Date: 17/03/2012

Time: 17:45 - 18:10 (GMT)

Aircraft: Ikarus C42 - G-CFHP

EuroFox and Circuits

One of our club members, Tom, is trying to get together a syndicate to build and fly a EuroFox microlight, available as a kit. It's one of those things that I would love to do. But I'm rather worried that it will be like rebuilding my kit-car - it needs to have three things spent on it - time, love and money - and I can only afford the middle one. Work is already keeping me very busy at the moment, often working 'til midnight and at weekends. Money is also a bit tight, as I have to get my flat roofs repaired and I also need a new car. It's not ideal.

Last week, the other members interested in the syndicate went to Oaksey Park to look at the plane. I couldn't go, because I was in Lisbon (Portugal), so the plan was to go this week. Ian very kindly said we could go together (he went last week) and we wanted to fly there - we booked a Eurostar (G-CERE) for all day. However, this mornings weather was not being helpful. It's low cloud and showers at home, but the forecast shows it should be clearing from the west. I speak to Roger (EuroFox agent) and he says it's OK at Oaksey. Ian and I (separately) drive to Popham in the hope that it will be better when we get there - it isn't. We have some tea in the hopes of it clearing, but at 11:30, it is still only about 300'. We decide to give up on flying there and go by car instead.

Tom is very keen on it being the taildragger variant, rather than a nosewheel type (both are available) and this is the demonstrator type. Roger takes off, with me in the passenger seat. The take-off performance is reasonable and we gain some height and then he demonstrates the relatively benign stalling. I then get to try some turning - it seems to require a modicum of rudder and these appear a bit stiff or perhaps a bit of stiction. I also keep raising the nose as it seems not to need stick backpressure, like the C-42 or Eurostar. I also have a problem with parallax seeing the slip ball which is mounted on the left (pilots) side. The controls are quite light and responsive. We do some general handling and when we get to Bowldown Farm we land. Circuits are not allowed at Oaksey, so they use Bowldown for demonstrating landing/take-off. It seems to take a bit of stick stirring and a fair amount of energy into the controls. Being able to see down at the wheels is interesting. Take-off involves accelerating and pushing the stick forward to lift the tail and then keeping it level until the lift increases and the plane just vectors off the ground. After a bit more handling, we land again, where I have a better go at approach and Roger does the final landing. Off again, and we head back to Oaksey. More playing with the controls and the ailerons are quite responsive, even with the flaperons lowered. The trim is quite smooth, which is better than the Eurostar. We then land and swap over, so Ian can have another go.

When they come back, we put the plane away, which involves folding the wings back. This only takes about 10 minutes and seems relatively easy. Roger cleans the aircraft and we get to paw over it and also look at the engine bay, with the top cowling off it - quite compact and tidy. The oil sump is quite a long way down and looks like a pain to check the dipstick. I understand you can have an optional flap fitted to check the oil level without removing the cowling, but I think it will still require gynecological skills.

We then drive back to Popham in the hopes it will have improved - it had. We decide to do a quick bit of practice in whatever plane is available and warmed up - no point warming up another plane if it isn't necessary. Roy comes back in G-HP with a trial flight and we take this as he has finished for the day. After adding some fuel, Ian takes the first run. From runway 21, he takes off and does one touch-and-go and then a full-stop landing. It seems to be getting dark quite quickly, so we swap over and I have a go. It gives me a chance to compare the handling with the EuroFox The elevator seems to be about the same, but the C-42's ailerons are less responsive. However, I think the rudders are nicer. I do a couple of T+G's and to a zoom climb on the last take-off and then we call it a day.

An interesting day. If my plan was to talk myself out of getting involved with the EuroFox project, then I have so-far failed.

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