Monday, 9 September 2013

The Aviatrix And The Auster

Thank you Jerry Hughes
Thank you Ray Barber

Over 15 years ago I was introduced to Lisa. Very bright, tall and slim with sparkling curious eyes portraying a glimpse of something a little different.
At the time, Lisa owned a share in a Jodel, a small late 50's tailwheel aircraft, flying from a small idyllic,colonial style farm strip on the Wiltshire and Gloucestershire border.
Having spent that afternoon as Lisa's enthusiastic passenger, visiting midland airfields and welsh coastlines before cutting across the little wilderness off the Brecon Beacons. Flying at low levels only too suitable to dramatise the sudden vertigo prompting, dizzy drops of steep wind filled escarpments.
Throughout all of this Lisa reveled in the challenges of navigation, crosswinds and fidgety aircraft handling.
15 years later and I am all the richer for having had the opportunity to be involved in many more flying adventures where in some form or another Lisa is involved.

The list of aircraft flown and owned by Lisa is impressive. With an intrepid ability in flying her two huge radial engined aircraft, the Antonov AN2 (the worlds largest single engined bi plane) and her YAK 12 (described as a Piper Cub on steroids) ability beyond many pilots and comparable with the stories of the bold square jaw.....male.... pilots of the Yukon and Kenya.

 Lisa has adventures of flying across France (on one occasion almost shadowing my route as I delivered a customers 30's RR Phantom to the Swiss border), Germany and among Scandinavian coastlines and landscapes. She has survived, broken undercarriages, thunder storms, engine failures, unexpected overnight sleeps alongside broken engined aircraft and detention by over enthusiastic Gendarmes.
With accomplished technical ability she has naturally progressed in to partnerships with European aircraft companies, advancing deeper in to the innovative light aviation industry.

You can imagine my enthusiasm when Lisa e.mailed me asking if I would be able to help with a project!
Now living and working in Germany, We arranged a meeting the next time she came home to her English cottage (a beautiful beamed cottage restored mostly with her own hands).
We met a few weeks later and excitedly I approached her first garage, the one that had memories of Lisa inviting me to view spectacular first runs of a Jet engine she had made from an old truck turbocharger and some sheet steel that she had formed and welded. I clearly remember stepping a little backwards as the leaf blower struggled to feed an insatiable appetite of the fiery, whining, crackling, moaning and shrieking monster! Oh yes, I forgot any aspirations of seeming to be macho or brave when in her company, whether flying or jet engine testing!
The garage up and over door revealed a 1944 de Havilland Gipsy Major engine, sitting and waiting.
On to the next garage and there, amongst the DIY and building material boxes, sits G-AGXU, waiting patiently after an ignominious grounding.

Alpha - Golf - Xray - Uniform is a 1946/47 Auster J1N Autocrat. Originally designed by the american Taylorcraft company, as a light aircraft suitable for rugged short field operations and later military gunnery observation and transport wartime operations. The British Auster J1N has a 130hp Gipsy engine, upgraded from it's Cirrus predecessor. Large wings and four seats provide a robust, practical workhorse and commuter, the "Autocrat" label hinting at the intended post war market.

This particular Auster enjoyed summery days out, touring the English and European countryside under finger tip guidance of an adventurous lady pilot.
On this sunny afternoon, Xray Uniform landed serenely in a meadow and waited as her passengers went to tea (cue Ralph Vaughan Williams "Lark Ascending" music).
Do not be misled.
Like predatorial pike within river bank shadows, a group of shading cows beneath English oak, clearly had other ideas, the bovine wrecking crew closed in (cue Jaws theme) and with great delight, rasp like tongues licked and munched their way through Auster fabric.............not to mention the dope woooo.

"XU" sat, naked and dejected, waiting.

And so now, over a very long time, it is to be rebuilt and return to heady flying adventures with the Adventurous Aviatrix!







Following two days of sorting and loading X U is now safely in my workshop, applying the old adage "if you place parts of a light aircraft in to a workshop they grow tenfold"! I am sure these must be 777 wheels!







Nice above picture, Toy Box I think.







No comments:

Post a Comment