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Posted In: Air Display, Air show, News

The Alxa Challenge at FB Park.  

Takes its name after the nearest town Alashan, some 50 km away. We are in the East side of the Gobi. As with all events in China we need to allow 24 hours travel door to door. Heathrow to Beijing, Immigration, bags collection, check in again for the local onwards flight of between 2- 3 hours is not uncommon. 

Alashan Tower

On this occasion we take the local flight to end up in Yinchuan where we take a hotel for the night prior to a short flight in the morning to Alashan and a bus to the venue. We choose to go direct to the venue to start work, arriving at 12:15 to take lunch. 

Starting work on the two Extra at 12:45, 2 teams of 2 persons is just right for assembly. We work constantly to 18:30 which sees both aircraft assembled ready for final inspection and paperwork in the morning. Forward planning we ask for fuel at 10am. 

Sure enough we are ready for fuel at 10am…. but, hurry up and wait, we can’t get it till 12pm. Paperwork done, ground runs completed we are brief to fly at 14:00. The allotted time comes and as with all other places in china, the totally deserted desert with the nearest airport 50 km away we are told the all to often term “military activity” . Its stop start till 17:10 when we are finally released to fly. Solo check flights are carried out above 1000ft, this then gives me a chance to view the surrounding area from a-high, drawing a smiley face expressing my feelings . Our next flight we then fly a formation practice. 

Day 2, it’s the same story. get to the airfield for 10am and “military activity” prevents flying. Having been flying shows in China since 2011 only once has “military activity” been observed. The remainder of the time it must be down to stealth planes being tested 🙂 Flying does commence late in the day, just 1 1/2 hrs before sunset. 

Tom and I have the chance again to practice a formation flight and the evening pyro flight. This is the last flight prior to show day. 

Monday 1st October is China’s National day, 69 years since the formation of the People Republic of China. October 1949 Chairman Mao won the civil war. Wayne drew the “69” at 12,000ft 

The event is primarily a full blown “petrol head” show. Lots of trick cars, trucks, dune buggies etc. Showing of there stuff. Here is just a small collection of photos. After dark, its full party time, street food outlets, music and fireworks. You can select from various accommodation on site. Glamping in a caravan, or a traditional yurt or DIY in a tent. 

Our “flying team”. Pilots, engineers and management. 

Some amazing action take place during the 5 day event. More than we have time to see. The venue is purpose made and can’t be found at all on Google Earth 2011 pictures. Massive investment has taken place with more to come. The venue is scheduled to have a few hotels built in the next few years. A second large hangar with more airport infrastructure to be built. Looking at the site it seams a large oval track has been laid out also.

 

On this occasion Patty Wagstaff joins the “Global Stars” to fly her solo routine in the Extra 300L G-JOKR. 

To Patty Wagstaff the sky represents adventure, freedom and challenge. A six-time member of the US Aerobatic Team, Patty has won the gold, silver and bronze medals in Olympic-level international aerobatic competition and is the first woman to win the title of US National Aerobatic champion and one of the few people to win it three times.

Patty, one of the world’s top airshow pilots, flies thrilling, low-level aerobatic demonstrations before millions of people each year. Her breathtaking performances give airshow spectators a front-row seat view of the precision and complexity of modern, unlimited hard-core aerobatics. Her smooth aggressive style sets the standard for performers the world over.

My formation leader on this occasion is Tom Cassells. Tommy always dresses to ward of the hoards of mosquitoes that are attracted to him 🙂 Sure enough, even in a desert they find him. Not only that but some sort of camel fly also which has a nasty bite causing swelling in a matter of moments. 

This event is quite a long one with 5 days of shows to do. Tom and I fly formo, Patty flies a solo then Tom and I fly a pyro. Patty is with us till the 3rd day, she flies then departs back to the USA. Tom and I plan to share the solo, however I’m taken ill with a tummy issue knocking me out for 24 hours. 

Other teams taking part are the AeroSuperBatics team. These guys, Martyn and Dave are good fun. It does take a considerable amount of time for them to assemble the aircraft and post show disassembly however they turn up fully practiced and only need check flights prior to display. 

The Pioneers team flying the Alpi Aviation Pioneer. The 4 ship formation flies a nicely choreographed non aerobatic display. The certification category is what causes the non aerobatic flight, however the aircraft is aerobatic! 

The Jinyi paramotor team from Hubei province fly twice per day. The daytime flight is with flags training and smoke canisters in a stacked formation. The evening flight is with pyros. very pretty in the sunset. 

