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March 2017 banner

Monday, 25 June 2018

The Wow-Prop...

When changing to the Simonini engine I increased the pitch of my 66 inch Warp Drive prop but had the impression I didn't get the performance I expected. After long back and forth with a Spanish propeller maker I ordered a 2 blade custom built 72 inch wood prop. It looked soo good... and under winter conditions it worked well - not so in the less dense air of hot summer.
I have just received a swept blade (Scimitar) 72 inch prop from NR-prop in Ukraine (also known as "Kool prop" or "Luga prop" but I call it to "wow-prop"...) 
 My first impressions are very positive:
  • Very smooth
  • Low noise
  • 20+ km/h maximum speed
  • 700-1000 lower RPM at normal cruise speed
  • Unbeatable price
  • Good experience buying directly from Ukraine
Click to visit the NR-Prop
(My only relation to NR prop is as a happy customer)

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

"The difficult choice between skiing and flying" - the movie

The weather has not been great this winter. I had the skis on the plane for 2 months before finding a window in the clouds and winds. Wednesday March 14th was the magic day...

Monday, 18 December 2017

The best news this years

Avid is under new ownership. Mark Mendick, an engineer in Iowa, has taken over the dormant treasure of Avid Flyer and is building up a new business. Using the original jigs and fixtures the plan is to start by producing much needed spar parts and later propose entire kits. This is fantastic news for the current Avid Flyer community as well as for any Avid Flyer wannabees... Good luck Mark!
"Mark Mendick, a private pilot and mechanical engineer was looking for a way to own and enjoy a safe, reliable aircraft without the large financial burden. He, like many others, wanted to perform his own maintenance on the plane, make changes without hiring an A&P, and avoid costly hanger fees. Avid planes stuck out among other competitors as the best all around structure with more standard features for the money than any other kit plane. Mark purchased all rights to Avid Aircraft in order to bring the company back to the market and give others like him the opportunity to make affordable flying a reality."
[text from the AvidKitPlanes website]

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Autumn is for flying

When the sun stay low and the air is cold and stable it is the perfect time to go fly in the mountains, enjoying the sceneries and discovering mountain airfields. 
I'll stop here, the film talks for itself...

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

The first real problem

Yeah, I have had my first problem with my Simonini Victor 2 (spoiler alert, problem unrelated to Simonini!).
Since some time the engine got more difficult to start and didn’t spin as usual. Once started and warm I check the magnetos. As I use a “tiny tach” I can only see the actual RPM on one of the circuits but by ear the slight difference appeared normal.
I had a doubt in the air and, with sufficient altitude and airfield in view, did the test again. Left magneto “off” – no difference, actually none what so ever… Switched to the right magneto and had the impression I was running on one cylinder. Oops…!
After landing  I noticed that both magnetos appeared to work on low RPM but that the left magneto failed at higher RPM. This rapidly got worse and I noticed issues also on lower RPM where the engine would rapidly stop.
Revamping all connections from right to left, no difference. Simonini Victor 2 is using the same Ducati double ignition coils as Rotax 582 so it was easy to get a new one. Once installed all got back to normal.
So no blame on Simonini, with the same coil I would have had this issue on any engine...
"The most widely reported problem with the Rotax ignition system is in the failure of the ignition coils, and pickups on the Dual CDI engines." according to

One question remain... Why does a brand new ignition coil go bad after 140 hours?

Uphill landing

Corlier is beautiful mountain airfield with a 16% even slope. Not my best film but a September moment to share...

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Taildragger pilots have more fun

The french taildragger brotherhood (Confrerie des pilotes de "traine-queue") held their yearly fly-in on June 18th. As a first timer in the meeting I got my "Traine-queue" diploma and had a great day. Going without my cameras was obviously not an option so I hope you enjoy the film.

