The Anonymous Widower

I Wish I Still Had Delta-Delta

Delta-Delta was my Cessna 340A.  This was a six seater twin piston engined aircraft.  So could I still fly the aircraft with all this volcanic dust about.  There is a good technical article called How Volcanic Ash Threatens Aircraft  in New Scientist, which explains all the problems very well.

Volcanic ash is composed of particles of glassy pulverised rock less than 2 millimetres in diameter. When an aircraft flies into it at its high cruising speed, the cockpit windows get a sandblasting, obscuring the pilots’ view. Crucially, though, the engines suck the dust in, where it melts in the hot combustion chamber and fuses to form globs on the turbine vanes that block the engine airflow. Only when it cools and solidifies – as the aircraft plummets engineless – can enough of the muck flake off to allow an engine restart.

So that convinces me as an ex-pilot with over a 1,000 hours on the clock, that the authorities are not being over cautious.

But it is this comment on the article that is interesting.

There isn’t a blanket ban on flying in the UK. AIUI, NATS has closed controlled airspace. You are allowed to fly outside controlled airspace, and planes can fly ‘VFR’ (Visual Flight Rules) which are more restrictive than ‘IFR’ (Instrument Flight Rules) (eg for VFR you have to fly slower, and within sight of the ground). For IFR you have to be in touch with air traffic control, for VFR you don’t (as long as you are outside controlled airspace), you just do your own thing.

So, a Cessna can probably fly fine under VFR at the moment, while a 747 can’t. Similarly, gliders, paragliders will all be fine, since they always fly VFR, and rarely go into controlled airspace.

Theoretically, I suppose, something like a 737 could fly VFR within the UK (they have been known to if controlled airspace is busy), but would have to land at airfields outside of controlled airspace, and there aren’t many of those big enough to take that size of plane.

Also, a jet engine is much more susceptible to problems from ash than a (non-turbo) prop plane is.

A light aircraft prop engine has pretty much just a (very powerful) engine with the same technology as a car, so it has air filters which will protect it from dust (as long as you don’t overuse the ‘carb heat’ function), and light aircraft don’t go fast enough for dust to have a significant abrasive effect.

So Delta-Delta could fly VFR at least in the UK.  The last point is the most important.  A piston-engined aircraft should be protected from dust ingestion.

Whether I could rescue all my mates stuck in foreign parts, I do not know.  It would just depend on the rules on the continent.

April 17, 2010 Posted by | News, Transport/Travel | , | 1 Comment

Tuna Steak with Tomatoes and Mushrooms

I found this recipe in a blog called Dining Alone. I know the feeling!

She got it from a book by Robin Miller, so to put it up again may be a bit like overkill.  As it is an American recipe it’s all cups and ounces.  And you know how I feel about non-Metric units! But Robin does have several recipes for people like me; impatient, bad cooks who like good food.

So I used the basis of the recipe to create a sauce for my tuna steak.  It was good.

First I pan-fried the seasoned tuna steak for a couple of minutes either side in a small amount of olive oil and then put it aside.

Then in the same frying pan, I took some very nice chestnut mushrooms that I’d bought in the Farmer’s Market at Wickhambrook and sliced and fried them in the pan with a few chopped shalots.  Note that I have one of Delia’s little choppers, which I used for the shalots.

Some dried thyme was then added and stirred in.  FinallyI put a small tin of chopped tomatoes, a couple of slurps of white wine and the tuna in the pan and simmered it for five minutes.

It was delicious and to make matters better, all I had to wash up was one small frying pan.

April 17, 2010 Posted by | Food | , , | 1 Comment

Head and Shoulders Shampoo

I’ve just seen an advert on Sky for this. 

I tried it along with many other anti-dandruff shampoos over the years before I was diagnosed as a coeliac.  None worked very well at all.

But after being diagnosed as a coeliac and going on a gluten-free diet, the dandruff went within two weeks.

April 17, 2010 Posted by | Health | | Leave a comment

Manchester to Australia

Just watching the Manchester City/United Derby on Sky.

The pitchside advertising says fly from Manchester to Australia on Etihad Airways.

You could be so lucky at the moment.

April 17, 2010 Posted by | Sport, Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Sir David is Still At It!

Sir David Attenborough has just reached the North Pole for the first time.

Good for him at 83!

Sad to see though that he is leaving the BBC to work for Sky.

April 17, 2010 Posted by | World | | Leave a comment

Medical Progress

I got my driving licence back on Thursday and yesterday I went to see my stroke doctor at Addenbrooke’s.

So how do I feel both physically and mentally?

Take yesterday.

I needed to get the Lotus Elan back from having the MOT from Newmarket and as everyone was busy and my secretary was not in, no-one could give me a lift.  So it was get out my trusty Brompton and cycle.  It should have been easy as although the trip was about sixteen kilometres, most of it is downhill.  Or at least it is if I go the shortest, but not the car-friendliest route.  But the Brompton slipped into fifth and couldn’t get anything lower than fourth.  And then there was the cold strong headwind.

But even so I made it easily in an hour.  I suspect I would be a lot quicker on my proper bicycle with the wind the other way.

On Wednesday the stroke doctor had told me that I had a leaky valve.  Now sometimes I think I can tell when it starts to leak.  Or am I imagining things.  I just push myself too hard and then I get a bit breathless, but if I get a rhythm going, I can pedal for over an hour.  Especially in Holland, where they have abolished hills by law.

It was nice to get back in the Lotus, which is now all pristine and clean.  I must take a few photos before it gets dirty!

Mentally perhaps I worry, but then who wouldn’t after what I’ve been through.

But as to brain function, it all seems to be working.  Word functions such as spelling are as good (or bad) as they ever was but I can only type with two fingers.  But then I never used more.  I do various memory functions when I collect my Zopa statistics, and these are just the same.

So far so good.

Except for one curious thing.  I do the Sudoku in The Times every day and have always found that the Super Fiendish were beyond my powers, unless I resulted to a process of elimination.  That in my book is almost cheating.

But since the stroke, I can do these without problems in just a few minutes.  I would never accuse such an august newspaper as The Times, of dumbing down, but they have just introduced a new section called Mind Games.

I should write to them.

My GP asked me how I was getting on mentally.  After all, to lose one of your close family is perhaps normal or bad luck, but to lose two is catastrophic and a downright disaster.  And then having a stroke doesn’t make you feel better.  Does it?  I don’t know, but I sometimes wonder that I now I think it can’t get any worse, so I just l0ook forward to the future.  She asked me to fill in a form about how I was feeling.  I scored very low.  But then that was good.

So what did the stroke doctor say?

He explained that the leaky valve wasn’t probably trivial and that he would refer me to the cardiology team.  But then I now feel that I’ve had it for years.  I don’t think that my stamina was any better in 1980, than it is now.  In fact sometimes I think it is better.  But I’ve always had this problem of being able to walk miles and not being able to run more than a couple of hundred metres.

He also said that the heart monitor had said I had an irregular heart-beat.

Because of these problems, he suggested that I go on Warfarin or rat poison.  This will thin the blood and make it less likely that I have a repeat occurrence of a stroke.

On the positive side, he felt that the research from Amsterdam on B6, coeliacs and strokes was interesting.

So I feel a lot better this morning, as we have a whole set of reasons, all of which it should be possible to overcome.

As I like to say – The Struggle Continues!

April 17, 2010 Posted by | Health | , , , , | 14 Comments