Attending the 2007 RSA Fly-in at Vichy
Each year, the French RSA organises a fly-in for experimental aircraft afficionados. This year's sixtieth edition was the second time that this venue was held at Vichy Airport (LFLV). As attendees fly in from all over good old Europe, the event has grown far beyond being merely a French affair.
builders meet at the eve of the RSA fly-in to get to know each other, to discuss building and operating this homebuilt aircraft and to learn more about the newest airframe tweaks and modifications and of course, to fly to the RSA fly-in together.
Unnoticed by most if not all, the 2007 sixtieth RSA anniversary also marked an RJ.03 IBIS anniversary. That year it was exactly 20 years ago that Jean Claude and his father Roger presented F-PJQA, their proof of concept "RJ.02 Volucelle", during the 1987 RSA Fly-in, which took place at Brienne-le-Chateau (LFFN). Since then, Volucelle was developed into the first IBIS prototype (F-WZGY). The next development step was to turn the prototype into the RJ.03 IBIS as we know it today.
Twenty years of development and incremental refinement is a milestone allright. Mes félicitations, Jean Claude!
This year’s IBIS gathering was once again hosted by Christian Boutonnat at Roanne- Renaisson Airport (LFLO), some 67 NM to the ESE from Vichy.
Unfortunately, last year the airplane booking at my local (Rendsburg / EDXR) flying ‘club’ got really screwed up, resulting in my having to cancel my 2006 attendance. Although I had quickly booked another plane from a commercial operation, the weather wasn't all that I hoped for, so I had to cancel this avenue as well. Since I didn’t fancy to be exposed to similar risks this year, I decided to drive down by car.
Friday July 13 I left Darmstadt (I was contracting there at the time) at approximately 10:15 LT. About seven hours later, I entered the hotel where I had previously booked a room, checked in and ordered a first ‘café au lait’.
After relaxing a bit, I drove the last couple of kilometers to Roanne-Renaisson airport. There wasn’t much activity at that time, so I made myself comfortable at the local flying club to wait for the arrival of Jean Claude Junqua and Henri Galipot, who were scheduled to return from Vichy.
Big was my surprise when at about a quarter past seven I noticed a loose formation of not two but three IBISes passing overhead. Stéphane Malandain from Rouen aparently had joined the party. He had flown in from Normandy and somehow managed to contact the other two. An in-flight meeting was coordinated and the formation of three IBISes was formed.
Henri Galipot (from Nantes) was soloing his ship, while Jean Claude was accompanied by Christian Boutonnat. Stéphane was accompanied by his daughter Caroline.
IBIS transition training with Jean Claude
Here in the back seat I'm preparing myself for my very first IBIS transition training flight. On first flights, Jean Claude always mentors from the front seat because some of the controls are missing in the back seat.
After touch-down, the three IBISes parked in front of the local RSA chapter hangar.
The next half hour saw us getting acquainted with each other and with the three planes.
Then Jean Claude put me in the back seat of F-PGLP (Henri’s IBIS) and prepared me for my first IBIS transition training flight.
After my first IBIS familiarisation flight, we assembled at a restaurant in Renaisson, where Jean Claude invited all of us to a very nice dinner. In the best of French tradition, this gathering took the rest of the evening, ending at about midnight – which was early enough to leave more than eight hours between bottle and throttle… :)
Next morning, Saturday July 14 ("le grand jour de la grande nation"), I found myself back in the front seat of F-PBIS (Jean Claude’s IBIS) for my second IBIS transition training flight.
The night before we had discussed the engineering of various canard engine cooling systems that were tried on an IBIS predecessor and a later IBIS prototype. Jean Claude was extremely satisfied with his current configuration. He made me jot down the time after I fired up the engine and asked me to take the time again when the oil reached 70°C. It took all of 15 minutes to warm the oil up to 70°C – all this time F-PBIS was stationary on the tarmac while we discussed systems and Jean Claude prepped me for the manoevres that would follow. The engine oil heating up this slowly – even while remaining stationary on the tarmac - was an impressive testimony to the cooling system’s efficiency.
My third IBIS transition training flight was again on F-PBIS, this time a 67 NM cross country flight to Vichy (LFLV) to attend the RSA fly-in. This 25-minute hop was very interesting, especially so because of the (lack of…) Gallic radio discipline before and while entering the Vichy traffic pattern. We were number three with a warbird (a black Corsair) and a much smaller red sportsplane in front of us. Number one and two vacated the runway pretty darn quick, so quickly in fact, that when we were on short final, two other airplanes had already rolled onto the runway to take-off. Jean Claude offered the controller a ‘very short’ landing, touching down only a few meters behind the threshold markings while the last of the two departing airplanes was barely rotating. Descelleration was adequate enough to be able to take the first taxiway. At this occasion, Jean Claude showed that a canard airplane and a short landing aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. Very impressive airmanship!
