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Gavin Piggy & Bob's trips in 2010
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11th December 2010 Leicester for Bacon butties  
Today is a glorious day for a change after all the recent ice and snow. Bob has bid for, and secured, a Flight Jacket aeroplane cleaning kit in a Grumpy Gang auction and is due to collect it from Leicester at a Bacon Butty fly-in. Bob has once polished Piggy, the weekend he bought her, but not since and won't be doing it again until it gets a good bit warmer. The kit comes in a neat little bag that could well be used to keep the old tinnies cool in the summer.
The fly-in has given Bob a chance to meet a few more of the gang, but sorry guys, you will have to remind me of the names again next time. I have a terrible memory.
Uneventful trip, good company, good weather, sausage egg and chips and lots of tea, what more can you ask for in the middle of winter?
Here we see, on the left, Piggy and just part of the line up of Grumman aircraft at the fly-in. On the right a Bacon Butty, the incentive for the flight.
On returning to Miss Piggy to fly home, Bob was presented with a rubber pig by the gentleman flying the Grumman to the left. A very kind gesture, but they are strange folk these Grumpies....
5th December 2010 Return to Bourn  
Here is Piggy steaming like a racehorse after her return from Sibson today. Ironic really as it took Bob three hours to get the ice off her this morning. Unlike Gavin, Piggy cannot be tilted backwards to increase the effect of the sun, so Bob merely turned her back to the sun and waited, and waited.... After a while most of the ice on the wings had melted up to the point where the curvature created a bit of shadow. Bob wiped the wings down and turned Piggy around to face the sun so as to deice the front of the wings, which worked, but whilst that was happening, the back part of the wings iced up again.
In the end Bob used a chamois leather to remove the water, that way it couldn't turn back to ice, but it took ages.
Twenty minutes flying and all the ice has gone and the heat is evaporating the moisture in the cover.
Nonetheless, alternator is now repaired and has a new brush set installed.
 
21st November 2010 Sibson  

Gavin refuelling at Bourn
Bob had planned to go to Wellesbourne for a spot of lunch last Saturday, but disaster struck. Whilst running up to do power checks prior to departure, Miss Piggy's alternator warning light came on again. Bob did a couple of circuits and in the second, on the approach, the warning light went off and all seemed well for a few seconds. It was not to continue though, because as soon as we were on the ground the damn thing stopped working again.
Bob seems to have seen a lot of his old aeroplane Gavin just recently. Last weekend, Bob had a chat with Gavin's new owner. It is time for Gavin's annual check and airworthiness review. It is sad to see him being refuelled and flown off by someone else. Bob offered to be a safety pilot should Gavin's new owner want to do some IMC practice, so Bob may yet get to fly in Gavin once more.
Today though we are off to Sibson to get Piggy's alternator fixed. An uneventful flight completed in just twenty minutes. Bob arrived to see Gavin sitting on the grass outside. His radio is missing, so there must be a bit of a glitch to sort out there. Bob had heard that there was a bit of a problem with picking up the localiser at Cambridge. Maybe that's what it is about. Anyway, it is better that things go wrong in the winter than in the flying season.

Piggy at Sibson for alternator repair

Gavin - sans radio at Sibson
6th November 2010 Coventry  

Coventry museum
Bob sloped off to the flying club late today. It is that time of year when someone has stolen all the daylight. It's a lovely bright day and the guys at the club decide to go to Coventry and invite Bob along.
Bob is second to land, but for some reason is told to park in the West apron. That's bloody miles from the restaurant. Bob has to walk the length of the (very long) runway to get to the restaurant and book in. When he gets there there is a queue a mile long to book in and the other two planes from Bourn are parked right outside. Bob is getting just a little ticked off.
Fortunately one of the other chaps takes Bob's order whilst he is in the queue and orders Bob an all day breakfast and a cup of tea.
There is a museum here and Bob has taken a picture from outside, but because the night now starts at around 16:20 we have to get off back to Bourn and don't really have time to take a look. I would say we could come back, but they had better promise not to park me on the West apron again.

