Monday, 28 December 2009

The Obalob Method of navigation

I was looking for a cylinder which would wrap around my leg to provide a "slippery" map-board which could allow me to rotate a map around my leg (see this earlier experiment). Then Lizzie, a keen gardener, suggested using a plastic flowerpot! Genius!

As an aside, watch Bill and Ben, the Flowerpot Men (BBC, 1953),
as only anyone of my generation will remember where obalob comes from.
(whiz past first three minutes)

I cut the base off one and slit it top to bottom. Then I colour copied 2xA4 views from my 1/4mil chart of England South, stuck them together and laminated them (interleafing two A4 pouches carefully to make a longer one), mounted the chart around the pot with duck tape and then tightened the pot around my suited leg, securing it with a final bit of tape (in the final version I think velcro might be more suitable).

Ordinarily, I could expect to get a map of the route from Sutton Meadows to Sackville on one leg, but my new method allows a flight North-South from say Sutton to Peterborough or East-West from Sutton to Leicester. That isn't a massive distance (45 x 25 Nautical Miles), granted, but one leg-map would cover all my favourite
airfields, including Sackville, Sywell, Leicester, Bakersfield, Deenethorpe, Grafton Underwood, Kimbolton, Chatteris, etc. And for a novice like myself, that is more than enough to be getting on with while I hangar at Sutton for the next few months. (see 2nd Update below!)

I will risk the ridicule. It is a "potty" solution but an efficient one, which will allow me
good access to undercarriage controls and a clear view of the countryside below me and instruments in front.

I have now fitted it out with velcro, so that it is fully functional; no longer just a prototype. I made a point of putting the fluffy side closest to my leg (wrapping a length of it along the inner and outer of the rough edge), so that the inner surface will slide easily against my suit. I will secure it on top of my leg then just slide it round. Simple.

I am really pleased with it.

2nd Update
While fixing the pot to my leg just now, I realised that I still have room for another 35 or 40 nautical miles under my leg (near the fixing velcro)! This could be a different route . . . leg, if you like, ahem. . . or the space could be used for landing / circuit info for the destination!

Sweet as a nut!


Sunday, 27 December 2009

Sod the Rules

The highlight of xmas was this t-shirt from Lizzie, by Ben Ashman, who as well as being a cartoonist, designed my Dragonfly. He is also, famously, the designer of an outstanding powered hang glider, called a Doodlebug. And a year or two back he fitted a jet engine to it and stunned a crowd at a flying show (watch it through - the sound alone is worth it!). Some of us are nagging him to fit a jet to the Dragonfly...and this t-shirt is the idea in blueprint!

Thanks Lizzie xx

Friday, 18 December 2009

a freebie from flylight

Ben Ashman has offered to solve my monopole bearing plastics problem for free! They are using different plastic sheets now and new adhesive.

Ben said, "
Since we changed to these we have had no more problems of damaging the plastic, it is a lot easier and does not effect the grip of the monopole. Your method will cause uneven clamping pressure on the monopole upper and lower tubes which is not desirable." ....I don't really understand this but Ben knows what he is talking about.

It means going up to Sywell, which is a bit of a pain (though nice to see the Flylight people)....and I wonder if there is a quick fix in the meantime, as I hoped to fly this xmas.

In the meantime, thanks Ben



With hangaring in mind, I just got hull insurance as well as my 3rd party and the whole lot came in at £233.60, which struck me as bloody good, when you think that covers me for accidental damage on the ground, fire, theft and public liability if I crash into someone. And having cranked up my flying hours, my deductible is half what it was last year!

I got it from OnRisk.
Maybe I should have offered the mention for a discount ;)


Tuesday, 15 December 2009

staying behind after class

The only trouble with my rather old vario is that it had only a small area on its oddly shaped bodywork which could act as a velcro surface for fixing it to my binnacle's face, so today I designed and made a mounting bracket using scrap polythene and the strip heater in the school's DT department. The solution, which is lined with velcro, more than doubles the surface touching the binnacle...and when I tested it out, it was bloomin' difficult to remove....No way will it just fall off, however severe the jolt. But just in case, there is a safety lanyard included.

It looks pinkish, but actually it is very nearly the same red as my Dragonfly :)
The photos I took are really awful (must be able to do better than my phone)...but they give the idea.

Rarely has a better hour been spent staying behind after school!


