Tag: Dunkeswell Aerodrome

Man, dog and Piper Cub

A small dose of nostalgia.

In yesterday’s post, I referred to Dunkeswell Airfield in South Devon and the fact that I was part of a group that owned a Piper Super Cub that was based at that airfield.

So while the bulk of this post has been previously published in this place it was over three years ago and, perhaps, may be shown again.

The photograph below was taken in 2006 when Pharaoh was 3 years old.  The aircraft, by the way, is an L21B, the military variant of the Piper Super Cub.  The aircraft was originally delivered to the Dutch Air Force in 1954 and has dispensation from the UK CAA to retain the original registration and callsign of R151.

P1000357.s

More on the aircraft.

Originally when the post was published readers asked for more information on the aircraft.

So here it is.

Piper Super Cub, L-21B, R-151

A/C Construction No. 18-3841, Frame No. 18-3843

Original Engine, Lycoming 135 Type 0-290-D2, 54/2441

Romeo 151 was one of a batch of 298 L-21’s delivered in 1954. There were 584 L-21B’s produced by Piper for military use, the ‘L’ standing for Liaison. The L-21B’s were PA-18-135’s with civil Lycoming 0-290-D2 engines, glasswork as most L-21A’s and L-18’s and a gross weight of 1760 lbs.

This aircraft was delivered to Koninklijke Luchtmacht, Dutch Air Force, on the 1st July, 1954 and registered R-151. After various homes R-151 transferred to the Dutch civil register as PH-GER, 1st April 1976 with 4,458 hours and shortly thereafter was registered to Vlieclub Hoogeveen, Certificate Number 2380.

On the 27th March, 1981 the aircraft was delivered to the UK with a total time of 5,043 hours and in September, 1981 became G-BIYR. In April, 1983 YR was the first of type to be given a Public Transport CofA and was used for training at Tollaton. YR reverted to a Private CofA in January, 1984 when purchased by Mike and Barbara Fairclough at 5,120 hours.

In 1992 YR was re-engined with a Lycoming 150HP, 0320-A2B No. L49809-27A (zero hours). Finally on the 2nd June, 1995 the a/c was repainted in original Dutch insignia and given CAA (UK Civil Aviation Authority) permission to use the original call-sign, Romeo 151.

The aircraft is based in South Devon, England and owned by the five members of the Delta Foxtrot Flying Group.

A few photos of the aircraft.

Approaching home in South Devon, England
Approaching home airfield in South Devon, England
Flying in the French Alps, Mt Blanc in sight
Flying in the French Alps, Mt Blanc in sight
9,300 ft up in the French Alps
9,300 ft up in the French Alps

Really takes me back does this!

 

Don’t let your dog swim in these waters!

Sometimes, one just has to hold one’s head in shame ….

… at the madness that we humans are capable of.

I included this sub-heading in the draft of this post last Thursday intending to make it Friday’s post then changed my mind. Hence the reason behind me writing in Friday’s post:

I was looking at a recent George Monbiot essay and getting myself all wound up about it, thinking that it should be today’s post. Then I thought, “Come on, Paul, end the week on a gentle tone.”

In the light of events in Paris last Friday, I had no idea how pertinent my sub-heading was!

What wound me up, so to speak, was a recent essay from George Monbiot about the damage being done to a Devon river; the River Culm. This river was known to me in the days that I lived in South Devon and had my Piper Super Cub based at Dunkeswell Airfield that was not far from the Culm.

Dunkeswell Airfield
Dunkeswell Airfield

So with no further ado, here is George Monbiot’s essay republished with Mr. Monbiot’s kind permission.

ooOOoo

Strategic Incompetence

12th November 2015

The agencies supposed to protect the living world have been neutered, and polluters and wildlife destroyers now have a free hand.

By George Monbiot, published on the Guardian’s website 12th November 2015

It could scarcely have been a starker case. The river I came across in Devon six weeks ago, and described in the Guardian, was so polluted that I could smell it from 50 metres away. Farm slurry pouring into the water, from a pipe that I traced back to a dairy farm, had wiped out almost all the life in the stretch of River Culm I explored.

All that now grew on the riverbed were long, feathery growths of sewage fungus. An expert on freshwater pollution I consulted told me that the extent of these growths showed the poisoning of the river was “chronic and severe”.

