This is the story of owning and operating a 1993 Beech Bonanza A36 in the UK and some of its adventures and flights. I have owned this plane for over six years now.
Well what a great day out I had to St Marys in the Isle of Scilly yesterday to recover the A36 Bonanza.
I like most pilots are desperate for a mission, just tell me your cat needs running to a specialist vet in France and I am your man and the Bonanza is the plane for the job. Last year I picked up two ancient clocks from Biggin Hill for a friend. I think the fuel cost more than the clocks!
Now yesterdays mission, if I chose to accept it, along with my two musketeers was to fly to St Marys on some island just off my favourite place (Cornwall) with a new tyre which need to be fitted to my Beech Bonanza and then I was to fly off the island from a 600 metre strip with a severe upward slope along the first 60% of the runway.
I have to say I was a little apprehensive but I thoroughly enjoyed my day out in the end and the Bonanza is safely back in Hangar 3 at Blackpool who look after G-FOZZ so well when it is not slumming it on a windswept island somewhere.
The flight down in M-GINZ was interesting as it was the first time I had been in a TB20 and also seemingly the first time a Manx registered plane had been into Scilly as they were confused about the registration.
The wind was 360 at 20 gusting 28 knots and the runway was 310 so it was an exciting approach. My willing volunteer pilot made a fantastic job of getting us down which if I am honest I didn't envy having to do. In the end the TB20 was stopped in under 300 metres with three on board so I couldn't grumble and within minutes we had the wheel changed and were off for a quick lunch in the island capital which was very nice. (if you have been to a nice village in Cornwall you will know what it looks like)
Now when it came to leaving I have to say I had a little apprehension about the take off run up a severe incline and only 600 metres to play with so like a gentleman I let a Warrior with only 140 horsepower go first, then my friend in the TB20 and assuming they didn't end in a field or the sea I deemed it fit to go. In fact I lifted off at the top of the hill with at least 250 metres remaining so it wasnt too bad. I would have been worried if I had been heavy however.
The flight home mostly at FL70 was great despite picking up a little ice. A pit stop at Sleap for tea and cakes in the cafe there run by a delightful filipino lady who made her own cakes. (If you are thinking of dropping in she is away for 6 weeks she says now).
Now the Bonanza A36 performed fantastically and it is the first day out playing in planes that I have been able to enjoy for a long time so I wasn't too unhappy about the mission but a word of caution for fellow pilots going in to Scilly. It really is a challenging runway and you must be very familiar with your steed if you want to avoid embarrassment or even death. Its a lovely place to visit but just make sure you are comfortable with your landing technique including crosswinds, short field, wind shear etc. The Scilly landing can provide you with all sorts of excitement and this tale proves that.
Having said all that dont let me put you off going there as it is a lovely place and well worth seeing.
This weekend one of the members of my group took the Bonanza for his first away day trip and chose to go to the Isles of Scilly. A beautiful place just about 25 miles off the tip of Cornwall. Unfortunately the Bonanza was not to return.........
...........well at least not the same day because the pilot was to suffer a blow out on the runway that made news on the Scilly Isles, blocking the runway for a while.
Unfortunately Scilly does not have a maintenance facility and not even the equipment to jack up the Bonanza so the pilot was forced to leave the plane parked safely and return to Blackpool via a combination of a helicopter, a train and a long car journey.
The Bonanza A36 is currently well and truly stuck just off the runway at St Mary's so if you see a Beechcraft Bonanza looking sorry for itself with a flat tyre down there you please tell it I still love it and will be down soon. :)
I have the pleasure of going down on Wednesday with the new tyre and a mechanic with the appropriate jack to change the wheel and then fly out of the 600 metre airport that serves these lovely islands.
I am however strangely looking forward to it. Its a great excuse to take a day off work and go flying. Best of all I am getting a lift down in a well equipped TB20.
Well recently I got the opportunity to have a flight in a microlight and I was pretty impressed with it.
A friend of a friend agreed to swap a flight in a Pegasus Flex Wing with a Rotax 912 engine that powers many light aircraft today with a flight in the Bonanza A36. It seemed a fair swap to me.
I visited the friends "hangar" which was a small but well organised shed in a farmers field in a secret location in deepest Lancashire. I was truly amazed at the power and performance of this machine. It was literally up and away before you could blink from a field to short to walk your dog.
The machine cruised at 55mph but could do a little more but frankly it was so cold at that speed I wouldn't really want to go much faster.
The view was amazing and the experience was great but I wouldnt want to swap my A36 Bonanza for one. Beechcraft are not in any danger of losing me as a customer just yet!
If I had £25k spare and a field big enough and Mrs F would allow me I would however have one of these things at home. They are great.