Sunday, 13 December 2009

articulated seat for seat-break rigging

I never can just leave things as they are. Now I have been thinking....wouldn't it be possible to make a seat which articulates (or with two or three parts) that it needn't be removed to break the seat tubes? I am working on it.

ok, I have now found a way to have a two part seat which will allow for a seat-tube break, while still being able to have the front two fibreglass panels in place. Now working on being able to have the rear-side panels fixed. Be very cool if, as well as being able to have the seat of a naked Dragonfly which can be left attached when rigging, it could be done with a fully faired one. That would be worth patenting!

Sutton Meadows for the winter.

Last night I rang Mary Robinson at Sutton Meadows and confirmed that I am going to keep my Dragonfly up there for the winter, semi-rigged in a hangar bay. I think I will get more flying in. I will keep my wing rigged and use the seat-break method to fix my trike to it. It means a longer drive, but time saved rigging and de-rigging the wing will more than compensate....and with less time taken with de-rigging at the end of the day, I will be able to fly closer to sunset - this is more relevant in winter when the days are so short.

I may keep the trike there in the bay....having the option to bring it home for fiddling around with. I have a lockable steel box which I can keep tools etc in, and I think I will make a shelf unit for panels etc. With everything to hand in my bay...waiting for me at Sutton, all I will need to do when I decide to fly is grab my kitbag and leap in the car (at present I have a couple of hours of loading and prepping before I can set out, and I need someone to help me carry the wing to the van..around difficult corners).

I think Sutton is really the way to go.

Also, flying from Sutton will mean that Lizzie and I will be at the same field, which will be fun
. And if the trike is at Sutton, we will be able to go up together in the van.

how I plan to modify the monopole

You might need to click on the image to see it clearly (not very well sketched)....but essentially the modification I propose is one which will stop the plastic getting snagged as the monopole slides in between the two splinting plates (no idea if they have a proper name). A single sheet of plastic is heated and formed around three faces of the monopole (the rear and two sides), then the holes drilled out again....and the plastic countersunk to avoid bolt threads snagging it. Incidentally, I have drawn it too needs to be long enough to accommodate both monopole bolts.

An alternative mod Dave Broom suggested was that the plastic be stuck inside the splinting plates, as Ben designed it, but that it have a flange. What is encouraging about the fact that Dave had been thinking about it, is that it meant that others had encountered this problem; not just me rigging badly. I think this probably happens anywhere that rigging is being done outside a hangar......the slightest wind getting under a tip will make the monopole twist as it slides between the splints.

frustrations wiped out by glorious flight

Finally, after hours of rigging hassle yesterday, I flew......and the sheer pleasure of independence in the air wiped out all the frustrations on the ground.

I had just about rigged my wing by the time Steve landed at Rougham and I felt I was making good
progress, though I regretted using the semi-tensioned method which I had forgotten had been such a hassle before, and had to take several battens out to allow me to cam-over the tip-wands.

Steve landing in G-IWIZ

Poor, long-suffering Steve should have flown on by!
Once committed to lending a hand, he became caught up in my problems rigging my trike. I think essentially that the short rig is just not suited to out-of-hangar rigging....the hint of wind on one wing-tip is enough to twist the base of the monopole so that it grazes the plastic bearing sheet inside the trike splints and rips and buckes it.

The twisting is quite horrible to watch, Steve says. I had to lower the wing and then remove the plastic at the base. Then, when Steve raised the wing again I couldn't get the monopole holes to line up....incredibly frustrating. I was all set to give up and go home, but Steve saved the day, not for the first time, by suggesting we try a seat-break rigging, which is the way it was originally designed to be done....before the short-rig was designed to enable users to keep their panels on their Dragonflies.

hen he must have been regretting having landed, Steve was treated to the sight of me falling flat on my face in the mud in my idiotic propeller beanie, when I tripped on a cable. I think that must have cheered him up.

Steve demonstrated the seat-break method....and it was so much easier! Fact is, I like the really is great design...and so much more stable. It worked great! Steve flew back to Honington before I started flying and once I had flown I had the challenge of de-rigging without his assistance. Splitting the seat tubes is a smooth process. It went fine.

Steve is feeling very pleased indeed that he didn't bother with panels, and I can now see why. That said, once you have your seat on again, fitting panels would not be too much bother really...and not nearly as time-consuming as other processes involved.

Flying was glorious! Having boshed just about everything up on rigging, I decided not to push my luck and raise my undercarriage, but all the same, the flight ticked all the boxes. I flew three extended circuits, skirting Bury St Edmunds, did three sweet landings and one too-high go-around...and left the circuit heading North for a little while, just bimbling about. Wonderful. (total 1hr 10)

De-rigging, as I say, was straightforward, though I finished off in the dark. I made a neat job of packing the wing; I'd thought that would be one of the hardest parts when it was first demonstrated, but I make a decent job of it now.