Here, as a reminder of what I saw, are some of the pictures I took:

Sewage fungus covering the river bed.
Sewage fungus covering the river bed.

Slurry pouring from a pipe cut into the riverbank:

Slurry outfall just above the river.
Slurry outfall just above the river.

And mingling with the clear water of the river:

The slurry entering the river.

I reported the pollution to the Environment Agency’s hotline. It told me it was taking the matter seriously. So when I received its report on the outcome of its investigation, I nearly fell off my chair.

It had decided to take no action against the farmer, as “the long term ecological impacts on the environment were fortunately low”. How did it know? Because there was “no evidence of a fish kill”.

Why in the name of all that’s holy should there be evidence of a fish kill? This is a chronic pollution case, not an acute one. Fish kills are what you see when a sudden poisoning occurs, as pollutants are flushed into a healthy living system. Chronic pollution deprives fish of their habitats and prey, but no investigator in their right mind would expect to see them floating belly up in the river as a result. They are simply absent from places where you would otherwise have found them.

And if a riverbed covered in nothing but sewage fungus suggests a “low” ecological impact, I dread to think what a high one looks like.

The same inability to distinguish between an acute event and a chronic one was revealed by another of the agency’s statements: the pollution “had a short term impact”. The slurry had plainly been pouring out of the pipe for months, as the luxuriant growths of sewage fungus show. It would doubtless have continued, had I not reported it.

The Environment Agency also told me that it had inspected the farm, and found no problems with the infrastructure, as there was plenty of space for slurry storage under the floor of the barn where the cows were kept. But, the problem, as I had explained to them, had nothing to do with slurry storage in the barn. It was caused by leakage from the outdoor slurry lagoons, where I found cow manure pouring down the hill.

They could scarcely have made a bigger mess of their investigation if they had tried. The mistakes the agency made are so fundamental and so obvious that it makes me wonder whether they are mistakes at all. What does a farmer have to do to get prosecuted these days, detonate an atom bomb?

If this were an isolated case, you could put it down to ineptitude, albeit ineptitude raised to the status of an Olympic sport. But responses like this are now the norm at the Environment Agency. It has been so brutally disciplined by cuts and by ministers’ demands that it leave farms and other businesses alone that it is now almost incapable of enforcement.

Even when the fish kills it appears to see as the only real proof of pollution do occur, in the great majority of cases it doesn’t even bother to assess them, let alone investigate and prosecute. Freedom of information requests by the environmental group Fish Legal reveal that the agency sent its investigators to visit just 16% of reported fish kills.

There was massive regional variation. While in the Anglian Central region, covering parts of Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and surrounding counties, the agency inspected 61% of these events, in Devon they investigated only 3%. (I suspect that it was only because I’m a journalist for a national newspaper that they came out at all in the case I reported). In the fishery areas on either side of it – Cornwall and Wessex – the inspection rate was, er, 0%. If you want to pollute rivers in these regions, there’s nothing stopping you.

The Environment Agency no longer prosecutes even some of the most extreme pollution events. In 2013, a farmer in Somerset released what the agency called a “tsunami of slurry” into the Wellow Brook. One inspector said it was the worst pollution she had seen in 17 years. But the agency dithered for a year before striking a private agreement with the farmer, allowing him to avoid prosecution, a criminal record, a massive fine and court costs, by giving £5000 to a local charity.

New rules imposed by the government means that such under-the-counter deals, which now have a name of their own – enforcement undertakings – are likely to become more common. They are a parody of justice: arbitrary, opaque and wide open to influence-peddling, special pleading and corruption.

I see the agency’s farcical investigation of the pollution incident I reported as strategic incompetence, designed to avoid conflict with powerful landowners. Were it to follow any other strategy, it would run into trouble with the government.

These problems are likely to become even more severe, when the new cuts the environment department (Defra) has just agreed with the Treasury take effect. An analysis by the RSPB and the Wildlife Trusts reveals that, once the new reductions bite, the government’s spending on wildlife conservation, air quality and water pollution will have declined by nearly 80% in real terms since 2009/10.

It’s all up for grabs now: if you want to wreck the living world, the government is not going to stop you. Those who have power, agency, money or land can – metaphorically and literally – dump their crap on the rest of us.

