The Ballards - Whiskey Lima 2020







 

Right seat ILS
The weather just won't relent: we keep booking engine test flights and the fog just keeps coming down again, even when it's forecast to be clear but finally a short window of a couple of hours of barely flyable weather appears so we'll go for it.
The weather reports still say 4Km Viz in Fog when I leave to go to the airfield but it is clearing and as I drive in the reports update to MVFR: Marginal VFR flight possible. I am happy to fly an ILS to get back but this bloody fog reached all the way down to ground level and I'm nervous about being caught out by it. Alternates are Brize and Gloucester: both have good weather so we'll fly.
Ann is P1 today as it's her Engine Maintenance week: we're both vaccinated and have had Negative tests in the last 24 hours so being in the same plane is a very low risk, but we'll leave the plane sanitised anyway.

Surprisingly they have opened the hangar but haven't pulled the plane out, so we'll have to do it. Pop the tow bar on and pull; having a wing walker on each side demonstrates its value as we nearly hit and decapitate another aircraft's winglet. Push back, turn and pull; this time we're clear and we emerge symbolically in to the light of 2021. Phil and Charlie have been polishing the outside and it gleams: I'm sure it goes faster when it's clean? Along comes the bowser and puts 178L of AvGas in

Oxford is incredibly quiet today: we are one of only 3 aircraft flying - a PC-12 on the ILS, a PA28-140 doing circuits with a 12-year old female pilot (or at least that's how she sounds...) and us.

My original plan is South to Compton VOR for some practise then West to Kemble, North towards Little Rissington and back to Oxford but on arrival we find two things: they are using R19 so we can use the ILS to come back in from the North, and it's still really misty to the South (the weather is clearing from the North West) so instead we will go North East to the Daventry VOR then SW towards Little Rissington then cut back to Banbury for the ILS.

Ann departs neatly and we do a circuit and Touch and Go before departing. Our flight plan (now installed in the 430W) has us departing 030deg so I would have left via the Downwind leg of the circuit but Ann chooses to do a right turn outbound, nearly over Blenheim Palace before turning North through the ILS track (always bad form); never mind. Clouds are overcast at 1600ft so we'll remain below them.

The issue (we find later) is that she can't hear me properly because she's got the volume on her ANR box turned right down. Because she's fixated on that she loses situational awareness and takes most of the Daventry inbound leg to get on the right track inbound to the VOR. By the time we are locked on to that we are only a couple of miles from the beacon and too late to do a pre-emptive sharp turn to 228deg outbound for Little Rissington, even though the ever-patient 430W has been giving use a "turn now" countdown (I love that). At 1 mile from the beacon we get a Rate 3 turn (we are visual, though) and not only blow through the 228deg outbound leg but get back on the leg back to Oxford. Huh?

Eventually we get settled on the right leg and abandon all this serious stuff for some fun: I've been compiling a chart of standard throttle settings for 1 and 2 PoB for sraight and level and 528ft/min descents, 100Kts no flaps and 1 stage of flaps for ILS approaches and descents. This completes my chart and will reduce single-pilot IMC workload in Procedures, always a good thing. Then I get to fly it for a bit around the cloudy Cotswolds.

There is no one else around so we'll shoot the ILS. Load and activate the procedure on the 430W, tune NAV2 (I prefer that instrument layout - the NAV1 instrument will, however soon be gone in favour of a couple of G5s. Yippee!) and let's see if I can do a right-seat ILS. You never know when you'll need to do one in anger.
The ILS instrument in this aircraft is very sensitive even at long ranges and simply doesn't move at all until you're 5m from the Localiser, then it shoots across like a madman; you have to pre-empt it a bit and use the 430's map to see how close you are. Suddenly it springs in to life and my 30deg cut has worked: swing it on to 195 and we're within 1 dot. A couple of minor adjustments and even with the parallax from the right seat we are sitting pretty with 10 miles to run. We can actually see the PAPIs from here (all red of course because we are under the glideslope) but not the runway lights (which it transpires aren't on), but we can just let go completely and watch the glideslope come down, reduce the throttle to the prescribed amount for the descent and just monitor it. Lovely.
At 4 miles I give it back to Ann to land and watch the picture at 800ft QNH (DA). If you can't see the runway lights at all from there you've got thick fog and/or heavy rain, and a really big problem.
As an aside, I was checking out the approach in to Vagar in the Faroes last night. This part of the Instrument approach to runway 30 is *curved* with 1000ft cliffs to both sides. I pray I never have to do an ILS in to there...

