Saturday, 27 February 2010

A move indoors

With the strip wet, some avionics work and a few little bits of airframe fettling the C182 has been living at Henstridge. Although it was inside for the work and quite a bit of time afterwards, eventually the space was needed and the aeroplane moved outside.

It may have been sheltered from the wind, and it may have been safe, but it was often wet. So today, thanks to the generosity of Jez Hopkinson, the C182 temporarily moved into the Yakovlevs' hangar where it'll be nice and dry.

Thanks Jez.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Sterling crisis?

I need to make it clear that I'm not an economist, a currency trader or anything else to do with money (apart from being a user that is), but I've been hearing lots of talk about a sterling crisis.

This morning's BBC news put the political and economic uncertainty together as causes of a potential uber weakening of the £. According to the BBC report, some are predicting £/$ parity and that €1 will be worth more than £1.

If that ever happens (and a friend of mine has been predicting parity with the US dollar for quite a while) it's bound to make GA more expensive. Oil is priced in dollars, and so is almost anything else in aviation from avionics to engines, to parts. The bits that aren't priced in dollars are priced in euro (Rotax for example), so that doesn't help either.

With a bit of luck the 'experts' have been exaggerating the situation for dramatic effect and screen time, but thoughts of returning to a £1/$2 exchange rate seem premature.

Here's a more eloquent version of the above from the Daily Telegraph

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Distance learning

When I think of distance learning it's the Internet that comes to mind. I'm sure there must be some Open University stuff on TV these days, but I never seem to stumble across it, or its seventies style lecturers.

So what's this? This DC-6 was operated by Purdue University, it took off, lowered its TV transmission antenna and loitered at 23,000' while broadcasting educational programmes. The DC6 was operated from Purdue's very own airfield.

I'm told the crew had access to parachutes, just in case the antenna failed to retract for landing!

There's a great Popular Science article from January 1961 here.

As an aside, Purdue has recently ordered some more aircrfat for its Flight Training program - they'll soon be taking delivery of nine new SR20s and a Phenom 100 jet. Not a bad fleet!

I took the picture below from the entrance of the Niswonger building, which 'honours' the old aviation department. The hangar the other side of the brick wall is where Amelia Earhart's Electra was prepared.

Sunshine and rain

Great news, Saturday's weather looks good. Well, when I say good I mean not too bad with perhaps a little sunshine, at least for the south of the country, up north it doesn't look quite so good.

Sunday of course there's rain forecast. No flying and a the country's grass strips and runways won't be doing much drying.

Onwards and upwards…

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Bye bye Sport Cruiser kit?

Once upon a time there was a Sport Cruiser. Now there's the Piper Sport. That should be a good thing. There will be good support, good parts service and at a stroke (well almost) the USA will have a network of engineers who understand the Rotax 912. The Piper Sport will also get a few small improvements that will make it an even better aircraft.

Of course where there's an upside there's often a downside or two. Let's start with the price. The Piper Sport is more expensive that the Sport Cruiser. The mid-range model (There are three versions Basic, LT and LTD) will set you back $129,900, plus delivery, plus tax. That's right around £100,000. Then there's the fact that Piper is an aeroplane manufacturer and as such has no real interest in selling kits. Nothing is official yet, but my understanding is that the factory has no great interest in kits either, so the Sport Cruiser kit is pretty much a thing of the past.

Looking at the good and bad together I think aviation is a winner. What was a great aeroplane gets the support of a major manufacturer, and people looking to replace much of the worldwide training fleet now have even more choice.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Rough (wet) diamond

The drive to Henstridge was February grim. Low clouds, grey skies, horizontal wet snow and lots of puddles full of brown, muddy water. The runway was quiet, but there was lots of actvity in the hangars - spanners, pliers, air tools and rags all working hard. There's some (justifiably) big bills heading someone's way...

Although there was no flying, there was plenty of evidence of ongoing development. All of the hangars on the airfield are new, one of the large hangars north of the taxiway has been completed and the other is well on the way. The Air Ambulance crew look to be enjoying their modern, purpose-built facility and work on the new (much needed) clubhouse appears to have started. The field is home to a new maintenance organisation, the Yakovlevs display team and I believe that a new helicopter company is also on site.

It's great to see a GA facility that is adding to its facilities and infrastructure, and although Henstridge still has a few rough edges (or more precisely access roads) it's really good to see things moving forwards.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Ah, the joy of a Cub…

I've only ever flown two Piper Cubs (I think). One was on floats at Jack Brown's Seaplane Base, and I can remember it being a lot of fun. The other a couple of years ago was a Super Cub in France. I expected it to be as brilliant as everyone said it would be, but, to be blunt it was one of the worst-handling aeroplanes that I've flown.

I've taken a bit of stick since then. It seems that criticising a Cub is a bit like telling someone that their daughter is ugly, and perhaps my view was influenced by the praise heaped on the Cub by others.

Anyway, I got an email a day or so ago announcing a fly-in to Southern Sweden that's going to honour the Cub.

The event takes place between 2nd and 4th July - I might even go if I can find a Cub to borrow, perhaps I ought to give it another chance?

Here's the press release in full…

This year we'll celebrate Cubs of all kinds! It's 80 years since the E-2 flew and 75 years since the J-2 flew for the first time. Because of this, Cub owners in several European countries will receive a special fly-in invitation by mail.

This year's South Swedish Vintage Fly-in takes place the first weekend of June with the airshow during Saturday. Final schedule is still to be announced but previously the airshow included Spitfire, Mustang, T-28 and several types of aerobatic displays.
The South Swedish Vintage Fly-in 2009 established a new visitors record and in 2010 we are preparing for even more flying guests and spectators. Eslöv (ESME) is located in the very south of Sweden making it easily accessible for north-European pilots.
For more info please visit for updates. Or Matts Behrens +46 - 734 120 392 (media) or Sten Svensson +46 - 705 547 000 (event)
South Swedish Vintage Fly-in in is arranged in co-operation with the Municipality of Eslöv.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

The runway is wet wet wet

Took the dog for a walk today. We walked up 08 and back down 26. There were parts that were OK to use, but there were more parts that weren't.

In extremis it would be possible to operate in and out of the strip when it is in this condition, but there'd be a fair amount of ground damage caused.

It doesn't look like it is about to get any better either, here's Lyneham's TAF

TAF EGDL 211931Z 2121/2215 09004KT 9999 SCT025 BECMG 2121/2124 6000 -RA OVC012 BECMG 2200/2203 BKN005 TEMPO 2202/2211 3000 RADZ BKN003=

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