Piggy at Coventry
30th October 2010 Gransden Lodge  

Piggy at Gransden Lodge with the other taxi ride
Today Bob has been helping out flying scouts and Glider Cadets as part of a young aviators camp at Gransden Lodge. Gransden Lodge is a gliding site and the young folk get to experience gliding and powered flight. The older ones get to plan a route and fly it.
Bob was a bit light on instruction about what was actually expected, but it got better through the day. Air experience for the younger ones and a bit of navigation practice for the older ones.
It turns out that by and large they are pretty good at flying, so after the first one or two, Bob decided the best thing was to take off, give them control, let them get on with it and then land at the end. Apologies to the first two, but at least I did take you to see your house from the air and you did get a bit of a go. As for the one that was airsick, thanks for keeping it off the upholstery and sorry you were sick. You actually flew very well, so don't be put off.
There were one or two that didn't get a flight, so Bob has promised to return. Dependant upon the weather of course.

Bob and one of the scouts preparing for take-off
24th October 2010 Kemble  

Kemble
Bob was due to visit Kemble on Wednesday of last week but the flying club at Bourn had run out of fuel, so Bob had to drive there. Bob does a lot of driving and has something to say about it in his rant this month. As far as Bob could tell there was nothing much doing at Kemble, but the restaurant has a good reputation so Bob thought he would give it a go today.
The weather on Wednesday was glorious and today was pretty good too. Bob sat outside much of the time. The cheese ploughman's Bob ordered turned out to be a sandwich kept in the fridge and the shortbread seemed to have cinnamon in it which tasted a bit odd. Bob was not impressed with AV8. Perhaps it is worth another try on the hot food at a later date.
The airfield itself has a number of old aircraft dotted about and it is home to the Bristol Aero collection, but this is on the other side of the airfield and Bob couldn't find an obvious route to get there.

Piggy at Kemble
16th October 2010 Sandown  

Dinosaur Isle

Iguanadon
The weather today was supposed to be clear and sunny, but it didn't start out that way. Bob had noticed that Sandown, one of his favourite airfields has won an injunction and remains open  despite the threat of the property developer. Bob launched around 10:40 a.m. on a quick visit to see "Dinosaur Isle" on the Isle of Wight and ended up in cloud almost immediately. Just as well Bob has revalidated that IMC rating. By the time we clear Brookmans Park the weather is improving and the trip to the island proves uneventful.
Bob had a cup of tea and a slice of coffee and walnut cake at the flying school before walking down to Dinosaur Isle. Bob's luck must be improving because the entrance fee was waived, it was a special day with all sorts of palaeontology experts on hand to talk about all the fossils.
Bob was especially impressed by the Iguanadon, his favourite dinosaur. It always seems to be smiling and giving a thumbs up. It reminds Bob of Harry Enfield's scousers, all he needs is a black afro wig and a Liverpool accent. He does doe don't he doe?