Friday, 19 May 2017

German Avid Flyer meeting postponed

This morning I woke up to 7 degrees Celsius and pouring rain.
In case you missed it, it is May 19th and I live in France...
I was not surprised when I found both a text message and a mail from Germany saying that the Avid Flyer meeting had been postponed.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Hoping for better weather

It started with a mail through the contact form on this blog and ended up with an invitation to the annual German Avid Flyer meeting...
The meeting is planned for May 20th/21st at the small airfield in Dolmar-Kühndorf. The place looks spectacular and I'm decided to go (well, fly...). The German aeronautic map has arrived and my flight plan is ready - the only thing missing is an improved weather forecast. So far April and May has been dreadful and the forecast is not looking too promising... be followed...

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Over 100.000 visits on the counter…

Yes, I understand the 100.000+ visits is including bots and other spam hits... but still...
I started this blog May 2010 when I replaced my Rotax 532 with a Simonini Victor 2. It was, at that time, difficult to find firsthand information on that engine so I wanted to share my experience for the benefit of others...
After a hard landing 2013 I decided to not limit the repair to just the area around the landing gear but to do a complete renovation of the plane. Now I had difficulties finding firsthand experience and feedback on the Oratex products I planned to use… so why not share that as well including the rebuild process…
Today the plane is flying again and the blog is (while I continue to accumulate, and report, hours on the Simonini engine and Oratex) turning into a travel blog with photos and films about my flying "adventures" …

So who are you, you the visitor?  
Examining the frequency of search keywords, referring sites and URL used to reach this blog I deduct 3 main categories of visitors, those interested in 
  • the Simonini engine,
  • the use of Oratex,
  • the Avid Flyer in general. 
To help you find what you are looking for I have added tags to the posts so you can filter on your specific area of interest.

If your main interest is my films you can, while all films will be posted on this blog, subscribe to my YouTube Channel.
YouTube account required to subscribe
Don’t hesitate to add a comment on what you want to see more of and tell me why you are coming back to this blog over and over again…
My "like button" is the field for your comments and I always respond to questions and private mails sent through the contact form.

Monday, 10 April 2017

You can’t see the prop when it is spinning...

I must admit.. my 2 blade wood prop was, while being beautiful, not a success. So much for nostalgia…
I got really good take off performance but I lost in speed and got vibrations I didn’t need… 
Another problem I had not anticipated is the need for different pitch during really hot summer periods compared to the rest of the year…
So I increased the pitch on my old smooth running Warp Drive and put it back on. I gained 15 kph / 10mph (10-15%). We will see about the consumption...

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Finally, a pneumatic tail wheel!

Original (solid) Maule tailwheel
Like most Avid Flyers mine came with the classic Maule tail wheel. I find the Maule mechanism working great but the solid wheel way too hard. On a smooth paved runway it works great but anywhere else you really want something more shock absorbing...
Real tundra tail wheels are ridiculously expensive as they require a complete tail wheel assembly so I decided to go for a low-cost compromise.
Matco sell a 6 inch pneumatic nose wheel that is also used in one of their tail wheel assemblies. (Links to wheel and tire)
It is made for a thicker axis but with a few tubes, ordered from an on line bearing supplier, it is easy to adapt.
I mounted it on the plane just before my last flight and made 3 landings. With approximately the same diameter the mechanism is working like before but the vibrations and the "shaking" is reduced. It is not a dramatic difference but well worth the investment.
It should be noted that the Matco wheel is, once in place, 750g (1.63 lbs) lighter than the Maule wheel.

Friday, 10 March 2017

Now with sound (again)

Back in November 2016 I posted my film Old Dreams Never Die on YouTube. In less than 2 months I got more than 2000 views (that is a lot for one of my films in that short time) and a lot of very nice comments (thank you!).
...and then something happened that might be of interest for those of you who make and post videos on YouTube...

I don't monetise my films, primary because I’m a pure and altruistic person but also, and only way down the list, as you need more than my current 87 subscribers and millions of views rather than my 35.000 total views (thanks mum!) to make any money out of it….
This allows me to, rather than using free elevator music, use almost any copyrighted music that I like – and through pure magic YouTube identifies the music and monetises it for the benefit of the copyright owner! Talk about win-win!
There are exceptions to this where you cannot use the chosen music at all but in most cases the policy is “Monetised by copyright owner” and "Ads can appear".
You can also verify the policy for your chosen music in advance HERE

If you read the fine print on YouTube you will find the following
Note: Copyright holders can change their policies and issue copyright takedown notices under certain circumstances. Your video's status could change in the future (and may even be removed from YouTube) if the copyright owner changes the policy that applies to the music in your video.

