01-01-12: Recession & personal circumstances has stopped the team. Les has had to sell his beloved Jabiru and is currently grounded. Jacqui has also sold her Rans, and is no longer flying. Tony has had some issues with the Shadow, and is the only member of the team who is still flying. Hopefully one day the team will be able to get back in the air, but unfortunately that day looks a long way off. Flight For Life Raised over £30,000 and changed our lives. We will miss it.
Flight for life on Full Flap.tv
14-05-09: Tony and Les went to the Isle of Wight microlight rally (Spamfield). Dave was busy to Les took his old school pall Layton. The took off on Saturday morning via Compton Abbas for lunch. The funniest moment of the trip was when Layton walked over to a pilot of a very expensive twin engined Beach Baron and said "I like your plane because it's got curtains". I think the owner knew that Layton was not an aviation expert.
31-05-09: The whole team was at the airfield today but for different reasons. Jacqui was doing some practising for her GFT (General Flying Test). Hopefully she will have her test booked soon. Tony flew to Compton Abbas. He’s been busy this week putting some hours on his new engine. Les & Ashley did some maintenance work on the Jabiru, but still managed to go for a small flight over Newhaven. Cruising at just 2,600rpm (the recommended cruise RPM is 2,800) The Jabiru managed to get a ground speed of 143mph.
Newhaven at 2,200' and 143mph.
23-05-09: Dave and Les flew to Fenland airfield today for a Jabiru & Rans owners get together. Tony was busy getting his new permit done for the Shadow and therefore could not make it. They flew up to Fenland with a couple of other aircraft from Deanland. After a quick cup of tea and a chat to some of Les's internet palls Tony and Rod (Tony is a Rans owner, and Rod has a MCR-01), is was time to come home. The 10knot wind that helped them get to fenland in just over an hour was now the pushing them back, but at least the turbulence had subsided.
Dave and Les over the Thames.
20-5-09: We are going to be updating this very soon, we have just been sooooo busy.
1. Les has had winglets fitted to the Jabiru to help with low speed handling. (see pic below)
2. Jacqui has done her solo cross country flights and is getting ready for her final GFT!
3. Tony is fitting a new engine into his Shadow.
4. The team are making plans for the Isle of Wight rally (Spamfield).
5. The team will be touring Northern France with the WFAeC and meeting up with another 200+ microlights to fly across the channel in celebration of Bleriot's crossing 100 years ago. Les will also be covering the story for Flyer magazine, and will be hopefully appearing in Fullflap.tv soon, doing an section on Jabiru aircraft.
G-SIMP with the new winglets fitted.
2-2-09: Last month this website had an amazing 124,973 hits. That's over 1 million hits per year! Wow, we must put some
more information up for you all to read!!!
13-12-08: Sorry it's been a while. Well the team tried to get to Africa and failed. They got to France but the weather turned against them. After after a few days sitting it out, the extra days booked had run out and the team had to get back to the UK for work commitments. So lets start planning to do it next year!
Since the trip, there hasn't been much flying going on. We have had terrible weather and a water logged runway for what seems like forever. On top of that Les has had some personal commitments that has taken up all of his time. But we are back, and normal service will be resumed!
Tony had got a nice new Rotax 532 engine for the Shadow and we will be reporting the complete strip and rebuild on here for anyone who is interested.
The weather has also slowed Jacqui's training somewhat, but she has managed to get 5 hours solo under her belt and only requires 5 more to complete the training. We will also be reporting on the Louis Bleriot's centenary flight.
The Jabiru at the Aeroclub de Somme, the weather started to turn nasty after this.
We also managed to take Flight For Life badge winner Graham Gunn for his first flight. Graham spent an hour flying around the south coast with Les in the Jabiru.
"I've only ever been in a big Jet and was nervous at first, but you soon get use to it, and it was great. The view is amazing and it was the smoothest landing I've ever had, I didn't even feel the plane touch the ground"
Les made sure that Graham told the rest of the team about his landing and Tony joked "that must have been a fluke".
Graham standing proudly next to the the Jabiru.
09-08-08: less than 24hous after her solo Jacqui and the team were filming Scrapheap Challenge at beaulieu. Their challenge was to create a 4 wheel drive 4 wheel steering off road machine that can pick up a 100kg object half buried in mud and covered in movement sensors and transport it around a 200m off-road course.
08-08-08: Some people say the the 8th of the 8th 2008 is lucky. It certainly was for Jacqui. Today she flew solo for the first time in her Rans. She had flown to Headcorn with Keith the instructor to do some circuit training. After 2 touch and go's they landed and Keith got out and left her to it. Well done Jacqui!
27-07-08: Les and Tony flew the Jabiru to France today. Click here for a microlight guide to flying in France.
13-07-08: Les went to the airfield today to take a few people up for their first flight. The most important passenger for Les was his daughter Amy who had just turned 7. Both of them enjoyed the flight.
28-06-08: The team took the finished 4x4 to Scrapheap Challenge's studios today. They still need to fit the propeller and the wings, but they can do that on race day. The car will be safety checked ready for the big race in August. It will be up against 5 other teams including one 'all star' team made up from previous Scrapheap champions and lead by Dick Strawbridge. 'Proper Job!'.
28-06-08: Maybe it's because the team is doing Scrap Heap Challenge, maybe it's because the Africa trip is only weeks away. Whatever the reason this web site has hit a new record of 71,285 hits this month.
18-06-08: Jacqui, Ash and Les spent the day filming for Scrapheap Challenge. The team is called 'Plane Crazy' and they are hoping to use Scrapheap to promote Flight for Life. The shooting started in the morning at the airfield and went on to the workshop where the team's building their vehicle. The 2009 Scrapheap series has got an exiting new format but we can't give to much away at this stage. We will be giving full details of the teams attempt later.
