Monday, 25 January 2010

Yesterday, before flying, I fitted some extensions to my wing trolley - for supporting my base bar. I was rather pleased because I made them up from scrap and had accurately estimated the dimensions. The trolley I have borrowed didn't have any. The rounded holders are from an old climbing frame. I am rather chuffed with the result.

I have plenty of room in my hangar bay, as you can see. Next week I am taking down some concrete slabs, like those in the neighbouring bay (left), so that my trolley runs straight in and out smoothly. I am also making a long pulling handle for moving it while holding the wing.

This was a great idea of Lizzie's because it means flying with the minimum of rigging, while the days are so short. Once they are long again, I can justify spending time rigging and de-rigging...and still get lots of flying in.

I have flown two weekends running now.

click images to enlarge

Sunday, 24 January 2010

twenty-foot beat-up

Glorious flying today, albeit all in the circuit, due to low flew lots at about 700! Best of all was a beat-up of the main runway (Sutton Meadows) at twenty feet - with one hand on the bar, the other on the throttle....feeding in power very gently to maintain height.....getting much better at control!

I did some filming on my helmet-mounted mini-cam - but the battery only lasted ten minutes or so. Quite pleased with the quality, even if framing is rather poor and will need work.


or on YouTube, where it can be blown up larger and can sometimes be clearer

Sunday, 17 January 2010

propeller beanie

When I was a kid growing up in Africa, we could only get American comics...and one of them featured a cartoon kid wearing a propeller beanie and I WANTED ONE!!! That was about 35 years ago, so when I spotted this on eBay and ordered myself one and one for Lizzie (so she wouldn't feel left out) I think I had forgotten that I am no longer a kid.

Lizzie humoured me, but I
doubt she will ever wear it. And I don't know if people will consider me a safe person to have on an active airfield if I wear mine at Sutton Meadows. Steve Wilson managed to politely ignore it when he saw me wearing it at Rougham as I rigged my wing...but at least he and I were the only people within miles.

But I HAD to have it.

One Hundred Percent!

Finally, flying weather....a full month after my last flight, and hopefully not only is the weather going to be easier on me now, but having my plane hangared at Sutton Meadows should make rigging a heck of a lot easier too.

Not only will I be spared the shuttling of cars in the road to ensure a convenient parking space for loading, then spared the hour of loading the next morning, the need of a friend or neighbour's help in getting my wing on the van and the wing rigging and de-rigging at the airfield, but now I have also freed up the front room (somewhat) and space in the back; and will be able to shut the communicating door and keep the heat in.

Going flying should be a lot easier. I can now just grab my flying kit and helmet (plus miscellaneous bits and pieces in a box, and jump in the car. The hour plus in the car each way is more than made up for.

I was ploddingly slow with my wing rigging today, for two good reasons: firstly, everyone was so friendly and I had lots of conversations with fellow enthusiasts, including Peter and Mary Robinson, who I have been talking to for the last month, as we have sought a gap in the weather for installing my plane. They own the airfield and were very hospitable. That sort of thing really matters at an airfield. They, and Peter and Renate, and Nick and Brian, and a student called Reza (originally from Persia) all made it a very pleasant day. Secondly, because I was waiting for the wind to drop, which it did in the early afternoon. Just as well, as I'd been told in the morning that it was 30mph at 2,000'.

Rigging the trike went very smoothly, I am glad to say. I must email Ben and tell him that his modifications and adjustments worked.

I bimbled for 55 minutes, mostly around 1500'. My obalob method of navigation worked gratifyingly well, I was delighted to find. I landed, then flew one more circuit. Dave Broom tells me that there are no restrictions on circuits and beat-ups at Sutton, which is good news, because I want to practise my hand throttle control at low height....something like ten feet...and I want to get Lizzie to take some shots of me flying past with wheels up.

That was the best thing about my flight -I retracted my undercarriage and had an uneventful landing when I put the gear down again. Must tell Ben that, too.

But the absolute highlight of the day was Lizzie getting 100% in her Air Law exam; I am very proud if her!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

a meccano solution

My suction cups arrived today (with their screw-in bolts and brass nuts) and stuck best to the side of my visor. A couple of pieces of meccano, some washers, tiny nuts and bolts and some velcro... and job done (prototype, anyway). I now have a solution which will film what I am looking at (though at present the lens-line is above my eye-line and the field of view is not amazing).

For a detailed, photo-illustrated set of instructions for making this mount, here is an "Instructable"

Sunday, 10 January 2010

in flight movie

Here is the film of the first outdoor test of my new, thumb-sized MD80 camera, which I plan to use as an in-flight camera on the Dragonfly.

If you prefer, you can watch it on a big screen on YouTube

click image to enlarge

I paid £11 (incl postage from Hong Kong) on ebay. At that price, I hope it wasn't produced by political prisoners in a Chinese Gulag. It is an insanely low price, but it means that I can experiment with in-flight filming without worrying about the camera falling off the plane.

