200 Hours

In a previous post I described the limited flying that we had been allowed to do – one ‘maintenance/engine preservation’ flight per 28days. After significant lobbying by the Aeroclub of South Africa and a slight relaxation in the lockdown regulations, this restriction has been lifted to some extent.

We are now permitted to fly unlimited flights per 7 day period, provided we take off and land at the same airfield, do not disembark the aircraft at any other field and carry no passengers. There is also a requirement to have hand sanitizer on board, to wear a mask and gloves and to thoroughly sanitize the aircraft between flights. A simple online form is required to be completed every week in which we agree to do these things and the weekly flying permit is issued.

Like much of the regulatory environment related to the Coronavirus pandemic, a lot of this makes no sense at all. For instance, the requirement to not carry passengers. You may specify an instructor or mentor pilot to fly with you but they also need to complete the form. You cannot fly with people who live under the same roof as you (unlike the UK regulations which allow for this). The stipulation that you wear a mask and gloves while operating the aircraft is simply laughable – I can drive alone in my car to the airfield without gloves or a mask on, but when I’m alone in the plane I must wear both? I have decided to carry the mask and gloves in the plane and if I’m pulled over by any airborne law enforcement authorities I shall quickly don these.

I certainly will not be sanitizing my aircraft between flights since the plane sits in a locked T-hangar and I am the only operator/pilot. I get that for club or flight school aircraft this is a necessity but to require it of single pilot/operators is crazy. I’ve been listening to the Aviation NewsTalk podcast about hazardous attitudes and recognise that this attitude to the regulations probably constitutes an anti-authoritarian attitude but also think that it is incumbent on us as rational humans to question regulations that clearly make no sense. I have no issue with mask wearing in public and will confess to being that guy who calls people out on not wearing their masks but rational thought will show that this is a different scenario.

Date Aircraft Route Flight Duration Total Hours
04 July 2020 ZU-IBM FASY(Baragwanath) – FATA – FAVV – FAPanorama – FASY 1.8 201.7

The plan for this flight was to simply fly and enjoy the freedom to fly with limited restrictions on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, while retaining currency and proficiency. The mid afternoon breeze favoured the westerly runways in the area and blew away some of the gunk in the air so visibility as I climbed out of Baragwanath was pretty good for winter. First stop was a touch and go at Tedderfield – always challenging with its 24ft width but on this occasion mostly benign due to the runway aligned wind. Then off to Vereeniging (FAVV) for the same. However, on arrival at Vereeniging I noticed an aircraft in the circuit which was making no radio calls and using the crosswind runway. Given the 15kt wind I wasn’t about to land crosswind and I was unable to raise the other aircraft on the radio. I decided to trade my landing elsewhere and set off for Panorama. While it is permitted to operate locally without a radio I think it’s really poor form given this is quite a busy airport, and the other aircraft was clearly a Piper Cherokee which should have been radio equipped.

Panorama is a fiddly airfield at the best of times – it has 3 runways, all hard grass/gravel but the airspace is tight and one needs to have one’s finger out. The less said about my touch and go there the better – the into wind runways are short (about 600m/1800ft) and narrow so I elected to fit in with the traffic and use the crosswind runway as the wind seemed less here. My touch and go was more akin to a bounce-and-go – I should have done another circuit but didn’t really feel like it.

On the way back to Bara I took some time to practice the steep turns and stalls, then did a runway inspection (at 100ft I wouldn’t call this a beat-up) and made one of my best landings this year. With this flight I logged my 200th hour which I think is a good milestone. I am acutely aware I’m now entering a very high risk hour bracket – the next 200hours are crucial. (As is every single hour…)

It looks like a J-3 – but it isn’t…….

It’s great to see the airfield busy again – I was able to catch up with Matthew who was coming back from his flight in the Mooney, and Ron, who was airing some of his extensive collection including the Piaggio 149, L-3 Cub and Aeronca Champ.

Aeronca Chief

Someone also taxied past in a smart looking C140. It seems like GA will recover in the wake of the coronavirus lockdowns.

Shiny C140

Sling Aircraft released a service bulletin (SB) earlier in the week relating to an inspection of the rivets holding the control stop arms – apparently some were riveted using aluminium rivets instead of stainless steel. The bulletin calls for an inspection and replacement to be done at the next MPI/Annual. Since it’s a 6hour labour item to replace I thought I’d have a look and see which ones were on mine. It’s a very straightforward procedure, remove one of the front seats, unscrew the inspection cover and have a look.

Well, it should be straightforward. However, the inspection cover has a carpet over it which does a great job at hiding the screws. Screws located and cover removed I was able to gaze upon the rivets. Which look like every other rivet. Almost no way to determine if they are stainless steel or not. So I took a photo and sent it to Sling Aircraft – the reply is that they look like stainless steel but the AMO will still have to sign off the inspection so didn’t gain anything by doing it myself. I guess I was hoping they’d be shiny and stainless looking.

Aluminium? Stainless steel?

Annual is booked for the end of August – hoping to get a good amount of flying in before then.