Where there’s a will there’s a way, but not always

2017 was a hopeful punt at trying to get to OSH17, and although the will was there to get out and enjoy again, reality strikes sometimes with external influences that conspire to test you, not only the cost of the flights, but also employment change. So 2017 looks to be out of reach this time. But hopefully with some late nights i’ll be watching from afar on the webcams.


OSH 17 (my osh16 note-let)

OSH 17 (my osh16 note-let)

I don’t think I ever posted my saga on getting my OSH 16 T shirt, as by the time I convinced myself to pick one up they had all sold out, and I never managed to get the official OSH 16 T from the any of the show stalls.

But I did manage to track down the designer not long afterwards and sourced a T direct from them..  (don’t even ask me how much the international postage was !! ) 🙂

My note from getting this still sits on the fridge in the hope of getting to OSH17…fingers crossed kimberleigh.

It’s life Jim, But not as we know it!

It’s life Jim, But not as we know it!

One of the advantages about working in London is the rare opportunity of popping over to the Royal Aeronautical Society when the HQ offers presentations and speaker events, now these can consist of a vast array of subjects ( check out the event calendar ), and best of all they are free!

I tend to keep an eye on the website for interesting aviation subjects but ExoMars fitted the bill last night, a fault of mine is being interested in many things (to the detriment of my time and money) but I thought that this would be a good chance to mingle with some other spacey Geeks, and hear about something a little but different.. I wasn’t disappointed.

Most of these lectures occur in the evening, which provides suitable time to catch a trip on the tube during rush hour, (not a pleasant experience for most), todays was no exception and a ride on the central line to Marble Arch with  a further short walk past some very expensive hotels, and all the associated expensive cars parked outside (most of them without UK registrations!)

The lecture starts with a coffee reception on the 1st floor, with unusually no seating, but a few tables dotted in the room to at least place your cup down, then after a brief wait into the lecture room.

What attracted me to this specific event? it was the mission goal (detection of life on Mars), it was to be hosted by the project manager who has been working for ESA for 10 years so it seemed and was involved some previous Mars exploits.

What is ExoMars – check out ExoMars programme here

What really caught me by surprise was that this ExoMars programme is a precursor to another mission set for 2020, and a proving platform for various landing and flight manoeuvres, rather than a scientific expedition, but that being said it will run a number of experiments to ascertain if life existed or exists under the ionised layer of the surface (below 2m) and checking carbon dioxide from the orbiting satellite. One future device that will remain dormant for some time is a laser reflector mounted on the landing probe, which they hope will be of use for the future, as for now laser range finding beams to Mars is still science fiction.

Although the ExoMars programme is scheduled to run until possibly 2022, the Schiaparelli lander is only due to run for up to 3 sols.. (Sols are Mars days and 2.7% longer than earth days (or respective orbital days for each planet))- now for three days that’s a lot of effort for such a short lifecycle in my opinion, but it seems that weight and battery power dictate this timeline, which ultimately coincides with the cost of getting hardware into space in the first place.


The Schiaparelli lander is designed to CFT (Controlled Flight into Terrain) with a collapsible underbelly to absorb the estimated impact from a height of 2m, now I think a lot of fingers will be crossed hoping that their estimated smooth landing zone is just that – smooth, but as any might presume, estimated is just that, and any possibility of a object being larger than 90cm puts all this to waste.


with the presentation over Thales kindly opened up the drinks reception, and coffee  was replaced with a option of either Red or White, not one to turn down a free drink and not driving – who couldn’t resist.. a nice closure to interesting presentation and talk.

I’d recommend these RAS talks to anyone, and they’re free!.


Pictures courtesy of ESA.






Duxford Never Disappoints 

Duxford Never Disappoints 

Time for a flying fix, after all the joy of Oshkosh, being so close to so many aircraft and not being able to fly myself it was time to get some time logged as PIC again.

With the the weather looking fine, a cloud base of 4500, it was a good day to go flying.

What really caught me by surprise was that both my boys decided they wanted to come along for the trip, it’s not normally the case, and I really think they just wanted to see if they could use Pokamon Go at 2500ft!

The first option on the table was to try and get to Wormingford, which is a gliding site owned by the Essex and Suffolk Gliding Club, The main reason was that my eldest son was going to have a gliding experience with the scouts at this airfield this coming Tuesday, I wanted to see if I could check it out. 