As we put the aircraft away the fog starts to come down again. When will we ever fly again?





Snow!
The fog has been replaced by bitter, bitter cold and whirling snow, the freezing level is on the deck and we are not certified for FIKI so need to limit cloud flying.
We're allowed to fly the aircraft once a week as per Continental's maintenance recommendations: minimum 30 minutes at cruise speed. So as there are 6 of use we each get to fly once every 6 weeks. Barely enough to retain skills but better than nothing...
Today is sunny spells and whirling snow flurries but is remaining clear enough to fly. Thick jersey plus coat, scarf and gloves means I'm toasty even in the NE wind howling between the hangars.
Pull the engine through a few times to try to ease the load on the starter motor then prime, wait, crank and Bloody Hell it catches first time. With the Steve Patented push-the-primer-keep-the-engine-alive method we're soon fast idling nicely and the temperature is coming off the bottom stop.
Keep the cowl flaps closed as we taxy out past all the earthworks (looks like new taxyways for the GA grass parking), turn in to wind and run a fast idle for a while to get the oil temperature up. OAT is -5 deg so this takes a few minutes, then suddenly shoots up: looks like we're ready for power-checks.
Depart a few minutes late for a run around the Brize Zone: depart the circuit to the South and immediately in to broken snow shower clouds: good IMC hand-flying practise and although we don't see much of Oxford I think I'll leave the A/P off and use the 430W to drive the HSI then follow that manually. A bit wobbly at first but soon we're locked on to the DI with a 5 deg wind offset and headed for Compton.
The 430W has us turn West before the beacon (I love the countdown) and we roll out through the broken clouds which then clear as we head further West.
But what's this? My Brize Listening Squawk needs to be upgraded as SkyDemon tells me Fairford is Active, which was not on the NOTAMs this morning. Call up Brize and ask them: no they say, the MATZ is cold so if we do mid-air with a B52 it won't be my fault. But worth checking.
Turn before Kemble, and a fair number of SkyEcho contacts come up so I'm not entirely the only person out here in a toasty warm cabin enjoying the sunshine on top. What is interesting is that I never see the other aircraft, even though I'm looking. Quite scary, but I love this Electronic Conspicuity...
At Moreton in the Marsh we turn South East, swap back to Oxford and spiral down in a hole through the snowy gunk (looking for airframe ice but it's too cold) to the grey base at 1,500ft over the Cotswolds before swapping to Tower and reporting Left Base for 01, let the aircraft ahead on Final for a low approach get ahead, slow over the woods near the A44 and drop on; bit of a clunk, maybe not the perfection we all strive for but as it's my first landing since December maybe I shouldn't beat myself up.
Very impressive looking earthworks for the new hangar at B3, looking at the video that will be business jet heaven when they eventually release us from lockdown!
Shut the aircraft down: very reluctant to exit the nice warm cockpit for the icy, draughty outside. And of course I manage to forget to put the control lock and pitot cover back on. Not too much of an issue as we're in a hangar but of course I had to forget something!

Stratospheric
Six weeks since the last flight and my turn for the engine maintenance flight has come round.
The weather is warmer, so an afternoon trip promises smooth aviation.
The aircraft has actually flown today because one of the other group members is doing IR(R) training, so we know the tanks are nearly full and we need do little warimng-up.
Depart West and today we will just keep climbing: through the thin cloud layer at 3,000ft and on up in to thinner air.
Beyond Little Rissington we can swap to Brize for a listening squawk and we are clear of the Airway here so triple check SkyDemon, the GNS430W and the actual map (blow the cobwebs off...) before moving to 1013 HPa, climbing through FL80 and continuing up... and up.... and up... through FL100 and FL110 near Cheltenham. I've never flown above 10,000ft before, so we'll just extend the envelope a bit here.
The world is huge up here: I can see the Bristol Channel below and most of Southern England stretching away. If anyone doesn't believe this is beauty then they have no aesthetic sense whatsoever.