08-06-08: Jacqui continued her training with Keith today whilst Les fitted some new sponsorship stickers to 'Mike Papa'. Tony was also at the airfield, he'd been to Popham in his shadow, and was now working on a new set of outside covers for it.
01-06-08: The guys went flying today. They were hoping to see Jacqui do her solo, but the weather was poor at Headcorn. Still, she managed to do some more training in the Rans though. Les took her and Ashley for a quick spin in the Jabiru - everything is quick in the Jabiru!. Jacqui, Ashley and Les are going to be filming soon for a certain Channel 4 program about entering a challenge & making things from Scrap that's found in a heap (but contractually they cannot say what program). Anyway the team's name is 'Plane Crazy' and it should be broadcast early next year. Once last thing, this site now gets 1 million hits per year.
25-05-08: Just one day after her first flight in her own plane, she was off again. This time it was with Keith the instructor. They spent an hour getting familiar with the Rans, and have booked a trip to Headcorn next week. Once she's comfortable with landing the Rans it will be time to go solo..... Scary!
24-05-08: Jacqui has finally managed to get her insurance sorted to allow her to complete the rest of her training in her Rans. The whole team went to the airfield to show her how to un-fold the wings and get the plane ready to fly. Les and Tony got to the airfield before Jacqui so they went for a quick spin in the Jabiru. It was Tony's first time in it. They were soon back on the ground ready to help Jacqui. Because of the strong winds, the whole team helped to put the wings on. Last time they tried to rig a Rans in strong winds they wrote the plane off! They thought it was a pity to put it back without a flight so Les jumped in with Jacqui and the were off for Jacqui's first flight in her own plane. Big grins all round.
11-05-08: Tony, Les & Dave decided on a trip to the Isle of Wight today, as Jacqui was not available to do some flight training. They thought of Sandown, as Les has been there before and could concentrate on learning the Jabirus characteristics rather than a new airfield layout. It was a very hot and humid day - this normally makes flying more difficult, but the Jabiru was fine. The guys cruised down to Sandown at an impressive 125mph. On the way back the guys were cooked by the hot sunlight (below). I think they could do with some air vents in the side doors.
26-04-08: The whole team were at the airfield today. Jacqui was planning on doing circuit training at Headcorn so the guys decided to tag along. Jacqui and Keith took off first while the guys were re-fuelling. Next was Tony, soaring into the air in his normal way. Finally Les and Dave took to the sky. The weather was hot and bumpy with an 8kt cross wind at Deanland and 10kts at Headcorn. Due to the tail wind, Les and Dave flew from Deanland to Headcorn in just 15 minutes cruising at 2,400rpm and 110kts (127mph) over the ground. As soon as the guys were on the ground, Jacqui was off again training. She flew the circuits (series of touch and go approaches) very well in the difficult conditions. On the way back Les & Dave were left behind on the ground by the others, as they had to wait for 3 other landing aircraft. Once in the air they caught up and overtook the other aircraft, landing back at Deanland first. The approach to Deanland was bumpy and quite difficult for Les in his Jabiru. Sweaty palms all round. Another day, and a bit more experience for Jacqui and Les.
25-04-08: Les and Dave took the day off work to do some flying today. Deanland had a nice 10knt wind straight down the runway. Again the Jabiru sank into the mud backtracking. Soon negativity started playing on the guys minds, as they knew that if they were in the Rans they would by flying by now. They were ready to call it a day and go home. Luckily Keith the instructor was at the airfield and advised the guys to take the wheel spats off to give more clearance. Once removed the Jabiru was better, but it still got stuck. Keith could tell that the guys had lost faith in the plane and their own abilities, and suggested that Les flew solo from the semi-dry half way point in the runway. Les was hesitant, so Keith suggested he just tried taxing solo to see how the plane was with the mud. At first he refused but after a pep-talk from Keith, Les got in the Jabiru to test the runway again. He got to the halfway point turned the plane around and powered up. Within seconds he was in the air. The confidence was rapidly coming back and Les tested out some slow flying, and stalls. The next challenge was to land it. After testing out the stall speed (43kts), Les decided to take the final approach at 55kts. 10 knots slower than the last time he flew. The result, a smooth landing with plenty of runway to spare. Once on the ground Dave jumped in and off they went. Dave was still nervous at first but Les's confidence was getting back to normal. Flying around the clouds, the Jabiru could climb at 1,200fpm, and although they did speed up to 120kts (140mph) they found the Jabiru was comfortable cruising at 90kts(105mph). All in all the Jabiru was excellent. Les again tested out the stall speeds to see the difference with 2 people on board and prepared to land. This time the approach was 57kts. Again the Jabiru landed with over half of the runway spare. What a difference to last time. Once back at the hanger Les and Dave removed the bottom 2 inches of the wheel spats to allow more clearance in future. As they got into the car to drive home Les turned to Dave and said "we're back".
13-04-08: Weather. Yet again, Dave & Les tried to go flying in the new Jabiru but it was not to be. Taxing back down the runway (backtracking) the Jabiru sank into the soft mud and they had to stop and lift it out. No flying today then. Les is desperate to get more familiar with the Jabirus' tricky handling. Maybe next week.....
31-03-08: The flight for life web site has had a record 43,672 hits this month.
30-03-08: Dave and Les went for their first flight in the Jabiru today. The runway at Deanland was so wet that the plane only just got into the air. But once up there the Jabiru flew superbly. Landing though was another matter. Approaching the airfield at the same speeds the Rans approached (65kts) meant the the big winged Jabiru was way to high and they went around for attempt number 2. The second time Les reduced the speed by 5 knots and brought the plane over the hedge 10 feet above the ground, but the Jabiru still did not want to land. So it was off we go again for attempt number 3! This time Les experienced some lift on the approach making the decent more difficult but eventually managed to get the plane down halfway along the runway. The plane slid along the wet and muddy runway surface finally slowing down to allow Les to taxi the Jabiru to it's tie down spot. First flight for Dave and Les's first ever go-around. Lessons learned by all.
