Spring Cubbin’

Some spring Cub photos, in between the rubbish weather portions…

Sunny day:

Grey day:

Our favourite river confluence. Clear water from the mountains, muddy water from the fields:

Recce flight over Perth, checking the harbour…

The ship was IN!

Checking out the progress of the new Tay bridge north of Perth:

The remains of the spring flooding:

The airfield is still a bit soggy, not yet fully dried out. At the time of writing, the grass runway has only just been reopened…

A typical spring weather outlook…!

Not to worry. Summer is coming and we are planning to fly to France for the D-Day 80th anniversary “L-Birds back to Normandy” event on 6 June. The “cockpit litter” has already been loaded…

The first week of retirement is going to be busy!

Scotland’s Scenery

Flying a helicopter throughout Scotland means you get to see some pretty impressive vistas. Here’s Tyndrum with the two railway lines, one for Fort William and one for Oban:

Approaching Oban hospital, looking north-west towards Oban Airport…

Random un-named mountain with a dusting of snow:

More mountains…

Killin, at the western end of Loch Tay:

Next pics by paramedic Rich. Here’s Glasgow city centre. The River Clyde, Central Station and the triangular glass roof of the St Enoch Centre, apparently the largest glass building in Europe:

Bass Rock in the Firth of Forth off North Berwick. The rocks of the cliff are not naturally that light coloured – that’s gannet poo. Lots and lots of gannet poo! Hundreds and hundreds of years of the stuff…

Unknown location on the West Coast:

Another unknown West Coast location:

Finally back to one of mine. Sunset on the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital elevated helipad – 210ft above sea level up on the roof. With the change of the clocks and imminent retirement at the end of May, I have probably flown my last ever EC135 helicopter night flight.

The 135 is a bit of a flying carpet…a magical steed giving the best views. I’m going to miss it. Only 24 shifts to go…


Looking back through the photo archives, we found quite a few pictures of the Sting, and were reminded that the smooth finish of the composite construction produced some lovely reflections. Here’s a sample.

In the hangar at Perth:

Cloud reflections over Perthshire:

Over Denmark on the Great 2018 Sweden Adventure:

Over Sweden. Lots of trees below, more cloud reflections:

Approaching the Rhine in Germany:

Back safe in the home hangar:

The Sting was a great little aircraft. With a cruise speed of 120 knots it was able to get places quickly. The Rotax 912 engine wasn’t a gas guzzler, and the controls were responsive. Maintenance and annual permit renewals were straightforward due to the composite construction. Support from the UK dealer and the factory in the Czech Republic was amazing. We had great fun in our Sting.

The only niggle was the manual flap lever, which was close to my right arm and required a bit of hand swapping on the controls to release the left hand to reach over and operate the lever. A little ungainly but perfectly safe.

More recent versions have electric flaps, operated by a switch on the panel, which eliminates that problem. They also have a more accessible baggage area and even an autopilot.

We would definitely have another Sting. Lovely aircraft.

New Year, New Career

The SSDR Eindecker hasn’t flown for a while and is in need of a bit of TLC, so I wheeled it out into the fresh air…

…and then wheeled it across to the work hangar where it was stuck in the back:

The work hangar is big enough to hold two helicopters, a trailer, a tractor, two containerised offices and a bunch of lockers, so the Eindecker didn’t take up too much space…

Also, the work hangar has a particularly awesome toolkit…it was time to get to work!

With the help of paramedic Rich the wings were removed and set aside. That’s the only two-person job of the whole process:

The control cables were disconnected and the hinges disassembled to remove the rudder:

Then it was the turn of the elevator. I lifted the tail up onto the toolkit for easy access. Note the wooden chocks adding a bit of counterbalance as the aircraft is very nose heavy. One of the points of this whole process is to modify the aircraft by moving the battery from the engine compartment down to the tail. The battery is tiny and not much mass, but way down there it will have a long lever arm and help to balance the aircraft in flight. At the moment to fly level there is a fair bit of back pressure required on the stick…the forces are very light and completely manageable but it would be nice to be a bit more balanced.

Tail feathers removed, and tail lashed down to a drum of water. Not taking any chances!

The next day we picked up a hired box van with tail lift. The only way to load the aircraft was tail first, with the tail up in the extra space above the cab. This exacerbated the nose down tendency so special attention was paid to lashing the tail down with lots of padding. As it was we stopped halfway through the 15 -minute journey home to inspect everything and retighten the lashings.

After all the faffing about reversing the van into the narrow gate, it was a simple task to unload the fuselage and wheel it into the home workshop. Note the home-made wing stand sitting waiting for the next delivery:

Second run complete, the whole aircraft is now safely in the workshop, ready for cleaning, refurbishment, repairs and modifications. We used the RV builder’s dimpling frame lashed to the tail to hold it down. Vans aircraft are in trouble at the moment so the RV8 build is on hold…their kit prices recently went up by 32% as the company tries to emerge from its financial woes. It makes sense to me to hold back and see if they will actually survive. In the meantime, the tools are still useful, even if just as tie-down weights!

Retirement looms and the Eindecker is a first project, but it doesn’t really qualify as a new career as per the title. The intention is to do my Flight Instructor (Aeroplanes) rating…no more helicopters for me!

With the FI(A) I’ll be able to continue to fly with somebody else paying for it, and let my pension pot have a bit more time to grow.

I’ll also be able to pass on some hard-learned experience to the young’uns. Should be fun.

Working and Wet and Windy

Not much to report in December…working too much, and when not working, the weather has been horrendous.

The RV hasn’t flown for a while, as there was a hold up with the paperwork for the Permit to Fly. I need to give it a trickle charge before we take it out.

