Flying the Gnat
I enjoyed reading the Gnat article; it brought back many memories. I first flew XR538 on 29 July 1970 at Valley and because of holding postings at CFS Little Rissington (flying from Kemble) I ended up with over 250 hours on the wonderful Gnat including several trips with the ‘Sparrows’.
I had one very unpleasant experience early on in my Valley course. Part of the syllabus was high level loops — the entry was at 25,000ft dual and 20,000ft solo. Having successfully completed the dual exercise off I went solo. However, I relaxed the back pressure towards the top and ended up in an inverted spin (intentional spinning, even erect, was prohibited). My first attempts at recovery were ineffective and, fast approaching the ejection altitude, the training kicked in; ‘kick the black’ (dollseyes indicating yaw) and forward pressure on the stick stopped the gyrating and I was able to correct to level flight at about 7,000ft. I landed at Valley still shaking like a leaf and not sure whether I should say anything or not. That was taken out of my hands as the fatigue meter had recorded in excess of -4g. We later worked out that the rate of descent in the spin had been around 30,000fpm.
It is a shame that Colin Goodwin didn’t like the instrumentation; the original OR946 arrangement was very good with its offset TACAN facility. Tony ‘Pax’ Paxton, Frodsham, Cheshire
Enjoyed the piece about flying the Gnat in September’s issue but wondered whether it can really roll 360 degrees in one second (p.31)? As a helicopter pilot I know that things are a bit different with the fixed-wings, but even so that does sound a bit extreme... William Lewis, Cheltenham
Colin Goodwin replies: The Gnat does indeed have a roll rate of 360 degrees. Extreme, but not as fast as the Sbach Xtreme which has a rate of 450 degrees per second. I’ve been in one of those as well and thought my eyeballs had fallen out when a roll was demonstrated!