Wayne Mansfield has his AVIAD Husky here towing the sponsors banner around the site on a couple of occasions per day. Importantly this gives us a camera platform for some exceptional photos taken by Keith Wilson. 

So the final days flying was specifically for VIP joy rides of government officials and sponsors along with CCTV broadcast. 

We arrange for a 6AM bus to start packing the planes away.Watching the sun rise, work commences at 07:15, we push the planes out to have morning dew settle which then freezes! By 15:15 we have the container doors ready to seal. 8 hours with a tea break and lunch the doors close on this chapter. 

 

All the below images by Keith Wilson. 

Posted In: News

The Global Stars are going to the Gobi desert.

Being a team that likes to explore the World and meet new challenges we have the opportunity to trail blaze bringing formation and aerobatic flying to many new audiences. Without doubt our next mission is very interesting and will certainly be very hard work, and its in the only place not populated with tower blocks in China 🙂 

The Alxa Challenge is a true petrol head event in the deserts of Mongolia. The organisers wishing to expand the appeal of the festival have invited the Global Stars, AeroSuperBatics & Pioneer teams. Patty Wagstaff will also be joining us to fly a solo in the Global Stars Extra 300L. Alexis Delafosse will be flying the Aviad.com Husky demonstrating banner towing. In addition to the flying there will be an aviation conference when both Mark and Patty have been invited to speak. The subjects being competition aerobatics and the International air display pilot.

The core event is “Paris – Dakar” style race format with massive 4 x 4 cars and scramble bikes. However thats not all. The evenings are a true festival, BBQ style food markets, Music and camping. Temperatures in October are usually a high of 12’c and lows of 4’c or a touch of frost. The lower temperatures will help off set the altitude power losses at 4500ft.

Alxa or Alashan League is located at the west end of Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. It is adjacent to Mongolia in the north, adjoins the Great Wall in the south, neighbours on the Yellow River in the east, and leans against the Hexi Corridor  in the west. Our playground is approx 80km west of the town.

A similar motor rally in 2016 attracted over 50 teams with 120 racers from China and abroad to the competition, which will cover challenging, sparse desert landscapes on unforgiving rocky roads.

The nine-day competition will span a distance of more than 3,900 kilometers. Racers start in Baotou and will travel through many other cities and counties in Inner Mongolia before they enter Northwest China’s Gansu province and the Ningxia Hui autonomous region. The final leg finished in Alxa Left Banner helping make the area famous for motor sports.

As the only cross-province motor-rally in China, it has been recognised by the Federation International Automobile (FIA), and known as one of the longest and toughest motor contests in the world. 

In this area of 270,000-square-kilometer live 28 ethnic groups including Han, Mongolian and Hui people. Reputed as the ‘hometown of camel’, Alxa is abundant in two-humped camel and the white down producing goat. 

The area is a tourist paradise, attracting visitors by its brilliant ethnic culture, unique desert landscape and plentiful historical relics. 

Lying in the hinterland of the Asia, being encircled by mountains and far away from the sea contributes to the typical continental climate of Alxa. Generally, it is short of rain while the wind is strong and sandy, thus the weather is always dry.  The difference in temperature between day and night is large. The annual average temperature is 6 to 8.5 degrees Centigrade (42.8 to 47.3 degrees Fahrenheit); the lowest temperature -36.4 degrees Centigrade (-33.5 degrees Fahrenheit) is in January while the highest temperature 41.7 degrees Centigrade (107 degrees Fahrenheit) is in winter.

History 
Alxa region is one of the birthplaces of human beings. The Mandela Mountain Rock Paintings that was carved 6,000 years ago vividly depicted the ancestors’ daily life. Having a profound history, Alxa has many historical sites and precious cultural relics, such as the ancient Badan Jaran Desert and Helan Mountain where emperors of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911)  left their inscriptions.

A few images pre event. We display over the lake, it wont be populated! 

Posted In: News


Battery powered flight: A new dimension of flying arrives in the UK.

Thinking back to the early days of flight the pioneers of explored every new technology and were open to new ideas as they ventured from gliders to powered aircraft. There is a new era of flight dawning as innovators and ingenious engineers harness the potential and benefits of electric powered flight. Electric motors and powertrains have been used in model aircraft since the 1970s but the enemy for full-scale aircraft remains power capacity and weight… but what about the next generation of paraglider?

Allow us to introduce the ‘Lizard’, from the Swiss company, SkyJam Aircraft. A light weight electro-paramotor powered paraglider.