I did manage a quick flight in the Cub, on a day when the wind was straight down the runway. It was only 20 minutes in the circuit, but good to blow the cobwebs away. It had been exactly a month since I flew the Cub, but the engine started right up – we had a new battery fitted at the last annual and it showed.

After landing I taxied to the pumps to fill up…Christmas is coming and the “World’s Coolest Copilot” is visiting so we might continue our 25th December Cub flight tradition. I’m back to work and the airfield closes before the run of shifts finishes so I needed to fill up then and there:

The aircraft behind are out of the AST engineering training school hangar. They were wheeled out into the fresh air during a big hangar clean-up and reshuffle.

I’ve been preparing the Eindecker for de-rigging and a move to the home workshop for refurbishment. Prop off, cowling off, various panels off, controls disconnected, pressure lines disconnected and lots of wire-locking removed in readiness for the wings coming off…

Those scissors are an old pair of medical ones from work called “Tough Cuts” – or probably these days “Tuff Kutz” – I can confirm that even when old and nackered they are able to snip through locking wire with ease.

I can also confirm that the cut ends of the locking wire can puncture skin with ease. Ask me how I know…

Merry Christmas to both of you!

Wickenby – The Sequel

After the summer’s enjoyable Cub trip south to the Vintage Piper Aircraft Club’s “Northern Meet” at Wickenby, it seems that they are looking at holding a “Scotland Meet” at Perth next May…

There may be a bit of organisation to do, but at least I won’t have to fly as far this time!

November Floods. Again.

Some days, just like WW1 flying ace Snoopy, we don’t feel like flying:

Some days we can’t fly. Either it’s too wet:

Or it’s too windy:

But after the wind and rain have abated, it’s time to get the Cub out and go survey the resultant flooding:

I was accompanied on one of these flights by Rory, also known as “The World’s Coolest Co-Pilot”…

Still a lot of moisture around leading to low cloud in places:

Above, the River Earn. Below, the village of Luncarty:

Various flood pictures in no particular order…a breach in the flood defences:

Another breach in the flood defence levee, this one near Coupar Angus:

A week later, the levee is all over the field, and there is a massive hole scoured out by the rushing water:

This is why it is called a flood plain…

Another confluence. Muddy water off the fields meets clear water from the hills:

The flooding was extensive and stretched for miles:

It took about 2 weeks for the floods to drain away and most of the fields to dry out, but there were still some wet patches dotted about:

The final puddles clearly showed the course the river used to take, the cool sounding “palaeochannels” …

The L4 is a great platform for observation and taking photos. I think we’ll keep it! I’ve been asked if I’d like to volunteer for the Civil Air Patrol when I retire – that would involve just the observational role that the military Cub was built for. Something to think about, could be fun.

The RV has just had its Permit to Fly renewed, so there should be some RV action soon. And in exciting news, we’re just about to apply to start the process of moving the Cub from the (expensive) Certificate of Airworthiness system to the (much more economical) Permit to Fly system, It may take a while, but it will be worth it in the end…


Proof that the “flying season” is not just the summer months, the fly-in at Kingsmuir was held on the first weekend of October. With the RV in bits for its annual, once again it was time to get the Cub out…

Kingsmuir is a grass strip set in lovely farmland in east Fife, just north of the village of Anstruther and quite close to the “Secret Bunker” Cold War museum…

Pic with thanks to the Pooley’s Guide

It was a bit of a breezy day but the wind was forecast to be blowing straight down the grass runway at Kingsmuir. A straight line track took us past the confluence of the Tay and the Earn:

…and we were soon on the ground at Kingsmuir. I would have been first in from Perth but managed to fluff up the landing spectacularly with a massive bounce. Discretion being the better part of valour and all that, it was safer to power up and fly another circuit, this time to an acceptable touchdown. The delay meant that Norman in the white Ninja managed to get in first (the green one is based at Kingsmuir):

As more visitors started to arrive, the clouds gathered as well. At one point we were all huddled in the BBQ marquee as a rain shower passed through…

Proof that I could have got the RV in…here’s Pete’s RV6 parked up after the 5 minute hop over from Leuchars. Note the aircraft parked on the other side of the runway by the old clubhouse, there were about 20 or so aircraft there…

Archie and Graham got airborne to get this shot before everybody disappeared:

A fun day out. Now back to putting the RV back together…

Montrose 2023

End of August – time for the Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre’s annual open day and fly-in at the “pop-up” airfield. I missed the Saturday due to work, but Sunday looked OK, even if the weather forecast wasn’t perfect. The Cub was dragged out and fuelled up:

And off we went. There were a few showers around, but they were widely spaced and easy to avoid, like this one at Forfar:

Arrival at Montrose was via the overhead, to get the lie of the land, followed by a low approach and go-around to check the runway, and finally touching down on the slightly bumpy pitches…

It wasn’t as busy as 2022, maybe the weather put some people off; I did have to shelter in one of the marquees for ten minutes as a quick shower went through, but the grey skies were mostly threatening rather than delivering…

Grant from Aberdeen was there again with his collection of military vehicles, including these Jeeps:

As the day wore on the weather slowly started to deteriorate and I decided to get going back to base. Here’s a radar screen shot of the route just before departure. Some heavy rain returns on the picture but no cloud forecast at lower levels so we could pick our way through…

Even the heavy rain areas were not too bad after all. I decided to stay low and enjoy the views from 500 feet and 65 knots. One advantage of such a slow speed is that you get a lot of time to study features on the ground as you gently trundle past:

With 10 miles to run to Perth we were out of the rain zone and in lovely clear weather, more than adequate for the task at hand. Our favourite river confluence basking in sunshine…

It’s a great day out – we’ll be going back next year – got to keep the fans happy., and the bumpy grass runway is good fun…

Next year I’ll be retired so will have both days free – a chance to do some “Cub Camping” and spend the night under the wing? Maybe…