Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Saturday, 3 October 2009

... and now the nuts and bolts

Those familiar with this blog may think the helicopter (previous post) was more of an indulgence for me than for Mrs BB. Not true! She likes taking to the air and even enjoyed a float-plane flight over the mountains of New Zealand. But helicopters are techie and techie is my thing.

The financial side, however, is appalling. Our R44 Raven II (manufactured by the hopelessly mundane Robinson Helicopter Co) cost about £300,000 and demands an insurance premium of – wait for it! - £10,000. Inspections, servicing and hangerage push the flying bill to £200/hour. But it’s fast - 97 knots or, say, a ground speed of 120 mph. At one point Anthony, our pilot, needed to increase our cruising altitude of 1000 ft by half that again. Done in a veritable eye-blink.

But no hovering. It’s too expensive in fuel, I believe, and that’s why we missed our daughter’s village. Nostalgists who respond to quarter-inch plate would have been disappointed by the R44’s fragility. The doors flap like leaves and the joystick (or whatever it’s called) is a mere 10 mm aluminium tube. Weight-saving is apparent wherever you look.

Such a lightweight craft is sensitive to natural forces. We flew through a col in the Malverns where hillwalkers were able to look down on us. The approach was tranquil but the wind beyond the col buffeted our port side. Instrumentation is almost minimal; the top screen above the panel is a humdrum satnav, not much different from the one that guided our car to the Drum and Monkey. Nevertheless, I fear it’s the only way to travel.