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165. Disaster! And recovery

15/05/2015

It’s been a dramatic week.

The plan had been for the Scout to be present at the 18 Squadron Families Day at RAF Odiham on Friday (today) which was particularly special as it was their centenary, and the Scout was one of the first aircraft they had on strength. We didn’t make it, and here’s why.

I’d spent much of the time since the last post fitting out the trailer to make sure the aircraft was completely secure inside. On Tuesday evening Rick called in and we hitched it up to my car to take it to the weighbridge and give it a road trial.

Once we’d negotiated the single-track roads adjacent to the airfield – quite an exercise with a trailer 8ft wide and 25ft long – it became immediately apparent that it was a complete dog to handle. We carried on at 30-40mph, slowing whenever the back started to wag, but the weighbridge was closed by the time we made it there. On the way back, we decided to add some noseweight, and threw in an old central heating boiler, which should have improved the situation. In fact, the next time it wagged, it rapidly got completely out of control, and we ended up jackknifing, with my car in the ditch facing backwards and the trailer slewed across the road.

Naturally enough, everyone’s chief concern was for the trailer and its contents, and a quick check showed that – remarkably – neither had a scratch. I was completely okay too, but my car, although driveable, is probably beyond economic repair.

So we came to the conclusion that the car was too light and hired a van to get it to the church on time. It was pouring with rain, the tow height was no higher than the car’s, and when we finally raised the tow height, the trailer light connector on the van didn’t work, so we had – very, very reluctantly – to abandon the mission.

We’ve managed to get some expert advice from a local trailer manufacturer and it’s given us a substantial idea of why it didn’t work, and we now have a plan to modify the trailer to improve the situation. But the aircraft needs to be at Bicester in ten days’ time to be ready for final inspection before its first flight, and we are looking into hiring a lorry that will take the entire trailer down – safely – in time.

This depends on three things being completed.

The cowlings, which were ordered last July, promised for March and still haven’t turned up.

The side shields, which were also promised for March and aren’t done yet (but are still promised in the next ten days).

And the tacho cable, which should -just about – be ready.

If we miss this window for flight testing, it may be another year before we get another opportunity with such an experienced test pilot, and it’s a long wait to the next centenary!

Exciting, isn’t it?

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2 Comments
  1. Adrian permalink

    My heart goes out to you. Good luck.

  2. Xan Berasategui permalink

    I’am sur all we be ready for fly testing…
    go!go!go!

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