Winter Meeting Saturday 8th February 2020

Once again the Winter Meeting, this time with the theme “Home-building”, was held in the elegant environment of the RAF Club in Piccadilly, London. There was an excellent turnout, partly because the decision to start the meeting a little later than usual enabled more attenders to travel to London on the Saturday morning. The forecast storm Ciara evidently did not deter people from arriving but unfortunately rail cancellations announced during the day caused some of those with far to travel home to miss the dinner and to start their journey on Saturday evening.

We had four excellent presentations, all enthusiastically received by the audience.

Dr Peter Brueggemann: “The Return of the Red Baron”.

Peter is an Air Medical Examiner and member of the BMPA who has built a replica Fokker DR1 Triplane similar to the one flown by Manfred von Richthoven during WW1. Richthoven started his military career as a cavalry officer where he wore a red uniform, hence his choice to have his plane painted red. This also served to increase his conspicuity once his reputation as a very successful fighter pilot with the aim of instilling fear into his allied enemies.

Peter built his planes from plans, making it as close to the original as possible but improving its flight safety by incorporating a better, more powerful (Lycoming 180hp) engine, improved fabric wing coverings and modern communications equipment. He also incorporated an electric starter and propane fired imitation machine guns which make the appropriate noise and spurt flames from the muzzles!

Capt. Mike Newall: “You built THAT … ?”

Mike Newall began flying at the age of 17, later piloting planes for parachuting then, in the late 1980s he gained his Commercial Licence and subsequently joined Thomas Cook in the early 90s, flying mostly the A330. The recent demise of Thomas Cook has precipitated his retirement but, more positively, has given him more time to devote to his hobby. He has a great affinity for Vans RV homebuilt aircraft and has built six examples, including the RV7 (side by side), the ‘quick-build’ RV12 and the RV12 four-seater.

He gave a fascinating account of the history of the home-building of aircraft in the United States (Experimental Aircraft Association) and in the UK (Light Aircraft Association). There are now 10,500 RVs flying, all home built. His enthusiasm for building and flying this wonderful aircraft was self-evident and infectious.

Kate Howe: “Single Seat Aircraft – Flying on Adrenaline”

Kate has flown a wide variety of aircraft and now flies from Breighton in Yorkshire where the Real Aeroplane Club is based. She enjoys aerobatics and at various times has owned or flown a Chipmunk, Taylor Monoplane, a 200hp Steen Skybolt, Evans VP1, Dart Kitten and a tipsy Nipper. Some of these have historical connections, e.g. the Dart Kitten was previously owned by de Havelland and is the sole surviving example of the type.

She recounted several hair-raising incidents that she experienced, e.g. one partial and one complete engine failure. She stressed the importance of practising for such events and discussed the difficulty of the decision-making process in the event of engine failure after take off. This is particularly the case with a partial failure – whether to turn back or whether to make a precautionary landing, where ground conditions permit.

Dr Mike Trudgill: “Building and Flying your own Mustang; an AME’s Tale”.

Mike Trudgill, now the recently-appointed Chief Medical Officer of the UK CAA, recounted some detail from his fascinating and rewarding career. He learnt to fly in the University Air Squadron whilst studying medicine. He now has 100 hours on Hawk jets, flew in the 1st Gulf War and has 5-6 types of fast jets in his log book. Among the less exotic aircraft, he has flown are 100 hours on the Tipsy Nipper and 200 hours on the Rollason Turbulent.

He has had two Tipsy Nippers, the second of which he incorporated an inverted fuel system. He then acquired a partially built Midget Mustang being built from plans which has now completed 30 hours. He concluded his talk with an update for AMEs.