Trip challenges …

I was reading some recent Facebook posts on challenging trips and it reminded me of some over the years …

Somme 80 Year commemoration

The plan was to fly a politician (Jersey Chief Minister) from Jersey to Abbeville … picking up the Chief Minister from Guernsey on the way for the large European wide remembrance of the end of the war

Of course .. by midday we had gale force fog in Jersey … the Guernsey Chief made it over .. just .. on Aurigny inter island … we then sat and watched the forecast play out with fog and wind and more fog and more wind

Eventually it started to get dark … we were already on version ‘F’ of the plan … so I popped down the hill near the airport and picked up 4 lots of Fish and chips .. so at least we wouldn’t go hungry

Abbeville had already been discounted .. grass strip and no lights .. but the event was a massive security issue .. with many very senior dignitaries attending and the absolute NEED auto be on time at a set time for bussed entry to the service

This left Caen as a possible alternate … and the Chiefs travel in by Road. The fog had now been replaced by lashing wind and torrential rain.

With night firmly in place and temperatures starting to plummet … the viz picked up .. dramatically … but the rain and wind took its place. We called Caen and 5th said they would accept us but drop dead time was 22:00 local .. with a flight time of approx 40 mins Jersey would be close to closing too.

In the end we took off in relatively clear blackness .. with wind and rain and headed due East for Caen … the plan being to land .. meet the local French Government agent who would take them by Road … I would overnight in Caen and fly out to Abbeville next day

Landed at Caen in total downpour .. backtracked and exited .. just in time to see the tower lights turn off and then a fun time getting out of the now locked airport … met by the local support staff and dropped off at Kyriad in Caen …and they continued for what turned out to be a horrendous stormy journey by Road to Abbeville arriving in the early hours of the next day.

I ended up chatting with an American chap and his 2 kids explaining what and where Jersey was and gave each of the kids a £1 jersey note !

Next morning .. bright and breezy … fuel up an hop to a foggy Abbeville and wait for the end of service and flight back … direct to Guernsey first for drop off and then back to Jersey

Coffee Machine Analysis

This was, bizarrely, a raffle flight around the island for my local school but the winner asked if I could take her and hubby and a friend up to Birmingham for the NEC exhibition on catering equipment

The day arrived … what was possibly the windiest day I’d known . . 50 on the tail … having that much on the tail wasn’t all it was jacked up to be … porpoising all the way up to Coventry .. we duly landed and taxied into looking at 20 or so coffee machines !

During the morning I was checking the return weather and it was classic Jersey .. 50 mph winds (from the S) and clouds BKN below 100 but lifting and dropping at regular intervals

We set off next had one of the slowest journeys I can remember .. even the seagulls were passing us W

We got to about 15 miles N of Jersey and they had just gone below 100

We looked at options … Jersey, Guernsey AND Alderney had all just dropped .. so it was Dinard ! Dinard had been flight planned as an alternate … dropping into their straight in approach we settled onto a French runway from Coventry instead of Jersey … I’d suggested we all brought passports .. so ended up after the short taxi down into St Malo for a fantastic very French evening … staying In the Novotel Thalassotherapy centre along the coast

Short pop to Dinard to Drop Off

It was just a short trip … 25. Mins or so to drop a friend down in France … it was end of the day … just finished work … weather had been pants but base was sticking at about 700 as it had been all day

So, you make that call to the Met .. hoping that somehow in talking to them between you you can talk that base up and to STAY put !

We ended up taking off in the venerable old PA32 G-CI … just as dusk was coming … landed at a beautifully clear dark crisp night in France … quick through customs to meet my favourite Gendarme lady with the gun !

Headed back out to the now dark aircraft … hot start.. never great on a PA32 but I’d got used to coaching them into starting 3rd or 4th turn

About 10 mins into the flight I got a totally unexpected double hit …. Jersey dropped from its 5 hour BKN at 700 to BKN 200 … and, just as I was digesting that … the panel lights went out 😮

I’d flown this PA32 for many years and grown to accept its foibles …but not too many night hours in her

I had a small pen torch so popped it in my mouth and started to liaise with Jersey about diverting to Guernsey .. flying past the extended centreline for runway 26 at Jersey .. I could see the coastline ..but not the runway at Jersey

As I droaned in in the darkness towards the bright lights of Guernsey … I could hear a chap heading South from the U.K. towards Guernsey .. and clearly lost and in some distress

I stayed quiet . .. letting the amazing controllers talk him in below the ,cloud base that he was clearly not comfortable with … but, at BKN 900 doable … but felt he had had a long trip down south and was not planning this issue at the end

Having held off , circling in darkness ..not great with black water and black sky .. i was cleared to land 09 and rolled to a stop and all the panel lights returned

Speaking with the very white faced guy who had just diverted to Guernsey as we both sat with a cup of coffee … he was talking about heading off on the final leg to Jersey .. THAT NIGHT ! 

