Foxbat flight into bad weather

deteriorating-visHere’s a nice helpful video – experienced Foxbat pilot James Pearce sets out on a trip with his wife to a celebration fly-in in the UK.

Watch how the visibility deteriorates and what James decides to do.

The video is over 12 minutes long but worth sticking with as it shows the visibility gradually reducing in real time. These circumstances are similar to those almost all VFR pilots will experience at some time during their flying. Let James’ experience help you ensure you don’t become a statistic!

As usual, to view, click on the picture or here: Foxbat flies into bad weather

Cross-wind flap settings

Cross windCross-wind limits, final approach speeds and flap settings are some of the most frequently requested information by pilots new (and not so new!) to the Foxbat. So here are a few pointers based on the Pilot Operating Handbook (POH) and experience.

Cross-wind limits
Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) regulations stipulate a quoted cross-wind limit based on a ‘reasonably competent’ pilot being able to land the plane safely. This is quite different from the typical GA specification, where most manufacturers quote a ‘demonstrated’ cross-wind limit – which is usually the strongest cross-wind the best factory test pilot can manage!

The A22LS Foxbat LSA quoted cross-wind limit is 14 knots; that is a wind of 14 knots at right angles to the runway, or stronger winds at lesser angles. That is not to say that an experienced pilot couldn’t land the aircraft safely at cross-winds higher than that – indeed, the ‘demonstrated’ cross-wind limit is certainly a good bit higher. However, fly the plane by the book and don’t take risks!

Final approach speeds
The Foxbat POH recommends 49 knots with full flap along the later stages of finals. And that’s at maximum 600 kgs weight; it will clearly need to be slower at lower weights.

For light, low-inertia aircraft like the Foxbat a general rule of thumb is to approach to land at 1.5 x stall speed. Stall speed, at full flap and engine at idle, in the Foxbat is 28 knots. 1.5 x 28 knots = 42 knots, so 49 knots leaves plenty of margin! Without doubt, the Foxbat is very easy to land at the correct speeds – and really quite tricky if you come in at 55, 60 or 65 knots – the aircraft will float and float and respond to every gust of wind while it does so. Just by-the-by, I am appalled by instructors who tell their solo students to approach at 60-65 knots in the Foxbat…and then wonder why they have problems landing. In this case, adding a bit of speed ‘for safety’ in fact probably does just the opposite. Fly the plane by the book and don’t take risks!

Flap settings
The flap limiting speed on the A22LS Foxbat is between 80 and 85 knots, depending on specification. With light winds within 10 degrees of the centreline, it’s fine to use both stages of flap. However, as winds strengthen and/or gain more cross-wind component, the flap setting should be considered more carefully.

There’s another general rule of thumb: for every 5 knots of cross wind, reduce the flap setting by one stage. Thus, with 10 knots or more of cross-wind it’s probably best to leave the flaps up on the Foxbat. However, this does introduce other considerations. First, the stall speed increases without flap, to about 38 knots in the Foxbat. So, using the rule of thumb mentioned above, 1.5 x 38 = 57 knots, so your finals approach speed needs to be adjusted accordingly. Which means the aircraft will land shallower, faster and longer. Nevertheless, the higher speed will give a quicker response to control inputs, allowing slightly quicker corrections to attitude.

My advice: practice cross-wind landings frequently, with and without flaps, until you feel comfortable handling them. You never know when operational requirements or an emergency may need to you get down safely in a cross-wind. Stick to the POH figures and you won’t go far wrong.

Latest A32 Vixxen departs

Pumpkin leaves TyabbThe 5th Aeroprakt A32 Vixxen in Australia is on its way to its new owner in Broken Hill. Painted beautiful Pumpkin Orange – which looks particularly brilliant in the sun – the aircraft departed Tyabb on Saturday morning, ably piloted by Rob Hatswell, flying instructor at Gawler SA. Accompanied by his brother Peter, they made Horsham in double-quick time, cruising at 110 kts. After re-fuelling, they continued to Gawler, where the aircraft will be based while its new owner – Luke Mashford – does his conversion flying course.

Rob comments: “I’m amazed. The A32 only burned 33 litres from Tyabb to Horsham. That’s 17 litres less than the A22LS and an average of 20 knots faster. Yuriy has clearly waved his aerodynamic genius over the A32.”

Two more A32s are arriving at Moorabbin next week – another one for Broken Hill, plus a school aircraft for Coffs Harbour. More in due course.

Antique Aeroplanes at Echuca

AAAA Echuca 2016This weekend sees the annual Antique Aeroplane Association of Australia (AAAA) national fly-in at Echuca in northern Victoria. Has yet another year passed so quickly?

My partner and I will be flying from Tyabb on Friday in the Interstate Cadet. The main day for the show is Saturday 16 April with many pilots/owners (including me) starting their journey home on Sunday morning.  There’s a dinner at the Moama Bowling Club on Saturday evening – last year the food and entertaining speeches (thankfully brief!) were most enjoyable.

I’m sure there will be plenty of wonderful old planes to see and Echuca is only just over a couple of hours’ drive from Melbourne, so it would make a great family day out – there is no entrance fee, you can just come along and soak up the atmosphere.

Hope to see you there – come and say hello!

Tyabb Airshow 2016

Sopwith PupWell, Tyabb Airshow has come and gone for another 2 years – and what a great show it was!

The day started out a bit grey and gloomy, at least it was when I arrived at 0700 to open up our hangar and organise our planes. By that time, the airfield was already buzzing with people setting up and preparing for the day. Next to our hangar were Avia Aviation, Cirrus agents for Australia, and main sponsors East Link (motorway) as well as a welcome coffee van.

Next door to us in hangar 10, a P51 Mustang is being restored and although the engine has yet to return from the States after re-building, the Mustang had its cowlings on and really looked the part. To add to the fun, the Mustang Car Club rounded up about a dozen varieties of convertible and coupé Mustang cars to surround the aircraft. They also had a 12-cylinder Rolls-Royce Merlin engine on display – an engine used in the Spitfire and Hurricane WWII fighters, as well as in the P51. Next to it was a Mustang car V8 engine which did look rather small next to its aero-engine companion!

The cloud base was high enough for the flying display to start on time at around 1230 and we were treated to an almost unending procession of wonderful old warbirds, from Sopwith Pup and Snipe, right through to the huge C-17 Globemaster transport, which did a few low-level fly-pasts along the strip. It was quite something to see such a large aircraft over our little airfield.

The finale seemed to have just about every display aircraft in the air at the same time, with lots of aerial explosions and a ‘wall of fire’ to end the show.

There will soon be an official DVD of the show available, so I can’t show off too many photos of the action, but here’s a small selection – click here to go to the gallery. All photos courtesy of Mike Rudd.

Tyabb Airshow this Sunday

Tyabb Airshow 2016Don’t forget! This Sunday, 13 March, is the bi-annual Tyabb Airshow – themed ‘Winged Warriors’.

The airfield looks very smart and ready for all its visitors.

New aeroplanes, old aeroplanes, old cars, new cars, aerobatics, drones, open hangars, food of every description – there’s certain to be something for you on this great family day out.

The airfield is located just a few metres down Stuart Road from the corner of Mornington-Tyabb Road in Tyabb, just north of Hastings in Victoria. Gates open at 0830 and the flying display runs from 1030 – 1630.

For more information on the airshow website, click here.

Foxbat Australia’s Hangar 11 (the first hangar south across the grass from the Clubhouse) will be open, with a couple of A22LS aircraft and our A32 demonstrator on display.

Come along, say hello and and enjoy the day.