A Cool part for my PilotAware

If like me you have built yourself a PilotAware you will have noticed just how hot the SDR (ADS-B 1090Mhz) dongle gets  and if you are thinking of building this into a case and then permanently wiring it in to your aircraft you may well be concerned!

I have also had one SDR (a Nooelec one) stop working which could be down to the heat or some other failure. Anyway searching for a low heat generating version lead me to:



It arrived quickly and i eagerly plugged it into the PilotAware to see if it would be detected and work and it did!


I have run this on the ground for around 3 hours and although it does get hot, I’m still able to keep my finger on it (not a scientific measurement!) whereas the previous one I could not. It also has the benefit of drawing less power too. The cost of the item was $16.95 including delivery to the UK and the customer service via email from Carl was great.

So for the fly test Sunday I flew with the new SDR and had no issues picking up other traffic all of which were duly plotted on my SkyDemon.

I would recommend the use of these for those building an all in one enclosure PilotAware using the Stratux or other case.

If the PilotAware team could have this made with a case I feel it would make good sense for them to supply this version of the SDR dongle as part of their starter kit.  

Bang and mechanical failure late on final!

Sunday was a fantastic day to go flying blue skies, cold air and very light winds, in fact a perfect day for a first flight in a microlight, Neil could not have asked for better conditions for his first flight. the only spoiling factor was on the flight back to Chatteris where we suffered mechanical failure on landing.

We started our day with a short flight to my favourite airfield with the best local restaurant (or should that be the other way around!).

Fenland was as busy as normal and the air ground radio was efficient as ever when Ray is on the mic. We joined over head to follow another aircraft in, one we had been tracking for a while on SkyDemon via it’s PilotAware connection. I had also been playing with two of the recent new features, which I love, on SkyDemon. The location tracking with reference to a point and the radio tab, both are great additions, the first makes it so easy to give accurately your current location in respect to a town or other nearby reference and the radio tab to check you have got the correct frequency. The landing was text book and the meal was great too!

Flight back to Chatteris and mechanical failure on landing

After Lunch, we set off back to Chatteris via The Wash, King’s Lynn and March and Neil had a go at the controls and did very well. I took over as we got near to Chatteris and descended to circuit height. We joined the circuit on Downwind for runway 24 and all was well, first stage of flap on base leg, all still looking good. Turning final I made our call and I went for the second stage of flap pitching the nose down at the same time. A slight bang was heard and Flaps jumped back to stage 1, thinking I had not fully pulled these on I reset them to stage 2. All was fine this time and we continued our descent, at around 70ft up and a little short of the threshold “bang!” and the flaps jumped out again not really having time to think and with the sudden change of attitude close to the ground I went for full power and landed safely further down the runway with a single stage of flap.

This is my first mechanical failure I have experienced in flight and it certainly increased my heart rate!

It appears over time the latching holes become worn and don’t hold, the wheel they are cut into needs re profiling or changing. If you operate a C42 I would look at yours before your next flight!


Back on the ground a balloon we had seen from afar had landed just short of our airfield, picture below:

Aviation First Aid and Fire Training

This weekend I did not fly and that would normally mean I don’t blog either! However this weekend I attended the first Aviation related First Aid (Level 3) and Fire Safety (Level 1) training organised by the BMAA for its members. It was run by Barry Murkin from www.firstsafetytraining.com, I didn’t really know what to expect, but thought they would be a good life skill to have and an opportunity to visit the BMAA office too. So, I reached out to my friend Simon and we both enrolled on the training and as this was a good 2 ½ hr drive away we booked up a hotel nearby too.

When we booked up the training we did not know who would be running the it, Barry the instructor is a Microlight and GA pilot who I have flown with once and operates out of the same airfield as Simon and I, Chatteris. He is ex RAF too and likes things to be done in a very ordered way, not a bad thing, and as we were to find out later in the evening he tells a good story too!

The first shock of the day started long before the training when my alarm rang and I realised that there are two 5 O’clock in a day!  Simon arrived promptly at 06:00 and we drove down to the BMAA’s head office in Deddington, a small village in Oxfordshire, where we were met by Rob Mott from the BMAA. Rob acted as the facilitator for the training and insured the whole thing ran without a hitch. 

Day one was Aviation First Aid, this was a normal Level 3 recognised training course which is required by employers, however the examples and applications were tailored to the Aviation world. We not only covered the aims of First Aid (Preserve life, Prevent the condition worsening and to Promote recovery) but also lifesaving skills such as CPR, Rescue breaths (30:2 ratio), Recovery position, W position, treatment for Shock, Choking etc 

W position
W position Pre Heart Attack, or Head shock recovery

It was very beneficial to try CPR on a dummy which mimics the pressure needed and to also use a Defib too. It hasn’t made us paramedics, but has given us the confidence to be able to at least try and help preserve a person’s life until the emergency services arrive.

Recovery Position

The course is assessed to OFQUAL standards and official certification is provided for those who pass.


In the evenings those who were staying over or were local all met you at a Chinese which was local to our hotel and a fun night was had talking about flying and things.


The following morning, we arrived back at the BMAA office for the Aviation Fire Safety training. This was another approved course, again this was a standard course, but with aviation examples, in the morning we learnt a little about the responsibilities we all have too each other’s safety under the law, the types of fire and what a fire is. We covered the 3 three factors needed to keep it burning Heat, Fuel and Oxygen. We then went through the different classes of fires and how each one should be tackled and what fire extinguisher should be used. We also covered the use of Halon in the cockpit of an Aircraft. Later in the day we did Hots training at Enstone Airfield where we were given different controlled and simulated real fires to tackle, we had to raise the alarm, select and test and then use the correct fire extinguisher, this was not only great fun but now we all know exactly what to expect when we pick a fire extinguisher.

It was a long two days and back at work Monday it doesn’t feel like I have had a weekend off, but I believe the skills I have learnt are more important than one weekend and would recommend it to anyone pilot or not.