Sunday, 28 November 2010

But for Dave Broom, I'd have come home without flying

My battery was flat. After all that!

I could have anticipated this: nearly three weeks without starting the engine and freezing air. I tried using a powerpack but couldn't get the crocs to hold on to the tiny contacts on my battery, so gave up, de-rigged, packed up and was resigned, completely, to coming home and salvaging what I could from the day - doing some guitar practice, or something.

Then Dave Broom landed and said, "get rigged, suit up and pre-flight and I'll pull your prop over". But I was already in give-up mode and tried to thank him most sincerely and carry on home, but he said, "you need to get flying. you need to stop fucking about". So, I completely re-rigged, strapped my balloonist's altimeter to my leg, donned my motorbike helmet (warmer than a flying helmet and headphones) and strapped in with minimal kit (no vario, radio, compass, map - nothing)

As it happened, the prop just slipped under the reduction belt, so Dave went and got his own battery out of his Shadow and jump-started me....and I went flying - the first time with a foot throttle, which makes life a hell of a lot easier.

It was glorious flying but doesn't begin to compare with Steve Wilson's story; he always tops me...and has fantastic photos to show for it; he should have a blog of his own! (Steve, take note)

I kept fairly close to Sutton Meadows (just in case. Need to re-build confidence) and climbed to about 1,800' and just bimbled. I did about 50 mins before landing for a cuppa to warm my hands. Switched off and then restarted immediately, just to see if I could. I had a coffee and a natter with Neil, Dave's student, then had another 20 mins in the air, in time to de-rig before it got dark.

But for Dave, I wouldn't have flown. He really saved the day.

Lesson learned. I need to get some quick release battery connections. Neil says the ones I used to wire in my GPS are not man enough for the job and he is going to email some good links. Currently I need to snip my lock-wire to remove the battery and re-wire it before flight....bloody-silly waste of time. I should be able to take my battery home and just click it into place and be ready for take-off. A spare battery wouldn't be a bad idea either.

I also need to slacken off my throttle cable, which wasn't returning to the stop, when closed. The engine was revving slightly high at idle and I was forced to do a go-around on my first landing.

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