Back in the air

After the second year in a row of an “annual” which make you wonder if you’ve misunderstood the word, we have our Tommyhawk back.

As I was enjoying a week off work, I had an unusual amount of weekday flying available, and so was happy to go and pick it up. Rather than troll down by car this time, it had been arranged that one of the Yak contingent at Swansea, Nick, would give me a lift down there.

So up to the airport I went, only to find that for once it was someone else’s aeroplane refusing to start – the Yak’s compressed air starter was well and truly airless. Quick shufty round for spare bottles and a refill didn’t take too much time out of the day though, and I was soon stood on the wing with parachute and big grin.

Nick “showed me around” the rear cockpit and the eclectic set of units used on the instruments (most of which bore stickers in English alongside the Russian script) and checked I had no loose items to fall out of pockets and foul the controls. The importance of this was pretty obvious when I glanced down and saw control cables running between my feet! It’s all rather exposed…

The engine started promptly and was gently and very patiently warmed up before we moved off. Once on the runway the Yak bounded into the air and straight into a 2000′ a minute climb.

Funfun funfun fun…

Once set up for cruise Nick handed over to me, and actually let me fly most of the rest of the way into the circuit at Dunkeswell.

Zipping over the Devonshire countyside behind a big growly radial has rather a lot to commend it, in spite of the 60lph fuel burn which rather dwarfed TOMS’s normal 24lph! I was enjoying myself immensely. Despite being an imposing looking (and sounding) aeroplane the Yak presented no major drama to get used to, although I did find myself stomping at the rudder quite a lot, and struggling to get the thing in balance as much as I’d normally want to.

I flew as far as the downwind leg before handing back t Nick to start slowing us down and getting ready to land.  He then offered to hang around until I was actually airborne with TOMS in case of any last minute gotchas.

TOMS, it turned out, was still in the Flymoore hangar, just having received a last minute buffing.  I wandered around looking at all the work and some of the frustration at the time taken over the annual did ebb away somewhat.

The Flymoore staff shuffled aeroplanes and got TOMS outside and I was ready to go.  The wind had picked up and I was glad I’d done the majority of the walkaround checks in the relative warmth of the hangar.  Just checking the fuel drains left my fingers well and truly numb, and I rubbed them and blew on them before fumbling at the instruments.

Nick departed after a little goodbye twizzle in the the form of a run a and break which I watched while warming up both myself and the engine.  Dunkeswell is becoming a very familiar airfield, and I wound my way to the runway with the chart sat unheeded on my lap.

With less than half tanks and only me aboard, TOMS climbed out at an un-Yak-like, but quite respectable rate, and I felt very content indeed to be airborne in my own share-oplane once more.

It was runway 04 back at Swansea and since there were few people flying, it lent itself to an easy straight in approach.  I filled up, tried not to faint at the bill even though avgas has gone down a bit since TOMS went away, and taxyed back over to tie down.

Here’s to lots of clear, crisp, blue sky days now we can fly again!


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