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Co-ordinator’s Comments                                                                                                                     by Steve Robson                                                      


Well, here we are, into 2012!  I hope you all enjoyed a good Christmas and here's wishing you and all yours the

very best for 2012 with lots of blue skies and enjoyable flying!


Looking back to last month, which now seems a long time ago, December started before November had finished.  

The Flying Show at the NEC in Birmingham took place over the weekend of 26th – 27th November and for me

was a bit disappointing.  That said, I suppose it is a reflection of the general state of things. Let's hope it all picks

up as the days get longer into spring.


However, that was eclipsed by our visit to Exeter Airport on Monday 28th November, where we were hosted by

Peter Gilmour who is one of the pilots for Thomson Airways and fellow Strut member and Dave Burrows, SATCO

at Exeter.  The 36 of us who were able to attend were treated to the fantastic evening with a presentation on the

Thomson fleet, a visit to the tower and the chance to sit in the front seat of an Airbus A320.  The event didn't quite

go as planned, due to what can only be described as a bit of a security hitch but a quick response from the team

ensured that we weren’t disappointed.  
















There was even talk of arranging a reciprocal visit for the 'helpful' security staff where upon they would be strip searched, hosed down and inspected with a chain mail glove!  Those who came will know what I’m talking about!  The evening was great fun and many thanks to Pete White, Peter Gilmour, David Burrows and Darren Smith (Thomson First Officer) for making it all happen.  


Many of us have our aircraft based very close to Exeter and as a Strut we endeavour to promote safety but part of Dave's presentation was very sobering.  On average, a commercial aircraft has to be manoeuvred out of the way of a light aircraft once each week.  So the message is “Please give Exeter a call if you are operating anywhere near their airspace and particularly on the coast between Exmouth and Seaton.  They really are there to help, so please help to create a known environment, something from which we will all benefit.


As I reflect back over the past year, we have seen some significant challenges relating to our activity and events.  The weather has played its part but the withdrawal of cover for third party flying events was not seen as helpful.  However, at the last LAA National Council meeting in mid November there appeared to be a genuine will to get this reinstated and we look forward to that by the start of next season.


As an Association and Strut, we have come a long way over the past few years and I believe we have raised our game significantly.  The practices we now use contain language that might make some cringe, terms like 'governance', 'risk management' and worst of all 'compliance' are now in our vocabulary.  In this litigious age, we have to make sure we operate in a sensible and responsible way, and for the most part, we are already doing this, trying to demonstrate good practice.  So what will this mean for us?  The details of how Struts will operate are still being finalised as write this but as far as we concerned, very little will change. However, it does mean we will have a more safe and robust system in place for our events.


The December Strut meeting was well attended and as part of the ‘double bill’ feature we had James Stevenson, a local author give a short presentation, packed with amusing anecdotes about two of the WW2 novels he has written.  He also gave a fascinating account of an attack of Dartmouth that he witnessed as a child in 1943 that formed the basis for one of his novels in which attacking FW190s were chased by Spitfires.  James’s other novel is based on the work of the Air Transport Auxiliary, a service that until quite recently went unnoticed and un-recognised. Thank you James.


The second part of the meeting was taken up with Arthur Street from Aerosaurus Balloons who gave a very informative and entertaining presentation about how commercial ballooning came into being and the diverse work that Aerosaurus do.  Photographs from Arthur’s presentation will be soon viewable online from a link on the homepage of the Strut website. If you see a balloon whilst you are flying, the pilots are usually happy for you to come in reasonably close and have a look but please keep all aspects of safety in mind.  Balloons can very rapidly climb and descend, so keep a discrete distance and do not fly directly at, over or under a balloon.  You can always try giving them a call on the ballooning frequency 122.475 to check.


Following on from Arthur’s talk, Aerosaurus have announced that they are offering discounts on the cost of balloon flights


The opportunity for a scramble appeared on 10th December with the offer of a

free (or reduced) landing at Gloucester in conjunction with the Jet Age Museum

who were celebrating their ‘Diamond Delta Day’ with their Vulcan cockpit open

to visitors and the Meteor and Javelin (right) parked near by.  The group is also

working towards establishing a permanent museum for some of the Gloster



Sadly, last month saw the passing of another of our good friends, Norman Evans.

