I have been quiet for a bit, for which I apologise, but here are a few items of good news and a few words about the proposed ICS By-law changes.
Welcome to New members
First and most importantly, on behalf of all the membership a very big welcome to our newest members: Hamish Wallace (RUK), Peter Kelly (MEG), Ben Paratz (MCW), Greg Bastin (NEG), Russel Mountjoy (MCY) and Gwynne Beynon (CXB).
As we slowly emerge from the difficulty of arranging inter-state activity brought on by the pandemic, I sincerely hope that we will all have a chance to catch up and introduce ourselves in the not-too-distant future.
Main Gear Oleo Housings (Trunnions); we are back in business!
On behalf of the committee, I would like to inform everyone that we are now back in the game with trunnion manufacture. Getting this project restarted has been a tough slog, but we got there in the end thanks mostly to the determination of Ossie Miller. The first production run of fifteen pairs of brand-new Oleo Housing Kits has commenced, with a CASA PMA audit scheduled before the end of this month. The new units will start shipping sometime in June.
As most know, there is already an STC for these parts, but the challenge we had recently was finding a new manufacturer after Camit Engineering folded a few years ago. HeliMods will be doing the work this time. They have been making Stabilator Horns for us for a number of years, so we know they can deliver.
The cost of making the kits has increased a fair bit since we made the last batch a few years ago; largely due to having to make new jigs, recreate all the CNC machine instructions and obtain new manufacturing approval paperwork. The committee was cautious about placing the PO for all this work; concurrently striving to get sales orders for as many units as we were able before agreeing to part with any tribe funds.
I am now delighted to announce that we have pre-sold half of the initial batch and have therefore been able to make the decision to press the Start button. We will not go broke as a result of having them made, and there will be a number of very happy owners around the world who can get their aircraft flying again. The profit we make on this initial batch is slim, but if we order additional quantities down the track, then we will be able to put a few dollars into the account to help get any future projects up and running.
The next copy of the Comanche Flyer mag will feature a brief technical article on the housings, and the back cover will, as usual, have a Johnston Aircraft Services’ advert. This time it will feature our Oleo Housings as well as the Horns.
Here is what the advert will probably look like:
And speaking of stabilator horns, Johnston’s continue to present us with orders. We only recently sent them thirty units, and last week they placed an order for fifty more.
Local members in need of a horn or oleo housings, please contact Ossie Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ICS By Laws
I will keep this bit short… about a year ago the ICS board, upon which I currently sit as the Australasian Tribe representative, decided to review its bylaws. The reason for this review was that the bylaws had evolved into an outdated, partly irrelevant and occasionally self- contradictory muddle. We set up a sub-committee to perform a review and recommend changes, with an external adviser to make sure that the sub-committee didn’t propose anything accidentally illegal.
The proposed changes simplify the bylaws, bring them up to date, and remove contradictions. They deliberately aim to simplify the operation of the society, allowing the ICS board to spend its time discussing important issues rather than wasting hours interpreting and untangling the current mess of rules. If passed, the changes will bring a very welcome relief from the mind-numbing tedium of board meetings. I therefore endorse the changes unreservedly. I am confident that recent past tribe chiefs will confirm just how bad things had become over the past several years with regards to this matter.
Related to all this, some of you will be aware that there has been some really silly misinformation published online (especially in a couple of Facebook groups) by a handful of former ICS members in the US whose intent seems to be to persuade us all to vote against these changes because… well, they would prefer to be running the joint themselves, I suppose. These very same people recently stated in a Zoom meeting that we, the Australasian tribe, have somehow made ten million US$ from stabilator horn sales. We are further informed that we somehow stole this money from the ICS and went on to change our name in 2016 from the Australian to the Australasian tribe to hide our tracks! All of this is so fantastical it is hard to believe how anyone could have made it up; it is indicative of the credibility of these folks generally.
Anyway, all of that is silly and wasteful of everyone’s time. Please do read the ICS president’s recent newsletter/s re the ByLaw changes, and if you are interested, log in to the ICS website and have a look at the proposed changes at https://www.comancheflyers.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Summary-of-Major-Changes-to-ICS-Bylaws-April-2021.pdf
ICS Special Voting of Members for the 2021 Proposed Update to Bylaws will begin on May 15, 2021 at 2000 Z and end June 15, 2021 at 2000 Z. at https://www.comancheflyers.com/ics-voting/ics-national-voting/.
If you don’t agree with these changes, then you are perfectly entitled to vote accordingly, but I have no hesitation in recommending that we all vote in favour.
Kate has offered to answer queries about the proposed changes via a couple of Zoom sessions if members would like. Please let her know directly if this is the case, per her newsletter. Kate has further offered to host a special Zoom session for Australasian members if there is interest, at a time suited to us.
