Monday, 30 May 2011

Check flown

SW, I didn't have your camera, as you can see!

Again, too tired to say anything sensible; and again, I will write this up tomorrow. Suffice it to say that my Quantum has been check flown and performed very nicely....with me in the back.

Many thanks to Craig, Sam and Doug for their help today in getting the plane ready, and to Jim for his advice and hands-on help, before dramatically testing it out in the air.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

I own a Quantum

Thanks to Sam my Quantum is now safely hangared at Great Oakley. We had quite a journey (260miles round trip). I am so tired I can't think of what I want to will write tomorrow.

I also have Craig to thank for the fact that the man doing his check flight on Monday is also going to be doing mine; and for the fact that Craig is going to help me to rig the aircraft ready for that.

It is all coming together very well...a.nd what's more it looks like Wednesday and Thursday will be flyable! What a great half term!


Friday, 27 May 2011

Why I am glad Dragonflying is behind me

The Dragonfly is arguably the nicest fly you can have in a flexwing; certainly, Neill (with 1500 hrs in various types) thinks so. When the weather is right and when it is flying to spec, it is superb.

But though I have deliberately worked a four day week this year in order to be able to fly on Fridays, I cannot remember a Friday when that has actually happened. While I have watched heavier aircraft take off and fly away on windy days, I have been grounded....What they don't advertise with SSDR is that the weather in this country is very often not condusive to nano-light flying.

............And on those days when it has been flyable I have found the Bailey 175 temperamental.

Ben Ashman says on his videos that the engine "starts every time". Well, I am by no means the only Dragonflyer who has found that the battery is often insufficiently gutsy to start the engine, which does not have a that if your system is drained (as it should be for packing up and transporting) it takes a lot of its juice pumping the fuel up to the carburetter. I soon learned my lesson and wired in a charging circuit and bought two spare batteries....rather than be stranded without power to start, miles from home. And eventually I learned to raise the fuel by blowing into the tank with a syphon tube (but you have to be careful not to flood the carb).

But more hairy than the engine not starting on the ground was my plane's tendency to suddenly stop in the air, which it did three times in 15 months (and a further 3 times when I tested it, while trying to solve the problem)...oh, and not forgetting the emergency landing when the throttle was slipping!! Early last year she stopped at 600' when I was climbing, a problem put down to not filtering fuel, despite having done so religiously with a filter Ben sold me - so that was a mystery - but interestingly, the problem repeated itself a month or so ago, when I was climbing from 1500'. Eventually, after two weeks' diagnostics, Paul Bailey concluded the carb was faulty. Presumably it always had been, and the problem was just biding its time to pull a repeat of that stunt. Previously, Bailey's had suggested my problems were due to varnishing in the carb, and had advised me cleaning it, which I did.

That first engine failure put paid to a reciprocal arrangement I had with a fellow ex-student mate. We'd said that he'd get a Quantum and I would get a Dragonfly...and we'd each swap planes occasionally, so that we'd have the best of both worlds. But after that, he said there was no way he was going to trust mine.

Then there was that big end bearing failure which meant that I ended up crash landing on take-off. The rebuilding of the engine cost me nothing - Bailey's, I suppose, felt it was their responsibility-, but it cost me in terms of replacement parts for the airframe...and potentially might have cost me a sale when it came to putting it on the market, especially as I have made a point of blogging my troubles.

And worse still, the succession of failures cost me in terms of my own confidence in the plane. I stopped retracting the undercarriage and stopped thermalling, because I could never be confident I wouldn't need to do an emergency landing if the engine refused to restart.

The chap who has bought G-CFKK (and who knows all the troubles I have had - from this blog and also from my tech-log...and who has added quite a lot of comments to the blog about them) has a beefed up big end, new carburetter, fuel pump and fuel lines, new nose wheel, front strut, monopole, quick release prop, new foot fact, practically a new plane. He should have no trouble because loads of the plane is new. It flew great last weekend, and I am pleased I had the chance to have a good experience of the plane before it went, but I am glad it has gone.

The bit I resent most about my Dragonfly's engine failures is that they completely put my girlfriend off flying. Flying was a passion we shared and she had done most of her first 25 hours of instruction when she decided that it wasn't for her, not if she was ever likely to have to ditch in a field and be stranded, alone, miles from home. She was a talented student and as not one of my emergency landings was down to pilot error, how could she trust that a crash landing wasn't going to happen to her sooner or later too? ....especially as they didn't seem to be too exceptional!

When it flies well, the Dragonfly is wonderful, but quite honestly it is miserable not being able to trust it completely. I am sure it is largely a psychological thing -after all, other Dragonfliers have got in loads of hours without problems, but I need to be able to trust a plane in order to fly it, and G-CFKK has done much to justify my lack of trust in her.

Part of why I sold was so that I can afford to do 3-axis, and now that is possible, but whatever I fly in future, I am glad that Dragonflying is behind me.

Quantum pilot

This Quantum 582 is nearly mine. I got most of my qualifying hours on a Quantum. I love flying really is a point and shoot plane...almost reads your mind. I love side slipping on to a runway....I did my final X-C to Sutton Meadows from Sywell on it , and back, and it was a glorious flight. And now I nearly have one of my own! And of course friends and colleagues are all excited that it is a two seater!

(the pics got fuzzy when being compacted to go on AFORS, but once it is mine, I will of course get loads of great quality shots of it)

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Sold one plane and bought another!

click image for a clearer view

Without ever advertising it....but for mooting the idea on here....I have sold my Dragonfly for what I originally paid for her, albeit that it is now worth rather more, as I have added a foot throttle, quick release prop boss...and now that the carb and pump and big end have been up-rated too. I took her down to her new owner, a long-time reader of this blog, and demonstrated her from his airfield and had a ball. It was rather a brief demo of just three circuits, as the wind was scarily rough, but I wanted him to know for sure that he was getting a sound machine.

It has been out of action for a few weeks because I had a problem with the old carb, but replacing it has solved the problem of it burning too much fuel; so much so that the pump could not keep it supplied and it cut out on me in flight, which was rather worrying. I brought my buyer up to speed on this and we both awaited news from Bailey's anxiously. So that test flight was exciting for us both.

There was a nasty cross wind on take-off, tight turns to avoid habitation etc...and very bumpy air around 400'.....I gained no more height because it is a very small circuit and there were lots of obstacles below....little opportunity to stretch the climb in a straight line - this was a test flight after all...and I was anxious about the need not to gain height over buildings (with the chance of a sudden loss of power) etc. I attempted a cross-strip take-off to get up into wind but ran out of strip and aborted....not nice!....and not at all pretty! Thankfully, Bailey's had done a good job and all went well when I took off straight down the strip, starboard wing slightly down..

It was great to be able to fly her before I let her that I would be left with a great final impression and my buyer could start with a great one too.

Meanwhile, Neill was elsewhere in the country looking over a Quantum 582, which he says is a really great buy, very well maintained and with a superbly documented service history. I am completely delighted. I can't say more now, for fear of jinxing the sale, but I have put down a deposit and by the end of Half Term, she should be in my hangar.

Craig, Doug and Sam at Great Oakley are very pleased for me...all offering advice and help, and as well as now being able to fly with them, I have the assurance of Craig's in-depth knowledge of the Quantum and Doug's all-round wizardry with Rotax engines. So I never need worry about maintenance and problems; I know I will have all the help I need.

So, on a single day I sold one plane and bought another (and made a handsome profit too!)

What a day!

p.s. Rather gratified by Neill's impressed response when I said I had flown, in what was to all the country's fliers one hell of a windy day. "So, you manned up and went anyway! Just as well you had a great teacher!"