 Norman had been a member of the Devon Strut for many years and as well as

building a Quickie Q2, he also had an immaculate Aeronca.  Our thoughts are

with his wife, June, and their family. [See obituary by David Cottingham later in

this issue – Ed].


The year ended with the closure of Plymouth Airport – a sad loss.  The last

opportunity to fly-in took place with a mini-scramble on Sunday 18th December

with the insurance cover being withdrawn the following week, effectively preventing any more flying from the site.  A few hardy souls made in there and Chris Howell has penned a short account of the scramble for this newsletter.


Looking ahead to our next meeting, Chris Harrison will be telling us all about his career in aviation.  Chris is also a prolific builder having built an Evans VP1, an RV8a and he is now working on a Cri-Cri, so see you at the Ley Arms on Thursday 12th January 2012. Please pre-order if you intend to eat before the meeting.


Blue skies and fly safely, Steve



Annual General Meeting


The AGM of the Devon Strut will take place on Thursday 9th February 2012 at the Ley Arms, Kenn starting at 19.30. The agenda will be published in the February newsletter.


Motions.  Any motions to be considered at the AGM must be received by the Strut Co-ordinator no later than Friday 13th January 2012.


Election of Strut Officers.  With the exception of Peter Gristwood (Treasurer), who will be standing down from the committee,  all of the other existing Strut committee / officers are willing to stand for another year’s term of office.


Proposers and seconders are sought for the elections of:


Strut Coordinator – Steve Robson

Communications (Website / Newsletter Editor) – Mike Mold

Membership Secretary – John Hope

Safety Officer – Chris Bailey

NC Rep & Fly-in Co-ordinator – David Millin

Events / Fly-in Organiser – Peter White

Treasurer - Nominations are sought for the position of Treasurer.  Should any Strut member who is also a member and beneficial share holder of the LAA be interested in this position, please contact a committee member. One nomination has been received at the time of this announcement.



Members’ Profile: Richard Webber


Current Day Job – Special Skills

Trying to keep Austers airworthy – a skill in itself! Or landing an Auster in a respectable manner;

something I’m still working on!


Past Career - Working as a teenager in my father’s bakery. Then 35 years as a dairy farmer,

now retired.


Why Aviation? Just got hooked on it.


First Flight – in What, Where and When? In an Anson at Chivenor in 1955 and later the

same year in a Shackleton at Kinloss whilst in the CCF.


How long in the Devon Strut? Since it started in 1979.


Number of Aircraft Types and Hours Flown: About 15 types and 3,500 hours of which

over 3,000 hours in different marks of Auster.


Favourite and Worst Types Flown

Obviously my favourite must be the Auster of which the Mk3 and Alpine J5R stand out amongst the best. The most un-exhilarating must have been the Rallye.


Best Aviation Moment and Flight

The achievement of flying an Auster to a friend’s wedding and arriving on time! – to Cuatro Vientos near Madrid. Another time, flying with a friend in a Mk9 Auster across America and back – 65 hours total, all non-radio.


Any Aviation Heroes? - If So, Who and Why? Sir Francis Chichester, for his remarkable dedication to navigation.


Favourite Aviation Author / Recommended Book(s)? Sir Francis Chichester again for his book  “Alone Above the Tasman”.


Any “I learnt about flying from that” Moments? Several, but most especially not paying attention to daylight hours and arriving at a farm field after dark.


“Wish List” – aircraft to fly or own; places to visit? The experience of flying a Hercules would be good. Places to visit: farm strips in America. Idaho is on my list.


Current Aeroplane(s) Several Austers, Chrislea Skyjeep G-AKVR and Luton Minor G-BRWU.


































Any Advice For Other Strut members? Keep flying. Those who fly older types should regard themselves as custodians rather than owners.



Norman Evans RIP                                                                                                                                 by David Cottingham


Norman Evans died on 21st November. A large part of Norman’s life has been devoted to aeroplanes and flying and I would like to share with you my knowledge and experience of this important part of his life.


