Charlie Splatt

Finding a replacement for Rhubarb took some time. We knew roughly what we wanted (912, Skyranger type, within a relatively constrained budget) but such aircraft absolutely hurtle in and out of availability and we missed our window on more than one which we considered but was sold before we could get to it.

Eventually we found G-CCLU. Engine type and hours we were happy with, slightly tired skins but to be sold with a new permit so recently Betts tested and within our range as long as we found a third member which proved happily easy!

My this time I’d already started calling the machine “Splat” – the paint scheme being somewhat idiosyncratic.

One of the existing Skyranger chaps from Old Park went up to retrieve ‘Splatt’ for us as I engaged in a mildly timeconsuming and entertaining conversation with my bank which ran something like:

“Yes really, a microlight. A microlight. Like a light aircraft? A Very Small Aeroplane. Yes. No, no one is trying to trick me on the internet. Yes the pilot is stood next to it right now. Yes.”

I’d flown a friend’s Skyranger a handful of times a few years ago but still picked the calmest day I could find for my first sortie in this one.

Which is just as well because I’d forgotten entirely two rather attention getting things.

First, the rate of climb – Particularly with just me and half fuel we rocketed into the air. Mentally I think I was still dangling off the tail somewhere asking myself what just happened.

Secondly was the amount of rudder needed. I was swerving all over the climbout as the thing bolted into the air. Happily the rudder itself is powerful. I had taken the precaution of checking how much cushion behind me I needed for full travel but didn’t need anything like it at any point during the flight.

I climbed speedily to a few thousand feet to explore that rudder more in an attempt to achieve some coordinated turns – concluding that may take a few more flights yet before it’s entirely muscle-memoried in.

I also spent some time slowing down and setting up for the approach speeds and config – the flaps require a solid-ish tug for weedy me and there was a certain amount of nose bobbing which I’m sure practise will also be the cure for.

Handling at slow speeds was reassuringly docile after the headlong charge at the sky and skidding, slippy levelling off, which had both initially taken me aback.

I cruised over to Swansea where half a dozen circuits confirmed the fact that yes, the slow speed handling was in fact gorgeous and easy and slid down the approach like every cliche about being on rails.

The only gotcha discovered was how easy it was to leave a trickle of power still present – the throttle effect on RPM at the low end seemed disproportionately large. I found I actively needed a little pressure to make sure it hadn’t crept open.

Back to Old Park and mindful of the much more cluttered approach and the need to be on top of the speed, I set up with full flap probably further out than really needed so I could get good and settled while still well outside the wires.

Conditions couldn’t have been better and I was down with the usual sense of flippingflopping from “is there really enough space here” to “and now I need to put power back on to get the rest of the way up the hill”!

I think it’s the first time I’ve found landing a different type less eventful than taking off!

A few weeks passed before weather and availability lined up again and I’d spent most of the afternoon dithering at the foot of the windsock before deciding the crosswind had dropped enough to take it on.

It was the end of the good weather – blue sky but clouds on the horizon and the air was choppy enough that my sightseeing over the hills turned into a familiarisation with how the new machine handles in turbulence!

Crosswind handling back at the strip was good (nice whopping rudder!) though I’d once again left a sliver of power on, which combined with the slight extra speed I’d carried for the crosswind gave a tiny bounce.

Familiarisation continues! (Though shortly to be interrupted by an excursion to Good for some aeros next week.)

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