The aircraft is good for FL160 apparently but due to worries about a lack of oxygen (although I feel fine) I bottle out at FL115, close the throttle, close the cowl flaps a bit to avoid shock-cooling the engine and turn East then South for a descent.
A little Googling says the highest skiable bit of the Trois Vallees is 11,500ft and I've skied from there without ill-effects and that's reasonably serious physical exercise; a little more Googling says a reasonably fit individual (I'm a non-smoker) can fly at 15,000ft no worries for short periods. Without wishing to push the envelope too hard a little more Googling shows no limits on VFR altitude outside controlled airspace. And pulse oximeters are £16 on Amazon.
SkyDemon shows EC contacts near Gloucester as "-8.5" or 8,500ft below. There is no one up here.....
My ears pop as we descend at an increasing rate to get under the airway near Kemble, then we turn East still descending to 3,500ft where we will sit just above the clouds over Swindon.
Time for some proper VOR tracking.
It's terribly easy to use GPS all the time for route planning but in reality there are times when you need to be able to use the old ground-based radio beacons. I'm not talking NDBs here which, despite managing to get Lancasters to and from Berlin 77 years ago, are really not fit for purpose. VORs are the preferred tool here, with an extra splash of DME for ease of use. Once identified (by Morse code, can you believe that in 2021?) you can home in on them via any radial.
But I am damned if I can get the HSI to do any form of sensible VOR tracking. I seem to have the instrument but not the right knob for the job.
However NAV2 works beautifully amd with a bit of see-sawing I am on the 090 inbound radial, then round 270deg and outbound on the 360 radial, bit I'm still concerned about NAV1. I'm sure I am being stupid so I will ask the other members of the syndicate.
Declare inbound VFR to Oxford, descend inbound and swap to Tower at 5 miles, join Downwind and orbit at the end of downwind as requested, then follow a DA20 on Final for a low approach and go round; he goes and I'm cleared to land. Of course, here my lack of recency shows: I'm too high and too fast. Throttle right back, and we finally get a stabilised approach at about 700ft.
Using the old adage "you won't get a good landing out of a bad approach" it should have been rubbish but actually we grease it on thanks to the light winds and a bit of luck, roll out and taxy in.
More practise required! But from next week we can get back to some proper "go somewhere" aviation.....

'tis but a scratch....
Lunch at Sandown, I think. Nessa and I will head off down there and test out their pizza.
Fire up, taxy out, everything good.
Depart South, textbook stuff.
A little VOR tracking with the HSI (works better when you disengage the CDI from the GNS430W), easy.
We'll get a MATZ Transit from Farnborough through Odiham, fine.
Just change the next frequency to Solent Radar, no gliders on the look out, but what's that? A bird?
BANG!
The windscreen disappears, a huge blast of cold air comes in and there's blood on my glasses.
Bird strike....

OK: so first check if Nessa's OK. She's looking at me, frightened, no glasses, no headphones. But she's alive and I can't see any blood. Let's keep her that way.
Aviate, Navigate, Communicate....
Are we going down? No, we're slowing but that 's due to the massive drag caused by the ad hoc cabriolet conversion. Can we maintain speed/height? Full throttle says "yes" so no need to pick a field yet. The engine sounds lumpy but that's mainly because we are now receiving the unmoderated noise. It is certainly generating power. Full rich anyway, don't want problems.
Where are we? Just South of Popham, so that seems the logical place to land. Can we make it back to Oxford? If it was just me I might be tempted but with a non-pilot passenger not a great idea. Turn left for Popham and a huge runway hoves in to view. In my befuddled state I think "Odiham" (actually it's Lasham) but that's where I'll go.
I cant hear anything in my headphones over the airflow but we'll make a blind Mayday call (not my first!) and tell Farnborough where we're headed. I hope they hear (they do, and tell Popham, Odiham and Lasham to expect us).
Give a reassuring nod to Nessa (who looks less frightened now), and start descending for a left hand downwind join for R27 at Lasham. I don't know what the extra drag is going to do to the stall speed so we'll stay fast, pop a stage of flaps, roll final, roll the throttle off gently and monitor the speed.
Actually it all feels OK and we flare, still at about 80Kts and let it down gently using lots of tarmac, plop on gently and slow very quickly with all that drag, turn off the runway on to the grass, note the 4x4 fire engine tracking us (so they knew we were coming) and park up by some glider tugs, carefully turning everything (including the fuel) off.
Closer inspection reveals a wrecked windscreen, no bird, no bird blood, Nessa's glasses on the floor behind my seat, lumps of windscreen all over the cockpit and the whisky compass on the floor undamaged.