24-03-08: Les's went up in his plane for the first time with Keith today, The airfield was very muddy and twice they had to push the little plane out of the think mud. Once in the air the slippery Jabiru sped up quickly. Climbing out at 80mph the Jabiru had an impressive 1,400fpm on the dial. Cruising at over 110mph they tested out the control response, not as good as the trusty Rans but ok. Les flew around for a while, and made a textbook landing. Keith & Les were not only happy with the plane but Les's ability to fly it. Total time 30min. The Jabiru is now tied down, waiting for a nice weekend so Les can do some more practising, but this time with Dave.
16-03-08: After spending a whole day adapting the trailer to suit the Jabiru' s tail section (see below), the guys jumped into Dave's Range Rover and drove up to and back from Newcastle non stop to pick up the plane. Finally the plane was back at Deanland but the guys had worked for 36 hours without sleep. The new plane is now ready for him to do some familiarisation training with Keith the instructor.
10-03-08: 'November Hotel' is tucked away safely into Jacqui's trailer, and the guys have been working out how to adapt Les's trailer to fit the new Jabiru. Hopefully they will be picking it up this weekend.... weather permitting!
08-03-08: Jacqui's trailer is at Deanland ready to put 'November Hotel' in. Les & Dave are off next week to collect 'Mike Papa'.
02-02-08: Things have been moving fast in the last couple of weeks. For starters we have a new team member Jacqui, who is the new owner of Les's old plane "November Hotel". Les in turn is in the process of purchasing a new plane "Mike Papa" - Check out the team page for more information. Les hasn't even seen the new plane yet, but he's already agreed the price and has got the insurance sorted. So once it's back at the teams base airport - Deanland, we will be reporting in more detail.
23-12-07: The whole web site has been re-designed to hopefully improve the readability of the contents - the bold colours have been toned down and the large fonts and big pictures have been changed to help people with lower resolution screens. We have also made improvements to make the pages load faster on slower connections, and utilised U-Tube for our movie content. Finally we have also added a 'Want to be a pilot?' page with information on how to achieve your pilots licence, costs and a list of popular aircraft choices. Please let us know if you like the new clean and simple page designs.
16-11-07: Les took his friend Layton for a trip to Goodwood today. On the way back he wanted to take a picture of his house (in Woodingdean). Once home, Les received an email from Paul (wildlife photographer) who took the picture us below. Here's a link to Paul's site.
a picture of Layton - taking a picture.
15-11-07: Dave and Les did some Aerobatic training at Shoreham today. The both loved every minuet.
Dave getting ready.
10-11-07: We're still here.... we have just been busy that's all. Not only have we all been away on family holidays, but Tony has moved apartments. On top of that we have had the worst flying weather. Dave and Les went on a fact finding trip to Spain, and came back with the conclusion 'if you engine stops your in BIG trouble, there's nowhere to land'.. great. They guys have managed to do the odd flight (7 weeks since the last one) but most of the time the weather conditions have been too bad.
Here's a video clip of the Rans, taken from the Shadow.
Note: although the conditions were very bumpy the wings were only 4 feet apart!
05-08-07: The guys haven't been flying for a while. They whole team have been focusing on sponsorship and future challenges.
Not only have the guys got the Africa trip lined up for 2008, but they have planned to fly over many historical WW2 sites of Germany including following the route of 617 squadron (the Dam Busters). The Flight for life team in conjunction with the WFAeC will also celebrate the centenary of Louis Bleriot's epic crossing of the English Channel in July 2009 with a mass crossing of 100 British and French Microlight Aircraft across the Channel on Saturday 25 July 2009 (if you know of any companies that would like to make a donation in return for having their logo on the plane etc then please let us know).
Hopefully Dave will be starting his flight training soon, ready for next year.
17-06-07: The guys flew to Spamfield (the Isle of Wight microlight rally) yesterday and stayed overnight. They knew the weather was going to be bad going there (and it was) but, sunshine was reported for the morning. During the night the winds grew to over 30mph and boy did it rain. The guys opened their tents in the morning looking forward to the reported good weather, but found it was dark and overcast with 25mph winds. "At least it's better conditions then when we flew around Scotland" said Les, and the team started to pack. The return flight lasted just over half and hour with help from a strong tail wind. Later In the afternoon the clouds and rain turned into sunshine and clear blue skies.. typical!
The weather men gave sunshine! Transiting through Shoreham's ATZ under the heavy clouds.
Here's some other photos of Spamfield 2007.
02-06-07: Thanks' to the guys from MicroAvionics who replaced the parts of the strobe light kit that Les had lost for free.
22-05-07: Les flew to work today so he could take Ian Lawrence for a spin. Ian works for the South Essex NHS Trust, who have raised over £100 for the flight for life charities. It was a very hot and bumpy day, but Ian managed to hold on (literally) for a little trip from Thurrock airfield up and over the Themes at 1,700', around to the south of Basildon and back. Well done Ian.
13-05-07: Poor weather conditions stopped the team taking 18 scouts for an introduction to flight. We have re-scheduled this for July.
05-05-07: It was a misty start for the team, flying to Popham for the 2007 Microlight trade fair. Just like last year the arrival at Popham was manic. Les counted 10 aircraft in front of him on his final approach to land. Once on the ground the conditions improved and a good day was had by all.
The team finally got around to the Autogyros. Dave has always had an interest (bordering on obsession) with helicopters, but he has been put off by the price. This could be his new route to the sky.
Dave brought a DVD on Autogyros, then watched it again and again and again..... It's unlike Dave to be so fired up about something.
Dave likes the RAF2000 (the RAF stands for the manufactures name - Rotary Air Force, based in Canada). Unfortunately there's only a few instructors in the UK who can take him for a spin. So he's going to have to travel to darkest Kent to take one for a trial. We will report back with the pics.