Piggy at Sandown
2nd October 2010 IMC Test  

Mayfield VOR

Typical VOR/glideslope instrument
IMC, Instrument Meteorological conditions, not a full instrument rating by any means, but enough to get you out of trouble and descend through cloud safely.
To the left you will see a VOR beacon, that's a VHF Omni-directional range Beacon. In effect this beacon, MAY or Mayfield in this case, sends a signal in all directions and the signal indicates the direction to, or from the beacon on a suitably tuned instrument in the cockpit. A Morse identifier is also encoded into the signal for audible identification.
On the right is an NDB or non-directional beacon, this one is at Westcott. The clue is in the name, it is just a beacon emitting a signal, this too has a Morse signal encoded in this case WCO. An instrument in the cockpit points towards the beacon, this is the automatic direction finding or ADF instrument, usually a big yellow arrow in a rotatable compass card.
Today Bob has to do two approaches, one VOR let down and one NDB let down into Cranfield. We aren't able to get a slot at Cranfield until 15:00, so Bob's examiner suggests a bit of practice and we set off for Duxford where we land for a coffee and a chat with the examiner's mates.
On leaving, Bob has to track the VOR CFD from Duxford to Cranfield on the 090 radial. Throughout this Bob is forced to wear foggles, a fiendish device like a pair of bifocals in which the only see-through area is the portion that would normally be the reading portion of the glasses. This allows the pilot to see only the instruments and not outside the cockpit. Bob does a VOR approach using the alternative procedure published on the approach chart and follows the missed approach procedure to return to the CIT NDB and follow the NDB approach procedure culminating in a landing on runway 21 at Cranfield using the PAPI for a 3 degree approach path and landing.
Taking a short break, Bob and the examiner land and pay Bob's fees, almost double now because Piggy is over 1,000 kg max take-off weight. Bob confesses to not having enough cash to pay the test fee and is marched, by a slightly miffed examiner, to a cash point before launching once more into the second part of the test, partial panel and recovery from unusual attitudes.
"Climb to flight level 50" says the examiner and Bob does what he is told. In the process failures of the Direction Indicator (DI) and Attitude Indicator (AI) are simulated with sticky tape and paper whilst Bob has to follow vectors around the sky in climbing turns. "You can take the foggles off now" says the examiner as we level off at 5,000 on the standard pressure setting of 1013 millibars. "Could the torture be over now?" thinks Bob. No, not at all, the rotten sod has us flying in dense cloud and proceeds to command poor old Bob to do timed turns with the AI and DI blanked off.
"I have control" he says and chucks Piggy about a bit ending up in a screaming dive. "You have control" he says, "recover". Bob does recover the situation only to have it repeated  and being left in the opposite position with an impending stall. "Recover" says the examiner once more. Full power, sort out the pitch, roll level and pull back the power once we reach cruise speed again.
"How would you do a VOR let down into Bourn?" says the examiner as we follow the 090 radial from Daventry VOR (DTY) back towards our home airfield. Bob explains what he would do and the examiner says, well imagine you are 2000 feet lower and do it. Bob is now convinced the man is a sadist, only one approach is required for an IMC renewal and Bob is about to do his third.
Around this point Bob forgets how he got there but we are on final approach to runway 18 at Bourn and land.
It's all over and Bob is signed off for another 25 months, or at least until the fate of the UK national IMC rating is decided by EASA. The rating is a demonstrated life-saver, but those in the rest of Europe don't seem to get it.

None the less, a satisfactory end to a very tiring and expensive day.

I take it back, at least to some degree. It seems that rights under national ratings will be grandfathered when EASA takes over licensing in April 2012. Now Bob has passed this test, he will have the IMC rating forever - hurrah! It remains to be seen what will happen with regard to new pilots after that date. A step forward, but maybe they still don't get it.

Westcott NDB

Typical ADF instrument
22nd September 2010 Filton - trip aborted  
Bob has a two day meeting to attend in Filton and the offices are just 300 yards from the airfield run by British Aerospace so Bob books a landing 24 hours in advance and sets off bright and early. Unfortunately, despite a fine forecast, fog is slow to clear in the west of England and Bob asks Brize radar what the weather is like at FIlton. Brize can't help but pass Bob on to Filton radar who inform him that the cloud goes all the way down to 1000 feet. Bob's IMC rating has just expired, so it is illegal for Bob to continue. Bob thanks Filton and decides to abort his trip, turning through 180 degrees over Aston Down to return to Bourn. At least it is sunny above the cloud.
12th to 18th September 2010 Maintenance flights  