Although I checked out all the pavillons that presented commercial or non-commercial offerings and although I strolled through all of the many line-ups of experimental aircraft, in retrospect I don’t think that I’ve seen very much of the RSA fly-in. I hadn't really 'arrived' at the RSA Fly-in proper. I guess I was pre-occupied far too much with inspecting and discussing the three IBISes attending this event. No doubt, next time I'll be much more in tune with the event and will be able to take a bit more time with friends & acquaintances that I meet and to report about other stuff as well... :)
LongEze G-CBLZ had to be nursed to Vichy when one of the blades was damaged by a parting spinner.
- a UK VariEze pilot was very lucky when his spinner decided to continue its journey alone, severely damaging the wooden propeller in the process. He had to nurse his EZE (G-CBLZ) to Vichy, which was still a bit over 20 NM away. I heard reports that during these last few miles he was terrified to death. Luckily, nobody got hurt. The local support he was able to mount left quite a bit to be desired, though... :(
- MCR-01 wingtip- and LongEze winglet-height are not entirely compatible, which was convincingly demonstrated by a taxiing LongEze jockey who apparently hadn’t quite grokked his bird’s wingspan…
- I was amazed that French aero engine builder JPX didn't show up at the RSA Fly-in. Is this company still active? Emails I tried to send to them after the fly-in bounced, so I have no idea what's actually going on there... EDIT: after contacting JPX directly sometime in December 2007 a friendly lady informed me about the fact that JPX is no longer producing aero engines. Even the company that she referred me to (I had asked about the availability of spare parts) doesn't seem to market complete engines anymore. Conclusion: for all intends and purposes, JPX is extremely dead as far as VW-derived aero engines is concerned. Steve Bennet to the rescue!
Being Henri's right wingman
It was a great sight to see Henri climb away from us. Despite Henri's somewhat smaller engine, the AUW difference really showed up. 'Adding lightness' really pays off handsomly
The flight back to Roanne was my fourth IBIS transition training flight. At my request, Henri and the two of us took off in a formation, so that I could make some aerial shoots later on. After taking those pictures, the formation broke up and both IBISes proceeded individually towards Roanne-Renaisson.
Stéphane and his daughter decided to stay in Vichy. Right next to their IBIS they erected a small tent and unrolled their sleeping bags. One of these days I have to ask Stéphane how the heck he stowed all that stuff inside his IBIS…
Birds of a feather....
Back in Roanne, the crews all set to attend a BBQ organised by Christian and his wife.
After getting back to Roanne, we gladly accepted an invitation by Christian and his wife (they live in Lentigny, in the immediate vincinity of Roanne-Renaisson airport) to enjoy a BBQ at his place and to check out his IBIS project.
Christian is ahead of me with his project, especially so because he has large parts of his main wing completed. Christian also has a used JPX engine in store, one which needs to be overhauled before he can hang it behind his firewall.
The next morning (Sunday July 15), Jean Claude took a welding rod and taped a wool tuft to it. With this contraption, he once again demonstrated engine cooling efficiency. He placed the tuft in front of the engine cooling inlets and the oil cooler inlet. With the engine running only at idle RPM’s, in each case the wool tuft got sucked into the inlets.
With a twinkle in his eyes, Henri asks "Alors Hans, tu ne veux pas m'accompagner à Vichy aujourd'hui?" This is on Sunday morning mind you, and Henri knows perfectly well that I have to show up in the office early next morning. I'd really love to oblige, but unfortunately I can't. Tand pis! For the very same reason, I can't fly with Jean Claude either, so Christian took that empty seat and accompanied JC to attend the last of the three RSA fly-in days.
After their take-off, they made a turn overhead the airfield to bid a last farewell. I thought this was a very nice gesture. Although I didn’t really want to leave my new found friends at all, I very reluctantly got into my car, took a deep breath and drove back to the Darmstadt area.
All weekend I had admired IBIS F-PGLP, built by Henri Galipot. His IBIS shows very nice workmanship, thoughtfull detailing and F-PGLP sports a great finish as well.
Obviously, the RSA Fly-in jury thought likewise and awarded Henri the "Diplome Robert LEFEVRE". Well deserved, Henri! Congratulations, well done! "Encore, encore!"
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