Sunday, 26 December 2010


on reflection, maybe all I did wrong 1st start was flood the carb because, of course, the automatic choke will have been full on. I should have been patient and waited a few mins before retrying.

On the second attempt about an hour later, when I had boosted my by then discharged battery, it did fire and stop, so I should have tried again with 10% throttle. But I think I just flooded it again.

It would be nice to hope it was nothing more complex than that...and that if I'd had a second battery, I would have been fine.

I am taking Neil Hubbard's advice and designing a new set of connections using EC3 connectors and a break-out to a couple of lugs for jump starting and charging, plus another plug in tamiya connector for trickle charging. Off to Maplins now.

Email from Wayne Lofts

Hi Peter...
Happy Christmas.
I have just read your blog and can understand
why you feel so downhearted. Please take your time and think it through.
Would not the option of buying another battery be the simple solution?
You have a lot more experience of the Dragonfly than I do.

However having owned a permit flexwing I can tell you it's a
bloody hassle. The permit every year is a big expense,

plus you have to find and pay a BMAA inspector to do the job.
Yeh you could get get a nice blade 462 for about 4K but it will

be old and need a lot of maintenance.

You have come too far in gaining a pilots licence to
simply pack it in. Why not try a spare battery and get down to the

airfield that bit more regularly if time permits.

You and the aircraft will benefit from it so much.
Kind regards,

Thanks for the encouragement, Wayne
I am not sure the battery is the problem. It will discharge very quickly anyway if the engine does not fire up quickly. No, I am missing something. Simple fact is that it is not as simple as Ben Ashman always says, it simply does not fire up every time.

I keep telling myself how lucky I was that I wasn’t ready to fly the Channel for the Bleriot celebrations!

I get to the airfield as often as I possibly can. But I agree with both you and Steve Wilson that I may have knackered my battery, so a new one is on the cards (Flylight is closed just now).

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Anyone fancy a Dragonfly?

It is glorious to fly, but I am tired of the times when it doesn't.

Don't buy an over-priced new one.

Buy mine...together with transporting equipment and I will even sell you the van, if you want.

Comes complete with all panels, new big-end bearing, new monopole and compression strut, new support plates, new foot throttle - all parts installed by Ben Ashman, except for the new nosewheel assembly which I installed but Flylight inspected - and engine serviced only a month ago by Paul Bailey himself.

If it doesn't go, I am the clown who can't get it to go. So if you are handy, this is a great opportunity to get one at an affordable price.
The aircraft itself is £8,000

the van, ramp, narrow-gauge undercarriage (for transportation and front door access), and roof-rack + ladder for supporting the wing etc are all up for offers.

built summer 2008

flown fewer than 50 hrs, including times used as sales demo by Flylight

the actual one seen in the assembly manual video and on the video on YouTube, where it flies in winter over Pitsford Reservoir.
bugger bugger bugger

all rigged and ready to go and the blinking battery discharged in seconds; guess I need a new one (and a spare)

got my trickle charger here but doubt I can take on enough as it is a slow charger.


not happy



After an hour and a quarter I thought I'd give it a short burst and then go home; didn't hold out much hope of having enough charge in the battery to start up, but never say never. So, without putting my suit on, I pulled on a motorbike helmet, strapped in and tried it. And she fired up! But after 30seconds she died and wouldn't re-start.

But that has given me hope. So, though I know it seems idiotic, I am charging the battery again in the hope of being able to fit in at least one circuit before sun-down. I don't like the idea that it cut out again...but at least it is possible to get enough charge in an hour to fire up. There is a chance now, which is more than I thought I had an hour ago.

Just as well I brought a book and have the computer here in the clubhouse to keep me amused.

Final Update
No, I couldn't start it.

That's it, I am selling it. I live too far away from the hangar to do work on her regularly, and if I am going to take her home, as I did tonight, I might as well keep her at home and fly closer to home....or sell her. But I am sick of the down-time. It is too expensive and frustrating.

I packed up the trike to bring it home and rewire the battery connections.


Friday, 24 December 2010

A fellow Dragonflyer wins Dragonfly flight :)

Congratulations to fellow Dragonflyer, Steve Wilson, for winning a go in MY Dragonfly with his answer to the competition, in record time!

The object is, amazingly, a 2.2m diameter wheel, one of the first parts of a German WW1 bomber, the
Mannesmann Poll, designed to bomb America. I don't think much else is thought to have actually been built. The wheel was found in a hangar near Koln in 1919. The scale of it is amazing, especially when you look at the wheel and then look at this picture which Steve provided today.

The giant triplane was to have had ten engines and a 6,524 mile range; seems inconceivable, doesn't it, especially at a speed of 80mph! A round trip would have lasted over three days! Hard to imagine having room for bombs as well as fuel.


Christmas Competition

Neill Howarth (my former instructor) and I met at Duxford for a grand day out yesterday and this photo, with him standing in front of it, shows a curious object which we were amazed by...and which is the basis of
this year's Christmas Competition.

Whoever identifies it gets to fly my Dragonfly in 2011.


Insurance sorted in ten minutes :)

Talked to Steve, yesterday, about possibly flying Xmas day, which he told me would be the best day for it (a brief respite in an otherwise horrible period of groundedness)...then woke this morning to the awful realisation that my insurance had run out....and the anxiety about the fact that On-Risk have pulled out of aviation....leaving me thinking I'd have to do a lot of schlepping around trying to find an insurer who would handle the great unknown of SSDR.

But I rushed off a quick text to Steve and he told me he gets his with Traffords. Went online. No phone number, just an email address. Emailed them with a "Bugger, have I left it too late?" and ten minutes later I was insured for half last year's premium...and they have included ANY PILOT!

Thanks, Steve, for the recommendation, and thanks to Greg and Tracy at Traffords.

Friday, 3 December 2010


Lizzie persuaded me that I'd be very unwise to attempt to drive the ordinarily 1 hr ten from Ipswich to Sutton Meadows, with ice under snow, to attempt a flight. I was ahead of her. I'd already decided that I'd abort. The wind was forecast as 9mph, which is no biggie in the air, but which is hazardous on the ground for an SSDR.

Pity because it would have been very pretty from the air. But am warm and dry where I am.