A long day, but I realised as I soaked in the bath, that even when it was going badly, I had enjoyed every bit of it.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

a cure for wind

The BMAA magazine carried an article a month or two ago, which caught my imagination: what if it is too windy to fly? Why not exploit that wind and sail....ON THE AIRFIELD!

I love it! It is inspired!

At the Flying Show I met Jane and Mike, who sell the X Sail land-yacht, and a very tidy bit of design it is! Lizzie and I have given serious thought since to buying one together, though it will only be practical if I am able to persuade Rougham Estates to let me "fly" it there, as I don't know if there is anywhere more suitable nearby. It may not be practical, as grass is not the ideal surface (friction)....but tempting nonetheless.

The whole yacht assembles without tools and breaks down into a bag which can be carried in the boot of a car...and for those of us with bad backs, it can be pulled along on its own wheels, as the bag wraps around the knocked-down fuselage - ingenious!

As a design graduate I love clever design! Have a look.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Extreme Tea Drinking - at 500' !

Here is a must-see from Ben Ashman's YouTube channel.

experiments with a map on one leg

I have been experimenting with ways to navigate using only one leg for my map....and the simplest is to photocopy 1:1 my map and assemble and laminate a slice 17cm (approx 25 st.miles) deep x 60cm in length (allowing for a flight of 75 st. miles E-W or vice versa) and wrap it around my leg (and ends joined with velcro) in a tube which can be rotated around my leg.

I have also made a prototype "window", secured to my flying suited leg top and bottom, which will direct airflow over the map to stop it lifting, but which could also have scale on it, and which could provide, as this trial does, a 1/2 hr or 17mile (at trim speed) view. It is made from A5 laminate sheet and secured with sticky-backed velcro.The window might over-complicate things though.

To keep your place you could even have a magnetic circle on the window-top and a metal disc inside the window, then slide the circle to approx position before doing other things.

This slice allows for a flight from Rougham to Sywell, taking in Sutton Meadows and Sackville.

Incidentally, no map was harmed in the making of this prototype. (well, strictly speaking, a 2006 map of Poland was sacrificed. It was rescued from a Flylight skip after the championships)

Another method would have to be employed if flying a similar distance N-S. I have a few cunning plans in mind, like a variation on this instructable, which I have made, which takes up a space on the leg of roughly A6 *(see note), yet can accommodate 75 miles in any direction. But this can get complicated to use, and will need
development ....especially if I am to use it with gloves on). It involves flaps folding left to right or up and down, variously.

* Note
ref A6. This is the size of A4 folded in half twice; I have also folded an A3 map to do something similar - though in both cases this solution requires more folds than that and includes a cut or two, so don't use originals unless you are a wealthy flier

Saturday, 21 November 2009

RT kit

I am blogging less, as sitting here is bad for my back...and I want to save that for when it is less windy!

But while not flying I have been thinking about communications. Buying RT kit is a nightmare of variables and expense. First you need the right radio, then, they will tell you, an interface (at a further couple of hundred pounds), then headphones....the whole lot costing easily £600 or so. - and no two pieces of kit necessarily automatically compatible with each you have to think well ahead. Well, here I tried to think outside the box, and with friends' advice, concluded that an SSDR pilot is really a slightly scaled up paramotor pilot, so I don't need an interface. I just need paramotoring headphones with a two pin plug which connects straight to a radio.

I have bought a second hand, but very well regarded Icom IC-A22E and after a very great deal of to and froing, bought an ex-demo pair of Microavionics headphones, with side tone (so you can hear your own voice transmitting - therefore no need to shout) and with a year's guarantee and the assurance that any mods or alterations to be done by the manufacturers will be FoC! That great deal comes from Alan Thomson, a fellow teacher, as it happens.

RT comes in at well under £300, even having bought a charger from ICOM, which is quite a result! I haven't transmitted yet, but enjoyed monitoring Lizzie's radio calls when she was doing circuits a couple of weekends ago.

And along the way I have made a new mate, Steve Taft, who responded to my Mayday on the BMAA forum and has provided reassuring and sensible advice. And while most others responded by offering to sell me something, Steve offered the loan of some of his kit to experiment with and decide what sort of set-up I really want. I didn't take him up on his offer, but what a generous one it was.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Flight of 28th Oct . GPS overlay on Google Earth

Our flight

Click images to see blown up.

