No 19 (I think!!)

Greetings to all the Bölkow Squadron members and prospective members!

Those of you who were at Cranfield this summer will know that I was "persuaded" to take over the mantle of secretary/ newsletter editor for the Squadron. You will also know that this task has been very ably, willingly and cheerfully undertaken by Derek Hampson for as long as I can remember. I am sure you will all join me in thanking him for his sterling efforts and wish him a pleasant retirement in the Netherlands!!

So why the long silence you may well ask?? Well Derek sent all the documentation relating to the Squadron to me back in August but unfortunately it has gone missing in the post. Derek has been able to reconstruct most of it from his PC and has emailed it to me so, hopefully, no long term damage has been done. So here we go!

One of the first things I have decided to do is ask you guys to let me know what you really want from the Squadron. Primarily I believe we are a bunch of like minded friends sharing a common interest in Bölkow aircraft be they 207, 208 or 209. The 208 Junior enjoys the greatest numbers in the UK and I think last time I checked there were 14 on the UK register. Add at least one German registered, but resident in the UK and you have 15. There is only one 207 on the UK register but a further three resident but remaining (very sensibly!!) on the German. There are also ten 209s on the UK register so we need to recruit a few more Monsun owners to our Squadron. Now there are several of these a/c that are owned and operated by groups but even if all were private owners the potential membership of the Squadron is in the order of thirty. Anyway the point that I am desperately trying to make is we need to get the word out to all potential members just in case they need us!!

Anyway let me bring you up to date with Bölkow news from this perspective.

Many of you will know that I have admired the Big Bölkow 207 for some time and it was always a toss up between that and a Jodel D140. The big problem has always been hangarage; you just cannot consider a wooden aeroplane without a good hangar. Anyway I managed to secure a slot in one of the new hangars at Popham and then set about finding an aeroplane to fill it. Enter one good German friend Gunther Butterweck, who just happened to know of a suitable steed and we were on our way. I toyed with the idea of putting a group around the two aircraft, my existing 208 D-EEAH and the 207 but fortuitously the right guy came along and I was persuaded to part with it. Vic Hurran was absolutely the right person to take responsibility for such a lovely example and several of you met him at Cranfield. A real gentleman and skilled pilot Vic was tragically killed in a freak accident while flying a paraglider in Spain. I hadn't known him for long but had come to think of him as a friend and I feel the loss. AH was inherited by his son Alexander, a licenced aircraft engineer, who has decided to keep her. He doesn't have his PPL yet so I ferried her to Bourn Park for him saw her safely into a hangar for the winter. Who knows what the future will now hold for the pair.

Negotiations for the purchase of the 207 became very protracted and at one time I became convinced he was going to withdraw it from sale. After all he had owned it for twenty odd years and was only the second keeper from new in 1963!

However he commissioned Gunther to find him a good 209 and once this was successful it all slotted into place. I flew out to Dusseldorf courtesy of Buzz and the sale was completed by lunchtime the next day. A quick check flight to make sure I hadn't forgotten about taildraggers and I was ready to head for home. Only Gunther and I still had a few beers to drink so I went the next day!!

So what is a 207 like to fly then? Well I must say I am chuffed to little mothballs with it! It is an absolute delight with silky smooth, nicely harmonised controls and a fair turn of speed. 2300 RPM with 23inches sees 127 knots at about 8-8.5GPH. And it will carry four reasonable adults with full fuel and a bit of baggage. Very similar in many ways to the big Jodel, not quite such a good load carrier but faster and smoother with its higher wing loading. And so quiet both inside and out, I am amazed how little noise it makes on take off even with the constant speed prop. Anyone who would like to fly it would be more than welcome and you can judge for yourselves. Two friends have joined me with the 207 and we are on the lookout for three more. I would like to welcome Olaf Baars and Martin Burlock to our happy band of Bölkowers. Whilst on the subject of new and prospective members (I'll get round to asking them for some subs later!!!) here are two more! Gurnot Schwetz is now the proud owner of D-EFJD, the 209 that was owned by Bill Wynne. Gurnot has built a Europa and is now well into an RF6 and has the 209 based at Old Sarum. Secondly Martin Stevens has bought 207 D-EFTI which has, for the last few years, been on a farm strip up in wildest Lincolnshire. If I remember rightly from what Martin told me when he flew in to Popham, it is now based at Turweston. A warm welcome to both.

