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Check out the 'Down Under' Splash-in April 3-7, 2006
A recent letter from Perry Taylor with more fun for all in the South Pacific:
Hi John, for INTEREST only, we have a very big Splash In happening, about 400nm off the coast, we have 2 guys from States who fly renegades coming, thought I should keep Seawinders posted.
2 Seawinds coming, Mine + Steve from New Zealand (April 3-7, 2006).
From: Perry Taylor, email@example.com apparently I am some sort of SPAA state co-ordinator and event planner, sorry, here goes.
IF U do not want to be on mail list, reply with “de list” in Subject line. IF Interested, Please advise ASAP, so we can concentrate on commitment and planning.
Now, u have to read the story, reasons follow:
“World Record Attempt for WW2 L4 Cub Flying my old draughty wartime US Army spotter plane, on a sunny day over England’s farm land, is one thing but if you are on a tight fully committed schedule of flying each day and all day, like I was in the 2001 London to Sydney Air Race, then contingency plans for the inevitable bad luck soon dominate a major part of your mind.
Two such examples of high adrenalin flow were either over the Arabian Sea or later, 6 feet or so over Australia’s awesome Simpson Desert.
A radio call from an aeroplane emergency frequency, 121.5MHz, to anyone in range of the transmitter and with luck, listening, is usually an action taken by an anxious pilot following many minutes of nail biting. On my particular day, following both physical and mental fatigue it led to the obvious, utter confusion. Most calls are made when trying to work out, “where in the blazes are we”? Lost, deteriorating weather, a medical emergency, instrument failure or a rough running engine, cover most of the reasons for it’s. It is the listened in frequency by most airliners and military aircraft when crossing areas of sparse habitation such as oceans, mountains and deserts, should someone be in trouble.
This was a ‘first’ for me and it was only the 2nd time, 2 weeks earlier, when I had used another system of emergency calls by pilots. It is broadcast on the current, last used or regional frequencies until you make contact from someone. Used, for example, when you have run out of ‘height, airspeed and ideas’, all at the same time. They include the slow, clear words transmitted of, “PAN, PAN, PAN”. This meant needing immediate advice before a possible worsening of the situation, for what ever the reason. MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY is only used in the extreme of emergencies.
I was over the ocean in the Air Race to Australia when my engine had suddenly stopped and all had gone quiet. I was 40 miles out from Muscat, bound for Karachi in Pakistan. Descending without choice from 5000 feet, in the eerie silence of no ‘donkey’, towards the shark infested sea, I had dived vertically desperately trying to ‘fishtail’ her from side to side whilst going through some cockpit checks hoping to trace the cause. No quick fix for Maurice today. I pressed the tit on the control column and made the PAN call immediately followed by my call sign, 3 times, “G-KIRK, G-KIRK, G-KIRK”, (G-KIRK a World War Two Piper Cub used on D-Day and by General Patton. The Cub was found and restored to more than former glory by Maurice Kirk in a French barn and is currently in action for his around the world flying attempt, which started with his entry and successful completion of the Sydney to London air race in 2001) giving my approximate position and the problem to anyone who may be listening. Incidentally, to ‘fishtail’ or yaw the fuselage from side to side meant pushing on alternate rudder bars to put maximum air flow or pressure on alternate blades of my wooden prop, stuck horizontally, in order to push it through the compression stroke of the engine. This would, in theory, turn or windmill the prop and so turn over the engine and mechanical fuel pump which, in turn, should draw fuel from a quickly decided alternate fuel tank. I had little over a minute before getting my feet wet. You always, in such situations, switch tanks as the current tank in use is so often the cause whether she be dry or there is a pump failure or blockage?
I had earlier climbed out of Muscat at 6 on that beautiful morning on a diminished climb rate of 150 feet a minute, not the usual 500 feet back in the UK when there was little or no luggage and only one small fuel tank on board!
