In this month’s edition:
- Review of the year 2014
- The Sicilian experience – EasyJet screws up but it’s a win for Tony Palmer!
- News about Toon – Tony Palmer
- The Nicky de Bruyne Trophy – Don Lord
Review of the year 2014
A brief run through of the Southern Strut events of 2014.
In January and February Lee-on Solent (aka RNAS Deadulus) was going through some changes, and now looks to have a well-established future. Southern Strut member David Skertchly was active in the Lee Flying Association which received an award from the Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association (AOPA) in recognition of their work.
The March Strut meeting had a talk from Robin Beech about the trials and tribulations of building his Rolls Royce Merlin powered sports car; a crazily magnificent enterprise.
April’s meeting had a talk from Bob Bevan, one of the founders of Viscover aviation insurance. It turned out to be a highly informative session with members knowing a lot more about the aviation insurance industry at the end. Also this month, Member Clive Innocent gave the newsletter an excellent report on his weekend group fly-out trip to France
May saw the LAA Goodwood Fly-in on the weekend of 24th and 25th. Not great weather on the Saturday but the Sunday was excellent with plenty of activity. Looks like this successful event will be repeated in 2015.
The June Strut meeting was a literal bar-flying session when Paul Cave demonstrated his collection of quad and hexacopters. How many members got one of those for Christmas this year?
At the July meeting we had a talk on Early French Aviation by Andrew Jarvis. In the newsletter Paul Reilly reported back from the Arlington Fly-in, USA. Member Steve Hutt took on the role of FASVIG Programme Coordinator. And at the Worthing Birdman event, the £10,000 prize for a flight of over 100 metres was won for the first time!.
The August meeting had a talk from Goodwood based aviator Richard (Dickie) Bird on: “Goodwood to Cape Town and back……… in a microlight!” It was also the month for fly-ins; at Palmers Farm on Saturday 2nd and Chilsfold on Saturday 9th. Also a Gliding Evening at Ringmer on 19th. In the newsletter Paul Reiley reported back from EAA Chapter #84 meeting at Harvey Field, USA.
After August’s frenetic activity, September was a bit quieter; apart from for Tony Palmer who took a trip to Canada and came back with a Merlin engine!
In October Steve Hutt visited EAA 186 at Manassas Regional, Washington DC and set up a twinning arrangement; An exciting development with interesting possibilities.
October’s meeting had a visit from Phil Hall, the LAA CEO, in post for about one year; a very positive presentation and discussion on the future of the LAA.
GASCo used our November meeting to present their regional Safety Evening.
The year was rounded off with our December Christmas dinner at the Toby Carvery, Worthing.
On a sad note, in 2014 two members pass away; Philip Ansell in January and Chris Lloyd in February.
The Sicilian experience
Farry and I had been contacted by Flying Legends in Sicily as a possible dealer for their products in the UK. In November we went over to Sicily to meet everyone, review the factory and collect any more documentation that they had not sent by e mail up to that point. The people could not have been friendlier and the product is great but we will need some changes for the UK market.
For those that are not familiar with Flying Legends they produce a 70% replica of the Tucano which you should be familiar with. It is an intermediate tandem 2 seat turbo prop engined trainer which was designed in Brazil and originally made by Embraer, although the British ones are made by Shorts and have a different engine (different exhaust outlet). Flying Legends have also designed and made a prototype of a 70% Hurricane; it flew very well and looks good but they have done some changes and the Mk2 will be flying in the spring which will no doubt be a good reason for us to visit them to fly it. They also have some other exciting new planes to come over the next few years.
Our hotel was based on an estate which has acres and acres of citrus trees which is probably heaving with families in the summer; it is contained in a bowl with the rugged hills all around and to the North East sits Etna rising to 11,000 feet which dominates the Island. The cloud formations that surround the summit are generated by the wind from different directions and observing what it does reminds you of your PPL weather lessons and reminds you about flying too close to mountains. I was very lucky on out last visit to see the peak and also the ash rising from the volcano and seeing it taken by the wind at high levels and spread across the island and further.
On our first and second visits we had the company test pilot who was a retired Italian air force pilot as P1 when we both had a turn in the retractable Tucano.
I went back down to Sicily with Andy Draper of the LAA engineering department to vet the plane the company and the paperwork to see if it was a viable LAA import. Andy and I met early on the Wednesday morning at Luton Airport and made the flight to Catania in Sicily with no problems. We were met at the airport by Franco and De Rosa (the aeronautical engineer employed by Franco to upgrade the Tucano up to 6G status). We revealed that Andy could speak Italian but had not practised properly for a few years; it was to prove invaluable to understanding technical questions over the next 3 days. We went to the hotel for lunch and dump our bags in our room. Then on to the factory for Andy to see the fabrication process.; We discussed how De Rosa intended to raise the plane to +6 -3G and general construction details. We also discussed the modifications that we wanted to comply with LAA rules and regs, these are the same mods as Farry and I had come up with on the first visit.
The next day it was planned to go to their private airstrip for the test flights. We were picked up from the hotel in the morning and went to the strip where the Tucano had the cowling removed for Andy to inspect the workings and explicitly the supercharger installation. Lots of discussions and briefing were carried out and then the Test pilot arrived. Andy had a check list of things he needed to monitor and had converted all the important speeds into Kilometres, he also load measuring instruments to investigate stick pressures etc. They returned and it was all good news.
