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  1. #21
    Captain Roger Mole's Avatar
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    You also need to have a clearly defined idea about what you'll do if things do go pear-shaped.

    Quite a few pilots wear an immersion suit but I only put on a good quality life jacket before taking off. I also make sure that I've got no cables or anything else in the way of my making a nifty exit if I needed to. And the final thing that not many people appreciate is that there are lots of ships travelling in both directions in the Channel - you'd be very unlucky IMO to fly on a day when there is none within fairly easy gliding distance fom 5000 feet or so.

    So just as you should be flying over land always with a suitable emergency landing field in view, you need to do the same over the Channel. If you're too far away to make a landfall, you look for the next ship to land beside ahead of you while still remembering the one that you last passed. Depending on the swell and the time of year, normal clothing with a life jacket should give you anything up to 2 hours before you succumb to the cold and that should allow ample time for someone to fish you out. Experience also tells you that a flexwing will pitch you under the water almost immediately and present problems because of its wing cables while most fixed wings, especially ones with wing tanks like my Savannah, will stay floating upright on the surface for a considerable period for you to exit in a much more orderly way.

    But yes, there is always a risk, albeit hopefully only a small one, that the donkey will stop and land you in the drink. Nevertheless, it does seem to be an increasingly more rare event nowadays with modern 4 and even 2-stroke engines. I'll be flying over behind my X-Air's 582 in hopefully a few days' time. I know the aircraft and its history and when I last flew it, back in 2011, it flew very nicely. Since then it's only done about 30 hours or so but it's been dry stored and started regularly, so its engine should still be in pretty good shape.

    It certainly started and ran well a few weeks ago after I'd given it just the most minor attention, ensuring plugs and fuel were good to go. But there won't be enough time for me to do much more than fly it for a few minutes between where it's stored and Headcorn before leaving the next day, so it will in that respect be the riskiest crossing that I'll have done and on this occasion I will have clenched butt cheeks until I actually do get to the other side. But what's the alternative? Trailer it over? You must be joking... it's made for flying, not travelling by road

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  3. #22
    Co-Pilot Halibut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Mole View Post
    You also need to have a clearly defined idea about what you'll do if things do go pear-shaped.

    Quite a few pilots wear an immersion suit but I only put on a good quality life jacket before taking off. I also make sure that I've got no cables or anything else in the way of my making a nifty exit if I needed to. And the final thing that not many people appreciate is that there are lots of ships travelling in both directions in the Channel - you'd be very unlucky IMO to fly on a day when there is none within fairly easy gliding distance fom 5000 feet or so.

    So just as you should be flying over land always with a suitable emergency landing field in view, you need to do the same over the Channel. If you're too far away to make a landfall, you look for the next ship to land beside ahead of you while still remembering the one that you last passed. Depending on the swell and the time of year, normal clothing with a life jacket should give you anything up to 2 hours before you succumb to the cold and that should allow ample time for someone to fish you out. Experience also tells you that a flexwing will pitch you under the water almost immediately and present problems because of its wing cables while most fixed wings, especially ones with wing tanks like my Savannah, will stay floating upright on the surface for a considerable period for you to exit in a much more orderly way.

    But yes, there is always a risk, albeit hopefully only a small one, that the donkey will stop and land you in the drink. Nevertheless, it does seem to be an increasingly more rare event nowadays with modern 4 and even 2-stroke engines. I'll be flying over behind my X-Air's 582 in hopefully a few days' time. I know the aircraft and its history and when I last flew it, back in 2011, it flew very nicely. Since then it's only done about 30 hours or so but it's been dry stored and started regularly, so its engine should still be in pretty good shape.

    It certainly started and ran well a few weeks ago after I'd given it just the most minor attention, ensuring plugs and fuel were good to go. But there won't be enough time for me to do much more than fly it for a few minutes between where it's stored and Headcorn before leaving the next day, so it will in that respect be the riskiest crossing that I'll have done and on this occasion I will have clenched butt cheeks until I actually do get to the other side. But what's the alternative? Trailer it over? You must be joking... it's made for flying, not travelling by road
    Would be interesting to design an inflatable rig that would keep a microlight afloat. Wonder how big it would need to be.


  4. #23
    Co-Pilot Martin Watson's Avatar
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    See here
    https://www.uniquegroup.com/media-ce...cy-save-system
    This article claims it's the first such system for boats. That's wrong, since I worked on the development of one in the 1980s. The problem is getting something big enough to inflate fast enough to be of use. Handling the gas used - valves and sensors- is really challenging. The gas needs to be very dry or ice forms as it expands, blocking the valves (same as carb ice!). That's expensive.
    Also it needs to be stored at high pressure, which means heavy tanks. And it's a bit of a risk in an accident not involving the need for flotation - bit like having the bomb load still attached.
    So all in all, just about practical for boats, probably not for aircraft.
    Martin
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  6. #24
    Captain Roger Mole's Avatar
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    Dunno about flexwings but there was some discussion a few years back about filling the wings of a 3-axis with empty plastic lemonade bottles. Couldn't do it with eg my Savannah but could with a Skyranger or X-Air. Personally for 'short' crossings like the Channel for a hitherto reliable aircraft with a well-maintained engine I doubt that it's worth it.

    When I do it (hopefully next Mon/Tue or Tue/Wed) in 24ZN, it'll be 'au naturel'


  7. #25
    Co-Pilot Martin Watson's Avatar
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    The trouble with the lemonade bottles idea that with a high wing aircraft, even with it floating you in the cockpit are under water.
    But I shouldn't really feel permitted to be part of this discussion since I never will cross water in a single engined aircraft (not just micro). So hats off to Roger!
    Martin
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  8. #26
    Co-Pilot Peter Twissell's Avatar
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    Martin, presumably you do cross water (even if its only Lenwade Lakes) but at sufficient altitude that you don't risk landing in it in the event of a loss of power.
    As mentioned earlier, a quick calculation of distance to shore, wind and glide angle will tell you what altitude you need to be able to glide to land. For half the width of the channel, most microlights should be able to make it from less than 10,000 ft.
    Of course, the benefit of a second engine is that it will get you all the way to the crash site.
    G-BZNP Still not dead


  9. #27
    Co-Pilot Martin Watson's Avatar
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    Well yes, sort of...
    If I feel I need to do sums to see how high I need to be then I wouldn't do it.
    I did find myself about a half mile out over the North Sea a few months back. That felt far enough even with an onshore breeze (I was at 3000').

    Edit to add: the narrowest bit of the Channel is Dover to Cap Gris Nez. You can't climb higher than FL65 there, so very roughly half of your crossing is out of gliding range.
    Last edited by Martin Watson; 05-11-19 at 21:06 PM.
    Martin
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  11. #28
    Banned William's Avatar
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    Not sure that I follow this arithmetic or logic as it suggests a 50 per cent risk which I don't think is right. You should be able to glide at least 8 miles from a mile high which means that only 5 miles of your crossing is out of range. This only matters if you have got to the 8 mile point (assuming no wind). If you are only seven miles out you can just glide back rarther than glide on and ditch in the sea. It's important to allow for the wind since you might well be more than half way and it could still make sense to turn back.


  12. #29
    Captain Roger Mole's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Twissell View Post
    For half the width of the channel, most microlights should be able to make it from less than 10,000 ft.
    Pete, between Dover and Cap Gris Nez/Calais you'd be infringing CAS at that height. The limit is 6000 ft so best to fly at 5500 ft to be sure.

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  14. #30
    Co-Pilot Peter Twissell's Avatar
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    I have to admit I had not considered height restrictions.
    G-BZNP Still not dead


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