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Annual done and a new home

As much as May is a flying administration month with medicals and license renewals (did I mention it took 9 weeks to get my license renewal back from submission to collection?), August/September is annual time.

Last year I had a big shock in that I had to pony up for the 5yearly rubber hose replacement, so I was hoping for a less significant annual inspection this time round. Annual time is funny, because it forces one to take a look at the hourly cost of ownership of the aircraft for the previous year – and this obviously depends on the number of hours flown. So the denominator this year is much lower than last year because of the lockdown. Last annual year I flew 65hours. This year, 44…

I must say that the level of service that we get from Sling Aircraft’s AMO is absolutely stellar. There were no major snags flagged pre annual, so I had a reasonable quote for the MPI. I was kept updated regularly but fortunately no major issues. I’m really impressed though because they did some extra things at no charge – repairing the lifting leather on the panel dashboard (done really smartly with color coded leather and stiching!) and replaced some of the seat adjustment velcro. The service bulletins were also done at no cost, and I got some good feedback on my personal checklist, with some new advice on starting the engine – the manual calls for turning the electric prop controller on prior to start but the new recommendation is to only turn the prop controller on AFTER start – to avoid current surges during startup.

nice new dashboard work with color coded stitching

So all in all I’m really happy – the plane is going really nicely now (touch wood!) and the annual cost was very reasonable.

The other exciting news alluded to in the previous post is that I have moved the aircraft to a new base. This should by no means imply that I was unhappy at Baragwanath but the opportunity arose to move to Rand Airport (FAGM) and I felt that it was time to live at a towered field. There are a number of advantages to moving – 2 runways at 90degrees to each other, good and functional night lighting, a functioning control tower and the presence of fire and rescue. It’s two thirds of the distance to drive. There are of course disadvantages, it’s more expensive, there are landing fees to be paid, and I’m now sharing a hangar with 9 other aircraft.

While I guess this increases the risk of hangar rash I’m assured that the line guy who is in charge of all the plane movements is a whizz at ‘airplane tetris’. There are a number of the aircraft that apparently never fly so they sit at the back.

DateAircraftRouteFlight TimeTotal Time
27 August 2020ZU-IBMFATA(Tedderfield) – FAGM(Rand Airport)0.4212.3

The August winds are out in full force and today was particularly bad with strong winds forecast the entire day. I was hoping to have collected the aircraft the previous day but life intervened.. I may have been a little blase about this flight – yes it was windy but Tedderfield was a little sheltered and the crosswind was 10-12kts at most – well within my capability. I was surprised though at the amount of turbulence present above 500ft. I called the tower at Rand before departing Tedderfield and was told the wind was 360 at 22 gusting 28. Since Rand has runway 35 I thought this wouldn’t be too much of an issue. By the time I joined on the left base for 35, the wind had increase to 360 at 26. Well, it wasn’t at 360 -it may have been variable between 345 and 020 – delivering conditions which would create one of the most challenging final approach segments I have ever flown. The arrival was ‘firm’ but I can still fly the plane again and I’m in one piece so I’ll take that as a withdrawal from the luck bucket and a deposit into the experience bucket – strong winds are strong winds even when they’re allegedly blowing directly down the runway.

a capacious hangar

Anyway, – plane is safely ensconced in the new home and I’m looking forward to many enjoyable hours flying out of Rand. I remain a member of the Johannesburg Light Plane Club and hope to make many more trips out to Baragwanath.

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