Now just to prove that this is a dynamic document and also to remind myself that it has been too long in the writing, I have just learned of another 207 in the UK! Mark Hayles, who sold D-EFTI to Martin Stevens has now bought D-EHYX which resides with him in darkest Lincolnshire. So I now make five 207s in the UK with four of those on the German register! This includes D-EBLI which I think is at Crowfield but haven't, as yet managed to track down the owner. The 207 will be chasing the Monsun soon for second place in the numbers stakes!

OK by way of some light relief from me prattling on about the 207 (very good aeroplane by the way???..or have I said that already!!!!) picture the scene. Your boss breezes in one day and says "How about accompanying me on the London to Sydney air race? Oh and I am buying a new Malibu Mirage and you'll need a JAR type rating for that and that is best done in the States when we go over to pick the aeroplane up from the factory. The Bolkow will have been good grounding for you but I guess you had better get an IMC rating as well!!!"

So would you go for it? Well partner in Bolkow 208 G-ATXZ Chris Harris was the lucky recipient of that news and he did go for it and has written the first part of the adventure up for our delight and edification. This first epistle follows and we must hope that he writes up his participation in the actual race which I understand leaves very shortly. Here is Chris's well written account:-

Malibu Across The Atlantic

Back in March ,1999 at the grand young age of 57, I retired as MD of a privately owned company and I now work for just a couple of days a week to keep the brain ticking and the bank manager a little happier!

My chairman and fellow pilot has a distinct sense of adventure and in recent years has sailed in a round the world yacht race and recently drove his Range Rover all the way to Australia wet bits excepted where he had to use a boat, as his walking on water ability is severely lacking. Some 4 years ago I had flown with him in a Piper Saratoga from Gloucester (Staverton) to Malta on the Malta Air Rally. Just after I retired he asked me if I would like to accompany him on the London to Sydney air race leaving on March 11th 2001 from Biggin Hill. As you can imagine, it took me all of a couple of seconds to make a decision. The route is via the so called "Kangaroo Route" used in ancient times by Qantas when Constellations and the like were the aircraft of the day. Across France, down the length of Italy, Middle East, India, Malaysia and so on.

Now my qualifications at the time were some 1600 hours and a CFI rating in gliders and a miserly 250 hours or so on power mainly in the Bolkow 208c G-ATXZ based at Tatenhill and Piper Pawnee tugging gliders at the Long Mynd. The aircraft I will be flying to Australia in is a PA46-350 Piper Malibu Mirage which has all the whistles and bells being retractable, pressurised, turbo charged, constant speed prop and so on plus an avionics fit that would make many an airline pilot jealous! The Malibu requires a specific JAR type rating before one is allowed to fly it as PIC so clearly I needed to gain experience quickly in a more complex type of aeroplane.

By the end of March 2000, after the usual torture by Dave Wood, I was the proud owner of an IMC rating completed totally on the Tatenhill Aviation Piper Arrow G-OMHC which put me part way towards the required experience. Incidentally I highly recommend the IMC rating if you have the time, money and inclination. Philip, my boss, wanted me to be totally capable of flying as P1 in the Malibu so the next requirement was to gain the type rating. This is where, at long last I hear you say, the Trans Atlantic bit comes in.

Philip had decided to trade in his original Malibu for the latest version with more bells and whistles and the new one was due to be collected in September 2000. It was not long before he was asking me if I would like to go with him to the States to collect the new aircraft and fly it back with a ferry pilot to the UK. Well I thought it would be churlish to refuse so made the enormous effort to go with him. The smile on my face was difficult to disguise for weeks! Mr. Piper very kindly throws in a Malibu conversion course with each new plane he sells which was the prime reason to be there.

