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305. Air Time!


After the drama of getting 1264’s permit to Fly renewed, there was one other regulatory requirement before I would be allowed to fly her in a display, and this was to conduct at least one practice display.

Theo towed 1264 to Old Warden on Thursday, and Chill and I joined him on Friday to get her rigged, with the idea that we might be able to fly her later in the day. In the event, the wind was too strong and in the wrong direction, so we decided to reconvene on Sunday for another go, leaving her all rigged up in No. 1 hangar with the other WWI machines.

In addition to the additional six hours’ travelling this entailed, Theo made an even greater sacrifice by missing the Monaco Grand Prix.

Sunday was perfect, and the three of us rolled her out to the end of runway 21, and waited for a gap in the normal traffic to fire her up. For some reason she was a little reluctant to go first time, and it was nearly midday before I got into the air. But the engine ran as beautifully as before, and this time I was able to check the rate of climb with a timed 1000ft climb. it worked out at 800 feet per minute, which is exactly double what we were getting before. Magnificent!

I spent some time re-familiarising myself with the feel of the controls and checking that the mixture was set to optimum. It was the first time we’d flown with a full pulsometer too, but disappointingly it slowly emptied into the engine. We think there may have been some air in the line, so we’ll give it another go when we get an opportunity.

I also checked out the maximum level speed, which on the original was supposed to be nearly 100mph (85kt) but couldn’t really get more than 75kt. It may be possible to dive the aircraft to a higher speed, and then level out, at which point the higher engine rpm will deliver additional power to retain the additional speed, but I wasn’t able to demonstrate it consistently.

Theo used a handheld radio to warn traffic of my intentions, and I descended and ran through my five minute display routine. All went well, and I felt my confidence returning, particularly when I did a reasonable landing and managed to taxi all the way back to the hangar.

I’d been in the air for 30 minutes, and the airframe was covered with oil.

On Finals, courtesy of Richard Chillingford (Chill). Note the oil stains down the fuselage side.

We cleaned her down and rolled her back in the hangar and we can now say that the only thing that can put a spanner in the works will be the weather on Sunday, but even that is looking quite promising so far. I understand there will be a good line-up of WWI types there, so fingers crossed…


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One Comment
  1. So, still a little way to go: it seems you are still a little down on the historical recorded speed and rate of climb? Must be enormously encouraging to be so much closer though. How many other comparable airworthy le Rhones are there out there? I presume you’ve compared notes on revs attained etc.

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