Piggy at Sibson
On the 8th September, whilst in the process of revalidating Bob's IMC rating, we decide Piggy's alternator has definitely given up the ghost. The ammeter sits to the left of centre all the time and the low volts warning lamp could cook a fried breakfast. Bob has decided to take Piggy in for her 50 hour/6 month check a week early to get it all sorted out. Bob charged the battery overnight on 11th September and flew to Sibson on the 12th. It turns out that the alternator had one wire broken and another on the way out. These have been replaced, the alternator checked out and all is now well and Piggy is released into service for another 6 months. Most of the Bourn fleet seem to be in for some kind of maintenance so Bob took some pictures, however his camera seems to have taken after Andy Warhol.
Echo Foxtrot was one of the Cessna 152s that Bob learned to fly in, now sporting a new coat of paint and a new prop.
Piggy has now returned to Bourn today, 18th September and everything seems to work. Fingers crossed eh?

Echo Fox and Lima Hotel - Warhol style
4th September 2010 Bob meets the Grumpies

Messing with the Scrabble set
Canal at Welshpool
Bob has joined the American Yankee Association, region 15, the European branch of the Grumman owners club. There appeared to be some sort of do on in Welshpool, albeit there was hardly any information to back it up. Bob has already identified alternative activities at Welshpool, so Bob popped down to see what was occurring. It turns out that there is a two day bash down there including fish and chips and quantities of alcohol. European AYA members call themselves the grumpy gang for some reason. I expect they will enjoy Bob's rants. Any way it was good to make contact and hopefully Bob will be able to join in on some of the fly ins and outings in the future. Bob couldn't stay for two days so decided to avoid the alcohol, but had fish and chips in the town of Welshpool and sought out the steam railway instead. Welshpool is clearly very Welsh. Sitting in the chip shop, sorry, fish restaurant, Bob, as a stranger, was treated to a magnificent demonstration of the Welsh language, interspersed as it usually is with the odd word of English.
Now where there is a steam railway you will find a bunch of anoraks and Bob wasn't disappointed. The place was surrounded by little stall selling obscure books, steam and mechanical books and bric-a-brac. Bob has provided a short clip of the train moving, for the anoraks. The railway does however provide a one hour ride through the valleys and in that Bob was a bit disappointed, he was too late to go there and back and get back home in time. Bob is saving the trip for another day.
There is a fair amount of good walking to be done around Welshpool, so maybe Bob will combine the two. Perhaps a stop-over to do both next year.
Bob has been told that Welshpool is a bit of a dump, it does have a certain charm though with a canal and some period petrol pumps that would not look out of place at Bourn airfield.

Welshpool steam railway
Period petrol pumps
22nd August 2010 Shobdon  
Today is the last day of Bob's holiday. He was supposed to go to Japan to visit Bob junior, but that all fell through for various family reasons and is now planned for the spring. Despite the best efforts of the met office, today turned out to be a really nice hot, if a bit humid, sunny day. The man coming to fit a new windscreen in Bob's car rang early in the morning to say he would be at Bob's house between 5 and 7 in the evening so Bob decided to fly out to Shobdon in Herefordshire. Bob has never been there before, it is a bit out in the sticks, but serves a good lunch and there is a bit of gliding going on. Bob has posted a picture of a glider being towed up by a tug.
Bob has joined the AYA, a group of Grumman aircraft pilots and operators. There is a Grumman event in Welshpool weekend of 4th and 5th September. There is also a gala day at the Welshpool Railway. Perhaps we will go to that if the weather is up to it.

Piggy at Shobdon
18th August 2010 Newport  

Crying out to be Bob's boat
The problem with Miss Piggy's low voltage warning light has all but gone away; it doesn't even flash in time with the beacon any more. Today Bob called his old flying chum Rod the rat to see if he would like to have a ride in Miss Piggy. Rod was all set up for a game of golf, but decided to cancel and come along for the day. We landed at Bembridge (again) and caught the bus into Newport. We had a very good lunch at an Italian restaurant and tootled off down to the quay to take in the classic boat museum. On the way Bob spotted a more modern boat that is just begging to be adopted.
Interesting stuff in the boat museum including some lovely early motor boats including a Chris-Craft, not so interesting in the bus museum nearby. Bob has a bit of a thing about buses on the Isle of Wight as you will see in his rant.