Little could be done about it as I was heavy on fuel and to make things worse it was a hot day making the air less dense which also reduced the rate of climb. I was climbing to chase a better tail wind component from the light and variable winds and with the intention of leaning out the mixture of fuel and air for the carburettor to give more range that can only be done with sufficient altitude.5000 feet was a dizzy height for an old cub and this particular one was definitely not used to it! Nor was the pilot because the original 10 gallon scuttle tank, from which all fuel had to flow fed from all the other new ones built in, before reaching the carburettor, was now at a quarter full in an unusually steep angle of climb. In short, a situation when replenishment from either the wing tanks or reserve tanks from within the cockpit, the latter situated below its level, was urgently required.
In order to fill the scuttle tank I either had to switch a tap and for gravity to do the rest from the wings or laboriously hand pump dry one of the 5 plastic cans on the cabin floor. To do this meant using the magic wobbler pump, purloined almost from a 40 gallon oil drum and modified with a hack saw at Naples Airport at 2 in the morning, a week before. Over land there is no dilemma. The fire risk of fuel in the cockpit for an unscheduled landing dictates which cock to pull but over the sea there was not the same priority. It meant my energy needed to be expelled. I was already tired out despite the fact I was not even 1 hour into the 7 hour flight, my having been up half the night with engineers trying to get the aircraft serviceable and batteries charged. I dithered some precious too many seconds on which to do? What also caused the fuel starvation and the inevitable silence from the motor was due to another classic pilot error. I was unfamiliar with such heights for that particular tank in that I failed to realise the effect of the steep angle of climb required of a cub, relative to the horizon, when above 5000 feet in order to obtain a maximum rate of climb. The unusual nose up attitude and its affect on the drain in the tank went unnoticed with disastrous consequences. The drain and filter for fuel to the carburettor, at the bottom of the tank, is situated towards the centre of the base meaning any significant incline will eventually leave the carburettor sucking air, despite their being the best part of more than a gallon still usable. But only when in level flight!
To have called a MAYDAY, the extreme call for help, would have caused havoc amongst both civilian airliners and military jets in the area with the scrambling of rescue personnel, hopefully in 3 countries. “Lets use another 4000 feet before we use that call and anyway; I must be near some air race competitors all as keen as mustard for the unplanned incident”. I could see no one but were any tuned to my frequency? I only had time to transmit once or, perhaps, have time to switch to 121.5 MHz before crash checks and the sea water .
Soon as my PAN was called several air race pilots replied with the Partinavia twin, flown by Aussies, descending from a greater altitude whilst at the same time manoeuvring their life raft to the door, ready to jettison to me, once I had ditched. This put paid to their chances of winning the leg of the race.
Despite quickly switching to the wing tanks the engine still did not start. Now nearing my lips was the phrase, “MAYDAY, MAYDAY, MAYDAY”.
I was now passing around 2000 feet in a dive, working the throttle backwards and forwards, violently manoeuvring the control column or joy stick, to use an old term, to dislodge any possible air lock or foreign body in a fuel lines. No time to sweat I was re checking ignition switches, mixture fully rich knob was fully in, throttle linkages were ok and transponder settings ok, for chance of a better ‘fix’ by radar for Air Sea Rescue. As I blurted out on the radio for any advice from anyone the cheap old head set slipped off my head in the commotion due to my repeated ducking down to the floor to check fuel taps and linkages and stretching to the roof, fighting my harness, to check the awkwardly positioned transponder. I asked for any advice on the rough running misfiring engine from anyone but heard no reply. Then the engine stated to cough, at what ever height I will never know, causing me to just work the throttle and sufficient glide to maintain the turning prop, prepare for a landing into wind, door already open and life raft, upon which I sat, loosely tied around my waste on 6 feet of rope, to be the 2nd thing out of the door!.
