Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Airborne E-News

Some recent news from Airborne down under, some pricing changes to the trikes. It just coming into their summer down there, so some news of fly-ins etc while we are getting ready to hibernate for the winter (after getting a good stockpile of nuts of course)

The Ausssie dollar has fallen a fair bit in the last couple of months, making their gear a bit more attractive on the pocket!

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Sunday, 26 October 2008

An interesting day at Sywell...

Hello All,

had a quick trip to Flylight Airsports in Sywell near Northampton last Friday - just a day trip courtesy of the red-eye 0700 flight from Belfast City to Birmingham. Regular travellers to the mainland UK really have a great service on their doorstep with the City Airport. After 40 minutes we were touching down at Birmingham and at Sywell for around 10ish (I got lost for a bit, but thats another story)- Thanks FlyBE!!

Anyway, the purpose of my visit was a day with Paul Dewhurst for a bit of training for my BMAA inspector ticket. Paul has been flying Microlights for donkeys years and is an Instructor Examiner - he recommends to the CAA if people are OK to be a Microlight Instructor (after the training of course) We all have to do a revalidation every 2 years, and Paul is one of the people who does this. I explained the whole Instructor Examiner thing to a friend who put a Star Wars slant on it, comparing the Examiners to Yoda and Instructors as Jedis...... I dont buy into that as I dont know anyone that looks like Yoda, and I lost my Star Wars light-sabre thing years ago ;-) Sorry, I digress

We done a fair bit of the inspector stuff, it actually took much of the day to complete and was well worthwhile. So, once the paperwork comes through we will be able to do 3-Axis and Weightshift annual aircraft inspections and check flights.

The Flylight hangar is full of lots of different Microlights, there is even a twin-engined Lazair in the corner. There are lots of Skyrangers and Flylights newly manufactured Dragonfly. Unfortunately the wing was folded for some reason so I couldnt get a spin in one. Seems like a great idea though, a Microlight that you really can fold up and put in the boot of your car, with the wing on your roof-rack. Paul D reckons they have sold a couple of dozen so far - and I nearly bought one myself (and still could do) Just a pity there wasnt one there for a quick rattle!! Ben Ashman has put some videos on YouTube of the Dragonfly, here's a demo of him unpacking one before flying:

The all-important wing has been manfactured by Aeros and is basically their 15m hang-gliding wing beefed up for a light trike and pilot attached to it. It has been tested for a max payload of 150kg which is ample. The whole SSDR thing is very tempting in the UK as the only options for new Microlights are priced around £27k......

I managed to get a quick 30mins in a GT450 at the end of the day. It's the first time I've got a spin in one, mainly because we are so busy flying our Airborne XTs with students etc. So it was good to get a spin in something different for a change, but why are all these new trikes focused on speed?

The differences between the XT and the GT450 are quite subtle, but all added up I dont think we will buy a GT450 for our next training aircraft. In fact if I was buying one just for my own flying then I would still go for the XT. A quantum with a bog-standard 912 is much nicer to fly than the GT450.....But I would say all of that I suppose!!

All-in-all an interesting day......and I didn't get lost on the way back to Birmingham which was a bonus!

Cheers, Victor

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Thursday, 9 October 2008

Olivier Aubert - South to South

Hi There,

Olivier has updated his youtube pages with a 3min trailer
Worth a look, with the full hour-long version available from his website

Cheers, Victor

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Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Charlie Fox November India

We have been pretty busy the past month, the end of summer\start of autumn always gives us a glimpse of good weather. And it was well needed, Summer 08 has been the wettest for decades according to the Metmen.

And a new arrival has made an appearance....sorry to disappoint but not a hot towel or babygrow in sight. Our new MK2 XT912 arrived at the start of September, and it has taken a while getting it up and running and (more importantly) our instructors familiar with it before letting students get their grubby paws all over it. So it is goodbye to HZ (gone to John Horan in Galway) and in with CFNI

The MK2 is slightly different to the MK1 XT, small improvements to a great design. Airborne have produced a 'Bikini' engine cowling which is easily and quickly removed for pre-flight inspections, and they have produced a windscreen which is needed now (will explain later!) Their engineers have designed a great set of hydraulic disc brakes which should be an improvement over the nosewheel setup, and the Skydat now has the latest firmware (the previous one gave some erroneous errors) The cockpit trim has changed and they have redesigned the throttle and brake pedals - again nothing major - just small welcome improvements.

The biggest change is the speed that this aircraft will fly at - out of the factory it will fly at 78mph which is quite a difference on the MK1. Thats at Hands off trim - which means hands off. The weight of your hands will take it to 80mph and beyond. And its all down to the holes in the wing!

The position of the hangpoint on a flexwing determines (along with some other things) how fast the aircraft will go. A MK2 Streak3 wing has 4 holes in the wing keel tube that can be manually adjusted. The wing parts are interchangeable with the other Airborne range, with the back hole (slowest) used for their Merlin wing. So we can only use the front 3 holes.

Out of the shipping crate the wing is set on the second hole from the front, giving the speeds above. The front hole has the aircraft sitting at nearly 85mph. All this is great for getting somewhere fast......I think its pretty obvious why we need the new windscreen!

So after a week or so of our instructors having a great time flying everywhere at 80mph...we decided to slip the hangpoint back a notch for the students :-(

Its great to have the option for a fast setting and the aircraft can still be slowed down quite easily for landing. What we need is the trike to sit naturally at a reasonable speed for training - we find 65-70 is more than enough for general flying, so back a notch it is we're afraid..... What we really need is an electric hangpoint that will move this position back and forward, I suppose that will be on the Mk3

One other noticable difference is the fuel consumption. We have a very accurate fuel flow meter in the Skydat, fantastic simple bit of kit. Anyway, we normally plan on 10-12 litres an hour for an hours flying....but this trike at the same airspeed is showing as 6-7 litres an hour with the 912 going at 3600 in level flight! A flying school's dream if it is correct

Maybe a bit of a mistake on my part - alzheimers could be starting early in my case. But the only difference is the windscreen, which I would have thought creates more drag, with us needing more engine revs? Maybe it has a different effect and as a result provides clean air to the prop at the back with less engine RPM needed???? More testing required...or get started on the alzheimers tablets.

Some pictures and more details on the way, lots of other stuff happening but will leave that for later!

Cheers, Victor

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