Lasham find us a hangar and suggest we taxy over there. Start the engine, get half way and it conks out because of course I turned the fuel off. Select "both", crank and it comes back to life, taxy over to the hangar, shut down and we can push it in.
Lasham are fantastic: our (minor) cuts are swabbed, we're given tea and biscuits and even a lift home. These are seriously good people.

Meanwhile, in another life....
Cessna are very slow at providing replacement windscreens and they have to come from the USA. It is on it's way but will be a few weeks. I want something to fly!
Our maintenance organisation has a PA28-180 Warrior they are happy for us to fly, but obviously we need a checkout first, so Tuesday morning in the face of imminent thunderstorms and strong winds I meet up with Gill, an amiable Scots lady who will find out if I really can fly.
All aircraft actually fly the same way (like all airfields are basically the same) so swapping about is mainly a question of working out where everything is in the cockpit - there is no standard and this aircraft has been thoroughly tinkered with - it has a Garmin 430W and 530W in the centre stack and a big Garmin EFIS right in front of you. Today we will be working off the steam instruments as I don't fully understand the central display yet. What I am going to struggle with is the radio - I know I'm going to forget to be "Yankee Zulu" at least once today.
Start up (what's with this fuel pump thingy, then?), taxy out and follow my old PFT checklist prior to take-off. It all goes well until I rotate at which point it becomes apparent that the ASI outer dial is in mph, so I have rotated at 65mph, not 65Kts. The poor thing staggers in to the air and needs a hefty dose of forward yoke to establish positive rate of climb. Still, now I know...
Depart to the North West and the clouds are scattered and quite large; rainclouds are in the vicinity but for the moment we will skirt them and find some clear air for some stalls. Interestingly, the stall warner is just completely inaudible to me. I'm not deaf, although I have some high frequency roll-off and I cant be the first to have issues with this particular aircraft as it has a visual stall warner as well, right where the low voltage light is in WL. Still, once this is pointed out we can reliably stall it with minimal height loss; all aircraft fly the same!
I actually really enjoy flying a low-wing aircraft again: you feel you're sitting more on top with a better view. It's not a huge deal, and variety is everything.
So: a PFL - turn vaguely in to wind, trim for 75Kts, simulated MayDay, pick a nice big green field and head for it, keeping it in sight; we'd make it in to there OK so we throw it away and do some VOR tracking. The wind is not doing what I thought it was: although the surface wind is 200deg the winds at 3,000ft are from the South East, but once we've identified our radial and set an offset it all comes together (the bloody DME box is in the wrong place!) and we have fun tracking it inbound before breaking off for an ILS.
This should be fun: unfamiliar aircraft, bumpy clouds a lot more than scattered now, flying it manually as there is an autopilot but I haven't used it yet.
Overhead Banbury we do a diversion to the West to avoid some parachuting at Hinton (really, on a skanky rainy day like this?) then an orbit for spacing then we can descend to 1800ft, intercept the Localiser (so easy with the EFIS) and we'll fly the nice familiar ILS display I learned on.
The Localiser keeps slipping a notch or so left - we have a sneaky crosswind from the South East, but the glideslope comes in and we'll reduce power to drop down the glideslope, we're still mainly IMC in and out of the clouds and we certainly can't actually see the runway yet. I love doing this! We're pretty stable, slightly above the glideslope as we change to Tower and get cleared for a touch 'n go, hold the cross on the ILS all the way down to 800ft then look out, confirm visual, pull the flaps and drop it on as the stall warner flashes, then release the 3rd stage of flaps, accelerate and this time rotate at 65Kts, which feels more stable.
Climbing in to the visual circuit in somewhat deteriorating atmospheric conditions we can hear an increasingly worried student pilot talking to the Tower unsure of his location and about to go IMC in the approaching rainstorm. We're happy to move over and if necessary let him land first but as we turn Downwind he suddenly appears 400ft below us going the wrong way down the Downwind leg. Whoa!
Tower demands an immediate right hand orbit to get us out of the way and I think his instructor takes over at that point because after a bollocking from the Tower it all goes quiet, we turn Base and Final and now we can hear him behind us. As we land and keep the speed up to expedite our exit Tower clears him for a Land After behind us which he then refuses - I don't know the circumstances under which he cannot accept one (Student pilot maybe, but surely he's got an Instructor on board?). As we depart the runway the rain starts but I have to say it is not a heavy shower - I'd fly through it....
It feels better having flown post-birdstrike, I feel more comfortable now.