Whilst still at school Norman won a flying scholarship and soloed at the very early age of 17. Thus, during National service, he was selected for pilot training and went on to demonstrate his exceptional ability by graduating to flying fast jet fighters. Only the best pilots were allowed to fly these aircraft.


Following National Service he joined the University Air Squadron at Imperial College London whilst studying for a Bachelor of Science Degree. From Imperial College he went on to Princeton University in America where he gained a Doctorate in Aerodynamics and fluid dynamics. I have no personal knowledge of this part of his life but I understand this is when he developed his passion for touring by aeroplane. He flew right across the States, making the sort of flights we others dream about but lack the skills and courage to undertake.


I first met Norman nearly 20 years ago at a Branscombe Air Day and was invited to view his three aeroplanes; yes, 3, no less. The first one was a Q2, a very unconventional machine. It was very slender, white in colour, and beautifully built by Norman himself. It was very fast and economical but required a long runway on which to land. Also, it had very little luggage capacity for touring so that was sold, as by now, Norman, having acquired a wife, space not speed was the order of the day. [The Q2 is now owned and being restored by Simon Wilson, RNHF Swordfish display pilot – Ed]


Plymouth Airport Scramble, Sunday 18th December 2011                                                                                          by Christopher Howell                                                                                                           


Plymouth Airport opened for business in 1931 by the Prince of Wales. The RAF had explored the area a few years earlier and then life began for what was to become Roborough Airport until the outbreak of World War Two when it became RAF Roborough. Following the end of hostilities in 1945, it reverted to civilian use but still retained some military use from the Britannia Flight of The Royal Naval College Dartmouth.


Very sadly the airport is to close on 23rd December 2011 so Sunday 18th was the last opportunity for a Devon Strut Scramble there. The day dawned crisp and clear but because I has not yet received my annual Permit to Fly paperwork for my Luscombe from LAA HQ, and as Alan Crutcher, part of the Welsh wing of the Devon Strut and Aeronca Club, had been most emphatic that he would arrive from Cardiff at 12 noon, I elected to drive to Plymouth Airport from home near Kingsbridge.


However, the weather was now more threatening with heavy

showers and horrible black clouds hanging over the moors.

With the main arrivals terminal now closed, it was left to the

security ladies to offer us a refuge and some hot coffee. Sure

enough, there was a crackle on the radio and those familiar

Welsh tones announced the imminent arrival of Alan Crutcher

in his Aeronca Chief G-BRWR, followed by another familiar c

allsign, that  of Rod Griffen in his Chief G-BRCW.  


Mike Vigor, recently qualified PPL in his very nice Auster 5

G-ALBJ manufactured by Taylorcraft Ltd in 1945 and sporting

the Lycoming 0-290-3 engine was followed shortly by Andy Aish

in his 1947 era Auster 5 J1 G-AJEM with the Cirrus Minor 11A



Tom, the SATCO on duty in the tower, very kindly switched

on the runway lights to enable Andy, who was on his first visit

to Plymouth, to pick out the runway as there was a murky squall

passing over.


A good chin wag was enjoyed by all and some cheerful banter in the tower with Glyniss Bragg sorting out the landing dues. Tom, the SATCO, is moving on to Westland’s Yeovil and extends a cordial invitation in the New Year to fly in  for tea and cakes.


On the return flights the visiting pilots enjoyed much clearer conditions once they cleared the Plymouth area, as is often the way! Much clag hangs over that far western edge of Dartmoor which can make Plymouth Airport a challenge to find. Following the A38 down to Marsh Mills and then heading for Derriford Hospital has been a handy indicator for the runway.


Many Thanks to Alan Crutcher, Rod Griffen, Mike Vigor and Andy Aish for battling down through unpleasant conditions to bid farewell to Plymouth City Airport as we know it. The closure of the airport will be a bitter blow but there is a glimmer of hope with the Viable Group proposing new plans to operate the airport and extend the runway which may well be determined by Plymouth City Council and the availability of the required funding.


Very many Plymouth Councillors are due for re-election in the first part of 2012 so there is a strong lobby to put forward the New City Airport Plans. Sadly this will be too late for all the jobs lost, the departure of the Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) flight and all the GA aircraft based at the Airport.


