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GRASS ROOTS FLYING WITH LIGHT AVIATION MAGAZINE’S JOHN BEESWAX
GRASS ROOTS FLYING WITH LIGHT AVIATION MAGAZINE’S JOHN BEESWAX
Alistair Sutherland’s immaculate FRED Mk II, G-ORAS, drew admiring looks and appreciation at the 2010
Alistair Sutherland’s immaculate FRED Mk II, G-ORAS, drew admiring looks and appreciation at the 2010 LAA Rally, Sywell (Photo: Nigel Hitchman)

LONG DISTANCE FRED

During a remarkable flight with a round trip distance of more than 800nm, Alistair Sutherland waved the flag for all Clutton FRED (Flying Runabout Experimental Design) builders when he flew his superbly built yellow-and-racing- green example to the LAA Rally at Sywell two years ago. On that sunny occasion, Alistair was proud to join his Highland Strut colleagues at Scotland’s Corner on Sywell’s cherished turf and review his epic flight south from the aircraft’s airstrip base at Tain, north of Inverness. Not noted for its in-flight sophistication or superior cruising speed, the Clutton FRED’s claim to fame is its ability to have its wings folded flat alongside the fuselage and be road towable on the sturdy undercarriage to a nearby meadow for local flying. This facility has great appeal to anyone wishing to save money on costly hangarage.

appeal to anyone wishing to save money on costly hangarage. AlistairbuilthisFREDSeries2fromEricClutton’s excellent set

AlistairbuilthisFREDSeries2fromEricClutton’s

excellent set of plans at his home workshop at Edderton, near Tain, and registered it G-ORAS in 2004. Most of his flying had been in the local area above the

28 LIGHT AVIATION OCTOBER 2012

beautiful countryside around Inverness. “The VW 1,834cc engine gives it a cruising speed of 55 to 60kt,” says Alistair, “but its fuel uplift is restricted due to mtow so range is very limited.” With these limitations in mind, he planned the long journey to Sywell with landings at Perth, Eshott, Breighton and Sywell. The first sector to Perthwentverywellwithgoodflyingconditions overtheCairngormsandGrampianMountains. The VW, with its twin, chain-driven Lucas magnetos, purred along at 60kt as Perth andthelowergroundcameintosight. After refuelling, Alistair flew to Eshott in Northumberland. It was now towards eveningandashallow blanket of fog had formedovertheairfield. Knowing something of the local area, he carried out a 180° turn to head back to an airstrip he had seen adjacent to the A1 main road. However, to his relief, he heard from another

aircraft that the fog had cleared and he returned to land at Eshott. After he had refuelled the aircraft, his mobile phone rang. Fortuitously, it was an old chum who owned an airstrip five miles west of Eshott and who had heard his arrival on the r/t. He invited Alistair to stay the night at his place and so, losing no time, the VW was restarted and Alistair flew the short distance to Tony Graham’sstripforacomfortablenight’srest. Thefollowingday,theweather wasfineandtheflightssouth to Breighton and then to Sywellwentwell.TheFRED’s comparativelyslowprogress meant it was late on the Friday afternoonbeforeAlistaircould meetwithhiscolleagues fromtheHighlandStrutbut

meetwithhiscolleagues fromtheHighlandStrutbut Worries about the addition of ethanol in automotive fuels

Worries about the addition of ethanol in automotive fuels have been highlighted by a leading overhauler in the US (Photo: Alan Chalkley)

OVER THE HEDGE The gorgeous Wagabond that Alistair flew in for this year’s LAA Rally
OVER THE HEDGE
The gorgeous Wagabond that Alistair flew in for this year’s LAA Rally (Photo: Alan Chalkley)
ey)
at least he could don his kilt and celebrate their safe
arrival in traditional Scottish style.
Alistair’s arrival at the LAA Rally was significant
for its encouragement to other builders and
pilots of Clutton FRED aircraft. His perseverance
demonstratedthattheaircraft,fittedwithareliable
VW engine, is capable of the occasional long cross-
countryadventureprovidedthatregularrefuelling
overhaul,’ he writes in the newsletter,
‘haveseverelycorrodedlowerfloat
bowlsfromusingautofuelwithethanol
and end up being unairworthy.’
Another problem is the increase in the
fuel’sspecificgravity.Thespecificgravity
(SG) of avgas is between 0.680 and 0.720
withthecarburettorjetsandfueldelivery
stopsarefactoredintotheflightplan.Hissuccess
has even spurred other LAA members to buy Eric
Clutton’splansandstartbuildingtheirownFRED.
Incidentally,Sywellwasn’tthefirstRallythat
Alistair had flown to. Thirty years earlier he flew to
the PFA Rally at Cranfield with his newly-built Evans
VP-1, registered G-BFAS. It too, was powered by a VW
set up for this value. The specific gravity
of ethanol is 0.815 and that of water 1.0.
Thus auto fuel can reach an SG of 0.770,
which means that it is around 10% heavier
er
engine rebuilt by Alistair. Again, it took him two days
to fly south from Tain and he arrived at dusk on the
Friday evening. “I could see the car headlights on the
motorway,” he recalled, “but the best news was that
thanavgas.
‘Fluids flow through an orifice (jet) at a
certain velocity predicated on the weight
of the fluid and the size of the orifice,’ he
explains.‘Ifyouhaveaheavierweightfuel
flowing through the same size jet, it will flow
w
>

I was welcomed by David Faulkner-Bryant − the then

Chairman of the PFA. After tying the Evans down, he

took me to the pub and ordered a huge supper for me!Wehavebeengreatfriendseversince.”