I had a Mae West on with light, whistle and mirror, a distress beacon to trigger, around my neck and 2 litres of water safely inside my shirt. A mackerel line with a few feathers was part of my other bits and pieces safe in the dinghy pack, should it be a long paddle home.
The old donkey started to run, badly, but run she did, allowing me to gently pull her out of the dive for level flight and track, pretty damn quick, for the nearest coast! First the engine appeared to be on 1 plug and then on 2. It seemed an age but I bet it was only a few seconds before she was running on all 4 ‘pots’ or cylinders. The human mind, in real adversity, invariably cuts out the triviality of our mundane thought patterns of day to day life and just homes in on survival. Sex, the drive to procreate our species and the effects of starvation are not far behind this usually suppressed animal emotion to simply stay alive! These examples of animal instinct sometimes cause subconscious action to extreme, little understood by many as so few have experienced them. But many have experienced the conscious mind ‘doing battle’ with the subconscious in precarious situations, even if not understood, influenced by both genotypic and phenotypic factors, inherited traits from their parents and environment influences in their up bringing, that beautifully make us all different. On that day my faculties were firing on all cylinders.
The tired old engine, of countless hours flown, (never trust the hours recorded on any paperwork, unless it is your own), had saved the day. The compressions were so low (sloppy pistons in the pots and poorly seated inlet and outlet valves) when leaving England, the dive and violent but synchronised fishtails had managed, at 120 knots, eventually to turn the motor. A fact, guaranteed, that could never have been achieved had it been with my newly overhauled engine, installed in New Zealand much later, before setting off for Norfolk Island! Ah well, they say the devil looks after his own or was it the lack of spare cash in preparation for the race that saved the day?
There was one last manoeuvre up my sleeve to start that engine if the dive did not do the trick….put the brake on, trip for forward weight and stand out on the wheel holding the door frame and hand swing the propeller from behind.” From The Flying Vet, Maurice Kirk, Diaries www.kirkflyingvet.com
So, what the hell has this story got to do with Seaplanes and Lord Howe Island?? U ask???
October 18 last year, 2004, I was quietly preparing my plane for a mission when a vaguely familiar sound came from South East, the unmistakeable sound of the 1941, 65 HP , J3 Cub, I knew this meant trouble, my mate Maurice Kirk, the flying vet www.kirkflyingvet.com had “arrived” unannounced. As he taxied up to my hangar:
“G’Day Maurice” as I put my hand into the open side of the vintage cub
“No time for that old boy, mind if we put cub in your hangar and lock the door? I may be in a spot of bother, old chap”
My fone started ringing before door was locked, “G’Day Perry, Gerry here from Customs at Colangatta”
“Hi Gerry, guess this is not social call?”
“No, its about YOUR mate Maurice Kirk, he just flew from Norfolk Island, bound Lord Howe Island to clear customs, then Coolangatta”
“Well then Gerry, why u ringing me?”
“Ha, well, heres the thing, Maurice bypassed Lord Howe, probably missed it and just appeared on final at Coolangatta, he had to go around as Virgin 737 nearly took him out and Tower advised him that customs and police were waiting for him, he asked if Perry Taylor was at field, the tower controller knows you and said No, he is at Noosa, where Kirk did a 180 at 300’ and just left the zone, we tracked him on radar landing at Noosa”
“Shit, Gerry, yes Maurice is here, I will get the local cops to come out and check his plane over, but just the normal junk that Maurice carries, garbage bag stuffed with foam beads is his raft, he is wearing a stolen PFD from Garuda, he only has the dirty clothes he is in and he is dying of thirst, he just told me he is staying at my place for a few days and needs a bite, a beer a bed and a bang?”
“Perry wish it was as simple as that, Police are on their way to arrest him and impound the cub”
my fone was on loudspeaker and Maurice said “how long do I have old chap”
‘Maurice, gate is locked, 10 minute walk, 5 mins to gate, I’d say 14 minutes”
“Give me all your avgas old chap and that food and water u have and I may as well be off”
So, I drained the Seawind, gave him gas, food, water and a grab bag of survival gear, pointed the way towards Emerald and he was gone, about 25 mins before last lite.
