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Close to home.

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  • Close to home.

    The previous weekend, the Max and I went up for ten minutes, having not flown for nearly a year. Weather, work and an extended programme of tweaking had all got in the way but the omens were good so I took in a quick circuit with a vow to do better next time. The following Saturday dawned with my having had an early night and hopes of a calm day. At the field by seven thirty, Check the aircraft over, do a couple of little jobs and take the jerry can down the garage to grab another 19.6 litres of their best.
    By the time I got back, it was eight knots, straight across. Waaay outside my comfort zone. Went back home. Eighty mile round trip for nowt. Took other half to her mother's and looked at the forecast again. It looked like being calm at five. Right, go back and have another try. Fine calm weather.
    Until Conrad kindly supplied a new box of sparks last month, the 447 was always a complete pig to start. I hated the damn' thing with its ten minutes to get it going and popping and banging. That box made a difference. Two squirts of primer, throttle set, pull string and away. What an improvement. The engine was smooth, as well and the new instruments have made the ergonomics much better. This time, I wanted to fly the aircraft for a full hour; more than twice as long as I had flown it before.
    A functional fuel gauge had been top of the list for ages. The float and wire just didn't work for me and no sooner was I up than I wanted to be down but now forty years of electronics design experience was paying off. A nice stable display showing twenty litres was all I needed to give me the confidence I so badly needed.
    Up we went and the Rotax just hummed away contentedly as I climbed into the 800' circuit and checked the Aware for a location. Forget it. The Aware is temporarily unsure of its position.
    It remained that way. Due to the way it is installed, I couldn't switch it off in flight (and have now modified it so I can) so I was stuck with trying to open out the chart in the cockpit or staying North of the woods and just bimbling around on a fine clear evening so I did that for over an hour as the fuel gauge ticked away the litres in a nicely linear way, providing me with a mental datum of the fuel flow. Half an hour in, I was happy to start playing with trim and flap settings,
    and adjusting the throttle to get a better idea of the pitch to power relationship. In all, an hour and a bit of really learning the aircraft, coming back down with seven litres on board.. The landing was not the best I have ever done, though, so there is room for improvement and practice but the little Minimax is more flyable than it has ever been for me and I now feel ready to go a bit further afield. Next time I'll have the route backed up on the chart. Roll on the still weather. It's blowing half a gale outside!

  • #2
    Close to home.

    Good on you Tom, back on song again. Sometimes those short evening flights are just wonderful.