Mark Jefferies, acknowledged as one of the finest aerobatic and air display pilots in Europe and owner of Little Gransden airfield based Yak UK, has taken delivery of the first SkyJam ST-Electro Lizard in the UK. He will debut the ‘Lizard’ at the Little Gransden Charity Airshow on the 26th August this year.

Mark commented, “I have, between running Yak UK and display flying with the Globalstars aerobatic display team, been enjoying paragliding here in the UK and in the French Alps for a few years now. It is a beautiful way to experience flight; you can soar with the birds and it allows you to appreciate the elements and the landscape… it’s like learning to fly again. The advantages with the ‘Lizard’ are many but it’s the weight, noise reduction and ease of use that are most notable; with conventional power systems there are the inherent noise, pollution and inconvenience of restarting in flight – these issues don’t feature with the ‘Lizard’. The ‘Lizard’ is quiet, lightweight, starts on the button and delivers power on demand. It’s a pleasure to fly.”
The new lightweight electro-paramotor ST-Electro Lizard is the result of a development dating back to 2014. Feedback from existing pilots highlighted the need for lighter weight and longer flight time (and lower cost!) along with options for pilots weighing maximum 85kg with one or two battery packs – SkyJam has succeeded in meeting all these challenges and developing a new system that is 13kg lighter. The weight of the ‘Lizard’ including harness and one 25AH battery is 27kg ready to fly!

The harness (with airbag and integrated rescue container), titanium frame and the glider suspension are all developed and manufactured with pilot safety front-of-mind. The ‘Lizard’ can be flown with one or two batteries with the second battery attached in just a few moments.

Mark concluded: “For those paraglider pilots out there looking for the next step I’d recommend they take a look at the SkyJam range. If anyone wants to know more about the ‘Lizard’ and it’s flying characteristics please get in touch or come to Little Gransden and have a look as we now have the first one in the UK.”

For further information contact yakuk.com in the UK or skyjam-aircraft.com in Europe.

End.
About SkyJam
Paraglider and engine… a combination, which stands for freedom and pure flight pleasure. Start and land at small places, enjoy the feeling like the flight pioneers at the beginning of the twentieth century. There are landscapes to explore from a whole new perspective, which otherwise only birds know. Flying full of freedom, adventure and experience – that is Skyjam Aircraft.

About YAK UK
YAK UK, based at Little Gransden airfield in Cambridgeshire, UK, has been established for over twenty six years and has a worldwide reputation for providing high-quality, military specification aircraft to general aviation aircraft, parts, sales and service. As market leaders for the supply, restoration and operation of Russian aircraft, particularly YAK, the business now extends to the sales of the aerobatic Extra aircraft and sales brokerage of historically significant aircraft.

Posted In: Air Display, News

The Global Stars took 2 aircraft to this show.

ANSHUN 2018

 

 

“Prepare for the mirror……..Rolling in three, two, one” At three hundred feet and around 170 knots, just kissing the 150 metre line at the runway’s edge, Mark leads the Extras from crowd right toward crowd centre. On hearing “three” Steve slides back a few feet, and on hearing “one” powers forward again as Mark rolls inverted. The transition from erect to inverted is always impressive when it’s in your face, and at the same time appears to be effortless; but a half roll that doesn’t sink, climb or tramp sideways, scaring your partner half to death is borne of many years in competition and display. Closing the gap to sit underneath Mark takes longer than it might, a reminder that we’re 5000 miles from home at an elevation of 4500 feet with an outside air temperature that hovers around 30 degrees Celcius: We are in Anshun, China, and right now the Extras perform as they would do back home at 8000 feet! This is day seven of flying, the final day of the Air Show. We left an England unaccustomed to prolonged dry weather just as thunderstorms arrived there ten days ago.

Markham Moor Services is on the A1 just South of Retford. Engineer Keith Taylor arrived there from Billingham to pick up Steve before heading off to meet Mark at Little Gransden. From Sandy our three were relieved to hear that their train would deliver them to Gatwick to meet Flying Display Director Mike, “Air Boss,” without a change in central London.  Thunderstorms en-route delayed Air China’s 2230 departure, resulting in a missed connection for the internal flight that would put them within a 90 minute-taxi ride to the hotel: Total elapsed time, a little over thirty hours of travel.  

A Global Stars’ expedition to the far side of the world requires a certain amount of stamina, and sometimes this means going straight to the airfield to start the rebuild. On this occasion, and as it’s gone midnight, the team decide to meet up with engineer Arunas at 0900 local. Arunas lives in Lithuania, travelled via Copenhagen and is nothing sort of a genius!

