23 June 2008

Christmas turkey nails its forced landing

June 2008 The weekend of 21-22 June ended up being no-fly days despite the clear cloudless skies. Cross-winds gusting 15-16 knots were too strong for my liking and so I decided discretion was the better part of valour and scrubbed plans to go flying.

All in all, three weeks of unfavourable flying weather kept me from exercising the beast since its last flight on 31 May.
But by Monday 23 June, the wind had abated to 8-10 knots of cross-wind. I was comfortable with this cross-wind strength and decided to launch a sortie.

After hauling the metal bird out of its roost, I took a picture of its massive paddle blades to remind me of their excellent speedbrake qualities when executing a forced landing.

Over three weeks, the main air tank maintained about the same pressure since the last flight. But the emergency air tank had lost about 30% of its normal pressure. Used for extending the landing gear in event of a main tank failure, the emergency tank would be re-pressurised as soon as the engine was started.

I was certain that the main tank would have no problem starting the engine since it had plenty of air. This was indeed the case when the engine started up on the first attempt (with the usual cloud of smoke).

Taking off from runway 29R, the bird reached 1000 ft just past the end of the runway. The bird's rate of climb still impresses me even after having flown it for about 5.5 hours.

As usual, I started the workout with some aerobatics. After a few manoeuvres, I noticed the beast having a slight tendency to roll right in straight and level flight. I made a mental note to adjust the aileron trim tabs later.

The next task was to descend to 2500 ft to practice some forced landings. I half rolled DZY onto its back and let the nose fall through the horizon to 45 degrees down and held it for the descent. Completing the roll to wings level and upright again, I prepared the aircraft for the practice forced landing.

It just so happened that today, there was a decent headwind along the St Mary's airstrip. Using the inboard edge of the aileron as my reference marker, and an extra 20 kph over the best glide speed of 150 kph, I flew the descent cone towards the target touchdown point.

Turning onto short final, it was time to extend the gear. With the gear down and locked, it became clear the Christmas turkey was going to nail the touchdown point. That was good enough and pleasing for me. So I opened the throttle and retracted the landing gear to head off home.

Mission accomplished.

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