May 2007 - Build commences in Thorverton.
Saturday 5th May saw the first 3 Scouts from 3rd Exeter Air Scouts out at Tim's workshop together with their Scout Leader, Derek Andrew and PFA inspector John Skinner. After a safety talk by Tim and an engineering workmanship lecture by John, the boys set to work unpacking the components for the cabin assembly of the X-Air Hawk. With much studying of the plans and assembly instructions, the putting together of the parts soon identified the structure as the cockpit cage of an aircraft. Devon Strut member and Project Co-ordinator Jim Gale observed the keen intent and enthusiasm of the boys, so much so, that when he said "See you next week, fellas", they didn't even look up from the task in hand. There's concentration for you!
The next visit to Tim's workshop was organized for the following Thursday evening, as the Scouts will be flying this coming weekend, at the Devon Strut's Young Aviators day.
29th May 2008
A feverish amount of activity took place to get the aeroplane trailer configured for the Hawk and the aeroplane loaded, ready for transportation to the LAA regional Rally at Dunkeswell. The Barnstaple Scouts had been working away steadily each Thursday evening to bring the aircraft together to an almost finished state. The wings were covered, the cowlings fully fitted, the door latches finished and the control panel fitted though not yet full wired/plumbed in. The prop shaft extension was on and the prop fitted, all without a hitch.
What remained was all the engine telemetry, panel wiring, radio installation etc. - time consuming but every day the youngsters worked on the project went a bit more to completion of the project. The plane was assembled at Dunkeswell where the Exeter Scouts did 'guard' duty and collected donations from the public.
The next outing was in July at the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford and then a week later it appeared at the Farnborough International Airshow.
Jim Gale, Steve Robson and the Barnstaple Scouts/ers were finishing the last bits and pieces, the list of which seemed to get longer, not shorter! The target was to have it all completed by the end of November ready for attending SPLASH at the NEC 28/29/30 November. Then we’d take the Hawk direct to Dunkeswell to start engine and system tests, ground handling etc before requesting our Permit to Test Fly!
All those involved in the assembly of the aircraft were invited to come up to SPLASH to join the Barnstaple Brigade manning the stand all week-end and members of the Devon Strut who would be there each day of the show.
Once the aircraft was flying and had had its 5 hrs shake down we'd apply for its full PtF; then Jim would be keen to get the youngsters into the air for their well deserved air experience flight. We'd hope to attend the various Strut fly-in venues during 2009, so the youngsters would be able to be flown as near to their own locality as is possible. We hoped for some better weather in 2009!
A note of thanks from Jim Gale:
“As well as thanking all the Scouts, Cadets, their mentors and the LAA co-ordinators and inspectors for your help with the project, I'd just like to mention a few other Strut members who have helped out by working on the aircraft. These are Steve Robson who turns up each Thursday evenings when the Barnstaple Scouts are working, Mike Mold who helped fit out the cabin, John Hope who made sense of the very basic wiring diagram and completed the control panel electrics, Pete Bishop, an X-Air Hawk builder, who gave hints and tips and donated parts and finally to all the Strut members who kindly donated £630 to the project which has enabled us to buy all those numerous odds and ends always needed to complete an aircraft. – Jim”.
The Hawk is now in its final stage with the only work left being connection of the engine electrics to the panel and fitting the static & pitot tubing and fuel pressure gauge connection. Then we will carry out a full inspection and if everything is approved, do a short engine run at Tim's before taking the aircraft up to Dunkeswell for final assembly, weighing, complete inspection and then wading through the permit to test paperwork. With a bit of luck we hope to be ready to fly by the end of February, fingers crossed! Thanks to all the members that have helped out over the past 18 months, both financially and physically.
Regards, Jim Gale.
The X'Air Hawk is now at Dunkeswell. The team, led by Jim Gale and including Tim Gilmour-White, Gordon Salter, Chris and Sharon Noble, Pete Bishop and the Scouts from Barnstaple, gathered there on Sunday 15th March to assemble the Hawk, before Gordon and Jim carried out a series of successful taxi runs. To quote Jim, "All systems functioned normally and somebody suggested that they could see daylight under the wheels at one point but I'm sure that they were mistaken. Whoopee!" Final inspection by John Skinner follows before application for the Permit to test Fly.
4th June 2007
The Scouts really did well and under the watchful eye of Tim Gilmour-White and our inspector, John Skinner. They had almost completed the main cockpit cage / front fuselage assembly. There was to be one more session at Thorverton before the centre section would be ready to go to Dunkeswell for mating to the rear fuselage section and empennage, which would be completed by the Kingsbridge Air Cadets.
It was proposed to display the framework of the Hawk at the PFA South West Regional Rally, Dunkeswell, on 30th June/1st July. The various parts would then go back to Tim's workshop at Thorverton for engine and instrument installation, followed by rigging and covering.
All the sub assemblies were back at the Thorverton workshop where the Exeter
Scouts (Saturdays) and the Barnstaple Scouts (Thursday evenings), were bringing the parts together. Having said that, the control panel was with the Kingsbridge Air Cadets and the Seaton Cadets are making a battery box. The windscreen was in, as were the top and bottom cabin panels. Engine controls, fuel system and trial fit of the engine had been completed. Initial cowl drilling and initial camloc fitting had taken place. Mating of the wings to the fuselage and setting of controls would be completed on a fine Saturday in February, when the aircraft could be assembled and rigged outside (weather permitting). Once that was done, the wings would be de-rigged and go back into the workshop for inspection and covering. Target date for assembly completion was end of March, early April.
1st March 2008 - Wings Fitted
Saturday 1st March proved to be a clear day so the Exeter Air Scouts helped to drag the fuselage out of the workshop, carried the wings and struts up to Tim's sheltered drive area and then the fitting of both wings took place. Also all the rigging angles were set and locked off. This is a huge step forward for the youngsters and the project. In addition the Barnstaple Scouts had trial fitted the engine and the fuel system was plumbed in, incorporating a superbly engineered on/off fuel valve supplied f.o.c., by Andair. Engine controls were installed and the cowlings fitted. Side panels were also on, so the next job was the fitting of the doors and when the instrument panel arrived from Kingsbridge later that month, the wiring loom would have to be completed.