We can but vote for a new Plymouth City Airport and bring life back to the ground at Roborough so we can enjoy the opportunity to fly our aircraft in and out and hear the cheery banter of folk flying off on their summer holidays. Plymouth needs a City Airport.



Devon Youth Build-a-Plane 3 Crew Exhibit at The Flying Show, NEC.                                                                                         by Jim Gale                                                                             


Devon Strut members and Scouts from 1st Sidvale spent the weekend of 26th and 27th November at the NEC Flying Show on the LAA YES (Youth and Education Section) area of the exhibition stand, displaying their part-built Zenair CH701 Stol aircraft, together with pupils and teachers from Ercall Wood Technology College, Telford who showed a part of their Rans S6 aircraft being built under the auspices of the Boeing/RAeS Schools Build a Plane project.


Great interest was shown in both ventures and six exhibitors offered to support the

undertakings with discounted supplies and services. In particular, on Sunday, the

Sidvale Scouts were presented with a flight-bag from POOLEYS with navigational

goodies and guides worth over £200. Photo shows the Scouts with the flight-bag

and its contents presented by Pooley’s Commercial Director James Bailey.


Also, following publication of the new YES magazine (see link below) Flightstore MD,

Andrew Holdsworth, contributed £100 to the LAAET fund, for which the Scouts

thanked him profusely.


The Sidvale Scouts are now working on a fund raising scheme to purchase a Rotax

912 engine for the project, so if you would like to support this worthwhile youth

initiative, please contact Not only are we looking to raise

funds, but we are also on the lookout for LAA builders/enthusiasts to help out during

the evening sessions at the workshop in Whimple. If you feel that you could spare the

time for one or two evenings a week to help guide the youngsters through the build stage and, in due course, getting involved in the flying of the 701, then again please contact Jim at the above email address or 07887-906789.






















                    Prepping the lower fuselage skin for tail bulkhead.                                                       De-burring tail bulkhead


New YES magazine: (  





20 Years of IVOR

Hi All, It was 20 years ago, Friday 13th of December 1991, that I first flew Aeronca Chief

G-IVOR  (from Eggesford). On 13th December 2011, I was hoping to fly that wonderful little

Aeronca to Eggesford from Bodmin to celebrate this personal milestone but sadly my

never-ending conflict with the weather gods had a negative result. However, I hope to turn

this around soon and enjoy my special “20 years of G-IVOR” flight. – Pete. 



With the withdrawal of the Lyneham zone, an updated version of the Bristol Airspace

Guide has been published showing new VRPs and the Lyneham CTA/CTR removed.



Chipmunk, Bulldog and vintage Moths welcomed into LAA fleet

In a move which will be welcomed by many LAA members, Duxford-based de Havilland Support Ltd (DHSL) has rocked the UK vintage aircraft world by announcing that in April 2012 it intends to rescind the Type Certificates for all of its de Havilland aircraft types, and also for the Scottish Aviation Bulldog, potentially releasing these highly regarded aircraft into the alternative regime of Permit to Fly operation. DHSL is setting up Type Responsibility Agreements (TRAs) with the CAA. This will allow the owners of Tiger Moths, Chipmunks, Bulldogs and the Rapide to continue to operate on a Certificate of Airworthiness (this would be essential for those aircraft being used commercially). However, owners of these types will be able in future to opt for the Permit to Fly route if they so wish.


Under the new arrangements, owners of the less numerous DH heritage types will only be able to elect for a Permit to Fly. Certificates of Airworthiness will not be issued or renewed after April 2012 as DHSL does not consider that this remains viable, either for airworthiness or commercial reasons. Those types now coming within the LAA’s scope include the original DH60 Moth, Moth Major, Puss Moth, Fox Moth, Leopard Moth, Hornet Moth, Moth Minor and the post-war Thruxton Jackaroo. LAA’s Chief Engineer Francis Donaldson commented on the news “For very many years the LAA has campaigned for CAA to allow a dual route option with vintage aircraft rather than being bound to the principle that if an aircraft can be kept on a Certificate of Airworthiness then no other options are permissible. The change in CAA policy which came about early this year represented a sea change in the Authority’s approach and DHSL’s latest move springboards off this result.


