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6. Registration


We had the will, we now had sufficient information, and the final step was to register the project with the Light Aircraft Association, the body which would issue oversee the manufacture and ultimately issue the all-important Permit to Fly which would enable it to get airborne. We wrote to the LAA (at that time it was called the Popular Flying Association) and were invited to go to their office to discuss the project with Chief Engineer Francis Donaldson.

Francis is one of the most knowledgeable and respected voices in sport aviation in the UK. Not only is he a very experienced engineer, having been employed as an aeronautical engineer all his life, but he’s a qualified test pilot with a vast experience of all sorts of different types of aircraft, including the Sopwith Pup, an example of which he flies regularly. (The Sopwith Pup was officially called the Sopwith Scout and similar to the Bristol Scout, coming into service about a year later).

We took our original parts along, together with all the drawings, and lots of butterflies in the stomach. Would he accept the accuracy of our information in the form of drawings and the parts list? If he did, would he approve it for manufacture? Without these, we could never get the Scout off the ground.

We needn’t have worried. Francis is dealing with unusual types of aircraft all day long, and is particularly enthusiastic about older and historic types, so he was fully behind the project.

In a couple of hours, he’d fully absorbed the complex details of the design, and was generally happy with them, with a list of about a dozen points he wanted clarification on, or testing. None of them would invalidate the historical accuracy of the project, so we were happy to acceded to his request.

One point he raised was the seat belt. Originally it was fitted with a 6in (150mm) wide canvas belt that fastened around your lower chest. If it was tightened fully, it would be likely to restrict your access to the controls, and certainly to the Lewis guns fastened each side of the fuselage.

In any accident, your body would tend to ‘porpoise’ – your lower body would be pulled violently forward and the upper body would be pulled through the strap. So it would be sensible to fit a modern restraint system of lap and shoulder straps in addition to the historical original.

The most highly stressed parts of the whole airframe are the flying wires, and their attachments to the wings and fuselage, and we’ll need to make up test examples for load testing. But that’s relatively simple to set up at a later date, and will give confidence in the air.

But the initial assessment was passed, and we received a pack and the registration number PFA-353-14755 in December 2007.

Now all we had to do was build it…


From → Research, Technical

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