Piggy at Bembridge
15th August 2010 Bob's first outing in Miss Piggy  

Trolley bus museum

Velociraptor
Having received Miss Piggy at the back end of July, Bob has been trying her out, getting used to the vast array of new instruments and perfecting the landing technique.
Bob is now navigating using the radio aids in Miss Piggy and the associated auto-pilot. It's really great, you just dial in the way points, line her up, engage the auto-pilot and then just look out of the window. Oh! you may need to talk to a few people on the radio but that's about it. Backed up with a second NAV/COM, ADF and a GPS receiver for when the DME (Distance Measuring Equipment) at the VOR is not working which seems to be quite a lot of the time.
Today we went to Sandtoft. There is a Trolley bus museum nearby and Sandtoft is home of the roof tile making company of the same name. Bob passed the company on the way to the museum, but was most taken aback by his encounter with a velociraptor. Thank god it was fenced in!
Bob has been a bit concerned about the low volts warning light coming on in Miss Piggy, she certainly seems to charge OK, but it all seems to have sorted itself out now. Probably  a result of her pre-purchase inspection, may a bit of grease or a battery discharge test was to blame? Bob will get her checked out in September when she has her 50 hour check.

Miss Piggy at Sandtoft
30th June 2010 Bob's last flight in Gavin  
After seven years, it is time for Bob to part company with Gavin. A sale has been agreed and will complete on 3rd July. Bob received Gavin on 4th July 2003, so it couldn't really be closer to 7 years. In search of a new mount Bob and Gavin have flown to Tatenhill today to see Harry and his aeroplane G-BUZN, a Cessna 172H. It is a nice aeroplane and has similar instrumentation to Gavin. Bob is tempted and negotiates with Harry to buy the plane, but it is not to be. A couple of days later Harry has sold it to a Latvian. Funny that, Bob's distant cousin died in Latvia on board his ship in December 1885.  
19th June 2010 Carisbrooke Castle  

Carisbrooke Castle
Sorry, back to the Isle of Wight again to see Carisbrooke Castle today. The fact is that there is quite a lot to do on the island and it is a reasonable flight. Bob's route now hugs the London TMA around Heathrow quite tightly squeezing round High Wycombe and in between Farnborough and the London TMA before heading South westerly to the island. Today with a following wind one hour and 20 minutes brakes off to brakes on. Little Gavin achieved a ground speed of 120 knots at some points on the journey. One hour 40 minutes on the way back though.

Bob had the usual trouble with the buses. Two arrived while Bob walked to the bus stop, then Bob missed another by choosing to dither between the stops on either side of the road betting on which timetable actually indicated the next bus. Bob now knows that the timetables have no relationship to the arrival time of the buses, so a lesson learned there.

Carisbrooke is a reasonably short walk from the bus station at Newport and a fair old hike up the hill. The site is enormous, Bob knows because he had to walk all the way around it to find the entrance. The castle has a long history and was the home of princess Beatrice, youngest daughter of queen Victoria and the prison that held Charles I before he lost his head.

There is quite a bit to see at Carisbrooke including a museum, gardens, wall walk, donkeys and a treadmill operated well.

