Runway 21 and the curse of the trees!

There was no flying last week due to the wind, however I went to the club anyway and I took some hooks with me which Katie and I fitted to the cupboard that Pat had built for our Group’s aeroplane, so there was not much to blog about.

Before today most of my circuit training has been on runway 24 which is nice and long and wide, but today the wind and mud dictated we use runway 21. It was also yet another windy and gusty day, you can tell when it’s not a great day to fly when you arrive and see all the aeroplanes are safely in the hanger and there are lots of places left to park!

It had only been two weeks since my last lesson, but on the first circuit I had managed to forget just about everything, climb attitude, letting the nose drop in the turns and as for the touch and go, well I was so preoccupied by the sight of the trees on the threshold and missing them I came in way to high and ended up powering on and going around, the next attempt wasn’t much better to the point that Mike flew the next approached and showed me how easy it could be even in these trick conditions!

As you come in over the trees the wind shear means you drop a lot of height quickly, or maybe it was just the way the wind was, either way if the approach looked good way out it was actually to low! My third and fourth circuit were OK, not as good as Mike’s, but then he is the instructor. On what should have been my last landing I seem to have re calibrated  my internal altimeter by around 15ft and we were forced to go around again as I rounded out to high. My actual last landing (the extra one) was OK, not the best of the day, but it was OK.

On taxiing back I mentioned to Mike that I have trouble remembering which runway is what and he suggested I walk the runways, when we got back in the clubhouse he volunteered Katie to take me around the airfield. It was interesting to walk the runways and Katie knows the history of them too, but I’m not sure it has helped me to remember them, however it did show me how wet and muddy they are currently, I think I may now have trench foot!


I now have a 1/8 share in the training aeroplane so after Simon returned I offered to wash it for the first time and I could not believe the amount of mud on the underside and tail plane, roll on the summer, but then it will be bug season and I assume they are more sticky to get off then the mud!

One last thing to mention is the strobe is back on the aeroplane and working just fine thanks to a team effort, I fixed the electronics, Pat machined out the aluminium tube and fitted it and Mike glued the bits together and refitted it to the aeroplane, total cost of the repair was around £12 compared to a new strobe at £85.

So in conclusion, not as good as my last lesson, but the conditions were a lot trickier; I feel I’m making progress, but not as fast as I would have liked.

Let them eat cake, oh and a great day to fly and practice my landings!

What a difference a week makes, last week too wet and windy this week hardly a cloud in the sky and only a light wind. So time to fly, but wait as I’m checking the aeroplane out ready for my lesson Alan arrives together with his wife and granddaughter and CAKE, lots of cake! Well those of you that read my blog may have noted the occasional reference to Alan and the lovely cakes and savouries he brings in, all freshly baked by his wife. Well today we had both quantity and quality, but the club house was full and it was unlikely there would be any left by the time we got back!

All the C42’s were out when I first arrived and Hazel was just getting her Thruster out in fact the hanger was looking decidedly empty, I have not seen it this empty since the summer. I went into the clubhouse and got the strobe out of my flight bag and showed Katie the capacitor that had blown. Shortly after Pat and Sheila arrival and then Mike returned in the training C42, I hooked up the Strobe to my test power supply and showed Pat it working, it was just the capacitor that had malfunctioned, the only issue I have now is putting it back together! I had ordered the correct size tubing online, but instead of sending me 57mm they sent me 60mm which was too big, I’m waiting for them to return my email on the matter, I will report back.

Hazel going off in her Thruster
The ad said 57mm not 60.001

I’m interested to find out if the strobe issue is a common fault, so if you have a self-contained strobe unit such as the Skyflash 2000 that is not working and would like to donate it to me, please send me a message via my contact page.

So to my lesson, my last flying blog was entitled “Going backwards in the circuit” and I was quite down beat about things, well like the weather things were a lot better today, my first two landings were quite good, even Mike said so, the third I came in a little hard and bounce so full power straight on and around we went. I noticed something different on this landing, on the first two landings I had ensured I changed my focus from the landing point to the end of the runway and told myself not to land, but to fly as far down the runway I could without landing which resulted in a good slow landing, this was not new Mike had told me this before but today it seemed to make more sense to me. On the bounce landing I noticed I kept my focus on the landing point, so the next time I made sure I changed my focus as I had the first two and again I landed quite well, the only real issue was still only using the left side of the runway! We didn’t get as many circuits in today as the parachute club are back from their Christmas break and they have priority.

