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267. The Honeymoon’s Over


It’s been a tense week. We’ve been looking to get some air to air video, and this means getting us, the Scout, the camera ship, the camera ship pilot, camera and cameraman all together at a suitable spot to fly from in weather conditions suitable for flying the Scout.

We had this week available, and in the end it was only on Friday evening that all these things came together.

First of all, we needed to be sure the Scout was repaired and fit to fly, and the Shuttleworth Collection were clearly the people to do that.

So on Tuesday we trailered her from Dorset to Biggleswade and rigged her, and left her in the capable hands of Andy and Phil, with Jean Munn to give her a thorough looking over. thankfully on Thursday Jean rang to say they’d found nothing new caused by the accident, though a pre-existing cable would need to be changed in order to comply with the regulations.

By Friday morning, they’d got her all ready to go, and I flew in in my Escapade and got the logbook entries filled in and signed off.

My Escapade G-IMNY

My Escapade G-IMNY

Gradually everyone else turned up, and we completed some other filming details while we waited for the day to cool off and the wind to steady up before trying to fly 1264.

A Piper super Cub - the ultimate go-anywhere aeroplane.

A Piper Super Cub – the ultimate go-anywhere aeroplane.

We had proposed using a Piper Cub as the camera ship, since its speed range is suitable, but we wanted to get shots looking upwards at the Scout, and the cub’s high wing would clearly be a problem, so the Cub’s pilot suggested swapping to a DH Chipmunk instead. We had no idea that one was available – or indeed suitable – so this was an absolutely inspired suggestion.

A Chipmunk like the one used for the shoot.

A Chipmunk like the one used for the shoot.

It was 1845 by the time we took off, and we pottered around for half an hour, the Chippie moving around at the cameraman’s instruction, and the cameraman sat in the front seat, pointing the very large camera out of the part-opened canopy.

The weather by now was so calm that we were sharing the Old Warden airspace with a hot air balloon so the flight was a delight, but as I turned to land, the engine speed dropped significantly, and died on final approach. The landing was uneventful, but when we tried to start the engine again it was clear that most of the cylinders had lost compression, and it wasn’t fit to fly.

But we’ve got all the filming requirements complete which is fantastic achievement, and it’s just like 1264 to wait until we’d achieved that milestone before going u/s!

So – on Tuesday when they are back in work, they’ll try to find some time to see if they can identify the problem and we’ll await their call with some trepidation. Phil says the most likely cause is that our use of pure Castor oil instead of Castrol R40 may have caused the piston rings to gum up, and if that’s the case it’s not a massive problem to take the cylinders off and free them up, so there is a chance that it may not be too serious, but until we’ve had that phone call, we are feeling rather nervous…



From → Flying

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