Date: 21/6/2014

Time: 04:20 - 05:30 (03:20 - 04:30 GMT)

Aircraft: EuroFOX - G-UFOX

Stonehenge Summer Solstice Sunrise

Today, is the annual Summer Solstice fly-out - happens this day every year. However, this year, not only is it conveniently on a Saturday, but for once the weather looks good (previous years have been disappointing). The idea is that we take off ass soon as legally possible and fly over Stonehenge to watch the sun rise - OK, I know that we aren't Druids, but it is always fun.

I am not known for my early mornings, but for this event I will make an exception. I drive to the airfield before dawn and a number of people milling around in the half light. It seems that we have 10 aircraft participating - four C-42's, two Eurostars, two Thrusters, a Cessna and our EuroFOX. Greg asks me if I still have a empty passenger seat and if I could take his friend Rob up - yes of course. I open up the hangar and start the daily inspection with the aid of a torch.

Eventually, we are prepped and warming the engine as the sky is getting lighter. Legally we cannot take off before half an hour before official sunrise (04:19). I have taxied round to the front and it becomes legal to fly. I watch one of the Thrusters take off, and I am concerned that there are only a few planes around, so I think the others must have taken off already. I take off on 26 and then bear to the left over the woods to avoid any houses. Once airborne, I start tracking down the side of the A303 - I hear the radio calls and it turns out that the others were still round the back. I do an orbit to wait for them, but then decide that the visibility is quite good enough for that yet, so I continue on my way. I give Rob a go with the controls and he's quite good.



We have gone past Middle Wallop, Thruxton and Boscombe Down and we get to the stones. I am keeping carefully to 3200', safely above the 3000' NOTAMed minimum and I (along with everyone else) announce my position and altitude reports so that we can keep some safe separation. After the first pass, I loop round for another go. It it quite bright now and we are approaching official sunrise. Looping round for another pass, we can see the sun coming up - a real treat as in recent years, the cloud has prevented us for seeing the spectacle. - lovely. Rob takes some pictures of the multitude of people surrounding the stones below and of he sunrise. I get a couple when safe, but obviously need to concentrate on the flying. Along with our 10 planes, there are also a few paramotors entering the fray.


Once the sun is up, we make our way back to Popham. We end up following the two Thrusters, but I need to fishtail behind them as I cannot comfortably go as slow as them. Some nice photo opportunities into the bright orb of the sun. We then overtake them and Rob has another go with the stick too. Back at the airfield, we join overhead for 21, and attempt to keep the noise to a minimum. As we are crosswind, I can see the Thrusters pass overhead for their join.

Once we are joined by the others, Gerry fires up the barbecue and we have burgers etc. for breakfast - excellent. We have a good chat with everyone else, so it is a good social occasion too.


I have also made a little video clip from a camera fixed in the cockpit.



Time: 08:50 - 09:30 (07:50 - 08:30 GMT)

Aircraft: Ikarus C42- G-CDMS

Been a long Time.

It has been quite a while since I have flown a C-42 - as I am still here at the airfield and there is one available, I decide to give it a quick blast just to compare it with the EuroFOX and also to see how it compares with how I remember it! Pete isn't doing anything so he comes with me.

I take off and head north to the "playground". I am marginally surprised how familiar it seems to me, but then I have got over four times as many hours on the C-42 as the EuroFOX. As Steve has said, the C-42 has more centralising force for the ailerons, but equally the force required is significantly higher. I had a think about this later and then it became obvious - the hinge point of the flapperons is about 1/3rd of the way back from the leading edge, where on the C-42 and Eurostar, they are by definition at the front of the aileron. This explains why it is more balanced and lighter controls on our EuroFOX, but also implicitly less restoring force.

I have a go at some stalling which is all very tame and predictable. Then some tight turns and gently dives etc. - fun. Then back to Popham for a reasonable landing.

Quite pleased - haven't lost it.

Sorry - I don't have a GPS track of this flight.


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