So on the 20th September I was in a hotel just short of Gatwick to fly out to Orlando early on the 21st courtesy of a British Airways 747-400. On arrival at Orlando we piled into a hire car and drove the hundred miles down the coast to Vero Beach, home of the new Piper Aircraft Co. Monday morning at 8am sharp I was being introduced to my instructor, Steve, for three days of ground school on a one to one basis. Training for Malibu buyers is contracted out to Simcom, a subsidiary of PanAm International Flight Training. It was all very intensive and seriously hard work for my tired old brain. It was a total shock to my system when I was told that, on day two by midday, I would be taking the JAR type conversion exam paper. Talk about wiping the smile off my face! I think I was suffering shock for a few minutes after this stunning revelation. The Malibu reference manual is many inches thick and to learn all it contains in some 36 hours seemed a bit of a tall order. However the instruction given was thorough and some midnight oil burning followed by a very short night's sleep saw me totally lacking confidence in my ability to pass written exams! However come the dreaded hour and I was sat down at my desk with Part 1 of the two part exam paper in front of me. It was all multiple choice and, apart from one very mind boggling double negative question, fairly straight forward. I wonder why exam setters delight in adding to the terror by choosing to play silly devils with the English language? Anyway Part 1 was soon done and then on to more of the same with Part2. The required pass rate was 75% and the actual papers are sent on to our very own friends at the CAA to form part of the type rating test. I was amazed to get a complete 100% in part one and an overall 90%. "Phew" I can tell you it was a great relief to get that bit out of the way.

After a short lunch break, at the end of the paper exam, it was onward to the dreaded simulator for a day and a half of torture. Steve expressed some concern as to how he was going to conduct this part of my training as he had only ever carried out training with fully instrument rated pilots before and he was wondering how to deal with VFR only conversion training. I quickly put his mind at rest by asking for the full IFR treatment. There followed a mixture of teaching with some four hours of simulator time flying VOR, GPS, NDB, STARS, SIDS and so on complete with every conceivable aircraft system failure from total engine loss to intermittent hydraulic failure, most of them occurring at a really busy time. The simulator was non moving but very realistic in all other respects with good graphics. The very last bit of torture was a limited panel ILS approach. I must say I thoroughly enjoyed it all. Although the work load seemed pretty horrific at times, the quality of the instruction was excellent and there is no doubt in my mind that the whole course was worth every minute of the three days. I now hold a pass certificate for the ground school part of the type rating with the flying test to be carried out in the UK in the new aircraft.

The main aim of this particular adventure was to fly back across the pond with the new aircraft but first we had a few days to kill waiting for the plane to be flown from Hartford, Connecticut to Portland, Maine by Alex, our ferry pilot, where we were to join him for the onward flight. Although the aircraft was built at Piper's Vero Beach plant, it had been flown to Hartford for additional instrumentation to be fitted. These consisted of an ADF (NDB's being a dying breed in the USA thanks to GPS) Garmin 530 and 430 GPS's and a superb Sandell liquid crystal display HSI and autopilot.

We decided to kill a couple of days as tourists in Florida, starting with a guided tour around the Piper Aircraft facility. It was a fascinating sight to see the various production processes. I was surprised that to see that almost every bit of the aircraft is manufactured on site with the exception of the engine and instrumentation. Very little seems to bought in already made. It was also amusing to see a batch of new rudders being made for the good old Piper Cub, no longer built but still supported by the factory. The next day we had booked a flight with the Warbird Collection at Kissemee in two Harvards for some formation flying and aerobatics. Half an hour cost £200 in UK dosh and was worth every single penny. We were particularly lucky to be joined by a third, privately owned Harvard, for a three ship close formation return to the airfield. This terminated in a running break overhead the runway for a streamed landing in turn. Absolute magic is the only way to describe it. Be warned, I show the video of the actual flight at the merest hint of interest! If you are anywhere near Kissemee ever, do go and spend the money. It was just fantastic to experience such close formation flying and not a second of time was wasted during the flight. I reckon I flew just about every aerobatic manoeuvre possible with excellent tuition- barrel rolls, aileron rolls, loops, half Cubans, four and eight point rolls included. My smile lasted for days!