The rebuild of just two of the team’s aircraft, an Extra 300 and a 300L takes just over a day. The two pilots and engineers have probably visualised the process over and over again during the long flight. A 10 mm socket and spanner for this job, a pair of 8 mills for that one…..Finally the time came to run the engines. With a density altitude like this, a metering unit set up for sea level needs some tinkering with to find a mixture that will keep the engine running smoothly, rather than like a bag of old spanners. With his hearing so finely tuned to mechanical harmony, Arunas reminds us of the cartoon dog in the film “Aristocats” who identifies the motor cycle ridden by the arch villain as he approaches: With one ear raised, and in a deep Southern drawl he confirms that “It’s a two-cylinder chain wheel drive, with one squeaky wheel!” Finally, mixtures set, and approval from Mike, the Extras are flight tested. Normally a take-off on hard is very impressive, albeit briefly, as the aircraft literally bound into the air like the proverbial scorched cat. Not so on this occasion, no Sir! Acceleration is glacial, and a quick glance inside reveals that the ASI needle appears to be stuck on 60! A little later-on in the afternoon, both machines lift, skip, and settle down again briefly before finally summoning the enthusiasm to stay airborne. Climb out is distinctly unimpressive. Mark takes one end of the performance area, the East, while Steve heads West for the catharsis which is a shake down to see what’s available. This is nothing new to Mark, he came here last year, and he’s soon reminded of the job of leader, to fly the formation with care and a fine touch, as you would a big old heavy aeroplane.

With performance in mind, Mark and Steve have put together a display sequence that is frugal, though no less dramatic. With only 23 inches or so of Manifold Power available, you cannot spend too long at speeds greater than the maximum straight and level speed of the aircraft. You can’t pull too hard either, and display smoke should be used carefully as this reduces the power available slightly. To ignore this advice, like that given by Mr Micawber to David Copperfield will result in your sequence running aground or at worst coming to a sudden halt.

“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen-nineteen, six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds, ought and six, result misery…In Short you are for ever floored. As I am”  (Wilkins Micawber)         

There are two teams from Australia with a variety of Pitts, Extra, Yak and Sukhoi aircraft, the Wing Walkers from the UK, and The Italian Pioneer Team. Each team has a marquee in which to rig and maintain their aeroplanes, and finally de-rig for the journey home.  The Global Stars share a marquee with their old friends the Wing walkers. An extra few pairs of hands is always welcome when it comes to lifting wings on and off; and every now and then one team will have a tool or a widget that the other one needs to borrow. Everyone travels to and from the hotel, some twenty-five minutes, or occasionally fifty minutes away when the city traffic builds up. The hotel is better than some the teams have stayed in; and food service is the usual buffet, whether it’s breakfast, lunch or that old chestnut dinner/ tea/ supper, (delete as appropriate). This kind of service suits many of the engineers and pilots who just want a bit of peace and quiet at the end of a long day, rather than the well intentioned, though sometimes unwelcome hospitality of our hosts.

Show days began with a briefing from Display Director Mike. One of the few times that you might hear the phrase Power Point and manage to avoid self-harm. Mike sits in that rare section of the Venn Diagram, the overlap of confidence, competence, likeable and generally being very nice! Next, comes the herding of cats onto the coach. This one looks as though it’s been around the block a few times, the sort that can conjure up sensations and smells familiar from school trips, upholstery, dust, diesel and sick. The driver treats the gears in an egalitarian fashion, sometimes flirting with reverse as we edge forwards through the traffic. Arrival at the airfield is a mixed affair. On day one we gained access through the main airport terminal. There was talk of demolishing a large wall close to the marquees so that we could speed things up a bit. Sure enough, the following day, this not so great wall in China was little more than a big pile of rubble that lay between us and the charade that was the security check.  

Aircraft are then pulled out, refuelled, cleaned and made to look beautiful. An event like Anshun is a great opportunity to offer and receive peer review, something that is now lacking back home with the advent of so many seaside events in which the participants often never meet and chat.

