft were handed over to civilian flying clubs and organisations. It was much easier to sell them in Europe rather than boxing them up and shipping them back to the US. This particular example ended up in Switzerland and even operated on skis, performing the first ever landing on a glacier whose name escapes me. There are several Swiss modifications to the aircraft, including the attachment points for the bungee cords which keep the front tips of the skis up in flight. Digging in the front of a ski high up on a mountain glacier is not to be recommended! Another Swiss mod is the line of attachment holes on the cowling for an extra heat muff wrapped round the exhaust, but the best one is the vertical speed indicator.

At some point they put in a VSI (the original didn’t have one), and this new one has markings in German! So, a Battle of Normandy veteran with a German instrument marked “Steigt” und “Sinkt” – and not marked in our usual units of feet per minute either, this one is marked in metres per second. Easy enough as 1 metre per second is roughly 200 feet per minute, so the 5 m/s mark is more or less equivalent to 1000fpm.

Using metres per second for vertical speed is quite common in the gliding world, so this might point to use as a glider tug. Maybe they used a glider instrument when they decided they wanted a VSI in the aircraft?

After a good poke around, Dick the owner offered to take me up for a quick flight. We pulled the aircraft out onto the apron, where it looked right at home next to the military hangar:

I squeezed into the front seat. For weight and balance considerations the pilot in command sits in the back, so I blocked Dick’s view of almost all the instruments. I had a good view on the quite complex fuel gauge. It’s basically a float which follows the top of the fuel down, and the wire disappears. No wire left = no fuel left. So simple.

The view was excellent, as you’d expect from a spotter plane designed to see things on the ground:

And because of the large areas of perspex the view straight down was spectacular. Piper added lots of extra window area to the L4 compared with the predominantly yellow civilian J3 Cub on which it was based. They called it “extra fenestration” – good to see that big company jargon has been around a lot longer that I thought and is not an invention of our generation!

The wheel shot also shows the upgraded brake system, always useful.

After landing it was off to the “Fenton Feeder” for a bacon roll and coffee and to swap war stories. Dick is a former RAF pilot too. I did remember to ask some questions about the aircraft. And then, hit the road over to Chorley in Lancs for my overnight accommodation ready for Blackpool Airport the next day.

The second Cub for sale lives in Hangar 42, which is the home of the Lytham St Annes Spitfire Ground Display Team and their small museum. It looked well worth a visit but I was concentrating on the Cub. No invasion markings on this one, and the code D-MF is made up. It stands for Dunkeswell Mudville Flyers, which was the flying group that previously owned the aircraft. Eagle eyed readers will spot that the Mudville Flyers cartoon logo has gone from the engine cowling. Scroll back up and check the second picture to see the Jiminy Cricket logo. Now check this one:

This L4 is very nice too, but with some “slightly tired” bits compared with the first Cub, which is a little unfair as the first one is only 7 years out of a full rebuild. Both aircraft are airworthy and ready to go, but this one has the original brakes and a 65HP engine as opposed to 90HP in the first one. Also this one has no engine driven electrical system – the radio is driven off a battery which is under the pilots seat and would need recharging every so often.

Most of the time inspecting these aircraft is spent lying on a cold hangar floor:

But it’s worth a sore back to have a good check of everything. Either Cub would do, but the first one is in very good condition. I’m going back down for a second visit to scrutinise the logbooks, look at a few things I forgot last time and then, if all is in order…

First Flight In The P47 Replica

(From the archive – this originally appeared in the Scottish Aero Club’s newsletter, back in the day when it was on real paper)

I have no idea how it must feel to make the first flight on an aircraft that you have personally built – I bought because I wanted to fly and couldn’t really see myself slaving over a hot workbench for years. In a sense it was just a new aircraft type for me, albeit very different from anything I had flown before. I found I was able to, in words of Zen Master, “Keep mind like calm water and detach from outcome” 

Which was just as well because I broke all the rules on the first flight…you know them. The rules that say 

1) If you are flying from an unfamiliar airfield for the first time, make sure it is in an aircraft with which you are familiar 

2) If you are flying an unfamiliar type for the first time, do it from a familiar airfield 

3) Get a thorough checkout is a similar aircraft type 

4) Choose a good weather day 

5) Have a definite “First Flight” test plan 

etc 

I started off by putting myself under pressure…I had owned the aircraft for 6 months before the first flight and wanted to get it ferried north from Sackville farm strip in Bedfordshire to its new base at Perth in Scotland. I had 3 days off in a row which coincided with a fairly good weather forecast, so I jumped on an easyJet 737 and flew to Luton. Chris drove me out to the strip and we prepared the aircraft, got it running, wondered why it stopped, pulled the cowlings, got it fixed, and waddled off down the grass for the first flight… 

…from an unfamiliar strip (narrow and undulating) 

…in an unfamiliar type 

…running well behind schedule 

…with bad weather entering the country from the west and due in the area by evening. 