Popham - The RAF2000 Autogyro
Les's Rans S6 closely followed by a Skyranger, heading home.
29-04-07: Dave and Les went to the airfield to replace the GPS power cable and to fit some new spark plugs. The microlight trade fair at Popham is next weekend and it one of the best events of the year. The guys have offered to buy a cup of tea to anyone who comes up and says hello (you can spot them by their blue flight for life tops).
Tonight the team are together discussing the upcoming flight for life events:
1. In a couple of weeks time the team (with help from Dave Grint and Deanland Airfield) will be giving 18 Scouts their first flight.
2. September 2008 sees the start of the flight for life challenge to Africa.
3. The 2009 event is to fly over many historical WW2 sites of Germany including following the route of 617 squadron (the Dam Busters).
4. 2009 is the Centenary of Louis Bleriot's flight across the English channel. The Flight for Life team will be helping the WFAeC organising a formation of over 100 Microlights to fly this historic journey.
The team are also planning another Barn Dance, and the possibility of yet another world record...... We will keep you informed of all of the events in time.
If you would like to know more, or would like to volunteer to help ~ Please email the team info @ flightforlife.co.uk
09-04-07: Bank holiday Monday and the weathers nice. The guys decided to fly to Compton Abbas today to visit Madonna (well fly near her house anyway) but they had thick fog. So it was off to the Isle of Wight to meet up with some of the guys from the WFAeC. It was the first log flight for Dave and Les since last year. They were both a bit rusty. Sandown did not have any fuel. It was off to the local petrol station with some jerry cans. As soon as both the planes and the team were full, it was back to Deanland via the Needles.
31-03-07: Whilst rigging the plane in strong winds for a press photo shoot the starboard wing hinge bent, ouch. Luckily that was the only thing damaged. The new hinge has been ordered and the guys now know what they will be doing over the bank holiday weekend.
30-03-07: We have finally got all money that was pledged for our 'round Britain' flight (it certainly took a while). The Martlets Hospice and Great Ormond Street had already been paid last year. With the final funds in the bank we were able to dispatch Hurstwook Park Neurological unit their share.
The guys hand over a £15,000 cheque to one of the charities.
So far over £30,000 has been raised by the Flight For Life team.
24-03-07: The plane is now in it's new home, and although it perfect flying weather, the guys are spending the day doing admin work not just for the trip, but also for a special event being organised for the Scouts. More of that later. Les is off to the airfield in the morning to clear out the tools from the old trailer as it has been sold to Paul. Paul is one on Keith's students and is learning to fly at Deanland. He's building a Sky Ranger 912 and hopes to have it finished in a couple of months.
19-03-07: The new trailer is back at Deanland after an 11 hour drive :-( and has been put into position. It's now the opposite end from Tony's trailer at Deanland. The guys will be back next week to move the plane into its new house. What will Timmy the mouse do now....
You can see the old trailer in the background.
25-02-07: The guys haven't been flying for quite some time, mainly down to the weather (the runway is so wet you would need floats on the plane to take off). Last week they tuned Les's engine (it had a rough tick over) and today they had a visit from the local PFA inspector. The PFA had found some small cracks in the tail cable tangs (small adjustable steel plates that the cables hold on to). Our plane was fine, it's just the weather that's rotten.
28-01-07: The guys managed to test the propeller today. Les only managed to fly for 45mins before he started to freeze. He must be getting old. The temperature drops 2 degrees per 1,000 feet in altitude, so he better get a big jumper for the Pyrenees. The guys left 5 trays of rodent poison in the plane last week and it all gone. It looks like there might be a mouse family is living in Les's plane.
21-01-07: The guys were at the airfield today fitting the new propeller to the Rans and carrying out some more repairs to it's wind damaged trailer. The team were hoping to test the new propeller but the runway was far to wet and muddy. The mouse that lives in Les's plane had left a little gift on Dave seat. Nice.
14-01-07: We are still waiting for the new propeller to arrive, so there's not flying in 'November Hotel' at the moment. Instead of flying, Les has been going over the East and West Africa route options. You can now download details information on the routes from the 'Challenge' page.
07-01-07: The propeller is too bad to be repaired and a new one will need to be found. The trailer is also in a bad way, so the guys are busy surfing the net for a replacement. If anyone knows of an enclosed trailer for sale then please email us.
01-01-07: What is it with Les's plane and the wind. Last year the old plane was written off by the wind and last night 65mph winds hit the trailer where the new plane is kept. The doors we blown open, breaking the lock and one of the doors. This allowed the wind to blow in the trailer and rip half the roof off. Luckily it doesn't look like there was much damage to the plane. One of the ramps hit the propeller putting a v.small chip in it (hopefully we can smooth this out) and part of the wooden roof fell on the bonnet putting some scratches on it and the bottom of the screen. The guys have lashed the doors shut and put some tarpaulin on the roof, this should keep the plane safe until the team work out what to do with the trailer. What a way to start the new year!
20-12-06: We have had a few requests lately for some hi-resolution images from the press. So we have put a small selection on the 'Help us' page. We have also put more details about the aircraft (by request) on 'The Team' page.
If you would like to see some more movie's, photos or information on any subject added to this web site please let us know. firstname.lastname@example.org
17-12-06: It's been a while since the guys went flying. The weather has been terrible. Finally there was a break in the weather and the team decided to fly to Headcorn to give the engines a good run. What they were not expecting was a stowaway onboard November Hotel. A small field mouse had made himself a home in Les's hi-visibility jacket (he must have eat 20% of it). When the guys tried to get him out he ran up behind the dashboard. They've not seen him since. On the way to Headcorn the guys were half expecting him to jump out of the dashboard at any moment, which is a big issue for Les as he's petrified of mice! The team are not sure whether or not the mouse is still there, either way Les has christened him Timmy and is expecting a contribution towards the costs on all future flights ;-)
18-11-06: The guys flew to Goodwood today, the weather was nice on the way there. On the way back Deanland was dark, there were rain clouds over the whole area. Should the guys divert to an airfield with good visibility or push on through the rain and turbulence? Well the planes needed a wash so on they went. You could just about see the runway on the approach. Once on the ground the weather brightened up and the sun started to shine. Perfect timing!!!