The days are long, and taking care of yourself is vital, keeping hydrated and fed are top of the list. The Global Stars have a particularly long day as we are the last item in the evening session, taking off after sunset for our, by now, celebrated pyro display. Pyro shows require some additional vigilance in low light levels especially when they’re off airfield. Here we have the luxury of a well-lit runway beneath us, and should anything untoward occur, a blocked injector for instance, then we can land on in no time at all. On this occasion the team have the latest addition to the six tip mounted pyros: large Roman Candle pyros mounted in place of the spats. This is our thirty second finale! The aircraft are flown more widely spaced during a pyro show for obvious reasons. On completion a standard curving approach is flown to touch down; after which a long taxi back sees our engineers with torches lead the aeroplanes back to the marquees for a once over, and to remove any smouldering remnants. Then it’s back to the coach for more grinding of gears and torture courtesy of poor suspension and uneven roads. A “black-un” some-times follows soon after arrival. This is Northern slang for a beer before scrubbing up for dinner, tea, supper.  

All good things come to an end; and after seven days of practice and displays, sometimes flying three times in the day, we are all ready for the journey home. Time now to play the film backwards as the aeroplanes must be de-rigged, packed two to a container and ratcheted firmly to the walls and floor. This is a job for the high priests of packing. The containers will be bounced mercilessly in their journey home or to the next display, so those ratchets must be positioned with skill and tightened carefully. We managed to complete the task in one long day, allowing ourselves a quiet day in preparation for the journey to a new hotel closer to the airport.

Our last day began at around 04:45. A short journey by minibus to the airport for the flight to Beijing. An hour or so in to the three-hour flight we were told that we’d be diverting to somewhere unpronounceable due to weather: Oh dear! A little later, with thunderstorms long departed, we landed at Beijing later than advertised eating slightly into our four-hour stop over. Finally, after an hour’s delay we began our westward race ahead of the night for the eleven and a half hours it took to fly home. At Northern latitudes, and with a very northerly component, this is quite easily achieved. Finally, Heathrow via the Lambourne Arrival, then it’s immigration, bags, goodbye Mike, M25, A1, Little Gransden for coffee and cheese on toast, goodbye Mark, A1 again and road closures with no prior-warning: “smart motorways!” Markham-Moor truck park. Steve heads for Derbyshire and Keith continues North into more bloody road closures! Until next time.

 

Posted In: News

Eight forced landings in 5,000 hours flying and 38 years.

June 1980 I started to learn to fly gaining my license in December 1980. Since that time I’ve flown approx 140 types over 5,000 hours. Last week I had another forced landing.

Nr 8, YAK 11

21st June 2018, Check flying for the new certificate of validity the engine stopped on short finals at about 150 – 200 ft. Certainly not a good position to be in. Established on final, 90 kts was the last recorded airspeed. A dribble of power was required to maintain the touch down point 170 meters in, on command this was not available. With just moments to consider options before 2 ditches, a public road and a very sturdy hedge I selected gear up. I could have landed on wheels and rolled into the ditch at 70 kts thus instantly tipping the a/c on its back on the road and likely killing myself and the owner in the back seat. 

The touch down was quite hard with the nose digging in after 11 meters. This gave a rapid de-acceleration causing my head to hit the gun sight. Blood was sprayed around the cockpit. Both myself an owner self evacuated whilst members of the public rushed from the road to help. 

The aircraft is fully repairable. Coincidentally I have nearly all the parts. 2 items will be difficult. Left flap and Spinner, I don’t have the moulds to hand for this item. Fairings are a craftsmans job. Engine mount, exhausts, inner gear doors, nose cowl ring and sundries all in stock. 

To date we have not investigated the cause. This will be done after the insurance assessor has been. 

If anyone knows of a left flap please drop me a line. 

 

Nr 7, Extra 330SC.

Global_stars_solo30th May 2015, 4,000ft on route from Midden Zealand (EHMZ) to Goch (EDLG) prior to the Volkel in de Wolken air show with 2 Global Stars team members in formation loosely on my wing. With the Extra 300 series of aircraft fuel in the wing tanks is not permitted for aerobatics as it breaks the end ribs of the tanks. The tanks are run dry, 0n this occasion upon switching to mains with the electric boost pump on the engine failed to pick up again. Looking around at the landing options available very few presented themselves. Crops or freshly cultivated fields all looking very small.

Very conveniently there was a nice motorway that was not too busy. Electing to land on the highway was a simple option that looked by far the best chance for a successful landing. Just one issue, the cars. One stood out in particular a white one level with me and doing about the same speed. I didn’t want to touch down just behind it and risk the driver braking so elected to dive in front. The next issue was a bridge to fly under. Exiting the bridge and lining up on the 2 lanes with a hard shoulder was quite concentrating with a wind from the left side. Crash barrier one side and road side distance markers the other was quite concentrating.Landing on Highway

Coming to a stop I was greeted by a driver who shook my hand and said well done. Quite a few cars had stopped behind me as I was blocking the road. So as not to inconvenience or have a large crowd gather round I pushed the a/c to the hard shoulder, this allowed traffic to flow again. Cars were slowing and drivers taking pictures as they passed. Strange how no one stopped to assist or find out whats going on, after all its not everyday you come across a plane on the hard shoulder ! .