I had refreshed myself on tailwheel aircraft at Northampton School of Flying on the Super Cub with Frank McClurg, but due (again) to the UK weather my 2 day visit was spent sitting around until the evening of the second day when the winds dropped and we managed one hour of circuits. Not really enough and probably not a suitable type either – I could see out the front for a start. But good fun anyway, I’ve always liked Cubs ever since I did my tailwheel coversion at Clacton many moons ago. But it was 2 months between the Cub flying and the time of the first P47 flight. Also I had flown off grass but always an airfield, not a strip like Sackville. We had hoped for Chris to be able to position the aircraft to Peterborough with its long straight wide hard runway but that had not happened. I had a test schedule all made up, taken from Vaughn Askue’s excellent “Flight Testing Homebuilt Aircraft” and that involved slowly working up to the first flight from a series of faster and faster taxis but the Sackville strip made that impractical, so in the end we ended up blasting off and hoping for the best. I say we because the I think aircraft did most of the work! 

“Lining up, the cowling blocks the view ahead…ready to go, remember to keep the tail down until 40mph or there will be minimal directional control. Here we go, feed in full power, didn’t expect it to be so bumpy. And noisy! Keep straight. 40mph, raise the tail, still can’t see over the nose, raise it a bit more, accelerating nicely now. Bump! Oh ****! we’ve been launched airborne by the strip. Hold it down, hold it down, keep it in the ground effect, let it accelerate. If you climb out of the ground effect at this low speed the left wing will stall first and we’ll be history. Looking for 80mph. There it is! Raise nose a little. The hedge which was whipping past in my peripheral vision drops away. ****! it’s sensitive – wobbling left and right and pitching up and down. Calm down. Small movements. Use fingertip pressure. We’re flying. WE’RE FLYING! Heartrate you can come down now. What next what next? Ah yes, gear! Flick the switch, green lights go out, cogs and torque tubes between my knees working away until the gear is up. Temperatures and pressures OK, fuel contents guage intermittent, that’ll need to be looked at, how on earth am I going to fix that. Later. Gentle turn left. Look for Chris, he should be getting airborne about now. There he is! About 400 feet or so climbing out. Check for other traffic. Great view up and behind, but can’t see much below the nose, due to the big cowling. Will have to weave the nose to check for traffic. Fighter pilot weave. Amendment to last statement delete “traffic”, insert “bogies and bandits.” **** ****! I’m flying a P47! And it’s mine! And we’ve got to get onto the ground in one piece. Head for Peterborough. Big features, look for the lake at Grafham Water, there it is, navigation complete for the moment. Where’s Chris? Look around. 5o’clock, level. OK, steep turn left, looking for the other aircraft, pass behind him and slide into loose formation on his right wing. He rebuilt the aircraft, he has flown it, but he has never seen it fly. Give him a show. Peel away to the right. Throw it around a bit. What an excellent aircraft, flies like it’s running on rails. I want one. Oh yes! Note to self…you own one! OK, then…everybody should have one. Right then where are we? There’s the lake, and there’s the A1 road running straight towards Peterborough, so the airfield should be about…there. OK. Just a quick stall to check things out, HASELL checks, and Chris is well clear heading towards the airfield. First indications of stall at 62mph, then the left wing drops a fraction. Recovers straight away. Good. Right we’ll use a minimum of 80 on the final approach, gear limiting speed is 100, let’s see what it looks like on final, wonder when I’ll lose sight of the runway? Call Peterborough on the radio, no reply, try again, no reply. Great, what to do, what to do? OK, no radio join in the overhead. Head towards the field. There’s Chris on final, playing pathfinder for me, good man. He’ll tell them I’m coming. Overhead and descend dead side, lookout, lookout! Blind transmissions on the radio. Join crosswind then turn downwind, RPM below 2000, carb heat on, speed decaying, 110, 105, 100! Gear selected down, the cogs and tubes doing their stuff until the two green lights come on and the gear is down. Turn final and the wind is straight down the concrete. That’s one less thing to worry about at least. Pity this a single seater I could do with Frank McClurg sitting here with his 10,000+ hrs on light aircraft giving me some moral support. Ah well, you’re on your own here, you bought it, you land it! 90mph down final, checking for obstructions which will soon disappear from view. Nothing to bump into. The threshold is now out of sight behind the cowling, can still see the far end. Good old heart rate is coming up again, please God don’t let me mess up now! Runway edges in the peripheral vision, close throttle, flare. TOO MUCH! Tiny burst of throttle. Gently this time, flare, flare, a little bit gusty here, check the runway edges, they seem to be the same distance away, they should do something about those weeds, now I know that summer is coming, see all those daisies and dandelions! Come on, come on, what’s the delay, must be that cruise prop with it’s residual thrust. Flare a bit more, sink a bit more, flare a bit more. We’re in the ground effect, it still wants to fly. No idea where the wheels are in relation to the ground. Stick almost fully back and BANG we’re down, we’re down and time restores to it’s normal speed. Watch the swing, whoa steady there cowboy, gentle on the pedals, the wind should help keep us straight. We are all over the place, GENTLY, gently on the pedals, remember the article that said it’ll run straight if you let it. Let it! Good job this is a long runway, brakes are not very efficient. But then there is less chance of tipping it onto its nose, so I think we can live with that one. And finally we are at a taxiing speed. Heartrate can come down now please…breathing can come down to normal too please. Turn off the runway and stop. Undo the canopy latches and duck head as it slides back. Now I can see a bit more by leaning my head from side to side. Taxi to the pumps and stop. The radio comes to life again! Wierd. Idle cut off and the engine stops. Switches off, master off. Sit there for longer than is normal. Thinking. First flight completed. I made it. WE made it. Great aircraft, everybody should have one.” 