Carisbrooke keep
23rd May 2010 Welshpool  
It's Sunday today, that means public transport is even less frequent than usual, so Bob has decided to take a trip to Wales to visit Castell Powys. It is a National Trust Property clearly visible from the circuit at Welshpool airport. It is a lovely day with virtually no cloud so Bob is able to fly a mile high most of the way.
The Castle is just a mile and a half, up hill, from the airport and has probably the best gardens of any National Trust property. The Rhododendrons and Azaleas were out giving a fantastic display of colour which you can see in the gallery.
It seems from the sign that there are possibly other attractions to visit here, a steam railway and a canal museum. Bob will check those out and we may be back to do a bit more tourism in North Wales. I think we might give the livestock market and the industrial estate a miss. The bus stops are very nearby so transport shouldn't be a problem, it is a fair trek over from Bourn to Welshpool, taking nearly two hours each way, but still a viable day out.
Our next trip will probably be back to the Isle of Wight to visit Carisbrooke Castle.
21 May 2010 Fairoaks  

Fairoaks airport, Surrey
Another business trip, out to Surrey this time. Bob cannot stand that trip anticlockwise round the M25, so he looks up the nearest airport to his destination, Aviation Park, Addlestone, Surrey. The answer, Fairoaks airport, just inside the Heathrow TMA. Bob has some colleagues driving in from around North London and it is only a few miles out of the way, so Bob is able to arrange a lift from the airport. All set, Bob calls for PPR at 8:00 and is on his way at 8:10 arriving at Fairoaks at 9:15 in plenty of time for the meeting. There is a bit of a forest fire just to the north west of Fairoaks and Bob ends up flying IMC for a minute or two in the cloud of smoke.

Fairoaks seems to be a nice little airfield, but Bob was unable to partake of the fare in the cafe. Back at 16:50 and take-off at 17:05, there  just wasn't enough time.

St. Albans
15 May 2010 Clacton  

A view of the wind farm

Glum aviators on Clacton pier under a grey sky
Bob was a bit late getting up today, so with other things to do, a long trip was out of the question. Bob decided upon a trip to Clacton, a walk along the sea front, fish and chips and an ice cream.
When getting ready and refuelling Bob asked another club member where they were going. Undecided, they asked Bob about his plans and decided that a trip to Clacton sounded like a good idea. We ended up with three planes all bound for Clacton, something of a club outing.
Just to add to the Martello tower piece Bob did on Clacton last year, the old coast guard lookout station is built on a third Martello tower, pictured right. The wind farm is now complete, what a waste of effort that was. Over half of them completely stationary. At the risk of upsetting Mr. Clegg, our new deputy Prime Minister, Bob thinks the only answer is nuclear power.
As it turned out Clacton was a bit drab and overcast. No fish and chips either, we ended up at  Weatherspoon's for a burger and chips.
All in all not the most auspicious day out.
28 April 2010  White Waltham  

Gavin at White Waltham
Bob had to visit a supplier meeting today in Bracknell. Bracknell is particularly difficult by road as it involves a trip around the M25 from east to west. The weather looks good so Bob decides to fly down to White Waltham near Maidenhead and hitch a lift from a colleague travelling from Bristol to the same meeting. White Waltham is the home of the West London Aero club and Bob is able to enjoy a cup of tea there on landing and prior to departure. Thanks to the club for that, sorry I couldn't stay for long to enjoy their hospitality.
West London Aero Club
24th April 2010 Osborne House  

Osborne House

Red Squirrel at Osborne house - burying his nut.
Following his reconnaissance trip a fortnight ago,  Bob has returned to Bembridge to carry out his mission to visit Osborne House, the former home of Queen Victoria and Albert, the Prince Consort.

Bob was not best pleased about the bus service as you will see in his rant on the subject; however there must only be a limited number of taxi drivers. Bob got a taxi from Ryde to Osborne house and on returning to Ryde he selects the first taxi in the rank and lo and behold, it is the same one he used earlier in the day. Such is the nature of the island. Every day is groundhog day somewhere in the 1960s.

Osborne House is maintained by English Heritage and Bob was surprised to be greeted by a female custodian of the property with the words "hello where have you been all my life". " In a taxi" said Bob hurrying into the cafe for a well earned cup of tea. Fortunately the lady's ardour had cooled by the time Bob emerged sheepishly from the cafe. Bob has some concerns about English heritage, the CEO appears to be a bit of a plonker by what Bob has observed on the telly, and Bob's taxi driver said the grounds are not as well looked after as they used to be.