After 2 months and the 2000+ views (with all the music) I suddenly discovered that the entire film had been muted due to copyright infringement on 2 songs that both are (still) listed as If you use this song:
Playback: Viewable worldwide
Advertising: Ads can appear
There is no explanation given to the change in my video’s "status" (maybe it was seen as offensive…?) and I didn’t even get a mail from YouTube when it was muted…

I have now replaced the 2 songs, one by the same song but performed by another artist and one by a completely different song. They are both to be monetized by the claimants and I hope the status will not change...

For a better viewing experience you can CLICK THIS LINK to see the film directly on YouTube or you can see it here on the blog by clicking the image below.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

New jar, new label, same gherkins...

I created this blog as I didn't find much information about the Simonini Victor 2 engine that I had, in despite of this, decided to buy with the intention to share my experience.
When I later completely rebuild my Avid Flyer and covered it with Oratex the "Avid Flyer Simonini 2 Adventure" blog temporarily became the The Oratex Adventure blog.

The Simonini engine now have more that 100 hours and the rebuild is complete. While I will continue to report on my experience as the engine get additional hours logged, as well as on the aging of Oratex, this is no longer a "Simonini Victor 2" or "Oratex" blog.

The posts will be about (my) flying adventures, thoughts about flying, enhancements and technical solutions, related photos and my films. In short, sharing my experience about living with an Avid Flyer aircraft.

Don't hesitate to let me know in the comments if there anything specific that you would like to see in the blog.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Close to Christmas (again...)

This has been a great flying year in despite the not always cooperative weather... greater in terms of quality (100%) than quantity (42 h)....
A year ago I did my first flight after completely rebuilding my plane after the the incident you have seen in my film "I had a dream" back in August 2013 (see it HERE again).
The real flying started in March with fine-tuning of the plane (and the rusty pilot). 
After long preparation, and thanks to good weather, I got my "revenge" when completing my "tour de France" in a 2 week flying adventure that you can see in the film "Old Dreams Never Die" (see it HERE again or scroll down to the previous post). 

I hope your year was as good and that 2017 will be even better!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Sorry, no new Christmas film this year but this one is almost a tradition by now...

For a better viewing experience see the film directly on YouTube by clicking HERE

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Old Dreams Never Die

NOTE Muted by YouTube!
Without forehand notice this film has recently been muted by YouTube. This is due to copyright issues with 2 of the songs in the film. As I don't make any money on my films I count on YouTube monetizing them to pay the copyright owners. Works perfectly 99% of time... but not this time, the author of 2 songs refused and the entire film is muted...  I will be uploading a new version shortly.
This is the story about my 2 weeks flying in France during August 2016. 
The trip start close to the alpes and the first destination is the Loire valley castles before going to the Atlantic coast and the 3 islands Belle Ile, Ile d'Yeu and Ile d'Oleron. From the islands down the coast to the Basque country before going inland to Massive Centrale and the center of France. The trip end with a short visit to the annual Ultra light festival at Blois before heading back to the mountains.

For a better viewing experience and control over resolution settings (the film is available in Full HD) you can view directly at YouTube by clicking here (opens a new  browser window)

Thursday, 8 September 2016

French Avid Flyer Association Meeting 2016

While preparing the film about my long flight this summer I just finished a "souvenir film" from this year's French Avid Flyer Association meeting. It is not really telling a story or showing any amazing scenery, it is just a souvenir and probably of little interest to anyone outside of the association....
The meeting was held at Sagy, a private airfield, in Burgundy. The chicken with crayfish (a classic french dish) at the restaurant and the grilled chicken Sunday lunch was obviously local, from Bresse (where else?) but the champagne was flown in by auto-gyro!