After a lazy day enjoying the sunshine, humidity and a mega thunder storm, which closed the open air pool we were at, it was time to return to Orlando to hop on a shuttle flight to Portland, Maine to see the new Malibu for the first time and meet Alex Haynes, our ferry pilot for the Atlantic crossing. The aircraft looked superb and Alex soon made us feel confident in his ability. We collected our hired liferaft and survival immersion suits ready for departure early in the morning from Portland. The 20th September saw us all up early to breakfast and off to the airfield to clear customs and on our way. Oops- Alex soon fell out with the customs guy who did not seem to be at all co-operative particularly with the very important export valuation document. After about 15 minutes of hassle Alex decided enough was enough and firmly told our customs friend to "forget it". So our first leg became Portland to Bangor, Maine where he reckoned the customs knew what they were doing. We had an interesting few minutes at Bangor as we taxied in when Alex persuaded Philip to taxi in between a Cessna and a ground vehicle. It looked impossible close and Alex took over to taxi between them. I would have shut down and had the vehicle moved but he clearly knew his wing spans and we just made it through the gap. He was certainly right about the customs at Bangor. Within five minutes everything was signed sealed and delivered. Alex said Bangor was the most frequently used departure airfield for North Atlantic ferry flights and therefore everyone knew exactly what was required. Philip and I both got to sign the unique ferry pilot's log book that records all departures from Bangor on the North Atlantic route. We were then back into the plane for the first leg across Canada to Goose Bay in Labrador, passing quite close to my brother's home in New Brunswick. I gave him a wave as we passed by and wished I could have met him for a brief reunion.

To say Goose Bay is a bit bleak is an understatement. Apart from the USAF Base, there is not a lot else. We stayed overnight in a no star hotel which was, to say the least, basic. However the room was warm and the bed comfortable. We ate at the Trappers bar where we enjoyed magnificently tender T-bone steaks which are provided a la Tesco style, wrapped in cellophane on plastic trays. You could have your steak exactly as you liked it. No-one else to blame if it was not cooked to your liking as you were expected to cook it yourself on the griddle at the end of the bar! Chips and mushrooms (eventually) came courtesy of the kitchen. A fun experience that was a bit different and the steaks were truly huge although Alex found room for a second one! Breakfast the next morning was provided by Philip with whatever he could find in the fridge in the primitive dining room.

We left before 6am for an early start to beat some bad weather which was catching us up. But not before we had woken up a German ferry crew who were flying a new Cessna Citation back home. This day I was really looking forward to as it had been agreed that I would be handling pilot for both legs in the left hand seat. We set off for Narsarsuaq in Greenland, some 900 miles away. I was cleared to climb to our service ceiling of 25,000 and we were on our way across the first long sea crossing. I saw just over 300 knots groundspeed on the GPS for much of this flight with a healthy 50 knot tailwind helping us along. Most of the landmass was obscured by low cloud so apart from odd glimpses of mountains and then sea there was not a lot to look at. We saw several airliners as we flew and chatted on the odd occasion on 123.45. One lone voice out of the ether said "is that really a Malibu this far north?" Apart from that it was mostly time to play with the toys and start to understand the GPS and Sandell HSI. We discovered that if the GPS losses it's signal the autopilot immediately starts to turn the aircraft through 90 degrees. A bit disconcerting the first time it happened to me but it sure does grab your attention that something is not quite right here! We had this happen about three times in all and just for a few minutes as the signal was lost. It shows that total reliance on a GPS is still questionable and it is not at all a bad idea to have back up at the ready. As we neared Narsarsuaq we were given a cloudbase of some 1000' so I was delighted when Alex said we would fly the old ferry pilot route up the long fjord leading to the airfield. I started the descent some 85nm out from FL250. Actual cloudbase was between 500/600' as I approached the coast. There are two fjords to choose from. Get the wrong one and trouble is guaranteed as it is a dead end with no room to turn and high cumulous granite all around. Fortunately the combination of three GPS's plus Alex's experience avoided this difficulty as he pointed out to me the right fjord entrance and we were on our way. Some 25 miles of low level flying at 150knots with rock on both sides, low cloud above and crystal blue sea below complete with icebergs. We passed by a small coaster at bridge height waving to the crew who must have thought that WW3 was about to start. Boy was this exhilarating and probably the riskiest part of the flight! An engine failure here would have seen us in freezing water in no time and certainly no time to get into immersion suits. It was at this point that Alex told us about the C172 he had ditched off the coast of Spain some years earlier! Anyway back to the arrival at Narsarsuaq- after some time of relatively straight flight down the length of the fjord it turns sharp left. Time to hug the left side and slow down, then left turn, level off drop the gear and flaps, turn sharp right and there is the airfield on the other side of the fjord at 90 degrees to the water. Flight time for this leg was 3 hours 5 minutes. We planned to stop here for the briefest time just to refuel and grab a coffee. Our German friends arrived in the Citation just after us having made a much later start. They were moaning about noisy Brits waking them up at the Goose Bay "hotel". We thought they were narked because we got our towels on the runway first!