I persuaded him to pop along to the hotel .. just down he road from the airport in Guernsey … and have a good long sleep ! Wake up .. have a nice breakfast …. And a lovely sunny 15 mins trip down to Jersey … he accepted the suggestion … never met him again ….but hope someone looks at me one day .. and gives the same advice .. and I ACCEPT !

An hour later …base lifted at Jersey … and I hopped back …booking the old bird into engineering (again) !

UK flying low level

I gather a very useful service has been trialled and now going live for low level GA and Military in the UK

Since moving over to Norfolk 18 months ago I’ve been getting used to different radio ‘regime and use’ .. it seems very many local VFR would prefer not to talk to anyone ..outside controlled airspace … me .. being used to the full Jersey Service find it unnerving not talking to anyone!

My usual trips down to Jersey involve much military.. UK and US .. and also large CTAs around Stansted and Southend and Gatwick

I’ve found London Info excellent … but they ‘cover’ almost the entire UK .. so my (non required- but freely given) occoasinal position reports aren’t for them but others in proximity and I find the reciprocal very useful .. hearing where others are and intentions

Article in LAA mag this month. 130.490 available air to air deconfliction civilian and military Class G below 2,000 ft in UK airspace. I’d been aware of the trial some time ago but not that it was now permanent.

Will certainly use this military mix option given the propensity of shared airspace with F15s F35s Hercules and Osprey (rotating wing variety)

Getting into the Ranger

Getting into the P1 (rear) seat is certainly easier than the P2 (front) seat but it’s still a bit of a sequence … I’ve put footholds both sides .. so you can be left or right footed to get aboard

Climbing aboard you need to have the straps out of the way … but accessible .. you then put a foot into the L or R foot hole and use the cabane bars to pull up. Get a leg up and over and a foot onto the seat …

Then you need a good bit of lower limb movement to get the second leg up and over. This is getting progressively harder .. so need to introduce some pre limbering up and stretch exercise every week !!!

Once you are now facing the front …. Both feet on the seat ..then take the weight using cabane struts L and R … to then ease your legs inwards and forwards straddling the passenger seat (in front) but also making sure you also straddle the rudder cables from the rudder pedals

Then you have to make sure your arms and head or upper torso DO NOT catch the screen ..which is fragile and can crack if caught

Leaving Cromer … smoke and crosswind

Leaving a very cold Cromer at the weekend … I’d connected up the smoke … and requested a bit of smoking on departure

A bit of a crosswind on departure the smoke moves Eastwards … also need to tighten that camera bracket for grassy bumps 🤣

Smoke and wet bottoms …

I haven’t been using the smoke system that much recently …post the engine rebuild .. but, over the last few flights where I have used smoke I’ve been getting an excess of unburned smoke fluid covering the underside of the aircraft.

The areas most affected are driven by the airflow and so, undercarriage (being quite exposed) gets a direct ‘hit’ main and tailwheel ..the rest goes just behind the main gear on the underside of the body … then under the lower body with some catching the tail

I made contact with smoking airplanes in the US who supply the kit to check that my attempts to lean off the oil mixture was not working and see if they had other ideas.

Their first thought was that it might be a single or dual blocked injector .. the injectors are strapped to the exhaust stacks and protrude through small holes so atomising the oil spray into the hot exhaust.

The effect of a coked or partially blocked atomiser would be to allow the oil to build into globules and so be too ‘thick’ to burn … but instead trickle and run down the tube … then exit in the flow and spread

Removing them revealed that they were clearly coked and blocked

A follow up email to Smokin Airplanes in the US ..gave an almost instant response with a detailed sequence for how to (safely) clean these… amazing service 😊👍

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