I opened the fuel drain at the gascolator till fuel flowed. Primed the engine, cranked it and got a short burst of life. Trying again it started. Well as no police had turned up a gap in the traffic presented its self so looking left I pulled out from the hard shoulder, turned right and took off.

My team mates who had been in touch with Dutch Military radar control advised I was airborne again. Instructions soon emerged to land again at Seppe because the police wanted to interview me. Well, that took a good 6 hours to clear up with various statements culminating in a 800 Euro fine. The fine was for taking off which as it turned out was some several thousand Euro cheaper than the alternative the police would have insisted upon. Disassemble, lorry to an airport….

Nr6, Stampe

F-BDJP_Stampe11th September 2009 I was collecting the aircraft after maintenance by AEREC, Cannes. This was not the first occasion I had delivered to and collect the aircraft from AEREC. The aircraft flew very little time annually. Maintenance by this company was very minimal and not taken seriously, reported defects left unattended to, oil not changed, batteries not charged, brakes mal adjusted and the list goes on. On this occasion the propeller fell off, this was either due to the maintenance scheduled not being adhered to or just plain being ignored. AERAC said we don’t have to check it as the aircraft is on a permit to fly….French maintenance is reactive in my experience.

You can find a video here of the landing

Nr5, CASA Jungmann

G-BIRI JungmannApprox July 2004 on a sales demonstration flight climbing out of EGMJ with the prospective new owner in the front seat a jolt and vibration occurred. At mid point down wind approximately 1200ft this was to be a forced landing not to be messed up, not least the fact that the a/c was not insured! Landing on 10 at Gransden was uneventful. The cause was soon found, a broken exhaust valve smashing the piston.

Nr4, Bucker Jungmiester

BU133-JungmiesterApproximately 1988. This was a first flight after import from USA. Taking off from EGMJ runway 28 at approx 50 ft the engine wound down.  A straight ahead landing in standing crop resulted in the a/c turning over. Quite a bit of damage resulted. The cause being a direct fuel pressure type of carburetor causing the engine to run very rich

Nr3,Cassut racer

G-BOMB_CassuttG-BOMB, This was a first flight after build or rebuild. Flight from Meppershal in the locality of Old Warden oil pressure was last seen dropping thru 5psi. Setting course back to Meppershal at 1000ft on reduced power. Very apparent was the fact that a forced landing in crops about ready to harvest would have ended messily. I was on the point of jumping. With just Stotfold village to pass to get to the airfield. Luckily the engine provided extended glide power and only stopping at about 50 ft with a good landing made. The first landing in a Cassutt for me.

Nr2, Microlite Vector

VectorWell this one was my own silly fault, I was enjoying the a/c so much I ran out of fuel! Belonging to a friend of mine he said take it and fly. I’m not sure how long I was airborne but when I saw the bubbles going along the fuel pipe I knew it was not long before a landing.

Nr1, CASA Jungmann

Jungmann G-BHPLapprox 1983 at 800 feet over the power switching grids south west of st Neots, a jolt and massive vibration. Knowing there was a grass runway some few miles away I headed west, with height reducing all the time I lined up only to see the sheep starting to run in all directions. A right turn and head to Staughton airfield for the hard runway, approaching at 50ft with a 90′ turn to make and immediately landing. The problem being a broken valve and smashed piston.

 

Posted In: News

Cirrus SR22T G5 from Republic Airport Long Island to UK.

In the spring of 2018 my good friend AJ said he would need an aircraft for business, after a bit of research the most practical aircraft was found to be of Cirrus SR 22 turbo G5.

We set about looking for a suitable aircraft in the UK but we did not find one, our search led us to the Republic airport, Long Island, USA where Nassu flyers were brokering an aircraft for a client. A pre-by inspection was carried out various photographs and documents supplied and the aircraft was purchased.

AJ kindly asked, did I want to accompany him on the positioning flight the UK. I thought about it for five seconds and I realised that this was the safest single engined piston aircraft to fly the Atlantic with something I had not considered before. the a/c parachute and ability to carry a raft if needed.