Mastering the G500 (1)
I'd feel more comfortable with some dual practice with this Garmin G500 so ex-757 Captain Steve (who has long ago lost count of the number of hours he has flown, but reckons he has fewer GA hours than I have...) and I will go up to Wellesbourne and play.
We have both downloaded and experimented with the G500/G600 simulator on the PC and that has really helped: the G500 is basically a larger, integrated 6-pack designed so you can fly with your scan on the main screen, plus a larger G430 display with Electronic Conspicuity bult-in (and audio warnings, as we shall hear).
At long last the weather has relented and we have some sun...
Steve will do the first leg up to Wellesourne and we can pool the knowledge we have gleaned concerning the aircraft and the G500. He wasn't aware that the steam gauge ASI reads in mph on the outer part of the dial. We roll from R01 and his familiarity with the EFIS becomes apparent - he knows what all the little symbols mean. I can understand why there was concern we would "chase" the flight path predictor (which shows you in real time where the aircraft is actually headed) but now we know about it we won't.
It's interesting doing a little Multi Crew Cooperation as I have plenty of mental space to do the radio while Steve flies; like me keeps forgetting to turn the fuel pump on and off at various points.
The inbuilt electronic conspicuity shows its worth as we approach Wellesbourne - a Beechcraft passes pretty close above us and I certainly wouldn't have seen it without the EC...
We join Left Base for runway 36 at Wellesbourne, nice and low over the hill and down neatly if a little long, we both struggle with the landing view as this is a low wing aircraft and we tend to flare a little high and hang there, feeling for the ground as the speed dissipates, but we're fine and tea (and cake) beckons.


Mastering the G500 (2)
Fuelled by tea and cake I can take charge for the return journey. Sadly, as Oxford are using R01 today they have turned off the ILS so we can't track that but we can certainly play.
We'll try a shot of flaps for take-off as both of us are struggling to get it to actually rotate properly without flaps - this works well and feels more stable as we turn to 030 for noise abatement on climb out then turn South West for some general handling.
With Steve as lookout I can fly up, down, left and right "head-in" and once you get used to the G500 giving you all the info you need the steam instruments stop being part of your scan; the only bit I can't get is where a Rate 1 turn is indicated on the display, I have to refer to the steam AH for this which can't be right.
A little post-flight Googling shows I've been living in the Dark Ages; clearly when I did my IR(R) dinosaurs ruled the world - the G500 has an automatic Rate 1 arrow based upon current speed. Good to know where to look for next time.
The flight path predictor is very good for doing steep turns keeping the nose on the horizon; I'm unconvinced of its usefulness for anything else at present but watch this space...
Nearing Oxford for a rejoin they ask us to join downwind left hand for R01 (over Woodstock) which I haven't done in a very long time and after a rather woozy left base we settle on Final; I'm unconvinced we need all 3 stages of flap for a long runway landing at 75Kts so we'll use just the 2, flare and keep it coming down. A twitch from the stall warner and we're down on the mains, let the nosewheel come down and we'll vacate and taxy in. Nice aircraft, we'll fly it more.

