Saturday, 26 September 2009

Missing VG

I took the C182 to Henstridge today. The DME had been taken out and sent away to be fixed and was now ready for refitting. The 121.5 ELT is being replaced by an AmeriKing 406Mhz box, and the wings - black with dirt thanks to being parked near a train line used by diesel-powered freight trains for a few weeks - needed a bloody good wash.

Henstridge is a happening place these days with new hangars and both of the larger buildings now being completed. I parked next to my maintenance hangar and was kindly lent a water supply, electricity and a power washer. The wings were so dirty that it took ages to get them even vaguely clean. The paint, thanks to being exposed to sunlight and other elements is in poor shape. I fear a respray will be needed in the next year or so. While washing the aeroplane, I also noticed that one of my VGs has gone missing, not entirely sure how, but the job has been added to the To Do list. (The STC approval for the VGs states that the aeroplane can be flown with up to 5 VGs missing.) Justin (top A&p and IA) gave me a lift back to the strip and my car in the C182 - during the short flight it became obvious that the DME repair hadn't resulted in a functioning DME, so something else to sort out.

Hey ho, the fun of ownership.
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Rotax Katana

I'll be spending some of the weekend writing up a flight test on the Diamond Katana. It's been at least thirteen years since I've flown a Katana, and back then it was one that was powered by an 80hp rather than 100hp engine.

As with all other Diamonds, the handling is solid safe - a fairly slow roll rate with those long wings, but very, very safe when it comes to stalling characteristics. The price for the DV20, which is certified as a VLA, in (very) basic form, is sub €99,000. That's more expensive than other VLAs, but I don't doubt that it will hold up better than some in the tough rental market.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Gyro back-up

I have been testing a back-up gyro for the last few days.

The eGyro is a fully portable, self-contained unit that provides attitude reference in case of failure of the primary instrument. It is powered by plugging in through the usual cigarette lighter socket, but battery power is an option.

The unit contains solid state gyros and accelerometers, and has no moving parts. No calibration is required, and according to the photocopied instructions that arrived with the unit, it only needs mounting with the right orientation. The unit will fit in the panel, but has no approval status (so homebuilt only). It can also be mounted, as here, by velcro.

I've only flown with it once so far, and after powering it up the unit self-aligned within a few seconds - in flight, however, it was very, very twitchy in pitch - so much so that it was necessary to mentally 'damp' the oscillations to gain any benefit.

I'll fly some more with it over the weekend to see if a different position will improve things. I shoud add that the black bar in this picture is a result of the photography, and when viewed without a digital SLR, the screen displays correctly.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

A day trip to Wycombe

I spent a large part of the day at Wycombe Air Park. It's not my first time there by a long way, but I was once again struck by what a nice place it is. From my PPR phone call to every last bit of r/t the place was welcoming and friendly, with the guys at the pumps being particularly helpful and cheery.

The airfield was buzzing with training, gliding and some corporate entertainment too. It was all taking place harmoniously and without the need for jobsworths. Brilliant.

We (I was there with FLYER contributor Nick Lambert) grabbed a drink and a late(ish) lunch at The Pad. The sign on the door was appropriate.

That apart, it was good to see an aviation facility buzzing with aeroplanes and happy people.

Monday, 21 September 2009

SkyCatcher nearly here

The Kings have taken delivery of the first customer SkyCatcher, (nicknamed Flycatcher or Spincatcher by some) and the first Chinese-built example has made its first flight. The SkyCatcher should offer a decent(ish) cruise, bags of room, modern instrumentation, i.e. glass cockpit, and that 'new aircraft experience'.

Before long, deliveries will start en masse - over 1,000 have been ordered - and the face of aviation training will change, or will it? If clubs and schools have decided how much they're going to charge for an hour in the SkyCatcher, they're playing their cards close to their chests; but whether in the UK or US, it's going to have to offer a decent saving over the new C172s that are on offer.

Talking of the UK (the SkyCatcher is an LSA in the US), Euro versions will either have to be certified, or go down the EASA LSA route. That will mean a Permit to Fly until EASA gets it all sorted. It'll be interesting to see how conservative Cessna deals with this issue. Deliveries over here will probably start in the next three to six months.

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