Climbing out at Goodwood, and the approach to Deanland 30 minuets later.
16-11-06: The boys have been busy for the last month doing the admin work required for next years trip. They love the paperwork... not! But they did have a nice surprise, they found that there is a nice 5 page article on this years around Britain trip in Decembers Flyer magazine.
13-09-06: Dave has now completed 14 hours of training, and is getting near his first solo! unfortunately he is also in the middle of a house move, so he has taken the wise decision to suspend his lessons until after the move. Once he is in his new house, he can then focus 100% on the training.
07-10-06: The team went to Headcorn today and watched Dave circuit training (practising take-off and landings) in Keith's new Ikarus C42. You can download a video clip of Dave here. The team are now anxiously awaiting the call from the Guinness Book of Records people to confirm the teams World records.
23-09-06: The team is happy to announce that Brighton Fire Alarms will be a major sponsor for G-BSOR in next years Africa challenge.
17-09-06: The whole team would like to thank Dave's brother Trevor and his partner Jonathan for rising nearly £2,000 at their blessing at the weekend. The pair footed the bar bill for the whole day and asked the many guests to make a donation every time they went up for a drink. They also asked for donations instead of gifts. Thanks guys ;-)
16-09-06: The team has stripped and re-built the engines after yet another de-coke. Les took Tony flying in the Rans to test the engine (and the new GPS) as Tony's Shadow was grounded due to a propeller problem. Les would like to thank Les Hodgson for the excellent scaled model of our Rans S6. You can see it here on his web site Flex-wing Flyer.
12-09-06: Dave has now 10 hours under his belt and is on track for his licence. Keith the instructor has taken delivery of a brand new plane (an Ikarus C42 G-CECC) for training. This is the plane that Dave will do his first solo in ;-) It's very nice, but for the best part of £50,000 it should be! Les has upgraded the GPS unit for the Rans from a Lowrance Airmap 600C to a Garmin 296 (see the challenge page). The Lowrance GPS would not communicate with the teams flight planning software (Jeppesen Flitestar) and it did not have the level of base map detail required by the guys, so it had to go... but not far, as Keith is fitting it into his new plane. Les will be fitting the new Garmin unit this weekend.
G-BZNH's Garmin 296 Aviation GPS.
28-08-06: First bad weather, then holidays. Dave is itching to get back in the sky. The guys are off to the RedBull air-races this weekend (If you spot one, please say hello and they will give you a flight for life badge) and then it's back to work. Both planes require de-coking, this means stripping the engines, removing any build up of coke to the pistons and cylinder heads, then rebuilding the engine with new gaskets. Dave's also arranging a flying lesson for Sunday, so It looks like a busy weekend for the team.
13-08-06: Poor weather stops another one of Dave's lessons. He's doing very well though, having completed about 8 hours of flying. Dave has also started to study for his five written exams. Last week he was practicing navigation planning with Les.
11-08-06: The team is happy to announce that software company CedarOpenAccounts will be a major sponsor for G-BZNH in next years Africa challenge. The team have arranged to give free flights to CedarOpenAccounts customers at some of the companies major events. We can't wait to see the Rans with it's new graphics.
05-08-06: Dave's lessons are well on the way, He's been trying his emergency landings with Keith. The last lesson was made short when hail stones started hitting the microlight in our lovely weather. Les's has sent off the paper work for the 'Permit to fly' (a bit like a MOT for planes) for the Rans, as the current permit expires on the 20th. Tony's new passport has arrived, so the guys can get ready for the trip to France.
19-07-06: Dave's fourth lesson. Today was all about 'flying the attitude', this means coordinating the throttle and elevator, and using the angle of the aircraft as a reference instead of chasing the instruments. It's harder to learn to do this, but it teaches you to fly using your senses or 'feel' for the aircraft and how its flying. The lesson went well and Dave is feeling confident for the future. Tony plane has developed a problem with the radio (again), but this time it's not interference. When the plane banks over to the left the radio is trying to transmit. Not many planes can boast an automatic radio! Now If he can just get the plane to read the map when he turns right, it will fly itself.
12-07-06: The team have announced a once in a lifetime opportunity for one person to join the team on the 2007 challenge to Africa! See the AFRICA page for more details.
11-07-06: Dave's third lesson went well today. He did had a tendency to allow the wings to become unbalanced, therefore causing the plane to turn to the left instead of straight and level. Later Les & Tony commented that they both did this when they first started! So, it looks like Dave's following in the others footsteps.
08-07-06: Dave's second lesson was shorter than expected. Before the flight Keith had noticed that the magnetic sensors on the engine had become loose. Keith replaced the loose sensor, and adjusted it. As Dave took off and climbed to just a few hundred feet the engine started to run rough. 'I HAVE' said Keith, and with that he span the aircraft around on a sixpence and put it back down on the runway. Keith has adjusted the 'gap' and it seems fine, but he Keith will do some thorough testing before he can let students back in the plane. Dave's booked up a mid week flight to catch up.
03-07-06: Tony's new passport has been delayed, so our cross channel attempt will need to wait a couple more weeks.
01-07-06: Dave had his first lesson today, mastering the art of straight and level flight. Keith demonstrated the aircrafts ability. Dave enjoyed the whole lesson. Dave's booked lesson number 2 for next Saturday.
Lesson number one.
