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….