Our early continuation to Reykjavik, Iceland was delayed somewhat when we were asked if we would wait for a Boeing 757 to get away before us. We gave in gracefully and settled for a half hour delay. We could have insisted on going but Alex has to go through again in the future and the 757 crew would not have been pleased at getting stuck below our FL250. There being no radar surveillance, procedural flying would have kept them low if we went first. It was interesting watching the big jet make it's departure on the shortish runway but the power to weight ratio of an empty 757 is pretty staggering and it shot off like a moon rocket disappearing into the clag in no time. We followed a few minutes later with yours truly still the handing pilot. Alex asked me to hand fly throughout the departure so we could make the maximum rate of climb by flying at exactly the best climb speed, something the auto pilot is not so good at. Due to high surrounding terrain I had to fly West initially back the wrong way over the Atlantic until we had 5000' under us then reverse course to ensure we were above the 8000' mountains. We were soon back over sea at 25000' watching what looked a pretty calm North Atlantic although, as Alex said, if you can see white from this height the sea will be rough. It was interesting to see the big GPS display showing blue in both directions for many miles unless the map scale was moved out to some 2000 miles. About half way across we were overtaken by our German friends in the Citation who must have been a bit annoyed at having to stay down below us at a less fuel efficient FL240. As soon as we made radio contact with Icelandic control we were able to tell them that we had seen the Citation undertake us and it was cleared to FL290. This leg took some 4hours 15 minutes and terminated with a very hectic arrival at Reykjavik just as daylight was fading. The wind was gusting at up to 20 knots at almost 90 degrees so I was kept well on my toes as I tried to put it down gently. Not one of my prettier arrivals I have to confess but no damage to the machinery so it must count as a good landing! We had an overnight stay at the Loftleidair Hotel which is just about 100 yards from the airfield boundary. A luxury night after the experience of Goose Bay. We dined in the HardRock Cafe and admired the stunning scenery - mainly blue eyed and blond! We did not take too long to hit the hay after quite a busy, long day. That was the end of my stint in the left seat as Philip had claimed the next two legs, from Iceland to Flint in Scotland and on down to Hurn, Bournemouth after refuelling. I was impressed that he could sit in the back and let me play with his new aeroplane for over seven hours. The final two legs were without drama although I was impressed with the ease of IFR flight down the length of the UK above the weather which had taken a turn for the worse. Whilst I enjoy VFR flying, it does make for an easy life when vectors and handovers to the next controller are provided. Philip and Alex were amused when I said that I could see Tatenhill, and our Bolkow on the ground, out to the east after we passed Manchester.

We arrived at Bournemouth quite late in the afternoon with not a lot of fuel left in the tanks as Alex had calculated the last fuel uplift very carefully. The ferry company have to pay for the fuel used on delivery out of the fee they receive so, like a borrowed car, the wish is to arrive with just the required minimum reserve. I have to say that Alex was very impressive. He had a very relaxed appearance but did not miss a thing. The result I guess of many ferry flights. He regaled us with some fascinating stories including how to cope with hand flying a 172 in Africa whilst suffering from a distinctly upset tummy and talking to a controller all at the same time! Philip was met by his partner Sharon and quickly left for home but not until we had popped the champagne provided by Anglo American Airmotive, who sold him the aeroplane. Alex cadged a lift into Bournemouth where he was meeting an old friend for a meal before leaving for the States the next day via Gatwick. I stayed a night with my younger son and his wife to be, who lives in Poole, before returning to the Midlands by coach. Boy does that make you aware of the advantages of plane travel!

Well that's the end of this particular adventure. Late in November I am due to have some more flying training in the Malibu leading to the issue of my type rating. I then need to have ten hours on it as PIC to be accepted by the race organisers as one of the P1's aboard. Then next March the big one as we fly to Sydney. If you are on the web, you can follow our progress on WWW.AIRRACE.COM.AU.

John Webb February 2001