Friday, 25 March 2011

18 Mar 11 - G-AVKI - a few manoeuvres for the camera

Had a quick flight today to (finally) get some decent photos of G-AVKI in the bag. My father-in-law David is a keen photographer and we've been threatening to have a 'photo shoot' for a while now!
I was very aware of not falling into the 'air display' mentality - there have been no end of pilots killed over the years by trying something too low, too daring or just plain stupid to impress. I kept it simple, a few loops, rolls, chandelles and fly-by's. All went well and we got some nice pictures. The loop/roll images were taken with a big ol' lens - no way was I going to try sub-1000' for anyone!

Monday, 14 March 2011

14 Mar 11 - Good weather, a few basics, visiting Neil Spooner and Priory Farm...

Well, what a good day I've had in the Nipper! The weather God's were smiling - at least initially so I headed off in KI with good friend Flatty along for company in his Rans S6 microlight. I started off over Honington with a couple of loops and a roll then we headed off together across the Wattisham MATZ to visit Neil 'Flat Spin' Spooner, owner of much-modified Nipper G-ONCS at his strip near Colchester. Just before turning at Colchester, I couldn't resist doing a quick loop for Flatty so positioned myself ahead of him at the same level on a reciprocal heading but allowing plenty of separation. Great fun but I wish he'd had a video camera!
Visiting Ardleigh in KI actually my first farm strip landing in a Nipper and I do so love landing on grass, so I was really looking forawrd to it! I know I'm spoilt with a couple of Km of concrete at Honington, but the grass is always greener on the other side! (groan...).
Neil was very welcoming, and we quickly had the cowls off both machines. G-ONCS is very much more modified than KI and I'd have loved a spin to see the difference; full inverted systems, electronic (easy start) ignition and a very well sorted cockpit only scratch the surface of the work Neil has put in. It's fair to say he's passionate about his Nipper!
I asked if we could put the aircraft side-by-side and Neil was happy to oblige.

With Neil Spooner and G-ONCS at Ardleigh

Photo's in the bag, Flatty and I decided to quit while we were ahead as the sun had gone in and the sky was a horrible grey. Neil couldn't resist the temptation and so decided to follow us up for some photo's followed by aerobatics over the boxted disused near Colchester. well, I must say, it was a treat to watch someone putting a Nipper through its paces at fairly close quarters. I think it's fair to say that Neil is a much more accomplished aerobatic pilot than me - I was very impressed!

In formation with G-ONCS and a smiling Neil Spooner overhead Colchester

A nice pic of Flatty & me in formation, taken by Neil

All too soon, Neil had completed his routine; we said our goodbyes and Flatty & I headed North to drop in at our favourite local strip, Priory Farm. Once again we would be crossing the Wattisham MATZ, however this time the cloud was patchy and low. Bless 'em though, the Controllers cleared us through at 800' on QFE while we kept a close lookout for Apaches in the circuit and a Tornado on air-test out of Marham. We were forced to head northwest towards Bury to avoid some real clag and having lost Flatty in the murk, I pressed on to Priory Farm. Priory Farm is a lovely grass strip oriented North - South, run by Goose Farmer and vintage aircraft restorer Bob Sage. On calling up, Bob mentioned there was someone interested in Nipper's on the ground so I requested permission for a couple of loops in the overhead. I have to admit to being a tiny bit nervous as I knew there was a very aerobatic Silence Twister on the deck and this would actually be the first time ever that anyone would be specifically watching me - definitely not the time to cock it up!
I did my HASELL checks, lined up on the runway and did a couple of neat(ish) loops before descending to join downwind for 01, landing over the hangars. We only had time for a short stop really, just long enough to chat about planes and drink a coffee.
Once again we readied for the off under graying skies; I had planned to do a few aero's at Honington before landing but once airborne it was pretty murky and the horizon was indistinct so I gave it a miss - why ruin a great days flying?

I've got the aero's bug again! Can't wait to do more, although I think I'll try to combine landing away with aero's some more before I have to wave goodbye to KI later this year...
Finally, with the sun shining and the temperature well above freezing, all that hard work in the winter seems worth it!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

01 Feb 2011 - Permit arrived, just need the weather to play ball now now!

Awesome service from the LAA. Paperwork posted Saturday morning; Permit to Fly in my hand Tuesday morning! All I need now is some decent weather...

Friday, 28 January 2011

28 Jan 11 - Check flight - Done!

Well, the weather gods were smiling today - so thanking them for the opportunity, I decided to head down to Honington and do the check flight. I'm pleased to report that it all went perfectly; I'm not sure if it's quite the done thing but as I was up, I did a few loops to celebrate. It felt really, really good!
Now I just need to wait for the paperwork to be processed and I'll be back in business. Excellent!

Thursday, 27 January 2011

26 Jan 11 Permit re-inspection - done!

Good news, KI's re-inspection was spot on (inspector very pleased) and she's now signed off ready for the check flight. If I'm lucky the weather might co-operate this weekend; if so she could be fully legal again mid-Feb so fingers crossed!

Monday, 17 January 2011

17 Jan 11 - Almost ready for Permit

Well, it's been a bit of a slog to organise all the bits and find the time, but G-AVKI, Tipsy Nipper number S102 is almost ready for Permit. The most recent task was replacing the main and nose U/C suspension rubbers which went well using the special tool designed by Neil Spooner of 'Nipper Flat Spin' fame. The rudder's ready to go back on after reaming the upper hinge, the engine's been rebuilt following head refurbishment, the ailerons are back on with no play and the sticking oil pressure gauge has been replaced. There have also been a multitude of other little jobs too which all seem to take more time than you'd expect!
Just need to chat with the inspector now and arrange a date for inspection. It'll be nice to get airborne in the Nipper again - can't remember the last time I was upside down... Should be fun!

All hoisted - ready to swap the main u/c suspension rubbers

Yours truly - looking very pleased with myself

Lifting the nose to change the nose u/c suspension rubbers

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

10th November 2010 - All is not lost...

Just a quick update - after some discussion with Adam, it would appear that I'll be flying G-AVKI for a little while longer. I'm currently sorting out a few issues that cropped up on the Permit renewal but expect to be flying her again in early 2011. Should get a few hours on her before she leaves for good this time and I'm very much looking forward to it!