I have yet to work out if there is a way that I can publish files
which can be used by readers in G. Earth, so that they can be navigated

Ickworth House, SW of Bury St Edmunds

RAF Honington, over-flying the runway

Rougham (formerly RAF Bury St Edmunds), Home base

"sector recce"

Yesterday I did my "sector recce", which Steve (ex-RAF navigator in Tornados) tells me is the RAF jargon for having a look around the area you are going to be flying in for a while. Being airborne again was fantastic, though no sooner was I up than I realised I needed to land, as my breather tube, normally retained in a hole in one of the panels (which I had decided to fly without), was blowing about and had been unceremoniously shortened by the prop. Damn. Steve realised I was in trouble and came back and landed behind me, though by the time he was down, I had taped the breather out of the way and was ready to take off again.

I flew in an open-face motorbike helmet
(with scooter visor). Until now I have always used my Microavionics one, but then I have had the use of a school headset. I need to get myself one. I'd wondered how noisy it would be. But really it was fine. A friend has been trying to convince me of the merits of a Flycom helmet, which cuts out loads of noise and cold but I have to say that these are not necessarily advantages. It is good feeling the air on your face and hearing your engine. I don't want to feel detached from the experience.

I had my balloonist's altimeter in my see-through pocket and it appeared to work rather well. Steve appeared always to be higher than me, though this may be an illusion. The rate of climb is conservative, to the say the least, but I realised pretty soon that I tend to pull on speed, thus losing height or reducing my rate of climb. The trim position is actually a fair stretch.
What I need is a vario/vsi (I nearly got an old one on ebay last night)

It was wonderful settling down into the experience of the flight and taking in the sights, circling to enjoy the details, like when I turned quite tightly to look at a church tower near Ickworth house and to return the wave of children on a half-term outing. The House itself looked fantastic from the air and made me feel that if I spend my time sightseeing from my Dragonfly, I need never go abroad again. There is so much to see here...and possibly no better way to see the country than from above. The layout of gardens and vineyards, avenues of trees etc is impossible to appreciate at ground level.

One thing I will HAVE to do is find a way to rig a camera, ideally with a screen to give a field of view...or some kind of wire frame that I can record what I see. One thing that can be recorded is the route. I think my Etrex can already be made to do this - I haven't explored it yet - but Steve sent me a Google map overlay of our route, as recorded by his own GPS system. It would be terrific to be able to keep a record of every route flown.

A highlight of the flight was a recce of RAF Honington. Steve got us permission to fly in close and have a really good look at the runway. I gather that the base is only now used for NBC training and at one point I saw a gaggle of airmen looking up from the door of what to this amateur looked like a bomb shelter, but which may well have been a gas hut like the one I trained in when I was in the TA. We had to walk around in the CS gas, and take turns at taking masks off and giving name, rank and number before exiting the building, coughing our guts out, our eyes streaming. I remember that I hadn't been issued my army number yet, so I just gave my phone number.

Being now free to fly into the area of the former MATZ will be excellent - though Lakenheath is still out of bounds. We had to keep a keen look-out because there were a number of KC130s flying in at about 500' above us. I had thought it would only be possible to fly beneath the panhandles, but providing we take account of those Lakenheath aircraft, we are a lot more free to fly North of Rougham now that the RAF have stopped ops at Honington.

My landing at the end of the flight was sweet....a darn sight better than my earlier one, which had been very pendulous - very hairy indeed. I think I am going to really enjoy flying my "sector", operating from Rougham....and venturing out further afield.

I talked to some of the chaps flying radio controlled models back at Rougham and one, Kevin, told me about two Tornados he had seen beating up the airfield at about 200'! I am going to have to be on the look-out for that sort of thing, and with that in mind, I MUST get my radio licence. Let me know, folks, if you hear of an affordable radio. I am planning on not bothering with an interface, just using an OPC499 with a GA headset, or similar rig.

Yesterday was an important landmark for me. From now on I am an independent operator. Free to fly.

rigging and de-rigging solo

I have no pics of the flying itself (must do something about that in future) but it was glorious (why do the most expressive adjectives sound so old fashioned?)

While I was unloading, Steve crept up behind me in his Dragonfly. I was amazed that, whether because I was just too involved in getting organised or was up wind of him (noise, not smell, lol), I didn't hear him taxying, let alone land.