29-06-06: Here is a photo montage clip taken from the forthcoming DVD. OverTheRainbow
26-06-06: The guys are planning a trip to France in 2 weeks, that's a lot of water to cross for a 2-stroke engine. The team's brushing up on their French; Tony's practising "What do you mean I'm in an AREA...?" and "that radio has transformed the plane" Dave's trying "Cup of tea and a slice of cake" and "Final, three greens". and Les's is getting ready to talk to the air traffic controller 'It wasn't me sir... honest!' Click on the link for a small video clip of Tony flying over Cornwall. Tonys Shadow over the Clouds.
22-06-06: We've had some strong winds on the south coast, and all of the work that Dave and Tony did to Les's hanger has blown off in the wind! Les has just purchased a new GPS for the Rans's. The new one has terrain awareness - ready for the alps next year ;-) The old unit (a Garmin 96C) is up for sale on e-Bay if anyone's interested.
18-06-06: The team were at the airfield today repairing Les's hanger. Les replaced the faulty water temp gauge on the Rans and took it for a test flight with Keith, while Tony and Dave worked on the roof. Dave booked his first lesson with Keith (www.southernlightflyers.co.uk) for 2 weeks time. Once he's got his licence we are off to Africa!
15-06-06: DAY SIX. Fenland to Home! The guys got to the airfield at 9:30 this morning to check and fuel the aircraft for today's trip, only to find Tony's starter motor hanging off. Two of the main bolts that hold the starter on had worked loose and this in turn had loosened the main starter cog. Luckily the mechanics at Fenland helps out and the team were ready. Bumpy bumpy, the hot summer sun combined with the strong winds meant a high workload for the guys. Less than an hour later the team landed at Duxford. 'Where do you want me to park' Les said to the air traffic controller, 'Next to the B17' came the reply. Our little Microlights were dwarfed when parked next to the 'Memphis Belle'! After a good look around the museum the guys were back in the air. Just after take off Les's rev counter stopped working, he put his hand behind the dashboard and felt a small electric shock, and the dial sprang to life. Unfortunately it only worked whilst Les was getting an electric shock! As the engine was running smoothly Les thought that it must be a loose connector on the dial, so we would keep on going. After one and a half hours of rough turbulent sky the guys called the home airfield on the radio 'Deanland traffic Golf Bravo Zulu November Hotel presently 5 miles north of the field at 1,800 feet will be joining downwind 06 left hand Deanland' It was the happiest sounding radio call you'll ever hear! On the ground there was family, banners and champagne ready to greet the team.
The guys are going over the GPS tracking information tonight in preparation for the Guinness Book of records. Unfortunately because of the rough weather throughout the trip the guys could not attempt the formation flying record, only the duration and distance flown records. So they will have a go at it NEXT MONTH. The team also plan to fly across the channel the following month.
Dave will be stating his training for his pilots licence in 2 weeks time ready for our 2007 challenge 'Africa and back in one week' . This web site will still be updated with his progress, the formation flying record attempt, the cross channel attempt, and of course the run-up to AFRICA! stay tuned.
Dave Getting ready to pre-flight the plane with the 'Memphis Belle' in the background.
14-06-06: DAY FIVE. Fife to Fenland! The team woke up to nasty sky (see pic below) but were hoping for improvement during the day. The Forth of Fithe crossing went very smoothly until reaching the mainland again where the guys found the cloud base to be 700 feet...a bit of a problem because the mountains climb to 2500 feet. So they decided to fly around the coast at 600 feet 1 mile out to sea. They actually calculated that at that height they could have done some fly fishing! After 45 minutes, the weather cleared and they were able to climb to 3000 feet and then diverted to Eshott to refuel. The problem with flying at such a low height out at sea is being able to glide to land in the event of an engine failure...but the challenge was to get around Britain in as shorter time as possible, and they knew that some of the challenge would be dangerous.
The guys were hoping for lunch at this point, but Eshott only had a vending and coffee machine...so that was that. Whilst Dave played with the clubhouse dog (fetch) he managed to throw the toy into the car park and hit somebody's car with the rubber toy! That was the teams Q to leave. And with that it was "clear prop", and off they went.
The next route was south again along the east coast towards Beverly (N.Yorks). A nice airfield but no food! So a chocolate bar and packet of crisps was the best they could do. It would be great to say that leg went smoothly...but...they had a near miss at 3000 feet whilst flying in formation. As Tony climbed up to 3000+ feet his aircraft popped up directly in front of Les & Dave missing each other by about 20 feet.
Before taking off they noticed military training in the area by the roar of afterburners. After take off all eyes were directed out of the windows for any military traffic in there are. Sure enough, 2 Euro fighters and 1 F14 Tomcat were practicing low level bombing and dogfighting along their route. These aircraft were flying around just under the speed of sound (600 knots) and at times were at the same altitude as the team! Very close.
The last destination of the day was Fenland, Norfolk. The team arrived at about 18:30 to a very helpful young lady in the flying club, who helped in finding accommodation. The team also met Dave Almay, who sold the first Rans aircraft to Les, and who has just taken over supplying parts and distribution for all those aircraft in the UK.
And finally the team would like to thank Chris at the Sycamore Farm Hotel for putting them up for the night, picking them up from the airport and driving them to and from a pub for dinner.
The coast of Scotland at 500 feet. The east coast (look out for the RAF).
Fife. Look at the lovely clouds.
13-06-06: DAY FOUR. Scotland. After a painful wait after yesterdays weather, today the guys set of for Fife! The manager of Caernarfon Airport was kind enough to waiver the landing fees to help the named charities which was greatly appreciated. A nice scenic flight at first along the north coast of Wales, and then a more involved flight under Liverpool's airspace (across the Mersey), through Warton military, Blackpool and onto Tarn Farm. Tarns grass runway in use was 300 metres! And then the sheep had to be moved. Both aircraft had to be setup on finals with full flap...airspeed just above the stall, and a touch down on the numbers to stop before the hedge! At this point the team would like to thank John Potts and Geoff at Tarn Farm for arranging fuel cans and a cup of tea. The team even got a tour of the hangars, looking at all the aircraft and basically doing what all pilots (and wannabies) do. Aeroplane chat.
