Time: 16:30 - 17:45 (GMT)
Aircraft: EuroFOX - G-UFOX
Ian went for a flight on a nice day earlier in the week - I couldn't escape work, because I am totally snowed-under there at the moment. During this flight he noticed the fuel level in the fuel filter was very low - he immediately turned back to the airfield. I am off in a couple weeks on holiday (with my family), which only really leaves me this weekend to have a look at it. Unfortunately, the weather forecast is horrible - but the Friday is OK. I'm really stressed at work at the moment (even more so than usual), but I managed to trade working the weekend for taking Friday afternoon off to go to the airfield.
The day started well - I had to rod the sewer in the driveway out before I could have a shower. I was quite pleased about this - given the water that was leaking out the driveway, it either meant the drains were blocked or the water main had gone - and I can deal with the drains! I manage to escape work some time after 2 and make my way to Popham.
From Ian's observations, I have concluded that air must be getting in somewhere between the header tank and the filter. This part is all below atmospheric pressure, where the pump sucks the fuel from the tank. I removed the seat tub and had a good look under there, but that was all OK. The unions of the aluminium feed pipe were also sound. But the Oetiker clips that affix the pipes to the filter weren't crimped very well, particularly the top one - I guess since the last service, when it was changed. It doesn't take much to let some air in. I crimped the clips securely and satisfied that I had found the problem, I decided to go for a test flight.
After warmup, I takeoff from 26 and climb to the north; the fuel level in the filter is about the seam level. I wanted to keep the throttle fully open, so when I levelled out, I pushed the nose down and flew around well over 100 knots. For a bit of experimentation I found out that by descending at only 400'/min I could achieve Vne - impressive. After running flat-out for about 7 minutes, the fuel remained resolutely at the same level.
Confident it is fixed, I go further north to Hannington. It's a little bumpy - I wonder if it is thermals or just turbulence. I then try flying low just to the north of the escarpment - it's a strange feeling having the ground looming high to the side of you. Then I cross over the A34 to Highclere and then climbing to the south again. Another full throttle test and I consider climbing up above the clouds, as they are breaking up. However at 5500' I get just above them, but it is probably sensible to stop there (fuel level still the same).
I am now above Popham, so I do a spiral dive descent in alternate directions, down to a deadside join for 26. On final approach, once I turn onto the runway, the low sun is right in front of me. This blinding light screws my height perception and after a little bounce, I abort and climb away. I decide that runway 21 would be a much better bet. The Popham clubhouse and radio has closedfor the night and virtually everyone else has has gone (except Steve), so it isn't a problem. Much better without the sun in your eyes. There is very little wind, but it is still a little unsettled. I side-slip down and then climb away again after a touch and go. Next time round I want to descend and do a low hop along the runway - this goes OK and enjoying myself, I decide to go around for the same again.
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