But reading the airfield notes on Wormingford ( due to restrictive planning permission no powered take offs are permitted!! ) so I could fly in….  But not out!!  I didn’t want to see what a Challenger handles like on a winch, so that idea was suitably shelved.

In the end it was Duxford that came through, with having a warbird relapse after all the fun of Osh, it was the most suitable alternative.

The trip started as it was meant to carry on, on arrival at Southend while I was getting the challenger ready, the sound of a Merlin came into earshot, over the hedge came the Spitfire from the BBMF made a low pass down 05 and then into land, followed closely by the Hurricane which both apparently had been to a display earlier. (it seemed that the BBMF had made Southend their home for the weekend).

Unbeknown to me since they and the Lancaster had been parked at Southend for the weekend, they had also sucked the airport dry of all the AVGAS, lucky enough the clubhouse still had some available in the bowser.

A quick call into Duxford for PPR and an estimated arrival time, they also commented that the ATZ would be closed in three quarters of an hour for a display, with the 180 in the Challenger that wasn’t going to be an issue getting to Duxford in time.

Routing was the standard Southend, Earls Colne, Haverhill, Duxford – keeping to the north and skirting the Stansted zone there was also a Notam indicating a horse show at Haverhill to 2400ft, it was planned to keep at 3000ft and still 500ft under the airspace above.

The flight was uneventful with Southend proving a basic service then onto a listening squawk for a busy Stansted – finally into Duxford landing with a RH into 05. Taxing around showed that the Sally B was out in her full glory and being show to a number of people on the apron, with an added bonus of an adjacent Mustang on her wing. The benefits of being airside is that you can sneak across and wander around, given the oppurtunity with the boys we wandered up and crashed the party.

After a short while they where both to start up their engines and they planned to do a short display, so it was time to leave the party, pay the landing fee, wander the air museum and enjoy the day. ( we all found out there wasn’t many Pokamons to pick at Duxford, and apparently they don’t like you running at 110k either! ).

We planned to get some food since we’d all skipped lunch and my youngest seems to be driven by his stomach, but all the hot food had finished for the day, so we all ended up getting some snacks from the American Museum Cafe.

Wandering up and down the airfield the B17 and Mustang put on some great low level passes, in addition some very clean loops from the mustang where great sounds to have and watch while wandering around, which is just Duxford.

Check the video below.

SallyB Youtube Flyby Video

After having a  great time wandering , it was time to depart and head back to Southend, a quick call for PPR at Southend to allow some pre awareness that we are on our way back, and thankfully heading east away from the setting sun we followed the route in reverse, but just the addition of a climbing circuit over Duxford so that we had enough height to get over the notam’d horse display, and subsequently we where followed directly by the SallyB which looked extra special from above.

After a short flight back to Southend it was time to put our Challenger to bed for the day.

Summer days don’t come much better than that.

Links worth a visit 

Oshkosh Blues – My final day

Oshkosh Blues – My final day

My last full day at Oshkosh and again up early, although just a little later than the previous day’s and for the first time their were other people wandering the hallways and showers, although with all these early starts it looks like when I’m home the jetlag should be easy to get over!!

So with most items packed away for the flight back in the morning and weighing in at 21kilos I’ve got some space for goodies which means a quick trip on Saturday to the supermarket for some sweets and treats for the kids.

After another early shower and heading out I decided to try iHOP for a change of pace. It opened at 6am and since I was running  a little later than usual it fitted the bill,  it did show though, with just being a short time later plenty of people were here and busy planning their days. (apart from one guy berating his employees on a conf call)

But hey, hold on..NO WIFI!! that was a real pain!!  but anyway plenty of panckes and strawberries for beakfast and off to the show again but this time it was getting on 8am which meant more traffic to deal with approaching the grounds but still moving ok, although parking was further back from where I arrived on Wednesday.

Making a mental note on the location, it was off through the main gates. Today was planned as a museum and seaplane base visit, but due to the cancellation of the B17 which has mucked up the timings for those, and getting to and from them would be near impossible, especially since the museum opened at 10am and wouldn’t leave very long to go around.

The first port of call was to get my free jeepesen cap, I’d seen the queues all week and decided  today, as I’m early, to be the first in the queue for opening at 9am…  And indeed I was.. First through the door, but although there where stacks of these caps, some lady decided she had to run to the counter. ( for whatever reason!!! ).