All in all it is a good half day out and the house is really quite spectacular inside. Bob also saw the first red squirrel he has ever seen in the grounds.




View from the terrace
10th April 2010 Bembridge  
Bembridge mill
Bembridge mill

Bridleway to Bembridge mill
Bob planned a trip to Perranporth today, but it would take three hours to get there. They only give PPR on the day, so Bob decided to give it a miss on this occasion and visit Bembridge on the Isle of Wight. Sandown is still open , but Bob has yet to sort out the right number to get PPR for Sandown.
Transport form Sandown is easy, Bob gets the train from Lake, or the bus outside the airport. At Bembridge there is no obvious bus top, but plenty of taxis about today. Bob decided to take a walk to check out the local transport facilities and investigate Bembridge village.
Outside the airport Bob turned left and headed towards the village but spotteda  public bridleway to Bembridge windmill and village. The path took Bob through some lovely woodland and up[ to the mill which is National Trust, so Bob took a quick look before moving on.
The path emerges on a road into Bembridge, but a few yard further on Bob takes another footpath to Bembridge point. Here there is a pub, the Pilot Boat, where Bob has a spot of lunch and a pint of diet coke before crossing the road to Bembridge point where there is a fantastic view across the solent to Portsmouth and the spinnaker tower.
Bob continued his walk through the village, which has a number of shops and restaurants in the centre and out towards the lifeboat station. The coastal path is not really very coastal, so Bob walked a number of roads coming across the renowned  Crab and Lobster, http://www.crabandlobsterinn.co.uk/menu.html , a place to visit next time.
Back to the airport, and Bob finds the bus stop at last, just a couple of hundred yards from the airport, and Bob has walked about four miles. At least Bob will be prepared for the next visit. Maybe Osborne House, bus into Ryde and then another to Osborne House.
Back at the airport there is plenty of time for a leisurely cup of tea in the company of one of Bob's flying chums, pictured right, before encountering another pilot from Bourn in G-OTUI. We leave within a few minutes of each other, but Bob and Gavin will arrive back at Bourn a good bit after G-OTUI, Gavin is no racer.

Bob's flying chum

B
embridge runway -  200 yards from the bus stop
     
28th March 2010 Leicester  

Fireflies at Leicester
Bob has finally got round to that trip to Leicester. It's only a short trip, but there is always a nice curry at the end of it. Bob was amazed to see a swarm of fireflies at Leicester, not the insects, the Slingsby T67 Firefly. These are ex military trainers and could be available for sale soon. We will wait and see. The Firefly is a fully aerobatic two seat trainer, could be a bit of fun. The fireflies are the yellow aeroplanes in the photograph on the left.

Leicester airfield is a bit out of town, There is a kart track nearby and a good menu though. It is an old bomber base, in common with Bourn, however Leicester still has its control tower, now the clubhouse, you can see this on the right.

Bob has a bit more work to do on Gavin today to complete his spring clean programme so back to Bourn after a brief visit. You can see a short video of the flight back here.
7th March 2010 Wellesbourne Mountfort  
Apologies to all, Bob forgot to put the memory card in his camera so we are on library pictures and scans for illustrations on this occasion. The airfield museum was open today as it is on most Sundays through the year, but Bob was more interested in feeding than moping round the museum.

The cafe at the airfield is very popular with the biker community, and when Bob arrived the queue was extending outside the door. "Bugger that" thought Bob and waited outside at the front watching the aeroplanes instead until the queue shortened. A few minutes later and Bob had ordered a cup of tea and a plate of lasagne, chips and salad. Bob ate his meal sitting outside on the veranda which is sheltered form the wind and exposed to the sun. All in all it was very pleasant in spite of the cold wind.

