I’d never have known…

Following a conversation on UKGA I got the opportunity, courtesy of one Jim Blythe, to have a fly in his Ikarus C42 microlight.

Making the most of the longer spring evenings, I headed down to the airfield after all, keen to find out what all the enthusiasm I’d heard about these was about.  The idea of a permit aircraft has come up a couple of times in our TOMS group meetings as the maintenance and paperwork costs continue to steadily mount.

The Ikarus is available as either a microlight or a Group Aircraft, with as far as I can tell the only difference being the weight limit.

While I’m not sure it would have been my first choice of name for an aircraft (its namesake not having been that successful a flyer as I recall!) it’s a nice looking machine, and the microlight school at Swansea, which uses them, always seems to be doing a roaring trade.

I met Jim at the airfield and we went straight out and climbed in.  The airfield was silent, and we had the place to ourselves.  The first big difference was the noise.  Or the lack thereof!  We wore headsets but most of the time would probably have been able to communicate passably well without. 

The next difference (although not a surprise since I’d watched them often enough) was the astonishingly short takeoff run and extremely rapid rate of ascent.  We were 1000′ by the end of the runway, so it was probably just as well there was no one else around.  I wouldn’t have liked to meet an overhead joiner while we were still hurtling skywards!

The day had clouded over since the sunny afternoon, but it had a much higher base than we’d thought from the ground and the visibility was still good.  I’ve not flown much in highwinged aircraft, some coincidence meaning that even the rides in other people’s aircraft have mostly been in lowwingers.  The view straight down was most absorbing without a wing in the way.

Out over Gower, Jim let me have a fly and we stooged about quite happily having a go at some stalls (another culture shock — I tried one and it was several long minutes before I realised we actually had stalled!) and steep turns (always great fun).

I had  my arms in a bit of a tangle, flying from the right with my left hand on the centre stick and my right on the throttle, which was oddly placed below my left knee.  I wonder how the instructors manage it.

As we flew Jim regaled me with stories of trips taken and (jammy) how little they’d cost.  It drinks mogas happily, and gets through about 12 litres an hour (getting on for half the appetite of our tommyhawk, and on a cheaper fuel at that!)

Eventually it was time to come in and I went away very thoughtful indeed.

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