After debriefing we went to lunch in the town and then back to the factory for more discussions. Then we found out that there was a general strike in Sicily the next day and that De Rosa had to book another flight back to Rome at 06.00 to miss the strike; our flight was still unaffected. As Franco had to get up early next day De Rosa, Andy and I were taken back to the hotel and we had a very light dinner on our own. Next day it was up for breakfast and Franco picked us up at 9.00 and took us to the airport having been there and back with De Rosa already. Lots of chat between Andy and Franco and when we had arrived at the airport it still showed our flight to be on time so we had a coffee with Franco. He left and we went through security, the screens then showed the flight was delayed from 12:15 to 19:00. We were not happy but OK we could survive. And then the big one, flight cancelled! We went back through security to the Easyjet desk and joined the throng. We got to the front of the queue we were given a 4.00 Euro meal voucher and we put our names down for a hotel room for that night. Downstairs to spend all our money only to find all we could afford was a small bottle of water and a bun. Of course you could not top up the money as they could not screw so much; because our bill came to 3 Euros they pocked the balance. Back upstairs to find out the next step only to find that there was no extra flight but we had to rebook with Easyjet or get a refund. I joined the bun fight to get two seats and moved forward very slowly, people coming pass me from the front told me that they had been offered Catania to Gatwick the next day or Catania to Luton on the Sunday. Neither was great but Gatwick seemed the best even if the cars were at Luton. As I got nearer to the front it got worse as the Saturday Gatwick flights had gone and then a woman in front of me was offered Luton five days ahead. I phoned the wife for Easyjet’s London number, rang them and gave them my booking ref and then I got to the front of the cue and turned the phone off and requested the next best thing which was a flight from Palermo (2 hours’ drive away) to Gatwick next day. But they said my account was frozen as London was in, and could I wait another 20 minutes. With a huge crowd behind me the seats would have gone in that time, so I stayed where I was and phoned London back and made the booking for Palermo/Gatwick for the next day. Phew!!
Franco came back for us, so I cancelled the hotel that Easyjet booked. He took us back to the airstrip where he had to get the LSA version of the Tucano ready for the Sunday as a freelance journalist was coming from Germany to take photos. We tried to help by cleaning the retractable Tucano and by the time it got dark it was ready. We went to our hotel near to the factory, had a meal there and then to bed. Next day it was back to the airfield for a fun day. Andy had joked with Franco about taking the LSA version but Franco obviously thought it a good idea so he checked Andy out on the LSA version and then we went flying. Franco and a photographer friend in the back of the retractable and Andy and I in the LSA version (fixed undercarriage, fixed prop). We went off for some air to air pictures down to the sea, flew down the beach and towards Etna to find our way back.
Franco drove us to Palermo Airport in the afternoon where caught the 20:20 flight to Gatwick where Farry picked us up with supplies of food and drink and drove us up to Luton where we had to pay extra parking payments and then home for 3:30 am, but very happy to be home. Although the cancellation was a pain in the B** the extra day was really great. We hope to have the first plane at Aero Expo.
News about Toon Ghose
When we were at the strut dinner last month I asked for people to sign a card for Toon. I was returning to Hailsham from Worthing just before Xmas and tried to pop in to give him his card but I could not contact him on his phone and as I did not know his full address I had to give up. On 3rd January, I tried again and raised him. I rang Don Lord to see if he wanted to come and he answered in the affirmative so I picked him up on the way and we spent the middle of the afternoon chatting about old times including Pee Wee Judge etc.
His hearing and eyesight are failing and he had a breathing problem a couple of weeks but the doctor gave an inhaler which has helped considerably.
The Nicky de Bruyne Trophy
At the strut Christmas Dinner Richard Griffiths was presented with the Nicky de Bruyne Trophy in recognition of his work on the News Letter. The Nicky de Bruyne Cup is the first trophy donated by the Southern Strut and dates from 1972. In those days you did not join the strut and receive a News Letter etc, strut night was an open evening which any PFA member could attend, members were expected to put a half crown (12.5p) in the hat towards the cost of the venue usually a room in a pub.
Quite a few of us were also members of the Tiger Club which was at Redhill, in those days you got free landings and some strut members like Robin Owen, Ken Browne, Tom Reagan and David Bryant hangared their aircraft there so there was quite an intercourse of people and aircraft between Shoreham and Redhill. One of those people was Nicky, he was one of those helpful likable chaps that you were always pleased to see.
Nicky had learned to fly at Shoreham and progressed on to a commercial licence and was flying out of Gatwick. In 1971 Nicky had just returned to Gatwick where he meet up with three pilot friends who were just going on a jolly to Stansted so he joined them, unfortunately the aircraft crashed killing all four.
Ken Browne was one of the three founders of the strut, he flew with me quite a bit especially in France, Ken was a great friend of Nicky and his family
Nicky’s uncle Dr Norman de Bruyne designed and built the Snarrk an all wood low wing monoplane with a Gipsy Major engine which first flew in 1934, this aircraft was ahead of its time and was bought by REA Farnborough in 1936 for research into his wing design. He also designed the Ladybird which was a single seat shoulder wing monoplane with a Scott engine, this aircraft was taken over by a Mr Maas and flew in 1937. Dr de Bruyne was head of a team during ww11 at (ICI ?) which developed two part glues such as Araldite.
Ken organised a collection within the strut and at Redhill and Shoreham to raise the cup in memory of Nicky. The cup was originally presented to the winner of a Navigation contest during the strut Fly In at Shoreham, Shoreham was a friendlier place in those days and our Fly In also included a Breakfast Patrol, a Spot Landing Contest and the Navigation Contest. In latter years the cup had been awarded for navigation on a meritorious flight but GPS put an end to that so it is now presented for some worthwhile action.
For the latest list of events, go to the Events page on the Strut website. It’s looking a bit thin at the moment, so put your thinking-caps on and come up with some things you’d like to happen in the New Year.