Alarums and Excursions

Not posted in a while between one thing and another.

Sometime soon, I’ll have time, money, weather and a serviceable aircraft all at the same time!

I’ve always wurbled about the first annoyance (at aeroplane and self) over on the Flyer forum so I’ll just requote that here for the non-forumites among you.

Basically our alternator packed up…

Did I discover this on the ground by following the checklist item which says “Ammeter charging?”

Nope. Or if I’m entirely honest: “Well… Yes….Almost… but then I convinced myself I was wrong…”

So I discovered it in the air instead, during the first set of checks after levelling off. Low Volt light still on and the Ammeter lifeless on zero no matter what I turn on and off.

So how did I come to convince myself it was fine on the ground?

Point one – I’ve flown several aeroplanes where the low volt light flickers a bit when the engine is running slowly. That didn’t immediately stand out to me as a problem and I didn’t look at it again during the powerchecks.

Point 2 – I’m far less familiar with this aircraft and what ‘normal’ is. I did look at the ammeter and was mildly surprised it wasn’t registering “much” (or “at all” in reality!) and I should with perfect hindsight have realised that it was actually dead flat on 0 rather than merely ‘not showing much’.

I should have done my turning off and on of things and recycling of the master switch at that point but I didn’t. I convinced myself I wasn’t seeing what I was seeing and off I went.

Undramatic of course because I had presumably a more or less fully charged battery and was only ten minutes out so I just came back again. Fiddled a bit more on the ground, enlisted a few more pairs of eyes to help me look for an obvious physical cause and then gave up ad came home to break the bad news to the group that there’s probably another bill coming.

Far too easy though to convince myself I wasn’t seeing a problem when there was one there staring straight at me with a perfectly clear set of symptoms.


Anyway, Gwyn sallied off over half term to get it repaired.  Turns out the alternator is a fairly ancient model (though marginally less ancient that BeeGee her self in fact – she was built with a generator…) and one of the brushes had snapped off, and in the process wiped out one of the earth connections.

Due to the aforesaid ancientness, parts were something of a salvage operation, but she is back up and running now.

In the meantime I’ve spent two consecutive booked IMC lessons sitting around drinking coffee, participating in airfield gossip and moaning…

Because of weather.

Got to sigh when the weather is too bad for IMC flying in May/June!

Fingers crossed this weekend will buck the trend!

G-RVIV being used as demonstrator

On the plus side I spent last weekend – the sunny one – helping out at the annual Devon Scout Aerocamp.  24 Scouts a dozen or so pilots, and lots of flying and talking about flying!   The Scouts do their Met, Nav, and Aeronautics badges and then get to plan and fly a route.

This year we were also lucky enough to have CarolAnn Garrett drop in on her way around the world!  (Well almost in – Belle Vue was a shade on the short side for her Mooney, so Steve retrieved her from Dunkeswell in his pretty RV-4)

She certainly got the most animated set of questions from the youngsters of any session over the weekend – not to mention a lot of delighted pilots.

The contrast in the youngsters before and after their flights was pure magic as always, especially one young lady in paticular who was enormously nervous, on the very brink of not going (and anxious to fly in the most solid looking of the available machines!)

She did go, and it was one of the bravest things I’ve ever seen.  And the clear elation afterwards was enough to lift anyone’s heart.

I say this every time, (and I say every time that I say it every time) but we are bloody lucky, aren’t we?  Weather and parts-spitting alternators not withstanding, we’re privileged beyond measure to be able to go and play in the sky.

Scouts and helpers with Speedy.

Thanks to Derek for the photos.
More on Flickr, click for link


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