Never mind that the government is now breaking European law left right and centre, spectacularly failing, for example, to ensure that all aquatic ecosystems are in good health by the end of this year, as it is supposed to do under the water framework directive. It no longer seems to care. It would rather use your tax money to pay fines to the European Commission than enforce the law against polluters.

I’ve heard the same description of Liz Truss, the secretary of state for environment, who oversees the work of the Environment Agency, from several people over the past few months. “Worse than Owen Paterson”. At first, I refused to take it seriously. It’s the kind of statement that is usually employed as hyperbole, such as “somewhere to the right of Genghis Khan”, or “more deluded than Tony Blair”. But in this case, they aren’t joking. Preposterous as the notion of any environment secretary being worse than Mr Paterson might seem, they mean it.

Nowhere, as far as I can discover, in Liz Truss’s speeches or writing before she was appointed, is there any sign of prior interest in the natural world or its protection. What we see instead is perhaps the most extreme manifestation of market fundamentalism on this side of the Atlantic. She founded the Conservative Free Enterprise Group, and was co-author of the book Britannia Unchained, that laid out a terrifying vision of a nation run by raw economic power, without effective social or environmental protection. Now she has a chance to put that vision into practice.

Those who have tried to engage with her describe her as indissolubly wedded to a set of theories about how the world should be, that are impervious to argument, facts or experience. She was among the first ministers to put her own department on the block in the latest spending review, volunteering massive cuts. She seems determined to dismantle the protections that secure our quality of life: the rules and agencies defending the places and wildlife we love.

Bureaucracy and regulation are concepts we have been taught to hate, through relentless propaganda in the media. But they are essential pillars of civilisation. They make the difference between a decent society and a barbarous one.

www.monbiot.com

ooOOoo

While this essay from Monbiot clearly concerns a river in the South-West of England and may therefore not relate to readers in other parts of the UK or the world, those closing sentences [my emphasis] do relate to all of us wherever we are on this planet.

Bureaucracy and regulation are concepts we have been taught to hate, through relentless propaganda in the media. But they are essential pillars of civilisation. They make the difference between a decent society and a barbarous one.

Tomorrow, I will return to Piper Cubs flying out of Dunkeswell!

Extreme weather events

Nature is really starting to speak to mankind!

I started writing this post back on the 25th September.  Why so far back?  Because that day something came into my in-box that deserved the widest circulation.  It’s an event being held just under a month from today, November 14th.  But it seemed worthwhile to give this amount of notice.  However, the reason why I wanted to start it back in September was because in the last 24 hours of that day, the 25th, the UK offered very good evidence of the significant increase in severe weather.

From the UK’s Met Office blog on the 25th September, 2012, (I have included the inches equivalent of the mm figures)

Rainfall figures: over a month’s worth of rain in two days

Rainfall totals for the past few days – from 1:00 am Sunday morning to 8:00 am this morning [Tuesday] – show some areas have already had more than twice their usual September rainfall. Ravensworth, in North Yorkshire, has seen the highest total, with 107.8 mm [4.24 in] falling, over 200 % of its average September rainfall.

The rainfall has been widespread, with many areas across the United Kingdom receiving large totals. Killylane, in Antrim Northern Ireland saw 98.2 mm [3.87 in], and high totals were also recorded in the south-west, with 72.4 mm [2.85 in] in Filton and 65.2 mm [2.57 in] at Dunkeswell Aerodrome.

Dunkeswell Aerodrome in Devon was where I used to fly our group-owned Piper Super Cub, still in military markings.

Piper Super Cub at Dunkeswell Aerodrome
A carriage made for two!

Anyway, back to the plot!

Also on that day (September 25th) the website Think Progress released this item,

Markey/Waxman Report: Carbon Pollution Creating A ‘Cocktail Of Heat And Extreme Weather’

By Climate Guest Blogger and Stephen Lacey on Sep 25, 2012 at 3:31 pm

by Katie Valentine and Stephen Lacey

Two House Democrats have released a report that aims to connect the dots on climate change and extreme weather events.

The staff report, issued by Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.), outlines the past year’s record-setting temperatures, storms, droughts, water levels and wildfires, and is being circulated in an attempt to rebuild congressional momentum to address climate change.