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

The (happy) end of a long journey

In short
  • 14 days
  • 3 islands 
  • 17 airfields
  • 2750+ km (straight line but I never fly straight line except over open water...)
  • 28+ engine hours (total 108h16)
  • No issues

See also posts from August 16th, 18th, 20th and 24th

Only a few days left and the trip continued over Massif Centrale at the center of France.

I spent a night at Brignode, an airstrip with a normally very nice, but this time closed, restaurant...
Call Cathy  in advance to make sure the restaurant is not closed...
I headed west the following day to the airstrip where my first (previous) plane live nowadays. I knew the owner would not be there but I was expected by other members of the local club.

Volcanic lakes

Artificial lakes
It was nice to see the J3 Kitten again. I have a lot of excellent memories (including my first engine failure...) from this plane.
J3 Kitten
I had planned to sleep here but run into a British couple waiting for friends arriving from the UK in their ultralight - they were all going to the France based English Ultra light flying school "Wanafly Airsports" who organized a "Chilli and Cheese Fly In"... Irresistible and only 10 minutes flight away I rapidly found myself invited..!
Wanafly Airsports - a corner of paradise!
The Kittens playing at the Wanafly Fly In Chilli and Cheese party
I spent a fantastic evening with wonderful people, excellent chilli, French cheese and top notch live music! 
We are now getting very close to the end of my trip and the last stop is Blois where the 35th edition of Europe's biggest Ultralight Fair and Festival take place.
Blois is the place to meet all the people, see all the products and feel the new trends. The rotor wing trend we have seen over the last years continues with refinement of auto gyros and new sexy helicopters. 
There is also a a strong trend for high performance, fixed wing, planes. Most are from eastern Europe but there was even a Swedish (!) plane presented. If you are not flirting with 300 km/h you will be laughed at... Most (all?) of those are really on (over?) the limit of ultralight according to the French regulations and, while very attractive, not really in the ultra light spirit...
The Shark
More in the ultralight spirit was the replicas presented, I particularly liked the Stampe (1:1 scale) replica that will fit regulations, nostalgia dreams and ultralight spirit.
I noticed what I hope to be a new trend, an increase in tail wheel planes. Back to basics. I like that.

When taking off the next morning the weather had degraded, temperatures were lower and I even had some rain on the way back home.
Not stopping for lunch I served myself an complimentary in flight snack...
Always complimentary chocolate milk and cookies on our flights

Arriving at my home base I had a strong feeling of accomplishment. This flight has been in my dreams for over 3 years now and it was even better in real life!
Yesss! I did it!

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

The last island

As expected, Monday morning the wind had dropped and I could continue my journey. 
Leaving Ile d'Yeu
Traditional extraction of sea salt
Next stop was Ile d'Oleron, the last of the 3 islands. Having lost 2 days I planned only a lunch and on the VAC it said "restaurant at the airfield".
Approaching Ile d'Oleron (oyster culture I think...)
When arriving, in a rather different but very nice restaurant, it was to be informed by the owner, having his lunch with his parents, that the restaurant is closed on Mondays (and Tuesdays as we were past the magic French date "August15th"....) BUT if I didn't mind sharing their bread, sausage, pate, ham and melon I was more than welcome... 
The closed but still welcoming restaurant
A very nice meal and the father's stories from his career as helicopter pilot continued while he drove me to the filling station in his cabriolet...
The Courdouan lighthouse and sandbanks where the Gironde river meet the sea
Beach at the Atlantic coast
After that, 2 days with my wife and children in the Basque country before taking off for the center of France. 

Meeting up with wife and children

The mountain in the center of France, Massif Central, consist of rather low mountains and plateau. Compared to the alps, cross country is easy as there is easy to find places for eventual emergency landings (always know where to land!). While in the middle of the summer and thermal activity at it's maximum there conditions, even at mid day are calm compared to the alps. 
An impressive bend of the Lot river
I'm in Dordogne and settled down down for the night.
When in Dordogne duck breast is the given dinner...
So much for sightseeing... I noted a greater than normal EGT difference between the 2 cylinders and took out the spark plugs. One spark plug had some "stuff" between the electrode and whatever the other part is called... I cleaned them and the temperature was back to normal. My theory is that they don't like to start drowned in oil... While the new, longer, sparkplugs allows me to start even after a longer period of rest one sparkplug of each cylinder is still drowned in oil whilst the other is protruding and allows the engine to start. So, short stop not a problem, longer stop better purge the oil before starting. 
It is very hot here, 37 degrees celsius, 100 Fahrenheit, and the engine is taking excessive RPM at takeoff if I pull full throttle. When I grow up I will get an in flight adjustable prop...