Later in the clubhouse, Chris confessed that his radio had packed up as well, a little handheld with a LOW BATT caption! We blasted into the circuit (pattern for our US and Canadian cousins) just at the right time when nobody else was around. It got quite busy as we were paying for the fuel. I must have been on a high, because I paid for Chris’s landing fee! 

After a first flight like that, I suppose the normal procedure is to crack open a beer and relax for the rest of the day, but hell no I had a schedule to meet, had to get north before the bad weather and before my days off ran out, so I was soon blasting off again for a high speed run up the middle of England. I didn’t get the tail up enough on takeoff again, and the landing at Carlisle was a bit ropy due to the crosswind there. I couldn’t continue to Perth so the aircraft was hangared and I went to a hotel with my toothbrush, toothpaste, spare undies and socks. The Mk1 Half Scale P47 Replica Minimal Nightstop Kit. 

THEN I had that first flight beer….and later, the second flight beer!

Formations and Fly-ins

A lot of flying stories start with “There I was…”

It was sometime in June, there I was floating around on my second trip of the day patrolling over Dunkeld, waiting. The RV gang from Perth had gone to the fly-in at Easter airfield, north of Inverness and they were due back any time. I was off in Walter Mitty land again, hoping to intercept any inbounds to Perth. Defensive Counter Air, I think it’s called (DCA).

I heard “Rodderz” the RV3 on the radio and the position report sounded really close, and miracle of miracles when I dipped the wing to take a look there he was! We swooped down like a bird of prey, joined on his wing and then flew in (slightly loose) formation for a while on the way back to Perth:

The next day I took off just before Ian in his RV6 and he joined up on me for a bit:

The wide angle lenses make it look a lot further apart than it actually is, honest:

Slightly zoomed in, but Ian was nicely stable here in echelon port:

And here’s me breaking away leaving Ian to go on his merry way…

A couple of days later, another RV “same way, same day” style formation. This time to Kirriemuir for an impromptu fly-in.

Self service fly-in food, also known as an aero-picnic:

Three designs from the prolific Richard VanGrunsven (according to Wikipedia there are more RVs completed every year in the US than all the general aviation manufacturers [Piper, Cessna, Cirrus etc] combined!)…Chris’s single seat RV3 in white (“Rodderz”), then Ian’s nosewheel RV6A and in the background our tailwheel RV6:

Other aircraft types are available, but RVs are the best all rounder. It must be true because the factory says so (“Total Performance” is the slogan), everybody who has flown one says so, and it says so on the sweatshirt I bought.

The RV6 has since been replaced by the RV7, and at the recent Perth fly-in we parked beside a nice red one. Note the slightly larger tail fin:

Brenda and I had just landed after a sightseeing jaunt of an hour and a half down the coast to Alnmouth and back, taking in Holy Island and the camp site where we had spent a couple of nights the previous week. Parking next to the RV7 was deliberate. I had met the builder before we took off; Ian is the man who put the “I” in G-RVIB! He was the original builder, and wanted a photo of the two aircraft together. We had a good chat over the standard fly-in burger of cardboard bread, slightly tasteless mustard and (in this case) a marginally undercooked burger. Didn’t get food poisoning so it must have been fine. We learned the story of the “flames” paint scheme. Ian had a scheme designed on the computer, with smart 3D view colour printouts and everything, but it all changed on a whim when the paint shop guy said “How about I replace that line with some flames?”

Ian built our RV6 and his RV7, has restored a Pitts and is now considering building an RV8. I did ask if he wanted to swap and take his original aircraft back but he was having none of it. Pity, that RV7 is really smart.

Maybe we will have to build one after all…

Eindecker Build Complete!

The 1:72 scale Airfix model I bought for lockdown has finally been completed, and now rests in the “aircraft I have flown” model collection. I got glue and paint everywhere so please don’t look too closely!