When we returned to the clubhouse to our surprise there was some cake left, a great way to round of the days flying and today I actually feel like I made progress, but I have been here before, so yet again I will need to wait until my next lesson to see if it was progress or not!

This blog continues to get hits ranging from 50 to 105 per days and both my twitter and blog followers continue to build, now if only I could find a company who would like a low cost advert to help me offset my running cost that would be great too!

Lastly, but not least it remains for me to say thank you to all who have uploaded photos, many in response to my request for photos on the which is a great place to hang out if you don’t already. However not all forums are as happy to help, Flyer’s forum  cancelled my post asking their members if they could help with “Disapproved” for the following reason “The reported message has the only purpose to advertise for a website or another product” I have emailed them back pointing out that my site is not a commercial venture or a rival to theirs and the link was direct to the upload page, I have asked them to reconsider, but to date no reply, oh well I guess not all forums are as self-assured as

If you do have any pictures please help me grow the collection by uploading them here.

Grounded by the wind and how to take a strobe apart!

When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” – Henry Ford

A nice quote from Henry Ford and quite apt after my previous blog post here, but alas when the wind blows hard microlight pilots can but sit and drink tea!

Another disappointing day today due to a different reason; Mike let us know that there would be no flying due to the strong and gusting wind, I really wanted to fly in the hope of putting last week’s trials well and truly into the past.

I decided to go to the club anyway for a cup of tea and a chat. On arrival I saw my instructor Mike outside cutting drainage channels into the concrete slab, I asked if there was anything I could do to help, but my timing was impeccable as Mike had just finished so I went into the clubhouse and made the tea. In the clubhouse were Katie and Pat, passing the time of day with their usual banter, but welcomed the offer of a cup of tea.

I went and took some pictures of some of the Microlights which I have uploaded to the photos page on this site here. Talking about the site there has been quite an upturn on the page hits over the last week with a new daily high of 105 and a number of days above 70 hits per day. This seems to be traffic coming from Twitter, a post on the Microlight forum asking for people to upload pictures and from Google with people searching for “air law notes”, I hope that it will continue, but time will tell.

Shortly after I had made the tea Mick and Julie arrived and they were soon followed by Alan who was carrying a food parcel of savouries and cake, always a welcome site! We all sat around passing the time of day and optimistically hoping the wind would die down so we could fly, however it did not happen.

Collision avoidance strobe

The collision avoidance strobe light on our aeroplane had been removed as it had stopped working a few weeks earlier, I asked if I could take it home to see if I could find what was wrong with it and I also like seeing how thinks work. It’s a Skyflash 2000 self-contained strobe only requiring 12V dc and no external driver unit; it is a sealed unit with no obvious way of taking it apart that could be successfully reversed if it could be repair.

Inside the strobe

After careful examination and noting another’s attempt to open it I came to the conclusion the aluminium ring must be holding an upper and lower plastic moulding with the circuitry sandwiched between them, but try as I might the aluminium ring would not turn or move in any direction. As the unit was scrap anyway I decided to take a craft cutting disc to the band, as I carefully cut throughout the band it suddenly sprung open a little, working my way around the band I managed to separate it from the plastic body to reveal the construction I had assumed they used. It looks as if the band, upper and lower parts had a silicon type bonding agent keeping all of them together.

Now it was open it was obvious where the problem was, the storage capacitor had blown its top and leaked its electrolyte out for good measure.

Warning: Xenon strobes use high voltage for striking the flash tube it may only be 12V dc in, but its hundreds of volts across the tube.


I have ordered a new capacitor which cost a little over £5 and we will see if that is the only thing that is wrong with the flash unit once it arrives. If so the next challenge will be to find a tube with an internal diameter of 55mm and 27 mm in length to hold it all together!

To be continued…