The second leg was from Tarn on towards Carlisle airport. Following the M6 motorway to the north made for easy navigation, however guys were unaware that the army had just begun a 4 week training program at Carlisle, and security was tight. Army tents, military jets, helicopters and snipers in the undergrowth. The Scottish skies were dull and turbulent but the guys kept on going. Tonight the guys are in Fife. Tomorrow the plan is to continue south (weather permitting).
Scottish murky skies. Them boys LOVE the cake!
12-06-06: DAY THREE. Rain stopped play! The Guys woke up to cloud and rain, so Les called Mary at work and arranged a hire car which was to be delivered to the hotel within the hour. After a couple of hours the car still had not turned up so they ended up on a bus for one and a half hours, and at the wrong train station! (not their fault, it was down to National car hire) they finally got the car at 3pm. Once in the car they put it to its best use and tracked down the local KFC and all had a load up, the planes will struggle off the runway tomorrow. After lunch they all went to the airfield to put some PTFE tape around one of Les's leaking nuts (on the plane not les, at his age he expects leaking nuts!). They all went to the pub this evening for yet another meal, afterwards Tony called John Potts at Tarn farm airfield and although they don't keep any fuel there the top bloke John is picking up 40ltrs in cans, he wont be there tomorrow but he is trusting the team to leave the cash. He has also said to help themselves to any tea, coffee etc. A huge thanks to John. The team settled down to watch Big Brother and but thought that the Welsh TV didn't have it... It was on but an hour later than normal. The team are all looking forward to getting back in the air tomorrow.
11-06-06: DAY TWO. Dave discovered that Les`s snoring was louder than the engine! And that's saying something!! After a healthy fry up at Bodmin the guys refuelled, got ready, and set of on the 1st leg. The tops of the clouds were 4500, so 5000 saw them clear, and due to a fantastic tailwind, the team arrived at Eaglescott within 35 minutes. G-NH started experiencing a water temperature problem again, so the guys had to wait for somebody to help with an alan key to bleed the water system...which took another hour. Luckily Les`s life jacket had been left in the car at Deanland (typical) so Tony and Dave donned there lifesavers, and Les went without. Needless to say he crossed the Bristol channel at breakneck speed, leaving Tony behind! However, they did have a tailwind of 55mph, and both aircraft crossed the channel at 115mph (ground speed). Then they stopped at Pembry (South Wales) which was very pretty...but they had no fuel! So a deal was arranged where by Les would take one of the airfield reps up for a quick spin around the block in return for some fuel (20 litres to be exact) which they siphoned out of an old tractor! And then came the news that they didn't have any steps. So an ingenious procedure was used. Les on all fours (well, it was Wales!) and Tony standing on his back!!! The video footage is priceless. Its funny, but Les still has Tony's shoe imprints on his back! After all that, the team suspect that the fuel was contaminated with water.
The next leg sent the guys over the hills along the west coast of Wales heading north. The plan was to climb to 6000 feet to get the benefit of the tailwind which had helped them over the Bristol Channel (120mph again!) The scenery was awesome. At one point Les managed to fly directly behind Tony's aircraft, and experienced the full force of a streak shadows wake turbulence. A very nervous Les was then heard on the radio disclaiming that all his flying controls had been rendered useless, and was being thrown around like a rag doll.
The final stop for the day was insight (Caernarfon Airpark) and in the distance was Mount Snowden. The manager of Caernarfon was kind enough to waiver the landing fees and nights stop over costs. The guys then helped themselves to a cup of tea and a nice slice of cream cake...they love the cake! Tomorrow the guys have a lot to do...the planes need some service work in the morning, then have to stop in at Blackpool and Glasgow/Prestwick airports which then takes them well into Scotland.
Finally, Les has a room for himself for the evening so his snoring wont keep the other two awake all night! Sweet Dreams!!
Dave trying to get some sleep. Teddykins goes for a spin in Pembry.
Here is a shot taken from the up-coming DVD of the "Pembry step ladder" !
10-06-06: DAY ONE. The guys got to the airfield at 5am to fix Tony's plane. After an hour the choke was fixed and it was time to pack up and get ready. There was quite a few members of the teams family and friends at the airport to see the guys head off. After changing Les's spark plugs the guys had a problem with the new Rans, the whole ignition system was dead. Les disconnected the wires and reconnected them, and it worked. The Rans fired up and the team was off. Les and Dave took off first, taking off at full power. After the Rans has climbed a couple of hundred feet Les let go of the throttle and adjusted the flaps. As he did this the engine went quiet. Pointing the nose down and getting ready for an emergency landing Les found that it was just the throttle leaver had jumped back to tick over position (the leaver had been stiff so he had adjusted it to make it easier on the last visit) Les pushed the throttle back to power and the guys carried on climbing, albeit with a shocked expression on there faces. Once in the cruise the guys benefited from a 30mph tail wind. After only an hour they were already at there first planned stop. Because they still had plenty of fuel, the decision was to push on and keep going to Bodmin. 2.5 hours later they were well on their way. Tony adjusted the trim on his plane, and as he did this the fuel gauge changed to read the equivalent of only 20 minuets left. No time for discussions we needed fuel urgently. The team had just passed Exeter International Airport, so Tony went straight in, Les orbited around Exeter and followed Tony in 5 minuets later. After paying for the landing the supervisor came down from the control tower. He wasn't very impressed. Because Exeter is a large airport they like to have plenty of warning of your arrival so they can fit you in for a landing time slot because of the large aircraft using the airport. Tony admitted it has his fault but the supervisor gave Les the telling off! (maybe it coz he looks old and should have known better) explaining that he should have given them more warning and told them his altitude and position (which he did) on the radio. Les thought it's not worth arguing and they left the tower with a smirk on Dave and Tony's faces. After a quick re-fuel of the team the guys went to re-fuel the planes. Dave and Tony waited by the security gate entrance for Les, and got told off by the security guards for standing near the security gate! The guys felt it was time to leave, so they fuelled up and set off. Exeter gave them Radar tracking along the coast. The guys got permission to change to the microlight radio frequency and they were off again as per usual. Tonight the team are on schedule and are staying at Bodmin. The taxi is booked for 7:30 and Les has nearly lost his voice.... Hopefully a good night sleep will help.
