Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Getting ready to go

Only 36 hours to go before we take off for Tunisia. I spent today at Henstridge helping to get the aeroplane ready. Oil & filter change, a bit of TLC for the right brake (it needed bleeding), and re-fitting the spats which always come off for the winter. At the same time I took the opportunity to clean all of the perspex (with Pledge Natural), chuck out all sorts of rubbish and vacuum the carpets. I even added a bit of carnuba wax polish (to the paintwork, not the carpets!).

The flight back to the strip was pretty quick thanks to a 25kt tailwind and the aeroplane felt good and ready for the trip ahead. I'm glad to say that the weather is also starting to look up, so it'll be VFR to Clermont with a bit of luck.
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Monday, 18 May 2009

Now that's a wing

I'm more used to seeing a Cessna wing when I look out of the window, but a week or so ago I got the chance to fly Plane Sailing's Catalina out of Duxford. Although I had a good look at the aeroplane on the ground, the size of the wing (and engine) sitting just above and behind my right-hand shoulder was still surprising.

The handling was on the ponderous side of slow and the controls needed significant force in order get the thing moving in any direction. That said, it didn't take too long to learn to anticipate the need for a bootful of rudder or a heave on the ailerons. The Cat's handling grows on you, as does the admiration for the young crews who operated them in wartime. There's lots of great stuff on the web detailing some of the rescues carried out by this remarkable aeroplane.

If you want to get involved with the aeroplane you can buy a share: 1/20th will cost you £17,500. Monthly dues are currently set at £150 and for that you get the right to buy three hours at cost (£600). The Duxford Catalina is a working aeroplane, and with displays all over Europe you may well get some free hours en route if you are suitably qualified/checked out. It's expensive, but probably the cheapest way there is of getting to fly a very special warbird.

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