Winter is now upon us and with that comes cold wet weather that is not conducive to a nice day of sport flying. However, in between the cold fronts there is often a short window of calm, albeit cool weather where one can enjoy a brilliant days flying. Indeed, the calm cool air ensures a smooth turbulent free ride. In my book that is the best flying day possible, certainly for carrying out formation flying. Just watch out for the increased possibility of carburetor icing.
Last month I headed across to Benalla, Victoria again to fly my friend’s DH94 Moth Minor. I thought I should tell you a bit more about this rare aircraft. A21-42 was imported from UK into Australia in 1938 for private use but with the outbreak of WW2 was impressed into RAAF service. It served at various RAAF bases in New South Wales and Queensland to be used in training, liason and personal transport. Post war it returned to the civil register as VH-ACR. Like many war surplus aircraft, it was not long before it fell into disuse.
For many years it hung from the roof of Gilltrap’s Auto Museum on the Gold Coast. In the early 2000’s it was acquired by Mark Carr who remembered seeing the aircraft as a child. After an exhaustive 6 year restoration at Caboolture, QLD it took to the air again in 2008, registered VH-CZB. This was the first flight in nearly 60 years! It is now based in Benalla, VIC and is used for adventure flights as part of the Military Air Training Museum. It is one of the oldest airworthy ex-RAAF aircraft in Australia.
I liked it so much I decided to build a 1:7 scale flying model of the actual aircraft which I took over to Benalla to be photographed alongside the original.
It is indeed a privilege to be allowed to fly solo in an 81 year old aircraft. It has delightful handling and better than expected performance from just a 90 horsepower engine. It will cruise at nearly 90 knots for close to 4 hours on a tank of fuel. Somewhat better than the Tiger Moth that only manages 71 knots for 3 hours with 130 horsepower. The price you pay for a biplane with all that extra drag!
Which brings me to this months guest speaker. Steve Johnson, a retired civil engineer, has always had an interest in aviation courtesy of his father Cyril, a WW2 fighter and bomber pilot. Cyril learnt to fly in a Tiger so when Steve decided to buy an aircraft it was always going to be a Tiger Moth foremost. He has owned 2 Tigers and flown dozens of others, particularly in post restoration test flights which I believe makes him very well qualified to tell us how these aircraft should be operated and maintained. Do come along on June 12th and hear his story.
Another event of interest to RAAUS in June is the L1 practical maintenance course at Gawler on 15-16th June. This is the first of many future courses as eventually I believe it will become a requirement for all RAAUS aircraft owners to complete. It is run by member Mick Wright. See the RAAUS website for cost and details.
A significant South Australian aviation event that occurred in May was the swapping over of F111s at the SA Aviation Museum in Pt Adelaide. The museum’s original RF111C A8-134, is destined to be put on display at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra after it was discovered it had a secret operational history in the Timor conflict. So the museum was not left short changed the RAAF generously provided a newly refurbished replacement example F111C A8-132, that had been in storage at RAAF Edinburgh for several years. During the changeover both aircraft were seen side by side outside the museum. This was the last time anywhere in the world that two complete F111s were seen together.
You will be pleased to hear that after many months of trying, the Club Sonex has finally been sold to a new owner in New Zealand. We already have the deposit in the club bank account and it just remains to dismantle the aircraft ready for shipping to complete the sale. I have mixed feelings about this as it is sad to see the project depart after so many members contributed to it’s construction. However, costwise, the lack of use made it unsustainable for the club to continue to own.
Our monthly club meetings continue at the Edinburgh Hotel for June and July. There have been some misgivings about the long term suitability of the venue so we are actively seeking an alternative.
The need is as follows: seating for up to 50; quiet; able to have a value priced meal served at the same venue for 20-25 people; no or minimal hire charge; within 15 minutes of the CBD; free parking.
If you know of a suitable venue that is available long term for the second Wednesday of every month then please let me or a member of the committee know.
I look forward to seeing you on June 12th.
Speed is life, altitude is life insurance.