SO WHATS this got to do with Seaplane assoc?? Don’t forget, the above happened just 12 months AGO in a 1941 Cub, with No alternator, no doors, wooden prop, hand held GPS, had some maps but they blew out. This bloody old 70 knot Cub has been around the world, with no clearances, no money, no bloody idea, but how easy is it? And he is NOT sponsored, no gimmicks, no association prompting or organising him, no forward planning, just??? I have no idea?
Maurice flicked me from his pocket an old foto of a bloke in a Biplane on floats???
Wasn’t until we pieced it all together after an email from Maurice, that he was “Trying” to enact the Sir Francis Chichester New Zealand – England flite of 1931..
(by the way, coppers arrived, I gave them the story, except I said he was headed for South Australia then Perth, they just laughed, NOTHING has come of it???)
Next time I was thru Norfolk Island and Lord Howe Island the all wanted to know about my mate Maurice??
Well no one more than the guys at Lord Howe Island who seriously were concerned for the flying vet, the Chichester story, the Seaplane attach to Lord Howe island, the PLOT thickens.
SO WHATS this got to do with Seaplane assoc?? EVERYTHING!!!!!! April 3, 2006 Marks the 75th Anniversary of Sir Francis Chichester’s remarkable achievement… This bloke was too good to be a pom, the legend of the Seaplane pilot was born, but he was typical, bit thick, single minded, determined AND 24 hours to solo, plus an adventurer and OLD Salt. (Isn’t it great that Bert Hinkler, that great Queenslander aviator, did Frank up, you can count on a Queenslander)
SO WHATS this got to do with Seaplane assoc?? Lord Howe Island owes its very existence to Flying Boats, the author of “The Flying Boat Days” the early aviation history of Lord Howe Island, Peter A.R. Phillipps, is at this moment writing you a brief history and invitation to this milestone event. If u email Peter, firstname.lastname@example.org he will sell u the book, a great read and good prep for this mission, not sure of $$.
The Lord Howe Island Board (local govt) have been working on this commem for some years, it has now been ratified, approved and with OUR help a major milestone will be recorded. Who else can the wonderful people call on to commemorate such a life changing event???? Seaplane pilots, builders and enthusiasts, that’s who..
SO WHATS this got to do with Seaplane assoc?? Everything, sorry to tell u, but most of the old legends, are gone, IT IS UP TO YOU AND ME, everyone of us to keep the legends, stories, romanticism and hero worshipping of seaplane pilots alive. If u can make a splash in to Lake Boga, u can fly to Lord Howe Island, in fact the two are related?
SO WHAT'S this got to do with ME as a member of Seaplane assoc?? Ever heard of conscription? This is as close as you can get (that was the only raffle I ever won), YES, we want YOU to fly to Lord Howe Island, Duty, for your country, we will even print T shirts and strike badges, but YOUR association is calling YOU. Your obligation is to preserve the outstanding legacy and legend that our pioneering old seaplane pilot mates have set in concrete. No excuses, everything can make the trip, from Seareys to Frigate birds, Tiger Moth on floats to Albatross, Sea Bees to Buccy’s , just bring it over, April 3 thru 7, 2006. May have shipping option??
It is really a bit wussy if we only get Seawinds, Renegades and Caravans, we need Real aircraft as well, Seareys, 180’s, 185’s, 206’s, Maules, home built, lets show the WORLD that the spirit is still there, History cannot be changed and AUSTRALIANS not bloody New Zeelanders are the Seaplane Legends.
Accomodation, Airfield details, lagoon details, all to follow.
FAQ’s at end of this letter, more to follow.
Now, what about this Chichester bloke?