To be followed...

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Grounded in paradise

In my dreams I'm an amazingly skilled daredevil pilot, flying in any condition and never afraid of anything. Well, today is reality and I find the gusty crosswind too strong both here for takoff and where I'm supposed to go next to be comfortable.
A very useful site

And it is expected to be the same tomorrow... Unless there come a dramatic change in the weather I will stay another 2 nights here.
Port-Joinville by night

You don't have to feel sorry for me, where are worse places to be grounded than Ile d'Yeu....

Port de la Meule
And it gives me ample time to prepare both myself and the plane for the next leg.
Refueling made easy with an electric bike 

Thursday, 18 August 2016

The next island...

After spending a day biking around the beautiful island of Belle Ile it was time to take off to the next destination; Ile d'Yeu. I had planned to leave mid morning but rain, low clouds and strong winds forced me to wait until 16:00 before taking off. There are worse ways to spend a few hours than finding a nice restaurant by the docks in Le Palais at Belle Ile....
The clouds dissipated and the wind showed a tendency to weaken, time to take off. I could not resist tour of the island before leaving...
Belle Ile living up to it's name

Aftre 2 hours I approached Ile d'Yeu, a place I adore after visiting several times (by ferry...).
Port-Joinville Ile d'Yeu
For me, landing at the Ile d'Yeu airfield was another important milestone on this trip.
Tied down at the Ile d'Yeu airfield
Back to basics... the Simonini Victor 2 appears to like the maritime climate. The air was cooler and as I flying high when transiting over the sea I used my new cabin heater (working very well) the engine temperatures remained low. There was nothing to make me feel uncomfortable while flying over open water.
To be followed...

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Old dreams never die...

If you followed this blog you know that 3 years ago I started a flight around France, planned for a week but interrupted when stopped (by a hard landing) at lunch the first day. If you go to my youtube page you can see the film ("I had a dream"). Well, revenge is a dish best served cold... so after 3 years, including the complete re-build of my plane, it was time to revive my dream.
With few changes to the initial plan I started my dream trip this Monday (August 15th). I must admit it was with a certain apprehension I landed (very successfully this time) for lunch at the same airfield as 3 years ago. 
I continued my trip by flying over a selection of the Loire valley castles. Between the ones I had planned for I discovered more castles than you can shake a stick at. (By the way, I'm asking to be educated, so if someone knows the origin of this lovely expression please post it in the comment/question section.)
Le Château de Chambord

Le Château de Chenonceau
After the castles I spent the night a tiny, private, airfield. I had called in advance and was met by local pilots as friendly as their clubhouse was charming... I will be returning!
The Jacopeau clubhouse
In this charming clubhouse there is a bar, a kitchen, shower and a beds for passing pilots... My plane slept in the hangar while I declined the bed and slept outside in my tent in the (slightly) fresher night - it is exceptionally hot here at the moment.
The second day I continued towards the Atlantic coast flying over amazing sceneries.. 
While far from finished I feel I can declare this adventure a success - I have reached the first of the islands, Belle Ile:
Le Palais Belle Ile
Admire the absolutely charming control tower...
Belle Ile control tower, arrival and departure halls, airport bar and offices,.. 
"Belle Ile" means the beautiful island, I will be spending all day tomorrow exploring the island but so far it looks very promising.
OK, I know, you are not following my blog to read about my holidays and other of my wet dreams so back to basics... I'm now at almost 90 hours on the Simonini and the last 8 has been in very hot conditions. The engine is behaving very well, no issues starting and well in flight. I removed the last strip of alu tape on the radiator at my first landing as the hot weather slightly increased the normal temperatures. Level flight around 65 degrees Celsius and about 80 when climbing. No issues to report.
To be followed...