Filming the start at Deanland. Bodmin end of day one.
09-06-06: Tony was out at the airfield today. He's got problems with his plane. One problem is with interference on the radio and the other is that it's not starting (quite a big problem!). It could be the choke, so the whole team is planning to get to the airfield at 5am to fix it. We have moved the start time to
10:00 to give the guys some time to can get it sorted. The last few weeks have been like a rollercoaster. Lets keep our fingers crossed.
04-06-06: The final route is set. GPS's programmed, and the sectional maps have been printed. Tony is still working on the camera equipment, but it should be ready for Saturday. Dave will be at the airfield on Friday to get the plane out, rigged, fuelled and loaded as Les will be late getting back from work. The weather report is mixed but at least there's not an 'Artic Front' coming in like last time. The plan is to be in the air at 0800.
03-06-06: The radio and GPS are both fitted, There was a problem with the Radio but Tony managed to sort it. Keith helped out with the tick over (the engine was running too rich at idle), and now 'November Hotel' is ready. Tony is working on the radio in 'Oscar Romeo'. Ever since he changed the spark plug caps he has had radio interference from the engine. Hopefully he will get it sorted soon. Les is programming the latest route information into the GPS's and Tony is working on his radio and the camera equipment tonight. This time next week we will be on our way!
29-05-06: The guys were at the airfield today. Dave & Les were fitting the GPS + Radio to 'November Hotel', getting it ready for the 10th and Tony was there flying his shadow.
28-05-06: The NEW plane is back at the airfield. Dave, Les & Les's dad headed west this morning at 5am to view a new Rans G-BZNH ('November Hotel') near Bude. It's a beauty! Yellow and black (just like our old one) but with a single red stripe. The main differences are that it's built by the importer, it's 6 years newer, it's got 25% more power (bigger oil injected, water cooled engine) and has a range of 300 miles (as apposed to 120 for the old plane). It looks like new and flies as good as it looks. Dave & Les took off on their 200 mile flight back just before lunch leaving Les's dad the lovely 5 hour drive home by himself. There was some cloud about so the guys climbed to 6,000 feet and cruised back with the help of a 20mph tail wind. Less than 2 hours later they were refuelling (the plane and themselves) in the Isle of Wight. Who did they meet there... Tony in his shadow. After lunch it was a drag race between the 2 planes, which one could get back to Deanland first. Tomorrow the team will be fitting the GPS etc to the new plane ready for the 10th. One last thing... our web site has had 36,561 HITS this month.
Here is the new plane ready for its sponsorship stickers.
25-05-06: It looks like the end for G-MYGH The insurance company has written-off the aircraft. The only way the team will be ready for the 10th is to buy another plane, and that's exactly what the guys are going to do. Luckily there are a few for sale at the moment and guys will be viewing two of them this weekend, one in Suffolk and one in Dorset. Talk about a last minuet rush. 3 years in planning and then we write off the plane with 3 weeks to go. What do they say about comedy.... it's all in the timing!
20-05-06: DISASTER! The guys went for a fly today, it was quite windy. When the guys tried to fold the wings back on G-MYGH to put it back in it's trailer, a gust of wind picked up the wing from it's stand and folded it up and over the aircraft, damaging the main wing spar, the aircraft frame, the jury strut, the wing covers and the control tubes (see pics below). It's now a race between the insurance company and the importers to get it sorted for the flight. There is still a good chance we will be ready on time and the team is still positive for June 10th.... but it's going to be tight!
19-05-06: The guys will be at the airfield tomorrow to replace the fuel pump on the Rans. We've had to make some small changes to our route as one of the airfields has been given a No-Microlights ban from the local council. Luckily for us there is another small airfield nearby who's owner has kindly offered to get some fuel in jerry cans from the local filling station. Yesterday was a record for our web site with 3,516 hits in one day!
16-05-06: The team are busy doing some last minute changes to the route as the first stop (Compton Abbas) is hosting the Dorset Air Race and is closed that weekend! Here's another montage movie clip. MOVIE: various clips 4mb
14-05-06: Added the AFRICA page, with a sample of what's coming up in next years challenge. Although we are only half way through the month, our web site has had over 16,000 hits. This means we could have 30,000 hits this month! That's amazing, a BIG thank you to everyone that visits our site. Please buy a badge!
13-05-06: The guys went flying today, the plan was to fly to Rochester (the last stop on the trip) but the low level visibility was to bad. So the guys went for a little spin around Eastbourne at 3,300 feet.
That's a long way up.
09-05-06: The team have been talking to the British Microlight Association and the Guinness Book of Records. Today we received our application forms from Guinness . We are hoping to set 4 world records during the trip.
08-05-06: A big thank you to the guys at Comunica for donating the new video link for our intercom system.
29-04-06: Added apage to the website. The guys also flew to the microlight trade fair at Popham today, It was extremely busy with planes approaching the airfield from all angles and trying to land at the same time.
Also, the team would like to thank Paul O'Grady from ITV's 5 O'Clock Show for his donation.
27-04-06: We have had to increase the bandwidth of our web hosting service because this site is now averaging well over 10,000 hits per month. Thanks for looking everyone ;-)
*** Continue to Page 2 ***