The following are extracted Quotes;
The name of Sir Francis Chichester is remembered mostly for his exploits as a lone yachtsman, indeed his knighthood was recognition for solo circumnavigation of the world in his yacht, 'Gipsy Moth II'.
Of more interest to aviators is the story of the original Gipsy Moth, the small De Havilland biplane.
Francis was born in England and shortly after WW1, migrated to New Zealand. He became a partner in the company Goodwin and Chichester, the agents for A.V.Roe. In 1928 the young Bert Hinkler was creating a lot of intense interest in his two week dash from England to Australia in an Avro Avian; a great selling point for the NZ agents.
Chichester decided he too wanted to attempt such a flight and left for England in 1929 where he immediately began flying training. He took 24 hours of instruction to go solo, so was certainly not a ‘natural’. By September 1929 he had his licence and more confidence than was warranted. This led to a serious accident in his 12 day-old Gipsy Moth. Nevertheless the experience gained in the rebuild equipped Chichester for his journey across the world where he had to be a mechanic, navigator and pilot, able to takeoff and land in conditions beyond the aircraft’s limitations, diplomat, meteorologist, and rigger.
Chichester learned through tough experience that Hinkler’s record of 15 days was not easily beaten. (Even today I doubt that it could be equalled because of political complexities).
He left London on December 20. His route was via France, Italy and North Africa (Tripoli) where an attempted night landing resulted in damage, which took 19 days to repair. His time onwards to Darwin approximated Hinkler’s, arriving on January 25, 1930.
In later years, he converted his next airplane Elijah (G-AAKK) into a floatplane. He flew it from New Zealand to Australia via Norfolk and Lord Howe Islands.
Two remarkable legacies Chichester gave us were:
1. The known error in over water navigation, i.e. deliberately being off track so as to be able to determine which way to turn after making a landfall, and
2. an accurate way of gauging height when landing on water at night. This device used a piece of wood, about six feet long, hinged under the aircraft, sprung loaded forward and attached to a light cable which in turn moved a pointer on the instrument panel. When the wood touched the water the pointer would move and allow the delicate flare manoeuvre to be carried out. And you thought radar altimeters were new!
I have the greatest admiration for pioneers like Sir Francis in those golden days of aviation.
"To a man with imagination, a map is a window to adventure." - Sir Francis Chichester
A man who had a spot of bother on his visit was Sir Francis Chichester, an aviator at the time and attempting the first-ever east-west, solo trans-Tasman flight in his de Havilland Gipsy Moth biplane. Refueling stops were scheduled to take place at Norfolk Island and Lord Howe. He was navigating with a sextant with a notepad strapped to his knee. To see both the sun and the horizon at the same time, he had to bank the little plane and manipulate the control stick with his elbow while he adjusted his sextant and timed his sight.
During his approach to Lord Howe, the plane began to vibrate alarmingly and, one by one, his instruments went haywire. Thick clouds closed in and icy rain splashed into the cockpit. His chances of finding the speck of island were minimal, but through a break in the cloud he got a split-second glimpse of Ball's Pyramid, a vertical-sided rock a few miles south of the island. He found the lagoon and landed safely.
A typically windy Lord Howe night followed. At dawn, he walked to the lagoon. Only the tailpiece of the plane was showing; the wind had flipped it over.
He decided to salvage what he could and ship the bits to Sydney, but locals helped strip the engine and suggested that the fuselage and wings could be repaired on the island, despite the fact that it was the first plane they'd ever seen.
Three months later, after hours of painstaking work, Chichester was able to taxi across the lagoon and take off.
Sir Francis Chichester, the round-the-world yachtsman. It’s worth repeating what young Chichester accomplished in order to win the Johnston Trophy.