It's so slow!
The weather has finally become summer-like and I want to use the opportunity to get some decent aviation in rather than just banging around close to Oxford. Dunkeswell is an appropriate destination and my friend Andy has asked for a ride so we'll toddle off.
As we approach the aircraft the bowser turns up to fill it with fuel which neatly answers my questions "how much fuel is there in the tanks?" and "how do we get fuel?".
I notice they have fixed the port wingtip light (ha! see later...)
I assume it's flown already today so don't use the primer but it won't fire so it must be cold - 5 slugs of raw AvGas, primer locked and she still won't fire so rock the throttle to get the accelerator pump working and off she goes, settling down to a steady 1200rpm. These 4 cylinders sound really agricultural compared to the 6 in the C182.....
Avionics on, taxy out and enter R01. Cleared for take off we accelerate and at about 40Kts the nose rises a bit. This is weird and unprecedented, check forward to keep it down as the aircraft I know is not ready to fly until 65Kts (at least!) but it feels very skittish even with a bit of into-wind aileron. Rotate at 65Kts and we climb OK but that was odd.
Turn left and avoid Enstone and Little Rissington, I realise after much joggling of the throttle that unless you absolutely thrash this aircraft it doesn't cruise above 100Kts. I see 110Kts at one point, but it's much happier burbling along at 100Kts. Compared with a C182 this is slow stuff: I'm used to a 130Kt cruise. Everything passes more slowly at 100Kts...
Also there is slack in the aileron linkages and the aircraft is unstable in roll, it needs constant correction to remain level. I remember this from learning to fly on these and it is normal for a PA28 but it does make you appreciate the rock-steady handling of the C182.
It's hazy as we pass Nympsfield well to the North and there are certainly gliders out here but today - no birds...
We descend to pass over the Severn Bridges and then further down the Bristol coastline past Avonmouth and Weston Super Mare which looks busy today. The haze lifts as pass further South in to the cleaner air of Somerset and we can climb over the hills towards Dunkeswell. I was going down the North Devon coast but we've taken ages to get here so we'll go direct.
This aircraft will use 10gals/hr versus 14 for the C182 which goes to show you use the same fuel per mile whatever aircraft you fly!
Dunkeswell is hard to spot from the North, they are using R17 today which I haven't used before and they don't like Direct joins so we'll work round to the East then join left base, mind the displaced threshold and drop it on gently to the big tarmac runway, brake before the intersection then turn left up 04 for parking on the grass, tea and a big bit of home made flapjack.
I like Dunkeswell: it's a big, honest airfield with usually lots of paradropping and a nice cafe but today there's no dropping so they're not putting on a full menu, but the tea and flapjack are good.





Worrying....
Start up, taxy out to to R17, backtrack and roll, no skittishness this time. It could have been a stuck oleo leg clearing itself, I don't know.
Andy takes over as we head for Middlezoy and does a damned good job - he's done this before.
A quick scan of everything post-circuit and.... the Low Voltage light is pulsing.
Well, that's odd.
It's not on solid and the ammeter is not showing discharge, in fact it's showing 28A charge. Everything is working OK so no need to panic, but it's not right.
As I'm not Handling Pilot I can tinker and it turns out if I load-shed the avionics it makes no difference, if I turn the strobes off it reduces but if I turn the beacon lights off it stops immediately. Knowing they've just changed the port light I suspect there's a short there. Ah, we can fly without lights for a while.
Chippenham comes up, then Swindon and before long we are over our house and Abingdon Airfield where they are filming at present. There on the ground is a mocked-up B17 bomber (I wonder if it was my friend James's?).
Turn the corner back towards Oxford, they've changed runway to R19 so join Downwind and they are quiet this afternoon - it's just me and a DA40 in the circuit. Lights back on, voltage light now flickering again. Fuel Pump goes on, and we've been told to use continuous carb heat in the circuit so that goes on too.
Call Final, got a little crosswind from the left, flare, a squawk from the stall warner and.... it's a bit of a bump, I've not quite got the flare height visual picture right yet. I've done better landings (in this, even...). Still, I've done worse.
Andy has had a fabulous time and I've enjoyed flying the PA28 so Mission Accomplished!

