It’s been weeks! I’ve been spoiled rotten by better access to flying this past summer than I’ve ever had that winter has come as a shock to the system! With the end of September, and the last event (a birthday!) I’d planned to try and specifically get to it was time to get the engine off for a decoke and service. Off, a weekend away while in sunny (ish) Skegness while the nice Rotax Man did the necessary then another weekend refitting was followed by a solid month of rain so no opportunity to test the refit. Or, for that matter, to admire my handiwork in sanding back and repainting the exhaust in bright red high temp paint (giving the unfortunate effect, some have said, that the little machine is bimbling around sticking one finger up at the world in general!)
So a full five weeks since last I flew there was finally a weather window. Nick had (most chivalrously…) suggested I take the first flight. Starting took two attempts and some vigourous juggling of choke and throttle – but it was cold and damp and had been sitting there, poor thing, five weeks so after a very patient warm up and a few runs up and down the runway I felt content to give it go.
I love the takeoff performance with just me and half fuel and up I went, smiling. Until at 500′ I did a scan round the gauges to find the coolant temp off the bottom of the scale.
Everything I’d ever heard about twostrokes and cold seizure went through my head in a flash before the more sensible thought that it wasn’t physically possible for the temp to cool that much that fast short of nosediving into an Arctic lake so it was highly unlikely the gauge was telling me the whole truth. As I levelled off to position for a return this fact was confirmed by the gauge flicking back into life. I climbed further, deciding to sort myself out from the beach with a more or less normal rejoin. Gauge gone again. I levelled off and turned for the field. Back again.
I called a left base then final and found myself still a bit high, (tailwind today) over the wires. The X’Air is such an easy machine to throw away height and speed on this was a problem easily cured by a sideslip and my touchdown was only slightly elongated by the wind.
I taxied in to explain the issue to Nick and start tracing wires. The wire to the sensor, when located was indeed loose and must have been shifting partly off when I went to full power, or when I pitched up. Firmly fastened back down and a flick of the electrics to confirm it was reading.
I would have nipped back up to test it properly except that at the very moment I suggested it there was a most almighty clap of thunder.
“Actually maybe I’ll just put it away now!”
Within half hour of leaving it was pouring rain in the most atrocious storm. Again!