Sunday, 19 September 2010

It's been a while...

... since I updated this Blog and I have been gently taken to task for not regaling my eager readership with any anecdotes or stories of daring do. It's nice to know there's still a few of you out there!

The summer has been a period of reasonably intense flying, with a number of trips away, notably to Glenforsa on the Island of Mull. I shall write some more about the two trips to my favourite Scottish airfield very soon.

G-JONL has behaved perfectly and now has 40 hours or so on the clock. The first service was done without drama at 25 hours. I've got very used to flying her and am enjoying the opportunity to do so while the weather remains, for the most part, conducive.

I'm still based at Kirkbride and as far as I can see it is unlikely that I will move from there for a variety of reasons, not least that I have several good friends there and it is a thoroughly friendly place. I have a small list of things that I'd like to sort out on G-JONL, most of which are cosmetic and can wait until the "flying season" draws to a close.

It's pleasing to be able to report that G-JONL has lived up to expectations and is proving to be a fun aircraft to fly. Obviously it's not as stable in the air as, say, the Warrior but it's still a very capable touring aircraft. It's a lot cheaper to run too!

Friday, 17 September 2010

Glenforsa 2

 My friend and occasional flying companion Mike has flown with me to Glenforsa on several occasions, usually for the annual fly in. He was less than impressed to discover that I had flown up there on my own and demanded a replay, with him present!

So  it was, then, that we boarded G-JONL at Kirkbride on a rather windy but otherwise nice clear day, en route to Glenforsa. the stiff northerly wind made for slow progress on the way to Mull, with ground speeds often down in the 45kt to 55kt range, so it took a massive 2h 40m to fly there, which I believe is the longest I have ever taken. It was quite turbulent too, especially around the high mountains of Arran. Although the Sportcruiser handled the bumps well there is no doubt that it is not as stable in these conditions as, say, a PA28.

Eventually we arrived, in somewhat anxious anticipation of the stonking crosswind landing. As we approached for a straight in from the east I lined up with the runway as best I could. Lined up is something of a misnomer. In order to track the extended centre line of the runway, the nose was a good 30° to the north... land on Mull by pointing the nose at Skye!

This amount of crosswind is a considerable challenge for any aircraft and the Sportcruiser doesn't have a particularly impressive demonstrated maximum crosswind performance so I'd decided that I was more than willing to throw away the landing and if necessary divert to Oban, which has a north/south runway. In the event though the rudder offered sufficient authority to kick the nose straight just before touchdown and it was, indeed, one of my better landings!

Of course, as the aircraft slowed, so rudder authority reduced and before long the aircraft was trying to weathercock into the wind. A little judicious differential braking soon fixed that tendency and we rolled to a gentle halt having used only about 300m of the runway. David Howitt, the airfield manager greeted us as always and announced that I definitely had nothing to worry about vis a vis the crosswind performance of the Sportcruiser!

As we were staying the night we could imbibe some of the local brew so it was not long before Michael and I were supping the local ale in the Glenforsa Hotel, swapping our thoughts on the flight. Certainly I felt that it had demonstrated that the Sportcruiser is a very capable aircraft that can hold its own in difficult flying conditions.. albeit it's perhaps not something that I'd want to be doing every day! After a few more sherbets even these doubts seemed less important.

During the late afternoon it rained cats and dogs but JONL was securely tied down and nice and warm under her new red coat, so we didn't feel so bad about carrying on sampling the Glenforsa Hotel's multifarious wares, followed by a jolly good meal.

The following day was better, so we rented a car from David Howitt and headed of for the principality of Tobermoray, where we were once again beguiled by the local produce, this time a bottle each of fine single malt from the Mull distillery. Not for immediate quaffing however, these bottles were destined for export!

All too soon it was time to return to Carlisle and with the northerly still blowing a good hooley, we were back to Kirkbride in what seemed like no time flat, just 1hr 20m, which is exactly half the time it took us to get to Mull. All in all an excellent sortie.

Post updated and published 26-Oct-2010