Steve Wilson in G-IWIZ

My wing outrigger (for loading and unloading solo) works brilliantly. I did most of my rigging myself, insisting that Steve didn't make it easy for me (though I did ask him to do a few battens, just to speed things up); and once we had landed after our "sector recce" and said our goodbyes, I was de-rigging solo for the first time and very much aware that nobody was going to bail me out if it went wrong. So I was delighted that I packed my wing away very tidily indeed.....and got it up on to the van roof-rack with ease.

de-rigging with nobody to bail me out if I got into trouble

ready to load up van

I took lots of pictures of the trike and of the narrow gauge undercarriage. The day before I'd made a gizmo for keeping the ramps parallel too, and was pleased that it seemed to work ok.

the trike before the narrow gauge wheels are put on

Both sets together, before the wider set is retracted for transit

lifting narrow gauge wheels onto trolley raises undercarriage off ground

retract main gear

dispense with trolley

load up.
(the narrow gauge wheels fit the trike in the van and will run it through my front door, where the trolley makes it manoeuvrable -sideways etc- indoors, where space is restricted)

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Repairs done

Yesterday I made parallel spacers for my ramps, so that I don't have to keep tweaking them when running the trike up and down them, recharged the battery and refitted it (though my local motor parts specialist had never even heard of locking wire!), re-stuck the plastic inside the monopole splint and cleaned up the holes on the monopole and splint so that the two bolts slide in more easily. I guess I am ready to test everything.

But I have been looking at the weather and the wind is up. I reckon Tuesday looks best for a test flight.

Saturday, 24 October 2009


Other exciting news is that I now have varifocal glasses, making it possible to see both at a distance (I am short sighted) and read a map on my lap. Young eyes are able to change shape enabling them to adjust for both short and long distance, but in your mid forties, typically, the eye hardens and makes this adjustment difficult, so that while I have used the same prescription for ten years for reading as for driving (and everything else), recently I have noticed that it has been easier to take my specs off for reading....and that has made it very difficult indeed to read a map while flying. Hopefully varifocals will make both possible.

For anyone unfamiliar with these things, you look through the middle and upper parts of the lense to see middle and long distance, and through the lower part of the lens for reading. Getting used to them typically takes a couple of weeks, but luckily my prescription isn't too bad, so I am already getting used to them.

For flying on bright days I also have varifocal shades which look very cool indeed...with head hugger stems, making it easy to slip them under a helmet or headphones.

Starting a Bailey engine after it has stood for some time

Ben wrote back to my worried enquiry about my starting problems, and his advice was very helpful indeed. I followed it up with a call about charging my battery and that too very much reassured me. He is very clear that when in doubt, he is happy for people to ask.

I hope he won't mind me quoting him, because I think this could help others:

"Starting the engine after leaving the engine for a few weeks:

1) No throttle, throttle closed.
2) Turn engine over and keep it turning to pump up the fuel. This may take up to a minute if the fuel bowl in the carburettor is empty. Once the fuel bowl fills the engine will fire.
3) If the engine does not start after turning over for up to a minute. Leave alone for at least 2 - 3 minutes, the generated vacuum in the crank case and fuel system will draw up the fuel. Now try to start and she should fire almost immediately.
4) Do not use any throttle until the engine fires, the automatic choke is on full at this point and any throttle will simply flood the engine and prevent firing.
5) If engine fires and stops, open the throttle by a small amount (10%) and she will fire.

Pissing in the wind is better than 5 second bursts, the initial rotation of the engine requires huge power from the battery and repeating this will flatten the battery very quickly, make sure the battery is fully charged before starting, charge at home if you haven't been running the engine for a long time.

Try to start the engine and run it for a minute or two every couple of weeks, this will keep the fuel line and fuel bowl primed and help start the engine first swing. "

It all makes perfect sense. Short bursts just drain the battery. Ben said that the initial load on the battery is actually, for a microsecond, greater than the fuse rate, but it is so short a burst that the fuse doesn't blow....but if the process is repeated over and over, it is bound to deplete the battery, especially as it hadn't been charged after standing for a few months.

So, this afternoon I need to snip my securing wires on my battery connectors and get that battery on charge while I find someone local who sells locking wire. I reckon I will get loaded up to fly tomorrow, when hopefully the weather will be better.

Thank you, Ben

I have just heard back from Cath at Flylight, too, confirming my payment for a front strut protector; they now have them in red :) again, and for an F1 funnel, which is the type she uses on her Dragonfly and which she says fits the Dragonfly well. The great thing about these funnels is that they are designed to filter out water caused by condensation in fuel tanks.

Thanks Cath.

