Air­mail ex­tra


Units of mea­sure

I have been amused by the cor­re­spon­dence on Im­pe­rial ver­sus Met­ric mea­sure­ments. When I was go­ing through RAF fly­ing train­ing in the late six­ties, run­ways were mea­sured in feet. There were still WWII pi­lots on my first squadron who had used yards and cheer­fully ad­mit­ted to hav­ing to men­tally di­vide by three to get a feel for the run­way di­men­sion. We young bloods smiled and thought ‘Oh dear’. Shortly after­wards run­ways be­came de­fined in me­tres and I have spent all the in­ter­ven­ing years men­tally

mul­ti­ply­ing by three! I sus­pect that we are all more con­di­tioned by our orig­i­nal ed­u­ca­tion than we might think. Huw Baum­gart­ner, Bridell I don’t think Mr Emms needs such a shoot­ing down as he has a valid point about read­ing Pi­lot for plea­sure. I usu­ally read mine in bed.

I can con­vert lb to kg etc in my head but things like wing load­ing and power load­ing are dif­fer­ent. After many years I had just got my head around what was high or low for a par­tic­u­lar type when you changed to met­ric. I once asked Mr White­man at the LAA rally why he couldn’t put both met­ric and im­pe­rial and was told there just wasn’t the space. Then I see in the LAA mag­a­zine that they do it, even with three dif­fer­ent units some­times, and their box of fig­ures is of­ten smaller than Pi­lot’s.

It seems to me that you could do the cal­cu­la­tion once to save us mil­lion read­ers hav­ing to do it a mil­lion times. Please! Jan Henslow, Mid­hurst I was per­haps a bit hard on Mr Emms, es­pe­cially when it comes to those power load­ings, and I take the point about be­ing able to make a ready com­par­i­son be­tween types, so maybe we should make an ex­cep­tion to the rule and quote the wing- and power load­ing in both ‘new and old money’ - Ed

Keep learn­ing

A com­men­da­tion for Pat Malone. He in­vari­ably writes a good page but ‘As­pir­ing to be av­er­age’ (Jan­uary) re­ally nailed it. Some years ago whilst fly­ing back from St Just to Egges­ford with my part­ner in an Emer­aude I en­tered IMC over Bod­min and nearly be­came a statis­tic.

Some 500 hours later, and liv­ing and fly­ing my Europa in Por­tu­gal, his ar­ti­cle per­fectly il­lus­trates why I hope I’ve learned and im­proved as a pi­lot, ex­er­cis­ing hu­mil­ity and al­ways be­ing re­cep­tive to putting les­sons learnt into prac­tice. If you fly enough you will at some point ar­rive at a sit­u­a­tion that will test you, and whether it’s an ac­ci­dent re­port or some pointer you pick up in the club­house, it may well save your ba­con. Treat every flight as a learn­ing one.

I hope Bod­min is still pros­per­ing, I miss fly­ing over the reser­voir and its grass run­ways com­ing into view!

One ques­tion for Bob Davy, page 26, I’m a bit lost with his cal­cu­la­tion for in­creased hp vs air­speed. Could he clar­ify this? Richard Scan­lan by email Bob Davy replies: Ac­cord­ing to aero­dy­namic boys it’s orig­i­nal speed mul­ti­plied by the cube root of new hp/ orig­i­nal hp – in this case 162 x cube root of 385/285 (which is ap­prox­i­mately 1.1) = 178kt

French bon­homie

While my wife Caro­line and I were on a flight from Troyes to Cannes in late Septem­ber in our Robin DR401 the oil pres­sure light flicked from its nor­mal green to am­ber then quickly to red, which im­me­di­ately prompted the FADEC warn­ings lights to flash then turn con­stant red herald­ing that we had a ma­jor prob­lem. I was work­ing St Yan Info at the time so made a quick call to ap­prise them of our sit­u­a­tion and ask for the near­est air­field to land. The lady con­troller in­formed us that we were di­rectly over a small air­field but there would not be any­one there and we would be bet­ter to con­tinue to St Yan some 25 miles ahead as they had engi­neers. As the en­gine was still run­ning nor­mally and we were at flight level 65 we de­cided to go for it. The con­troller kept in con­stant touch with us all the way in and a nor­mal land­ing was made after a long fif­teen min­utes.

On land­ing, two of St Yan’s engi­neers took a quick look and in­formed us they couldn’t help as they did not have any ex­pe­ri­ence of diesel en­gines. I then rang Casimir Pel­lissier, the CEO of Robin Air­craft at Darois, for his help. He told me there was a Robin air­craft diesel spe­cial­ist at Roanne Air­field some 25 miles to the south and he would con­tact them on our be­half. A few min­utes later Christophe Pradelle from Roanne Aero Main­te­nance rang to say he would bor­row an air­craft and be with us within the hour. True to his word, half an hour later he and an­other en­gi­neer ar­rived in an­other Robin and he went to work with his lap­top down­load­ing the en­gine data which con­firmed the ob­vi­ous lack of oil pres­sure as there was oil splat­tered all over the en­gine bay. He re­filled the en­gine with oil and ran it whilst check­ing on his lap­top there were no other prob­lems be­sides the oil leak. After li­ais­ing with the engi­neers at the Robin fac­tory it was de­cided it was safe for me to fol­low them back to their work­shop at Roanne.

By now it was well past lunchtime and Caro­line and I were in­vited to share their lunch in the works can­teen along with the other engi­neers, Christophe’s wife Chris­telle, who was re­spon­si­ble for ad­min­is­tra­tion, and their de­light­ful eight-yearold son An­thony who, it be­ing a Wed­nes­day, was not at school (no school on Wed­nes­days in that part of France). It soon be­came ev­i­dent to us that this was not just a team, as Christophe kept re­fer­ring to them, but more a big happy fam­ily.

After lunch he and his fel­low engi­neers put all their other work on hold and set to work on G-GORD. After clean­ing down the en­gine of all the oil splat­tered over it they ran it to dis­cover ex­actly where the leak was and it was found to be com­ing from a cracked gas­ket on the tur­bocharger oil feed pipe bracket.

By this time it was past six thirty in the evening and, ac­cord­ing to Christophe, too late to find a ho­tel lo­cally and they were not very good any­way, so we were in­formed we were to spend the night with them. A quick trip to the su­per­mar­ket on the way home to buy a few food items and of course the oblig­a­tory bot­tles of very good lo­cal wine was fol­lowed by a su­perb meal cooked by Chris­telle and Christophe to­gether. With much swap­ping of avi­a­tion sto­ries and gen­eral chat a very con­vivial evening en­sued. The fol­low­ing morn­ing a new gas­ket was fit­ted and after many fi­nal checks we were given the all clear to con­tinue on to Cannes.

I can­not thank them enough for mak­ing what was a ma­jor drama to us in the be­gin­ning into an event which, whilst se­ri­ous, be­came quite an en­joy­able ex­pe­ri­ence. And I would like to add my thanks to the lady con­troller at St Yan for her pro­fes­sion­al­ism and help, and to St Yan and Roanne air­ports who would not ac­cept any land­ing fees as it was in their words an ‘emer­gency di­vert’. As we flew off from Roanne we felt hum­bled by the gen­uine warmth and good­will shown to us. A very grate­ful Gor­don Bellerby by email

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