Cirrus wishes the aircraft to be known as the world safest aircraft. To that end of the aircraft is fitted with a ballistic parachute for use in extreme circumstances they also provided three days of training for all new pilots. Some few years ago a pilot in the UK took off and flew into IMC and immediately pull the parachute, not a good advertisement. Not good training either! 

The Cirrus is built for IFR use, obviously it can be flown VFR but the main emphasis on training is the use of the avionics and the flight planning and the autopilot systems. Importantly the use of the Cirrus Airframe Parachute System (CAPS). Equipment is the Garmin G1000. This takes quite a bit of planning and time to get used too. A great deal of time/ expense of flight can be saved by using a ground power unit and sitting in the aircraft programming the flight routes, programming diversions, pulling up charts and generally getting used to some pressing pressing, turning and tweaking. learning the Cirrus “play station” 

Every day is was raining and IFR which was very good helping getting used to Standard Instrument Departures (SID) We flew 150 miles north where it was CAVOK for general handling, slow flight, stalls in various circuit configurations along with circuits.

During these three days we had three different instructors with Eric from “the flight Academy” Being absolutely superb and knowledgeable not only with the avionics but also the aircraft.

Eric Gutierrez was to fly with us across the Atlantic having done it on two occasions previously. As with previous stays the morning of departure was pouring with rain. The first stop was to be ganderHowever we diverted to a Cirrus Service center on rote as Eric noticed the aircraft was not producing full power. A turbo wastegate and Propeller RPM adjustment was made and we are on our journey again to Gandar . Refuelling, customs and immigration took place and again we are en route this time to Goose Bay for the night. Both Goose Bay and Gandar were CAVOK on arrival. Admittedly it was -5 and blowing 26kts. 

At Gandar we noticed a B25 which was on route to Europe to take part in a film apparently.

A night at Hotel North, early start and we file to BGBW, Narsarsuaq this leg is exactly 4 hours. with 3:40 over the cold seas. Immersion suits are donned. The whole flight is at FL090 in CAVOK arriving to stunning views of Greenland. I saw my first iceberg ever! The last 40 miles we drop down to 2500ft to take in the views flying up the fjord. 

Refuelling and flight plan filed we are on our way again. This time a climbing turn out over the water with a glacier to our left climbing to FL150 this time to clear all mountains. Donning oxygen at 12,000ft. Occasionally we check our blood oxygen saturation levels. As a previous test with a level of 85 after about 2 mins levels rise to a comfortable 95 using a canular system. This is acceptable below 18,000ft. After which full pressure masks are required. 80%SpO2 is considered as low as you would want to go. 

After 4 hours flight we are in BIRK,Reykjavik airport Iceland. A long day. The hotel is just 50 meters walk dead oppressive the GA terminal. Drop bags with a view to walking to town for supper. That plan quickly changed when it started to rain. It was still raining in the morning! 

The Airport opens at 8 AM. We walked through the door first to refuel and fire flight plans. Managing to depart at approximately 9:15am. Iceland standard time is UTC for “political reasons” even though its 22′ West of UK making 2 hrs behind us but they want European time! 

Departing in rain IFR at 800ft and solid all the way to FL110 with ice the whole time. the weeping wings take care of it on the low setting. Due to the strong headwinds we elect to go to BIEG, Egilsstaðir. Refuel and top up with TKS de-icer, a glycol-based fluid to cover the critical surfaces developed by Developed by Tecalemit-Kilfrost-Sheepbridge Stokes in WW2.

Again, soon in IMC with icing on route to EGPC, Wick. 3:45 later again somewhat slower than we wished for due to the strong headwinds (35kts on occasion) 

The last leg to EGLD was at FL090 again arriving 20:22 after negotiating and paying the aerodrome to extend opening hours. As it happened Richard and Clare Parkinson’s skyranger was at Denham for the. They kindly offered to wait for me and give me a lift home. I flew the Skyranger back to EGMJ, Gransden so I can truly say I’ve flown from New York to Gransden. Total flight times were 22:35. 

All pictures below in low res. If anyone wants a high res just ask. 

Posted In: Air Display, Air show, News

The Global Stars are one of China’s most popular aerobatic teams of all time since 2011. 

The team first visit Dazu in 2011 and have been returning to China most years since then. This is the second visit in 2018 with a 3rd on the cards later on in the year.

The Air Show at Zhengzhou starts on the 27th April till 1st May. The pilots on this occasion Mark Jefferies, team and formation leader, Steve Carver left-wing, Chris Heames right-wing and reserve formation leader and Chris Burkett in box. Engineers Arunas Monkevicius, Neil France, Chris Jones and Tom Bootyman.