From the Jeepesen hut, it was a wander around the stalls and stands, again the weather looked ominous about the B17 flight, and I decided to head over to the check in counter early to see if any flying was scheduled, fully expecting it to be cancelled again.

It was lucky I did, as it seemed my 2:30 flight had been pushed back to 5pm, but I was offered any space if one came up if I was around. Given that I wanted to get the best opportunity to get the flight, I stayed around the checkin cabin for short while and managed to get placed on a 12:30 flight as a number 10 in the group.. RESULT!! It was on!! And we headed out again on a shuttle bus to Appleton.

Lady Luck looked down on me when we arrived at the airport and decamped from the shuttle bus, a few people where in groups and it seemed I was the only “single”person of the bunch, so the loader directed me straight to the cockpit and to the Navigators seat (directly behind the co-pilot), my grin was from ear to ear, I didn’t have to be asked twice.

 I was in that seat in a heart beat.. Subsequently I had the best possible view of the starting procedures, taxi, and take off.. After we were wheels up, it was time to relinquish the seat and wander around the aircraft freely. It was onto the bombers/target position next, then to wander around the radio operators positon, where a morse key sat facing me ( how could I refuse, so a few messages where tapped out – yes ok.. It wasn’t connected to a radio, but felt good ! ) then down across the narrow bomb bay to the side guns for views over the Wyoming countryside.

Looking out for this position and the patchwork fields showed to some extent the feelings of these flying over the Suffolk country into places like Martlesham Heath and Framlingham 390th Bomber Group. Which have now long disappeared as operating airfields.

Thirty or so minutes of flying went faster than expected and it was soon time to take our seats again for landing, I managed to be located at the rear and seated next to the exit and window for our approach and touchdown.

If you have 30 minutes to spare feel free watch my youtube video: Aluminum Overcast Flight Video

Due to the amount of trips they where trying to accommodate, due to all the Thursday’s bad weather, it was a quick turnaround as other people waiting at the field and we were straight onto the bus back to Osh.

After the short journey from Appleton into the grounds, some of us jumped out of the bus at the main gate, so we could then wander through the displays and shows, plenty of commercial tents and university’s advertising their flying skills and wares,  one tent I had to visit and pick up some stickers was the NASA tent, but I did snigger when I saw the rover model they had on display.. Must be some budget cuts going on.. 

It was overwhelming on the amount of stuff on display, just a few pics as highlights.

And then some real heavy display aircraft..

After wandering the displays and also checking out the Aeromart for a few hours I continued on my hunt for an EAA 2016 T shirt, I’d been looking to pick one up but it now seemed that all the sizes had been taken, which was a real shame.

And then before I knew it,  it was then onto watching the display for the day.

Friday Airshow Schedule:

National Anthem/U-2 Flyover, Aeroshell Aerobatic Team (T-6 Texans), Matt Chapman (Extra 330LX), Warbirds of America Showcase, Patty Wagstaff (Extra 300LX), Jeff Boerboon (John Klatt Airshows – Screamin’ Sasquatch), Kirby Chambliss (Edge 540), David Martin (Bucker Jungmeister), Philipp Steinbach (GameBird 1), Coulson Flying Tankers (Martin Mars), Mike Goulian (Extra 330SC), United States Navy Super Hornet Demo Team (F/A – 18F Super Hornet), United States Air Force F-16 Viper Demo Team, USAF Heritage Flight (F-16 and Vlado Lenoch P-51 Mustang), Canadian Snowbirds

Again – great pics can be found on the EAA flicker site : EAA Flickr Photos 

But a special note on the Sceamin’ Sasquatch, this was something else to watch, and the Canadian Snowbirds for poetry in motion. (Albeit I’m sure some moves where lifted from the Red Arrows routine).

The evening schedule had the STOL demonstration, and I hadn’t been over to the microlight section. So I wandered down to see what was occurring, after a long stroll I came across the microlight runway with a viewing area and a number of aircraft were getting ready for a short landing competition, which was something else to watch.. Seeing what these could do in the limited space they had.. (and it was the second time I noticed Kevin Lacy  – aeroplane repo fame, but I left him to pictures with other fans as he roamed around).

