A Windy Problem

I’m in the process of designing a flight planning spreadsheet so that I don’t have to keep doing all the repetitive calculations by hand. One of the calculations involves working out the heading required to maintain the desired track in windy conditions, or in other words, how much you have to turn the aircraft to compensate for the drift caused by the wind. This is usually done using a “flight computer” such as the E-6B, known colloquially as a “whiz wheel”.

But what exactly does the wind side of the whiz-wheel do? How does it work? Before I could add the calculation of the wind-correction-angle and subsequent ground speed to my spreadsheet I first had to derive the solution to the Triangle of Velocities. I thought a page showing the solution here might be useful to the next person trying to solve the problem.

ReneFiles Newsletter

Renefiles Oracle Newsletter

Renefiles Oracle Newsletter

I was contacted recently by Marguerite Krause, the webmaster of ReneFiles the official website of René Auberjonois. She had spotted my photos of René from SFB Reunion6 and was interested in using some of them in “Oracle” the fan club newsletter.

I sent some images over, and she kindly gave me a copy of the finished article. You can download the newsletter below, it’s just under 5MB in size so might take a little while.

SFB Reunion 6

Bodie AlmosLast weekend I visited Reunion 6 a science fiction convention in the West Midlands run by SFB Events. Contrary to popular belief, sci-fi conventions are not full of geeks wearing Star Trek uniforms, and nerds hoping to some day teach a girl about this human thing called love. Oh no, they’re full of geeks looking for three days of constant partying with their friends, with a few celebrity guests from popular TV shows thrown in just in case anyone gets bored!

Jennifer HalleyReunion is no exception. This year the event was held at the Quality Hotel Walsall – a new venue for this their sixth year. The star guests were Rene Auberjonois (Odo – Deep Space Nine), Louise Jameson (Leela – Dr. Who), Bodie Almos (Brendan ‘Hot Dog’ Costanza – New Battlestar Galactica), and Jennifer Halley (Diana Seelix – New Battlestar Galactica).

Louise JamesonFriday night begins with the Opening Ceremony, followed by several party games including “MasterGeek”, and the first of three discos. The “Alumni” ticket holders also get an intimate cocktail party where they can mingle with the guests and enjoy the infamous Chocolate Fountains! During the day there are question and answer sessions where you get to quiz the guests about their work on your favourite show. Saturday evening had a fancy dress competition with the theme The Wacky Racers and Hanna-Barbera, with the winners judged by the star guests.

Rene AuberjonoisThe whole weekend passed incredibly quickly, and soon the closing ceremony was upon us. The guests handed out prizes for the winners of the fiction, art and fancy dress competitions, and once more the music played late into the night for the last of the entertainment.

All in all a great weekend enjoyed by everyone. SFB Events also run another convention based in Bournemouth called the SFBall. Guests already announced include Mary McDonnell (Laura Roslin – New Battlestar Galactica), Robert Picardo (The Doctor – Voyager), Peter Jurasik (Londo Mollari – Babylon 5), and Stephen Furst (Vir Cotto – Babylon 5). Tickets are selling fast and I strongly suggest you book now before it’s too late!

Visit the gallery for more photos!

Robinson R22 Helicopter Weight and Balance

Having spent some time looking on the internet for a good Weight and Balance Calculator for the Robinson R22 Helicopter and finding most of them to be poorly designed and difficult to customise, I decided to create my own.

This MS Excel spreadsheet has a clear layout and simple tables for adding additional aircraft details.

Simply enter your weight, and the weight of your passengers plus their baggage, and the calculator will tell you how much fuel you can load to reach MTOW, and also show you the CG position on the charts taken from the POH. Simple drop-down lists allow you to choose your doors and dual-control configuration, and see how the change in weight affects your CG position. If things start to light up red – you know you’re overloaded!

Helidays 2008 – Western-super-Mare

Western Helidays is a four day Helicopter Fly-in along Weston Sea Front. This years event was held over July 25 to July 27. Helidays is the largest annual event staged on Weston-super-Mare sea front, taking up 3/4 mile of the Beach Lawns at peak holiday season, and attracts all age groups from all walks of life and is not just a specialist “aviation enthusiast” event.

The Beach Lawns

Many helicopters fly in during the event, making up a static display of Military and Civil aircraft, autogyros, and also Military vehicles. Supporting the visiting helicopters are a range of ground displays, entertainment, and stalls along the length of the Beach Lawns. There are also helicopter pleasure flights operating from the beach.

All the guys from HeliflightUK

A group of pilots from both Heliflight Gloucester and Heliflight Halfpenny Green flew down for the weekend. A total of four aircraft attended the show – two R22s and one Jetranger from Gloucester, and one R44 from Halfpenny Green. After parking up on the grass and collecting our Air Crew passes we all grabbed a bite to eat and met up in one of the many bars along the sea front. Several drinks and photo opportunities later it was time to head over to our B&B to get changed and ready for a long evening of partying!

The organisers of Helidays put on a free barbecue for all the pilots on the Saturday night after the gates have been closed to the public. Unfortunately we were a little late leaving the B&B and so that will have to remain a pleasure to experience next year. We stopped at a restaurant for dinner, and sampled the delights of various bars until the early hours of the morning. No one got too drunk of course – we had to fly back in the morning!

Bigger than an R22?

Sunday morning started with a hearty breakfast, followed by a gentle stroll up and down the beach lawns checking out the other helicopters that were on display. You could quite easily fit an R22 into the back of some of them!

The whole weekend passed very quickly. It was soon time to do an A-check on our aircraft to ensure nothing untoward had happened overnight, then call up Western Information for engine start and begin our journey home.

More photos from the event can be found in the gallery.

MPhil submitted and accepted

My MPhil thesis has been submitted and accepted. It is available from the Birmingham University eTheses repository here.

Here is a BibTeX entry for citations.

author = {{Hale}, S.~J.},
title = {Scientific Advancements in Analysis of Solar Oscillation Data},
school = {University of Birmingham},
year = 2003,
month = nov,
url = {http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/5952/}