“The evidence is overwhelming — climate change is occurring and it is occurring now,” said Rep. Waxman, a Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, in a statement.

The report outlines the stunning array of record-breaking extreme weather events throughout 2012 within five categories:

Extreme temperatures

  • July was the hottest month ever recorded in the continental U.S.  Some areas were 8 degrees warmer than average, with the average temperature in the lower 48 states at 77.6 degrees Fahrenheit, 3.3 degrees above the 20th century average.
  • Spring 2012 saw the warmest March, third-warmest April and second-warmest May in history, and was approximately 5.2 degrees Fahrenheit above average overall.
  • Through late June 2011, daily record highs were outnumbering daily record lows by 9-to-1.

Drought

  • As of September, 64 percent of the continental U.S. is experiencing drought, with August and September 2012 comparable to the worst months of the 1930s Dust Bowl.
  • By the beginning of August, more than half the counties in the U.S. had been designated disaster zones because of drought.
  • As of August, 51 percent of corn and 38 percent of soybeans grown in the U.S. were rated as poor or very poor by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Some states’ corn fared worse – Indiana had 70 percent of its corn rated as poor or very poor, and Missouri had 84 percent.

Wildfires

  • This fire season 8.6 million acres – roughly the size of Connecticut and New Jersey combined – have burned in the U.S., with fires still burning in parts of the West.
  • Wildfires in Colorado have killed six people, destroyed 600 homes and caused about $500 million in property damage.
  • There has been nearly a four-fold increase in large wildfires in the West in recent decades, with fires burning longer and more intensely and wildfire seasons lasting longer.

Storms

  • Tropical Storm Debby caused Florida to have its wettest June on record. The storm killed at least seven people and also damaged more than 7,500 homes and businesses.
  • In July, the “derecho” storm system killed at least 23 people and left more than 3.7 million people without power.
  • In August, Hurricane Isaac caused storm surges of up to 15 feet in some places and contributed to Louisiana and Mississippi experiencing their second-wettest August on record and to Florida experiencing its wettest summer on record.

Extreme water levels and water temperatures

  • In July, water in the Great Lakes reached temperatures of 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit – more than 10 degrees warmer than the same time last year.
  • In August, water temperatures of up to 97 degrees and low water levels caused tens of thousands of fish to die in Midwestern lakes and rivers.
  • Low water levels in the Mississippi watershed have caused some barge companies to reduce their loads by 25 percent and have caused harbor closures in Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas and Mississippi.

According to the report, 2012 natural disasters (not including wildfires or drought) have caused $22 billion in insured losses and more than 220 deaths as of August. The full cost of 2012’s extreme weather events isn’t yet known, but it’s expected to rival 2011’s record-breaking $55 billion.

The document outlines what scientists following the link between extreme weather and climate change have been saying for years: more carbon pollution adds extra energy in the atmosphere, thus warming the planet and making extreme weather events more likely.

Read the full report here.

So what came into my in-box?  An announcement from The Climate Reality Project: 24 HOURS OF REALITY: The Dirty Weather Report.

NOVEMBER 14-15, 2012

A lot can change in a day. This November 14, we hope you can help us make big change happen.

Join The Climate Reality Project for 24 Hours of Reality: The Dirty Weather Report. This will be our second annual, online event showing how global climate change is connected to the extreme weather we experience in our daily lives. The entire 24-hour event will be broadcast live over the Internet.

We’ll move between our home studio in New York City and into each region of the world, bringing voices, news and multimedia content across all 24 time zones. We’ll feature videos from around the globe, man-on-the-street reports, music, and most importantly, stories from communities moving forward with solutions.

Most of all, we’ll generate new energy and urgency around the fact that we must — and we can — work together to address the climate crisis.

GET INVOLVED

Sign up today to be a part of the global community taking part in 24 Hours of RealityRSVP on Facebook. Share this event with your friends. Submit your own video about the impacts of climate change where you live. And keep checking this page: We’ll post further details as the event draws closer.

Millions of people around the world know that the weather, their climate is changing.  But if you can take some more powerful evidence of just how it’s all changing then go and read a recent report on the Grist website, entitled ‘Deadly connection: New report on extreme weather and climate change’

So one more video to close.