Checked out again!

Lyneham also have a Slingsby Firefly in their fleet, an aerobatic two seater that is rented out at £70 per tacho hour. It seemed silly not to get checked out in it!

The original plan was to fly this evening at around 17:30, but Matt arrived back from his weekend away earlier than he originally expected, so we took advantage of a window in the weather and headed down to Lyneham at 16:00.

Spent quite a while with Matt beforehand going through the various speeds for the aircraft, and then him showing me around the cockpit of the Firefly. It’s quite a bit different to anything I’ve flown before, not least because it has a stick instead of a yoke! It was obvious that some hand juggling would be required during flight, as the throttle is to the left, but the flaps, fuel pump and carb heat are all to the right. This turned out to be interesting!

Pre flight was all normal (if a little different) and power checks at the hold went well. I’m still trying to get to grips with the slightly different R/T at Lyneham, but hopefully that’ll come with a bit more practice. We headed out to the runway, with takeoff flap set, applied full power and began to roll.

The Slingsby’s take off roll isn’t exactly spritely, but once it’s ready to take off it’s hard to keep it on the ground. However, after rotation you have to be careful not to get the nose too high, allowing speed to rise to 65 knots for the initial climb out, before increasing to 70 knots and raising the flaps. This took a little getting used to, and on most takeoffs I had the stall warner bleating occasionally (shades of the Grob there!).

We headed out of the Zone, and climbed up to 4000 feet to get above the cloud layer to do some stalls. This gave me plenty of time to get used to the feel of the Firefly in the climb. We then prepared for the stall, carrying out a couple of clearing turns, again giving me more chance to get used to the aircraft.

I was expecting the stall to be a little more work given that the Firefly is aerobatic. However, it’s very like a Warrior in some respects. The stall warner sounds quite early, and then there’s a good period of buffeting before the stall proper occurs. Even this is relatively benign, easily controller by lowering the nose and applying full throttle (something that was difficult as it involved reaching over to the right to turn off carb heat). I was half expecting at least a wing drop, but in reality it was quite easily controlled. We then repeated the stall in the base leg configuration, and even this was easily controllable.

We followed this with some steep turns, which went relatively well. It took a little while in each one to get the nose attitude correct, but if I had a bit more practice then I’m sure I’d soon get used to it.

Matt then demonstrated a wingover, my first ever aerobatic manoeuvre! I’d always ‘promised’ myself that I wouldn’t get involved in aerobatics, as given my previous experiences with the Westfield (‘standard’ road car, the ‘odd’ track day, upgrading to a ‘track’ car followed by full on Sprinting!) I really didn’t want to start down that path so early in my flying careeer! As it happened I had little idea of what was going on. Matt was talking me through it but to be honest it all passed in a bit of a blur!

We then headed back to the field to try a PFL from the overhead. It’s been a while since I did a PFL all the way to a landing, but with a bit of coaching from Matt I managed a pretty good approach to a landing (slightly long, of course I was a bit high!). The conversion between a landing and a takeoff involves quite a bit of hand juggling. The landing is carried out with the right hand on the stick, and the left hand on the throttle. Once you’re landed you then have to switch to left hand on the stick, and use the right hand to raise flaps from ‘full’ to ‘takeoff’. Then you switch the right hand back to the stick, and use the left hand to apply full throttle! Good job I learned to juggle a few years back!

The next circuit was for a flapless landing, and we were joined in the circuit by one of the club’s Warriors. A lot of the circuit was spent trying to regain contact with the other aircraft, as it kept ‘disappearing’ into the clutter caused by the cloud and ground features. The second approach and landing went pretty well, despite this being my first flapless landing since I was in the circuit during my training!

The next circuit culminated in a standard landing, and Matt announced he was happy, and we would make the next one a full stop. This one I landed a little long, and that meant I had to brake fairly hard to make the ‘180 loop’, the turnoff from the runway we usually use to get back to the club. On the whole my landings were pretty good, but on a few of them I tended to close the throttle a little early. Because of the way the Firefly handles it’s very easy to lose a lot of airspeed when closing the throttle, so it needs to be almost ‘flown in to the ground’, with the throttle being closed when just a few feet above the ground.

On the whole another pretty enjoyable flight. I’m not sure given the layout of the Firefly whether Luned will get on with it (it’s even more of a Westfield than the Grob is) so we may reserve this aircraft for me taking friends flying. At least with a Warrior the entry and exit are made a little more ‘lady-like’ with the step up to the wing!

So, now that’s 3 types in my log book! All I need now is my pass for Lyneham and I should be able to get back on track.

Total flight time today: 0:50
Total flight time to date: 74:55

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One Response to “Checked out again!”

  1. Back to Leicester « Andy’s Blog Says:

    […] eating I watched a Firefly taxying past. I immediately recognised the registration as the one that used to be based at Lyneham, so managed a quick shot of it. Another familiar looking registration went past, so I made a note […]

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