AlistairstillownshisoldEvansVP-I.“Itstillremains

a joy to fly locally,” he says with a smile. Fast forward to 2012 − this year Alistair flew down in his Wag-Aero

WagabondG-WAGA–notagreatdealfasterperhaps,

but the two-seat enclosed cabin was at least comfier and roomier, plus he enjoyed a good tailwind all the waydown.

DOUBTS ABOUT MOGAS

Doubts about the wisdom of using mogas in light aircraft have been expressed in the USA by a leading authority on the old Stromberg carburettors. Bob Kachergius of Uni-Tech Air Management Systems, Inc is a specialist in the overhaul of the Stromberg NA-S3

carburettors that are fitted to many of the Continental

enginesthatpowervintagePiper,Aeroncaand

Luscombe aircraft of the ‘classic’ post-war period. Writing in the Cub Club’s magazine Cub Clues, Bob draws readers’ attention to the fact that, in the USA, the percentage of ethanol (ethyl alcohol) in automotive fuels is very poorly regulated. He points out that the absorption of moisture by the ethanol changes the fuel’sconsistencyandcancause‘internalvarnishing’. As an approved overhauler of these old carburettors, he sees the effects of the corrosion inducing properties of ethanol. ‘Many of the carburettors I get in for

Brian Gowland surveys newly completed wings of his the HN700 Menestrel II. They await the
Brian Gowland surveys
newly completed wings of his
the
HN700 Menestrel II.
They await the final coats of
Nicollier
(Photo: Alan Chalkley)
colour butyrate dope
to finish them

slowerandthusLEANER. ‘When auto fuel is used, the engine will run quite a bit leaner than when avgas is used. The carburettor main jet cannot be arbitrarily changed. Its size is specified in the factory data and overhaul manuals, and is set based on the specific gravity of avgas as a standard. Running on a leaner mixture will increaseengineoilandexhaustgastemperatures causingprematurevalvejobsandcylinderrepairs.’ Concluding his advice, he states, ‘Being penny wise and dollar foolish is really very costly in the long run.’ For more information on Stromberg NA-S3 carburettors, Bob Kachergius can be contacted at uni-tech@earthlink.net

CHEER FOR NEW WINGS

There was a time in the early days of the PFA when completion of a new set of homebuilt wings was the subject of wide jubilation among the growing band of members. There being no quick-build kits in those days,oneknewthateachrib,eachmetalfittingand eachsparhadbeenpainstakinglyputtogether(just as plans-built aircraft are still constructed today). Many of us who fell in love with aeroplanes when we were kids built model aircraft and gliders. We learned to admire their graceful wings as they caressedtheairthroughwhichtheymoved.Later, when we learned to fly, we looked out at the wings that supported us with an appreciation of the air flowing over them. We had a good understanding of stalling and spinning, for had we not mis-trimmed

ourfirstmodelsandwatchedtheirnosesdipwhen they had reached their stalling angle-of-attack? We had soon learned to trim for the best glide angle. Today,withthequick-buildkitinvasion,completion

of a new wing has been almost relegated to the final assembly stage and the fitment of the all-important electronic flight instrument systems. But make no mistake,despitesophisticatedstall-warningdevices,

a healthy appreciation of a wing’s characteristics is just as important today as it was in the past. Hooraythenforabrand-newwing,lovingly constructedfromwoodandbuiltfromplans−aslow processthathastakenmorethanafewyears.Each component, be it a rib or the large precision-made jig to build the carefully laminated 27ft-span wing-spar, hasbeencarefullyandaccuratelyassembled. The culmination of all this work is a beautiful smooth set of wings that are covered and doped through to silver and await the final coats of glossy colour coats to finish them. Their proud owner and builder is Brian Gowland and the wings are just one part of his exquisitely built Nicollier HN700 Menestrel

II, G-CCDS.

From boyhood, Brian has been an avid aeromodeller and he has won many prizes in that field of aviation during his lifetime. Now all of his skills and energies are focussed on the completion of his Menestrel and we celebrate with him the conclusion of his new and beautifully built set of wings, which will be admired by many at future LAA fly-ins.

OCTOBER 2012 LIGHT AVIATION 29