Multi Crew Cooperation
It's time to tackle using the G500 to perform a proper RNAV procedure: Steve and I are going to shoot the Gloucester Runway 27 RNAV procedure via REKLO. I've done the R09 procedure before but not the R27 and not in this aircraft with it's whizzo electronics.
Both Steve and I can fly the aircraft quite happily but this is about integrating the various systems and it needs two pilots. We have a Gamrin GNS430W, a GNS530W, a G500 and 2 NAV radios plus a separate DME and ADF; we are pretty sure we can use them all but it's more than one person can do safely.
We fully brief before flight and agree that Steve will fly and I will knob-twiddle, do the radios and look out of the windows. At a later date we will swap and repeat.
At power check time we get a very rough running mag. I've never had this but I am told it's usually a fouiled plug so we lean the mixture to try and clear it... and it works! Every Day's a School Day.
Departing from Oxford on R19 we leave the right turn outbound very late indeed, to the point where we actually infringe Brize by 50ft or so. Not a great start but it's a beautiful day to be flying on instruments!
Steve gets the autopilot working after initially getting no response... because it's not switched on..... then we load the approach to the 530W, get clearance from Gloucester to fly it and Activate it.
We fly to REKLO and following some confusion about whether we are actually cleared for the Approach (we are) we fly onwards West then swing around North for NIRMO. This works better, with the G500 telling us when to turn, Steve spinning the heading bug and us hitting the "Localiser" spot on, hitting the FAF and here comes the glideslope. I hate the G500 glideslope display - it's a single green light off to the right of the DI; I'm much happier with the conventional cross-lines job but we have that set up too.
It's a high workload with changing radio frequencies, that bloody fuel pump needing to go on and off and and cross-referencing between the various bits of kit. It is possible to do it single-handed but it's hard work and easier with two. I am beginning to appreciate the limits of the single pilot model...
With a stabilised approach we hit Decision Height, agree we "can't see" the runway so call missed and depart VFR to the North East to get out of the way.
We re-position back to the North of Oxford to get an ILS in and the EC tells us we have another aircraft following us 300ft below. I don't like this (I am hugely aware of other objects in the sky at present); I can't see him and he is very close indeed.
He could be an echo of us (this does happen) but I'm keen to find out so I ask Steve for a gentle orbit and he duly appears right behind where we were: a PFT PA-28 headed for Hinton.
We will leave him be and set up an interecption for the ILS: 60deg offset till it twitches then 30deg to bring it in. This works well but Steve gets very slow at one point and of course there's that bloody fuel pump. Still, at DH we are spot on so we both agree we can see the runway this time and Steve plops it neatly down, we're back on time. We're both exhausted!


But that is not the most important news of the day.
The windscreen has arrived....


Airshow
Nessa's Godmother lives in Ramsbury, down beyond Membury, nestling in the lush green valley of the River Kennet (famous as one half of the water source for the Kennet and Avon Canal).
Sitting in her garden before lunch last week saw a parade of low, slow-flying aircraft either in transit to or from Membury, or just bumbling up the valley on a nice day, who knows? This sounds like an excuse for a bimble so we'll book the backup PA-28.
Poor Whisky Lima is still languishing in the hangar at Lasham, even with the windscreen available apparently more damage has been discovered above and below the windscreen and also on the elevator. Loss Adjusters have been consulted.....

I have come to appreciate this old PA-28 with it's 180hop engine and mismatched prop, it's a bit of a gent. The Hershey Bar wing makes it easy to fly and land, if a little twitchy in roll with lower break out forces than the C182. Variety is the spice of life and whilst the take-off performance is leisurely due to the fixed pitch cruise prop once you get used to the lumpiness of the 4-cylinder engine it trogs along quite nicely.
A scheduling cock-up by the person prior to me using the aircraft (you know who you are and exactly what you did...) trashes our scheduled 2:00pm departure. It's close to 2:30pm by the time the aircraft is even down and past 3:00pm by the time we get going, so the plan to go to Shobdon gets trashed.
Despite forgetting to turn the bloody fuel pump on for departure we cruise gently South at 2,500ft, a quick whizz round the house then down towards Membury, and avoiding their overhead drop in to Ramsbury.
I like flying low: at anything above 2,000ft only serious hills and mountains are visible, the rest looks like Google Maps. I can do that from my desktop....
Set up for a West-East transit at 1,000ft, swing around at the end and come back East-West. Despite it looking a long way away from the photos I am plaugued by "Terrain..... Terrain......" from the Garmin kit until I throttle up and pull away, let's not annoy the locals and head back home.




Transiting over our local 560m grass strip (tempting to be based there, but with no AvGas you'd have to keep going to Oxford!) I can see 3 Gazelles clearly based there, one with engine running. How cool is that?

A final quick whizz over the house then back for a visual for R01 via Right Base. A spirited East wind has blown up (airfields always the windiest places in the world...) and my flare drifts us to the left of the centreline but we're down tidily, taxy in and shut down.

The great GA delay game....
It has taken from April to July to order and have delivered a new windscreen, and to attempt to fit it. It's now half-fitted but the rear won't sink down in to position. This is either some parts of the previous windscreen that have not been removed from the slots (to be fair, unlikely), some misalignment at the front, posibly due to seagull damage (although it looks OK) or it just needs leaning on at the top. I'm not a licenced A&P engineer....



It may need a third party, more experienced at C182 windscreen replacement.
Then we've *only* got to persuade the CAA to let us fly it back to Oxford because the Annual is now overdue.
Repairs in the Certified GA world are long-winded and expensive. Oh, for a less-regulated FAA model!