Despite the low price, I think the results are actually very good. I am very impressed by the sound quality. One negative is that there appears to be no way of getting rid of the date stamp while filming and changing the date is tricky (I think mine is a knock-off of a camera for which this procedure was easier). Also, it doesn't have a screen, so setting up angles requires trial and error. By the time I have made my brackets, though, I should have a better idea of the field of view.

One major advantage of the camera is its size and weight, which should make mounting it on the side of my helmet or on various mounts and brackets fairly straightforward....if all else fails, it can just be duck taped in place.

I was amused by this chap's solution, which works best if you have a small nose. It is worth fast-forwarding to 2:20
. I like this guy...and his solutions are simple, but clever. He also introduces us to 3M, which is much stronger than velcro and which snaps to male and female surfaces - I guess you could call it hermaphroditic!

There are a number of test films and mounting solutions for the MD80 and its various equivalents detailed on YouTube. I like this bar mount for a conventional camera, which I found on ebay...very cute design! I may produce something similar, but without the folding legs....and fix lockable universal joint where that bolt is...and on top of it have a mounting plate to which the MD80 can be stuck. (I have some dexion racking which has a similar pattern of holes on it, I just realised.)

Nick also suggested using a suction cup on the side of my helmet (though he was thinking of the sort used to pull dents out of car panels). I found this one on ebay. I emailed them and Sally got back to me to say their parent company supplies a company which makes suction fittings for just that - cameras on helmets! Apparently, they use the 32mm and 47mm cups with the brass screws.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Flight for Life

After I started a thread on the BMAA forums asking people if they knew of any programmes, films etc about microlighting, having just enjoyed re-watching "The Dream" with Lizzie, Nick Axworthy wrote to me to say that a chap called Bobby Tomlinson had just sent him some old videos free of charge and that he would send me a copy of a TV programme called "Flight for Life" (1994), featuring Ben Ashman and Judy Leden's venture to fly ...

"from England to Jordan in memory of a young friend who had recently died of lung cancer - Jasmin Saudi. Prior to her death Jasmin had invited the pair to fly in her homeland of Jordan. Proceeds from the sale of a video to mark the flight, which went to the Cancer Research Campaign, had passed the £100,000 mark in less than a year." [source]

Nick said he would be making a donation to the charity, and as he very kindly sent me a copy, I shall be doing the same. Quite apart from anything else, this charity has poignancy for me as my step-father died of cancer only a year after Ben and Judy's venture.

Ben told me about this expedition a year or so ago and I have been longing to watch this film, so many thanks to Bobby and to Nick. I am not sure of the legalities of having a copy, but as I don't think the recording is readily available, and as I shall be making a donation, hopefully Nick's generosity won't get either of us in any hot water and will benefit others, as was the original point of its production.

Thanks very much, Nick

While searching for sources for this entry I found a microlight based group started to raise funds for cancer charities, also called Flight for Life. It is run by Les Field, Tony Parr and Jacqui Parker and was originally set up in honour of their friend, Craig Hyder:

When Craig Hyder, who had just been diagnosed as terminally ill from cancer, suggested to his friends that they could raise money for charity by flying long distance in microlights they said yes. The only problem was they had never flown before. Since their first lesson in 2003 the flight for life team has raised over £30,000.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

A Flylight Graduate

CFKK on her narrow gauge undercarriage (the main gear can just be seen tucked up behind the seat)
in the Flylight workshop.

All three partners at Flylight stood around my trike this morning, commenting on my narrow gauge undercarriage; having a laugh. One of them said they should have thought of it. Paul suggested I leave it in place in flight, just in case I forget to lower the main gear, which I believe is something that each of them has done. I am determined that I never will do.

Everyone seemed in good spirits this morning... a fair amount of glad-handing. I persuaded Steve Prouse to come along and he grabbed a short flight with Neill, who had also popped in briefly. And it was good to catch up, the three of us together again, even if it meant being the butt of their jokes again. I miss that; who'd have thought!

Ben gave me a generous amount of his time. He didn't just stick the plastic panels inside my old monopole splints as I had expected, but replaced the splints entirely with brand spanking new ones, reaming out the lower hole so that all parts now fit snugly. He also did a modification on the monopole pivoting bracket, which isn't structural, but which holds the de-rigged monopole in line. He is a fast worker, which comes of practice.

And while he worked, he gave me a few rigging tips. The solution to my problem, apparently, is to put the compression strut in its place, unpinned at the bottom, then stand with one foot on the seat (to force the keel down) and push the monopole up while slotting the top bolt in; then do the bottom bolt (before remembering to pin the bottom of the strut). To be honest, I thought Steve Wilson had tried that. Still, hopefully, now that my monopole geometry has been fettled and my distorted splints replaced, there's a good chance it will all go well anyway.

I'd been quite chuffed by the faint praise my auxiliary undercarriage got, but then, as I picked up the front wheel and I nonchalantly steered my trike out of the workshop, someone suggested that if Ben and Co had taken the piss, you can be sure they had been impressed.

It was rather nice being a "graduate" at Flylight today. And the quality of after-sales service on my trike was excellent. The beautiful new parts and all Ben's efforts and advice were free!

Thanks Ben.