He set out to fly from New Zealand to Australia in his Gipsy Moth I, fitted out as a seaplane. Its range was only 750 miles, and the crossing of 1,450 miles could be made only by making use of Norfolk Island and Lord Howe Island on the way. Having no radio, Chichester located these islands by sextant observations of the sun and, in the course of doing so, established a navigation system which became standard drill of Coastal Command during the Second World War. No target so small as those two little islands had previously been located by this method; and it was impossible to turn back in the event of error. Gypsy Moth I was forced to alight in the open sea at Norfolk Island and again in a lagoon at Lord Howe Island. There, in a gale in the night, it was blown upside down while at its moorings. It sank. Chichester managed to overcome this slight setback: he rebuilt the aeroplane, completely dismantled and re-assembled the engine and finished his flight to Australia.
An illustration of the ability of these pilots is the remarkable feat of navigation achieved by Sir Francis Chichester flying his Tiger Moth over the open ocean in 1931. He took off from Norfolk Island headed for Lord Howe Island 903km (561 miles) away. An error of more than one half degree would have been fatal but he landed safely on Lord Howe Island after a flight of 7h 40min. (Guiness Book of Aircraft Facts and Feats)
However, you would be interested in the fact that Sir Francis Chichester was the first to fly from New Zealand to Australia. He used a Gypsy Moth biplane as I recall, equipped with floats and landed next to Norfolk Island, the Royal Navy hoisted him on the island with a crane, refueled him, put him back in the water and the was on his way. Turns out he damaged a float on Take off…
His problem was to find Lord Howe. He solved this problem by calculating the
angle of the sun above the horizon on a North South line through Lord Howe
for 15 minute intervals over a period before and after his ETA. He then
took a heading far enough south of Lord Howe to insure that he would be
south of Lord Howe with the greatest south wind he felt he could expect.
At 15 minute intervals he would bank the biplane to the point that he could
take a sight (with a marine sextant) on the sun between the wings. His arrival was in the afternoon, so the first sights he took found the sun too low, so he kept heading west. As he neared the line, the sights would approach the pre-calculated value for that 15 minute interval. When he was on the line, the sight was the same as calculated for that time and he turned right, flying up the line, when the sight was too low, he turned
left, too high he turned right, and flew right up the line to the island.
Do I need to have a Beard ?
No, but its OK if u have more than 15000 water landings or over 10,000 hours
Can I bring my wife, girlfriend or boyfriend ?
Bring all 3, all welcome
I haven’t got a plane ?
Buy one, if u sell your $2million unit now, buy any of 4 lakes, Cessna 206 amphib or new Mermaid for sale in Australia, u will miss the real estate downturn and get a Seaplane for “nothing”. What price Fun?
Can I share cost a ride ?
Yes, we believe so, will advise
Will u publish a shame file?
Yes, ABSOLUTELY, all the silly excuses and no shows.
I understand u may be able to “ship” my plane over, will I be ridiculed if I go this option?
No, the jousting will stop soon, if u are not comfortable flying your aircraft over and it is capable of being shipped, we would love to have you and will advise details soon.
What does everyone think Chichester did to prepare for his trip??
checked naips for winds? Fone Clive for weather? worried about headwinds? bought another GPS? got icebreaker thermals? got a satfone? got new bose headset? stormy seas vest and raft? fresh baguettes and petit fours before departure? cappuccinos in stainless thermos? sa ka ta's and ginger nuts and sardines in quik grab? Bottled water? latest let down charts and ersa? booked arajilla? worried about no XXXX Gold?
Have u got any FIRM commitments yet?
Yes, we will continually update the confirms
so far, 1 x Lake Renegade, 1 x Lake Buccaneer, 1 x Cessna Caravan Amphib, 2 X Seawinds, 1 x PBY Catalina, 1 x Searey.
Can u advise survival requirements?
Yes, we have loads on that
Can u advise where to rent rafts, jackets?
Most of us buy this stuff so u get to really know it, but there are hire places, will ask our members to advise, Raft is only about $2000 and GPS/PLB is about same, u can get kitted out for $5000, sounds bloody cheap to me?