It is with great pleasure I advise that I flew ML407 from our base at Bentwaters on the 30th March following the winter maintenance and the incredible continued generosity of JLT Insurance Brokers in sponsoring the insurance of the Grace Spitfire for 2012.
ML407 was fully operational and ready to fly at the end of January, as is our usual timing. However we had to install an updated radio removing the 1984 installation to meet with current requirements, as I said in our newsletter. This installation, though replacing like with like, required a modification to be submitted to the Civil Aviation Authority to be compliant with regulations. The modification process is long and difficult and it was fortunate that we managed to get it through as quickly as we did.
One of the many impacts on aviation of the Olympics this year has been that a transponder, that identifies your exact position on radar when you put in an issued number, which provides a read out of your altitude is fitted. Without this there would be no opportunity to fly the displays booked in the Olympic period and new allocated airspace created for the time. As ever this was an expense we could ill afford and we were very fortunate indeed when Trig Avionics said they would provide their latest Transponder completely free of charge, bringing ML407 right up to date. Such generosity is inspired and I am delighted to advise that the Trig TT22 Transponder was tested by me yesterday with RAF Wattisham Air Traffic and it passed with flying colours. Not only does it work perfectly but the ease of use meets all a pilot could wish for. Have a look at Trig Avionics website for the press release on ML407.
The overhauled oil cooler is truly excellent giving our Merlin engine lovely cool oil throughout the flight resulting in comforting high oil pressure. Jerry Marshall at Anglia Radiators has done an outstanding job on our oil cooler.
The engine performance was exactly as required with the flying characteristics being crisp and responsive. The rudder has had the fabric replaced and looks pristine and also handles as I would expect.
All systems worked correctly with the gear, flaps and brakes all operating swiftly and in accordance with the book figures. The engine driven fuel pump was overhauled as well which involved the specialised setting of the fuel pressure, that controls the fuel sent to the carburettor. Nothing is simple!
As you can see the two flights I carried out were very informative and show what an experienced and meticulous team our Engineers are having completed a 100 hour inspection together with the additional items above to the standard resulting in a fully serviceable aircraft.
The Grace Spitfire supportersâ€™ continued generosity with their renewals in November/December, in this difficult financial climate, contributed enormously to the funding of the expensive winter maintenance and additional parts.
It is hugely pleasing and rewarding for us all that ML407 is ready for the 2012 season and I would like to seriously thank all involved in this successful outcome.