28th April – 1st May. All the show days go as planned. Daily the flight order changes. The Global Stars fly formation slots 3 times a day, Morning, afternoon and pyro in the evening. Thrown into that I also have to fly a solo. With the practice flights thats 26 formation flights and 6 solo flights. During the event there were 85 displays flights, some teams only flew twice.

The Pioneer team fly very well with the Rotax powered machines. The use of coloured smoke and pyro is nice. 

27th April. Show day 🙂 We start of with a mass flyby, RAF term a “gorilla”. After which the teams fly there routines. The afternoon session I fly a solo. Between the overseas teams the local displays teams strut there stuff. Parachutists, Paramotors, gyrocopters and a pair of ultralites fly a very nice formation. 

The evening show waits till dusk. Pioneers, Global Stars and Aerosparkx. a few pictures below, we are using “local” pyros and unfortunately the electric matches have quite a high failure rate so we will use 2 in each next time to alleviate the problem. 

ANBO team from Lithuania flying 3 x YAK’s have been practicing hard and fly a very tight show. Pictures in a later posting. 

Jez Hopkinson has whipped his boys nicely into shape with the Yakovlevz producing a nice steady formation with lots of presence. 

26th April. Civil Aviation Authority China have been taking statements from key personnel regarding the accident. After which we continue flights at 12:00. The Global Stars do one long mission and then have lunch resting till the evening pyro practice.

25th April. We are now starting to get a routine. Practice times allocated and then we are ready on slot only to be told, 10 mins delay which turns to 15 and then 20…. Most annoying. All teams fly twice. Elgin Wells has been assembling his aircraft for 2 days sorting various minor issues. Finally he’s ready and take a slot towards the end of the day. With sadness to say this is his last flight.  The Chinese press release follows. 

ZHENGZHOU, April 25 (Xinhua)– A U.S. pilot was killed after his aerobatic aircraft crashed during a trial flight ahead of a local air show at an airport in the central Chinese city of Zhengzhou on Wednesday, according to local authorities.

Elgin Wells, a pilot of the U.S. Red Eagle aerobatic flight team, died in the crash after his aerobatic plane Starjammer plummeted to the ground at about 6:14 p.m. from around 100 meters above the airport runway at the Shangjie Airport, the air show organizer confirmed. The crash caused no other casualties on the ground.

An investigation into the cause of the crash is under way.

The Zhengzhou Air Show 2018 will kick off on Friday and last until May 1

24th April. Today is check flight day. Not unexpected but with 15 mins to go there is a delay of 1 hour added, however we fly on the allotted new time for 30 mins mission. Individual take-off, short handling checks then join up for warm up figures from the sequence. All goes well. Why is it that we just get lunch delivered and the fuel truck appears again :/ The second flight we fly the full sequence all to plan. Then luckily as not all teams on site yet we get a 3rd flight. 

23rd April. We take an earlier bus with the small amount of work to do. Ground runs on a small amount of residual fuel then wait for the fuel truck to appear, this is did at the same time as lunch. A glimmer of hope was “maybe” at 15:30 you will know if you can fly after 5.. we wait, we wait and wait. No flying. Still we are promised first slot when the military say we can fly. 

22nd April. Being fair to the team I suggest bus at 10am for the a/p, no resistance was meet 🙂 Containers opened by 10:30 to find all strapping as tight as the day it departed UK. All aircraft and tooling unloaded to commence build. This goes very well. We stop work at 13:00 for a well-earned break, pizza was supplied. Very nice for the team but I can’t eat wheat product so have a chinese. 

By the end of the day 2 a/c are completed with just 2 hrs remaining to have a quartet. Fuel as last occasion needs planning well in advance. ATC needs even more planning with 24 hours notice, this was a matter that we missed until too late, so unfortunately all we can do is 2 hrs of work tomorrow.  

A selection of “as its happening”  pics below. 

20th April/ 21st April. The team makes its way to LHR to catch a Cathay Pacific flight to HK on a Boeing 777. The flight was uneventful with a good service on time. We now have a 5 hrs wait for the flight into Zhengzhou. The remaining flight happens. No q’s at immigration but a long wait in an empty baggage hall for bag then onto a mini bus for the last 1.5 hrs to the hotel. Supper was a sort of pub affair, BBQ lamb and beer! Approx 35 hrs from bed to bed. 

Global stars team at LHR

Boeing 777 over north germanyArrived HK