At that point is was getting onto 8pm and the Balloon light display was scheduled on the flight line, but the wind was pretty high so I wasn’t sure it would occur. I grabbed a tram to the vintage hanger and then wandered to the flight line to get a good view if it did . 

After waiting for a long while and no movement on the balloons I decided to head back, as it was going to be a long day on Saturday.

And with that my friends my Oshkosh was over..

Oshkosh Blues – Day Three

Oshkosh Blues – Day Three

It started with another early wake up from 4am, still running on adrenaline and caffeine from the day before, absolutely  no point in trying to fight it, so straight in the showers (sneaking past all the open doors and snoring occupants) and get ready to go for the gates at 7am – and again passing by Perkins for a full breakfast, by this time the waitress was getting to know me as a regular..  LOL..

Again I bumped into John who was on his way back to run W9ZL at the kid zone – I made a mental note to try and get over to his shack.

With breakfast and copious amounts of coffee consumed it’s was off to the show, this time however I ended up in the left lane and parking very near the North 40 campsite which worked out good for the Warbirds section and the B17 checkin location.

The weather however was not as good as the day before and with a cloud base of below 1500ft was going to be a major issue getting up in the B17.

Since I had already picked up my wristbands for all the days onsite, there was no need to go to the main gate, so I made a headway to the B17 checkin and awaited for our bus and details of the trip.

As we where the first flight the day, we where ushered to Appleton airfield (about a 30 min drive) with the expectation of getting airborne at some stage, but on arrival it looked as if that would be a very long shot that we’d get airborne, so we where allowed to roam freely onboard while a decision was made. (but don’t play with any switches we where told!).

On the bus the atmosphere was very excited with some guys who had travelled from Adelaide,  and where desperate to get up in the beast.

Eventually after a few hours of praying for the clouds to part and allow us to get airborne, it was unfortunately called off. (If  flying does teach you something it’s patience!!).

We headed back to the checkin desk to rebook for another time, disappointment was very evident on the way back in the atmosphere on the bus, but I still had a day in hand and hoping that Friday will deliver that ultimate thrill.

So back to the cabin and rebooked for the next available slot which was 2:30 on the Friday, and praying that they’d be no cancellation and subsequent refund.

That left only an hour before the airshow started again for Thursday, so a wander around the warbirds and then the show began, little did I realise that Harrison Ford was the pilot landing the 2 millionth Young Eagle at the time, as they landed at the start of the show.

Thursday Schedule

Day: 2 millionth Young Eagle, National Anthem, Warbirds of America Showcase, USCG Aviation 100th Anniversary Celebration, Sean D. Tucker (Oracle Challenger III), Sammy Mason (Pitts S-1S), Jim Peitz (Beechcraft Bonanza), Bill Stein (Edge 540), Van’s RV 30th 30th Anniversary Celebration, Jerry Kerby (RV-8A), West Coast Ravens (Various RVs), Team Redline, IAC “Grassroots to Top of the World” – The Shetterlys and Rob Holland (RV-8, DR-107 One Design, and MXS), Kirby Chambliss (Edge 540), Geico Skytypers, Skip Stewart (TinStix), Texas Flying Legends, United States Navy Super Hornet Demo Team, VFA 83 & VFA 103 Arrival

Again check out the EAA Flickr link for some awesome pics of the display, that far outstretch my ability to take a decent picture..  EAA Flickr Photos

There was no late night display scheduled and it was an opportunity wander the merchandise hangers and displays, trying to resist picking up goodie bags and paperwork of all the new high tech stuff was hard, but I only had limited baggage allowance. I had to pick up another gift from a supplier that kindly held onto the item for me that I’d ordered a few months back, so into Hanger A and collect the gift and say many thanks to Letty from Millers Watches for their assistance.

It was  then to head over to North 40 to met up with a group of pilots that hand flown into Osh from Texas on the weekend, I had mentioned about meeting up with this group before arriving via a social flying forum.

 After some great hospitatility and the offer of more by all going to a meal, I declined as being as tired as I was, I could see myself droping asleep where I stood, It was getting late again and headed back in the direction of the uni,  it was a last minute call to stop at Papa Johns for a Pizza (maybe not the best of choice) but it certainly filled a gap. (and it was just around the corner from the Uni accommodation).

And that was the end of Day Three.