A significant portion of the route involves stretches over water and therefore all crew members must be prepared to deal with emergency landings into water. At short notice, due to unfilled capacity, two of our less experienced members were able to receive dinghy drill training in order to educate them on the difficulties of landing in water. We extend our thanks to Group Captain Taylor, the Station Commander at Linton-on-Ouse, and 72 Squadron for allowing Abby and Rachel to join 72 Squadron for dinghy drill training. After the training both feel more prepared and understand the potential challenges of an emergency landing into water.
My last flight in a tailwheel aircraft was a while back, so whilst qualified to fly the Eurofox I was certainly not competent or current. There is only one place I know of offering training on a tailwheel Eurofox – G S Aviation at Clench Common. I had one day off work and needed 5 hours’ flying in 8 hours of daylight – cue a lovely day spent exploring the farm strips of Wiltshire and a visit to Wellesborne Mountford to experience a tarmac runway in a crosswind. Thank you Dave for your good humour! We managed 5 hours of stalls, steep turns, circuits, practice forced landings and cups of coffee at different venues! The Eurofox proved to be a lovely aircraft to fly, well harmonised but lacking drag on the final approach because it uses flapperons rather than separate ailerons and flaps. To get into shorter strips over obstructions a side slipped approach is necessary. The aircraft can achieve a very respectable rate of descent in a side slip, with an excellent view of your landing area all the way down to the flare…a very satisfying and addictive way of doing business. Great fun.
After a winter spent working in the superb build facilities at the Eurofox UK HQ at Luke’s Field, we have an expedition aircraft! The aircraft arrived from the factory in Slovakia looking relatively complete. The looks are deceptive though. There were 3 major areas of work to complete to turn the kit into an aircraft.
The engine, propeller and cowlings required fitting. Wire locking gets easier with practice, but certainly hurts when a piece of wire gets pushed up under a nail! The cowlings are carbon fibre in a bid to save weight over the standard aircraft so great care was needed to prevent damage. The Eurofox microlight build team were full of great advice throughout – little things like masking around rivets before fitting the cowling fasteners certainly saved damage to the paintwork.
The second main area is the cockpit and controls installation. Here the sage advice and use of factory templates was invaluable. Whilst the build manual is excellent I’d have required twice the number of hours without access to the factory templates and jigs for things like control deflection setting. The end result is hopefully an aircraft set up as if it is a series production machine, rather than a builder’s first aircraft, which should save considerable time during the flight test phase getting the ac set up correctly.
The final area to complete is the avionics installation. The aircraft is equipped such that it may be possible to obtain clearance to fly in cloud in the future. That meant a lot of soldering; knowing that the failure of any of the joints could cause significant problems at a critical stage of flight in the future.
Having completed the build it was time for the Light Aircraft Association (LAA) Inspector, Adrian Lloyd, to check everything. Adrian has inspected a large proportion of the 100+ UK Eurofox fleet and was full of great advice. There were some areas identified for rectification, but thankfully all minor. The main source of frustration was a problem with the fuel system. Despite having fuel correctly feeding from the wing tanks to the collector tank and the pumps running healthily, there was no fuel in front of the firewall. We dismantled the fuel system from the engine back to the fuel pumps under the seat checking for blockages. Nothing. With fuel at the pump inlet and no fuel at the pump outlet it had to be the pump…no, I’d wired both pumps the wrong way round. They were steadfastly trying to pump fuel from the engine to the fuel tanks. You live and learn!
With the inspection signed off the paperwork was sent off to the LAA and the aircraft moved to Boscombe Down for test flying. Hopefully the weather will improve and the next exciting phase can start soon.