In contrast to the Bulldog, the Pup is an orphaned EASA aircraft and it qualifies for the issue of a Restricted Certificate of Airworthiness. The TRAs which will be established by DHSL are applicable only to Annex II non-EASA aircraft. Thus, none of the new arrangements which will come into force in 2012 are applicable to the Pup. The only way that the Pup could be brought under the same terms as the Bulldog is for EASA to re-designate the aircraft as Annex II.



Twinning of Bodmin with Compton Abbas

The first Devon Strut flying-in of 2012 is at Bodmin airfield and it has now become

almost mandatory that we theme the event to enhance the day and add another

dimension to the term ‘fly-in’. Well, in 2012 we are going a little further and after

talking with the management of Compton Abbas airfield in Dorset, we are

embarking on what I believe to be a first in this field, by ‘twinning’ the two airfields.


Being a regular visitor to Compton for one reason or another, it occurred to me

that both airfields shared similar themes and facilities as well as both being grass

sites above 600 feet and even share the same radio frequency 122.700. The

Bodmin event on Saturday May 5th 2012 will be open to all comers but the

Compton Abbas guests will have concessions when they show their club ID.

(More later). We have organised music for the day and food will be available and,

as is now the norm, visitors can camp overnight and enjoy the special Cornish

welcome at Bodmin, the premier GA airfield for Cornwall. In the true spirit of

‘twinning,’ Compton Abbas are reciprocating with a return match to their home

airfield in August which will be another event that should not be missed. See you all there! - Pete White



Total Avgas UL91 at Dunkeswell

Dunkeswell now has a fuel bowser full of Total Avgas UL91. The fuel has been promoted as being particularly appropriate for Rotax engines, but it is suitable, and approved, for a wide range of engines types used in LAA aircraft. The LAA Airworthiness Approval Note (AAN) for use of UL91 in appropriate LAA aircraft can be found at and lists the most popular types of engines for which the fuel is suitable. The EASA document pertaining to use of this fuel in non LAA types is available at .




Members’ News


Peter Gilmour’s RV8

"Now that I have transferred onto my winter part-time contract at work [Thomson Airways] I have

been able to spend a few weeks back in St. Andrews building the RV8. Most of the work during

this session concentrated on the wings. The recent work included mounting the aileron bellcranks

and pushrods, also fitting and rigging the ailerons and flaps. The pitot tube was also installed, but

yet to be finished off as I did not possess a fluter for the plumbing! Most of these tasks simply

involved being extremely careful in measuring and marking before going berserk with the drill!

Mounting, aligning and rigging the flaps was an interesting exercise, but turned out well so I had

to include a photograph of the aileron/flap alignment (right).


I’m enjoying the build so far and the aim is to have both wings all but complete by the end of

February 2012. The remaining wing work will involve installing the starboard flap, then trimming

and fitting the wingtip mouldings. We are also making provision for electrics and any future mods by running flexible conduit through the wings from the roots to the tips. My brother-in-law, has already completed the rudder, fin, empennage and elevators, so between us we are on schedule for a spring 2013 first flight. Next phase: The fuselage!!" - Peter




















               Aileron bellcrank installed with pushrods connected                                Wing progress to date. Stbd flap and tips still to go.



Welcome to New Members


Graham Webster of Cannington, Somerset, TA5 2QE. Graham is a group owner of Cessna C172 G-AZJV based at Exeter.



Strut Evening Meetings (Thursday evenings at the Ley Arms, Kenn from 19.30)


January 12th Chris Harrison, 40 years behind the stick.

February 9th Strut AGM, plus John Webster - the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA).

March 8th John Pascoe-Watson (Spitfire pilot) and Ted Frost (Lancaster pilot).

April 12th Richard Dunevein-Gordon, LAA CEO.



January Free Landings


Pilot:  Fenland, Panshanger, Sligo and Sturgate.

Flyer: Gamston, Gloucestershire, Blackpool and Popham.