The recent PPP
It has been a while since we had a group gathering, though we did manage a successful Pilot Proficiency Programme over the weekend of 19-21 February, with three groups participating across different states. The sites were connected by Zoom, which had the added benefit of allowing others to join without having to turn up in person.
I expect that the technical committee will arrange something similar for the next PPP; perhaps with a single physical venue, as meeting each other in one place is without doubt the best way of running these events if we are able. This will depend on borders remaining open. Fingers crossed for that.
The use of Zoom to allow anyone who so-wishes to join in from the comfort of wherever they happen to be was thought to be a great thing, and I expect it to continue regardless of where we meet.
Ad hoc fly-in/gathering in Townsville; June 15th.
Given the unknowable nature of interstate travel restrictions, we need to think a little flexibly. To this end, Ken Holdsworth has invited fellow Comancheros to join him in Townsville for a couple or three days around June 15th. There is no formal programme, but Ken is a doer, and I am sure that he will manage to organise something interesting to see, and find decent places to eat. Any member wishing to join in only has to give Ken a call to coordinate. Ken’s contact details can be found in the members section of the website. (I know that at least three people have already arranged to go).
Shell Harbour / HARS visit… likely resurrection. Date TBA
As most will recall, Ossie and Jane Miller organised a terrific gathering at Shell Harbour (Wollongong) last year. We had planned a VIP tour of HARS followed by a dinner hosted in the HARS facility with a keynote presentation from Barry and Sandra Paine to tell us all about their recent round the world flight in ZK-BAZ, among other treats. We then had to cancel the event just a couple of weeks before we were scheduled to get together due to the pandemic having had made its presence felt.
Ossie is now re-visiting the concept with HARS and the BAZ Flyers to see if we can kick the whole thing back into gear. Watch this space for further announcements on this one.
Alice Springs First Flight Centenary: October 2-5
The Central Australian Aviation Museum at Alice is putting on a programme of events later in the year, October 2nd-5th, to celebrate the centenary of the first aircraft landing there.
This seems like a great opportunity for a group of us to fly our Comanches to the centre, meet up, join in with the programme, and perhaps arrange one or two activities of our own.
Ken Holdsworth has been requested by the CAAM to fly his ‘other aeroplane’ to the event- a lovingly restored Percival Gull. So with blue skies and fair winds he will be there. I think it will be worth going if only to see this very rare aircraft.
I would like to ask for a volunteer to coordinate an informal tribe fly-in to be part of this event; nothing very complicated – just gathering names and perhaps assisting with finding a venue to stay at and booking some ground transport. I do not propose holding any formal meetings as part of the event. If anyone is able to volunteer to assist, please get in touch directly and we will get the ball rolling.
Technical updates: news from Canada
Last but by no means least; our Canadian brethren are getting up to some interesting technical activities …
Alan Hepburn, the Eastern Canada tribe chief, together with fellow member Larry Warden, has put together a video that shows how he has upgraded his twin with digital engine instrumentation. He has opted for what to my eyes looks like a slightly unconventional approach (2x single systems rather than a twin system), but he explains his upgrade in terrific detail, and offers a number of insights and tips that will very likely prove helpful to others wishing to achieve a similar result.
You can find their video at https://youtu.be/f5pWcMcLySc
Meanwhile William Hughes, the tribe chief over in Western Canada has also been busy:
William has written a very detailed technical article on the electrical aspects of cold weather operationswhich is scheduled to appear in the May/June Flyer. While this may not directly apply to all of us, it contains a wealth of detailed information and is worth a read.
Further, and inspired in part by our efforts with trunnions, William has embarked on a project to re-engineer and obtain certification for a replacement for the Twin Comanche fuel selector– a replacement that cures the known problems of the original design (mostly corrosion related), while still being affordable. This will take some time to complete, but it is great to know that we are not the only people taking on the challenging projects that will keep the fleet airborne, and that our efforts have inspired others.
A bit of formation stuff
This March 28th just gone I was privileged to help organise and then participate in an Air Armada around Port Phillip Bay that successfully hooked up two “Balbos” of aircraft at Point Cook RAAF base to recognise the centenary of the Australian Air Force overhead its birthplace. The aim had been to gather a hundred aircraft; one for each year of the air force’s existence. Unsurprisingly we didn’t quite manage it. Iin the end there were 46 aircraft, which was still quite a feat. CASA and Airservices gave us great support, and after several practice events we pulled it off without incident.
The lone Comanche driver in the whole thing was yours truly, captured here from the lead aircraft in the faster of the two sub-groups that linked up over YMPC. It was a beautiful afternoon.
And finally, a very wide angle shot taken from under PBH’s tail showing a part of the air armada.
If any Comanche flyers are interested in the idea of either obtaining or maybe refreshing an existing formation endorsement, please let me know, as we may be able to organise a formation training camp. It would be good to be able to show off a group of Comanches at air shows every now and then.
Keep the blue side up