Sunday, 18 October 2009


Compass pillar slots neatly into the hole-saw cut hole in the binnacle and is secured with velcro. This places the compass low so that the rear digits can be read easily and, unlike other solutions I have seen, cannot be bumped by the speed bar.

The outrigger bar performed well today, enabling me to load the wing single-handed at the airfield, though Steve did help me get it to the car, which I think might be easier if I made a skid or golf-trolley type affair.

Much of Saturday was spent getting last bits and pieces ready for today, which was to have seen my first flight from my home field since I qualified. I finished my outrigger for wing loading, cut a hole in my binnacle to mount my compass, tweaked my roof-rack, put pipe lagging on the rungs of the ladder and made a monopole support (for transit), which secures in place with velcro.....

and felt ready.

Loading up today (including erecting the roof rack), took over an hour, though I was grateful for a hand from my neighbour, David, in lifting my wing on to the roof of the van. I had an uneventful trip to Rougham, where the gate was opened by an aeromodeller and where another told me my mate was waiting and asked if I'd call up on Rougham Radio to let them know when I was taking off, so that they could ground their models first.

I met Steve and then discovered that he had turned out, just home from a trip, not intending to fly, himself. I'd imagined that he was going to be rigging his Dragonfly too. Very generously, he came just to help me, though he would also say that it gave him the chance to try out a half-tension rigging, which we concluded was not really easier and which created its own problems; we had to de-batten 8 and 9 to release sufficient tension to be able to locate cam cups over the wands; I found camming-over a lot easier today, both on half tension and no-tension; and tensioning at the keel (in both modes) was a lot easier today, too, which bodes well for the future.

But lifting the wing so that the monopole located was murder and Steve is adamant that it is a process which is best suited to hangar rigging. He watched and was very unhappy with the twisting that he observed in the plates either side of the monopole. Eventually we got it rigged, but only after a bit of surgery on the plastic sandwich, which had become rucked in the process. This is a bit worrying for me....

...but not as much so as the fact that I couldn't get the engine to start. The simple fact is, we later discovered, the filter was dry. I tried and tried to start until my battery was out of juice. I am guessing this is down to that fuel pump problem which Ben designed the modification to deal with. I have never encountered a problem with mine, but before I try anything else, I shall do the mod (and recharge the battery) and try to start it again.

This is the second week in a row that my plans to fly have been frustrated. Last week my van failed its MOT, now sorted. This week engine problems.


Huge thanks to Steve for turning out and sticking with me through it all. Ah well, I expect I have learned quite a lot anyway and my rigging times are bound to be improving. Tell you what though, I can see why Steve has dispensed with body panels. I think life would be a lot easier without them. For pragmatic reasons, I reckon I will leave them at home next week.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

a wheelchair ramp provides a compact, lightweight solution

I didn't like my ladder-based ramp. It was heavy, clumsy...and got me teased relentlessly at Sywell ;)

So I decided to either make, have made or buy something more compact . . . and found this on ebay: a portable wheelchair ramp, capable of carrying 28 stone...and designed to be carried by taxis, etc. I have played with it, but as my van is currently at the garage, I haven't had the chance to actually try the ramp out properly.

It is a nice little design made from aluminium extrusion, which telescopes in three stages from 28" to 5' (which is a bit shorter than my own ramp, but which I think will be fine) and has a grippy, sandpaper-like running surface. It comes in its own, conveniently designed zip-up canvas bag, compact enough to put in the seat-well too; better than having to go to the trouble of securing a ramp to the roof-rack and having to check the straps at every service station.

£44 including postage.


Monday, 5 October 2009

red check

The mobile tower at Rougham is provided in the form of a truck (with a collapsing chassis) known affectionately as the "ice-cream van", but carries a stern warning not to ask for ice-cream. Spot the clue that it was not kept busy on the 3rd, when it was blowing a gale outside.

In by-gone years, this caravan (below) did the same job at another airfield before being purchased by Rougham's owner, Sir John Agnew, who I haven't met yet, but who is very much a man of the people and a great aviation enthusiast. It is down to his attitude to flying that I am allowed to fly at Rougham.

This weekend it doubled as a hangar for Felix's model aeroplane. It is rather cosy, with a bunk on one side, storage space, a hatch at the top of a ladder and a swivel chair poking up into a cloche-style tower, about as roomy as the cockpit of a Messerschmitt 109

I clambered up into it and saw that albeit cramped, it gave a good view of the field and I think it would be great if it was used more. It is a beautiful bit of kit.