Gary Eastman’s “Eastman Leather Clothing” of Ivybridge specialises in making extremely authentic, high quality reproductions of WWII vintage flight jackets and accessories.


“Traditional hand made quality goods and individual pride in making something well is a rare ethic

these days. The fineness of the cloth, the texture of the leather, and the sensation of putting something on that makes you feel special, knowing it's been built with pride, is an experience seldom enjoyed these days. However, at Eastman Leather Clothing, we are keeping a gateway to the past open. Established in 1984, and with an international reputation for being the best in the business, you have found the ultimate Flight Jacket website”. gives details of a wide range of RAF, USAF, and German military and civilian clothing and accessories.


[An endorsement from Pete White: I knew Gary Eastman as a young lad and a collector of flying clothing, in fact I used to sell aeronautical memorabilia to him. When he opened a shop in Totnes he asked me to 'cut the ribbon'. When dismantling an A2 jacket to repair it, Gary thought it would be 'easy' to make them and the rest is history.]

































“Now this is the Bird Dog and you’re the gun dog…”

Jon Grunwell explains his Cessna Bird Dog to Teazel, his and his wife, Gail’s Labradoodle.

Gail breeds ‘doodles at



The second aircraft was his trusty yellow 1941 vintage Aeronca which Norman had modified to take a larger engine. In this aircraft Norman and June were to make several epic flights covering virtually the whole of Europe from Spain through Corsica, Italy, and Czechoslovakia, as well as visits to the very north of Scotland. It is a tribute to Norman’s meticulous planning and skills as a pilot that these holidays were completed without problems. The beautiful and spectacular photographs they brought back underlined the achievements of these flights. It was in the Aeronca that I had my first experiences of flying with Norman. Great fun, but not without the occasional bit of excitement!


His third aeroplane in the hangar was a partially built amphibian experimental aircraft – potentially the ultimate touring aircraft. Unfortunately, this kit was later shown to have a serious design fault, but in no way related to Norman’s immaculate build quality, and it had to be consigned to the scrap heap. An expensive and heartbreaking decision in view of the many hours spent building it. However, not to be defeated, I think Norman saw this as an opportunity to persuade June to let him build an even better touring machine, the Murphy Rebel.


I and others were informed the kit would arrive in a container and would we be needed to help unload it. As we pulled hundreds of parts from the container my heart sank. I could not begin to contemplate the amount of time effort and skill required to assemble this very basic kit. 22,000 rivets meant 44,000 holes to be drilled and prepared with anti-corrosion paint. I thought June has to be a saint to live with this project and a saint she proved to be. Norman, undeterred by the magnitude of the task, embraced it with an enthusiasm and dedication which few people could begin to match. For more than 2 years Norman toiled, whilst June supported him nobly. Then, even grander tours began again, but these were curtailed by two “incidents” which resulted in many more hours of patient labour by Norman, supported by an even more patient June.


In the meantime, Norman was often reduced to flying in one of those peculiar machines without an engine. Being an intrepid pilot, he soon adapted to flying without the use of engine, but I think he remained unconvinced that going round and round going nowhere was as much fun as having an engine to go anywhere!


Unfortunately the ability to go anywhere was to be curtailed, not by problems with the Murphy Rebel but by increasing problems with his health. This was a bitter blow to Norman, whose life for so long had revolved around the joys of flying.


Norman being Norman – completely law abiding and scrupulously honest, he refused to bend the rules even just a little to continue flying. Instead, he reverted to an earlier passion of flying model aircraft, for which apparently he had been well known in the States, having won several major competitions in his younger days.


Over the last year or so he experimented with using a computer as a flight simulator both to keep in practice for returning to "proper flying" and to check out all those other aeroplanes we cannot afford to fly. Four weeks ago he demonstrated to me he could still hack it by making a perfect landing on my own simulator set up.


Norman was a very talented and clever man. He was a superb craftsman. He showed outstanding qualities of energy, dedication, and single-mindedness, which on occasions caused conflicts with those of us that have had the privilege to know him, but who could not admire him and all his achievements. Norman – we had a lot of fun together and I shall miss you dearly – who is now going to teach me to fly in formation on the flight simulator ? Norman - fly high and forever at peace!


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