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.

Troubleshooting Low Oil pressure

Oil. It’s quite important stuff in engines, especially in aeroplane engines. Considering the only thing keeping us up in the air is the engine it makes sense to keep a close eye on the oil.

He who is without oil, shall throw the first rod

Compressions 8.7:1

I have an issue with a low oil pressure reading. It would be less irritating if there was some oil floating around in the cowling, or a stripe down the fuselage, but no. Not a drop.

Continue reading “Troubleshooting Low Oil pressure”

Taking Miss Daisy to Springs

I have been looking for an opportunity to take some family members flying in ZU-IBM. There is a heck of a lot going on at the moment with year end functions, prize-givings, concerts and the like and there simply isn’t a lot of time. When the Springs airport fly-in came up though we decided to make a morning of it. Some family members preferred their beds to an early flight so it was only myself and my son braving the trip to the East Rand. 

I tend to overthink trips to unfamiliar airspace. I’ve only been east of OR Tambo Johannesburg International Airport (FAOR) once and that was a long way wide of the airspace doing my night Nav exercise – this route would call for a very close skirting of the airspace around this large international airport. 

Undaunted though we planned to route from Tedderfield to Springs via Suikerbosrand Nature reserve (incidentally I have not been there since I was about 12y old) – I thought it would give me a chance to do some radial intercepts onto the HGV VOR using the “virtual VOR” feature on my MGL iEFIS – it creates radials based on the GPS position, so one can navigate using VORs without having a Nav radio per se (this will have to be fixed if I’m ever going to use this aircraft for IFR though)

Routing from Tedderfield to Springs giving the Buffer zone a wide berth

Saturday morning’s weather was fairly typical for a Saturday morning at this time of year – beautiful at 04h45, and overcast by 06h30. Fortunately the stuff was thin, was clearing from the east (good news since this was the direction of flight) and it looked like a good day to commit aviation. 

DateAircraftRouteDistanceTime(hrs)Total(hrs)
24 November 2018ZU-IBM
(SLG4)
FATA –
FASI
38nm0.7113.7

I try to involve my kids in the preflight process as I think that the more eyes there are scanning the aircraft, the greater the chance of picking up something – but we both had to stop and gawk as a flight of 4 motor gliders taxied past and departed to Springs – they’re quite elegant and looked like they had some pretty impressive initial climb performance. 

In Cruise Selfie 

Then it was time to set sail – in the video below one can see the smile on my son’s face as we accelerated down Runway 29. The routing was easier than I imagined it would be – and much quicker too – by road Springs is a good 90min drive – took us about 24min all told.  Being total newbies to the fly-in scene we were impressed by the number of aircraft joining the pattern from all directions – generally professional piloting meant that we were able to build some good situational awareness and no surprises appeared (apart from the unexpectedly strong crosswind on the downwind leg)!

There is a bit of pressure landing at a busy field when you know everyone is watching your landing – fortunately we didn’t need a broom to taxi the aircraft off the runway so we retained some credibility. Which I lost for us by asking where we could park…. “Um… in any open spot?” So we pulled up next to a very pretty RV8 (ZU-RVA) and shut down. 

Scott with IBM on the flight line at Springs – Check out that sexy RV8…

Then it was time to wander around and have a look at the aircraft – there was a good representation of general aviation in SA – everything from a Trike to a Cherokee 140, to C210 on the type certified side and lots of Vans Aircraft (Mostly RV7A’s with a spattering of RV-6/a’s and two RV-10’s – not to forget the aforementioned RV-8), A couple of Slings, Jabirus and some Kitfox aircraft on the NTCA side. A Robbie R44 and an Alo II kept the motor gliders company too. 

ZS-CNY Cessna C210
Polaris LSA
FASI_ZULSA_241118
“Sport” cruiser

FASI_ZUMTB_241118
Vans Aircraft RV-10 ZU-MTB 
FASI_ZSOZI_241118
Citabria ZS-OZI

Sadly we were not taking part in the navigation rally and we didn’t have time to stay and watch the departing traffic so it was back to Tedderfield for us.

DateAircraftRouteDistanceTimeTotal
24 November 2018ZU-IBM 
(SLG4)
FASI – FASY
– FATA
551114.7

We wanted to stay well clear of the busy corridor between springs and Rand Airport so I decided to head south until passing over Heidelberg airport and then route for Baragwanath (FASY) airport – which is to be the new home of ZU-IBM for a touch and go before returning to Tedderfield. 

As we were doing run ups at the hold for RWY 03 at Springs there was some commotion on the airport frequency – apparently one of the motor gliders based at Springs had had an engine problem on departure from the grass runway and had completed a safe off field landing – I guess this is bread-and-butter stuff for glider pilots?

We had an uneventful trip back to Tedderfield- did one (average) touch and go at BaraG and then perhaps my best landing to date in the Sling at Tedderfield. I discovered an unexpected advantage of having my son with me – he could hop out and open the hangar, avoiding a shut down and hot start ! – Kids have their uses sometimes… 

We’ll be looking for more fly-ins to attend in future.