Wellesbourne is a good trip for the start of the year, a good distance (approx 60nm), a busy circuit (to hone the radio and joining skills) and a good cafe to feed the inner hamster.
The flying season is now underway, hurrah!

When Bob returned to Bourn they were testing one of those solar powered cars on the airfield. You know the sort of thing, a low slung white thing with a little canopy for the driver's head. Shame about the memory card for the camera.
11th February 2010 Local 20th February 2010

Kimbolton Castle
The weather is not improving very much so Bob and Gavin have been tooling around Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire. Bob noticed that Sywell airfield has a new hard surface runway, we need to try that out.

Chilling pictures this week (or in fact fortnight) of the place of incarceration Bob suffered for 5 years. Kimbolton Castle, home of Kimbolton school.

The trip on the 11th was pretty uneventful, Bob set out for Leicester, but didn't make it owing to low cloud. The trip on the 20th nearly didn't happen as Gavin had a small fire. No damage was done, but Bob had to strip off the cowlings and T-cut them to remove the smoke marks. It was a bit of a grass fire and the air intake filter got a bit singed, all due to starting in cold weather. Lots of priming and pumping fuel to get the engine started, a flash from the exhaust and that is all it takes. Roll on summer, Bob can do without that kind of excitement.

Someone later observed that had Bob left well alone there could have been an insurance claim. Now he tells me....

Kimbolton Castle
31st January 2010 Leicester almost....  

De-icing Gavin
Yesterday Bob popped down to the airfield with an electric tyre inflator and pumped up Gavin's nose gear oleo. He looked a great deal better with is nose in the air again. It makes a difference to the angle of attack of the wing on take off, it took quite a tug to get Gavin in the air last time we went out. This morning it was very cold and there was a hard frost, so Bob turned Gavin's back to the sun to thaw him out. Ice, even a bit of haw frost, can severely affect the aerodynamics, so the aeroplane has to be ice free before we can fly.

Today Gavin's take -off was normal as we set off towards Leicester. Bob called for airfield information before leaving and it was looking overcast and the cloud base was low. Bob decided to head out that way and see how it went.

We got as far as Corby when the cloud started to build up. Bob had tuned in to Leicester on the radio and although it was open, by the time Bob had landed and had lunch it was touch and go  as to whether he would be able to get away again, so Corby was as far as we went.

Northamptonshire is renowned for it's country houses and estates and Bob spotted the one on the right. It is Drayton House, home of the Stopford-Sackville family, not generally open to the public, although visits can be booked by arrangement.

Drayton House near Kettering Northants.
17th January 2010 Ooop North  

Boston and the haven


How it looks on the chart
Well not that far north, just up to Boston in Lincolnshire and back. Gavin hasn't been out since 5th December and he was a bit reluctant to get going today. Bob did his walk around first and found Gavin to be a bit low at the front, he needs a bit of a pump up of his nose leg oleo damper. His navigation lights didn't work either, a loose earth that was easily rectified, but otherwise all OK.

Bob bought £500 worth of fuel yesterday, but found a good two hours worth in Gavin's tanks so rather than mess about on the pump Bob decided on a short tour of the near north today. Going north takes us past Chatteris, March, Fenland aerodrome, a grass strip we visited last year and pictured on the right, and then a slight turn to the right to view Boston from the Haven. Bob has included a snapshot of an old CAA chart showing the area in question. Fenland is closed today because of the snow and rain making the field too wet for operations,

It's a lovely bright winter's day, but a bit hazy fine heading north, but the journey back is into sun and the visibility is quite poor in the haze. The flight is smooth and Gavin cracks along at 104 mph (90 knots) and the round trip takes 75 minutes, including 10 minutes ground taxi time.  Flying in winter tends to give a much smoother ride, less turbulence in the cold weather.

So that is our first flight of 2010. We will be going further afield as the days get longer and the weather improves. Bob is looking forward to being warm again. Maybe a trip to Leicester for lunch next time.

Bob

Fenland aerodrome

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