Fly­ing the Gnat

Pilot - - PILOT -

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!

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