2 thoughts on “Eight weeks to go.”

  1. Good morning Greg.

    I have just started reading your recently released thriller, Lethal Sky. At the beginning, in Chapter 10, you describe a plot by a terrorist flying a light sport aircraft, (or in Recreational Aviation terminology, an ultralight aircraft), an Evektor Sportstar, making an attempt to release anthrax spores over Sydney to decimate the population, and according to the pursuing Taipan Helicopter is heading for Centrepoint Tower. (pg 64)

    I own and fly an Evektor Sportstar from Aldinga Airfield, south of Adelaide, South Australia.

    Your story has made me rethink my attitude to CASA’s reaction (the Civil Aviation Safety Authority in Australia) to the 7/11 Twin Towers terrorist attack, in that they insisted all light aircraft must have a control lock fitted to their throttle, or some such similar locking device, as well as increased security standards at towered airfields. My reaction was the same as many other pilots. A knee jerk reaction – who is going to take a light aircraft and repeat this type of terrorist action?
    Your novel has suggested how it might be done in reality, but with biological warfare this time.

    Of all recreational aircraft to choose, the Evektor Sportstar is probably one of the most difficult to hijack without at least three different keys. There is a key to unlock the canopy, another for the ignition – the magnetos are checked using this ignition key, (the same key which is used in a lesser known type of European automobile and for which it is difficult to get blanks for additional keys to be cut), and another for the fuel tank caps. In addition, if fitted with a throttle lock as requested by CASA, a Sportstar would be almost impossible to steal and fly without these three different keys. Forget rewiring, as car thieves do!!

    You have addressed this though in your novel, in that one would have to do what the terrorists did – get into the Flight Office and obtain the set of keys for that aircraft, normally hanging on a duty hook somewhere.

    However, I must take issue with your references to the controls and structure of an Evektor Sportstar.

    1. You refer to the CANOPY as a COWLING.

    The CANOPY is the bubble structure that encloses the cockpit, and as you correctly state in your book, lifts on “skeletal hydraulic struts”. You state that it is the cowling that is lifted on these struts. Not so. The COWLING covers the engine at the front of the plane, and is held in place by a number of Zeuss screws.

    2. Your reference to the Sportstar registration number is completely wrong for Australian aviation.

    There are two organizations that register aircraft in Australia.
    CASA, which registers larger aircraft over 544 kg maximum takeoff weight and have the registration prefixes VH followed by three other letters eg VH-BTR
    Recreational Aviation Australia, (RAAus), which registers planes under 544 Kg MTOW, such as the Sportstar. and have only numbers. All Sportstars in Australia are imported factory built aircraft, and start with the prefix 24 with four other numbers.Hence my Sportstar is 24-4525. A kit built or home built RAAus registered plane will start with the prefix 19 and four other numbers. eg 19-4326.

    Hence the registration number in your book, O-030 is not in the least compatible with Australian
    aircraft registration protocols.

    3. No aircraft starts by “pushing” the magneto. (Pg 39). Engines with a propellor have two magnetos, attached to the engine block under the engine cowling, and two spark plugs in each cylinder, One magneto fires one of the spark plugs, and the other, as a kind of back-up, but for more efficient fuel burning, fires the other plug. In a Sportstar, both magnetos are engaged in firing the plugs in each cylinder by turning the ignition key to, and leaving it in, the “start” position. Hence “pushing” the magneto, so that the engine “surges into life” is a nonsense. In reality, the ignition is turned on to “start”, engaging both magnetos, and the engine “surges into life”, just like a car. The throttle is then pushed forward to increase engine and prop speed to take off, as you state in your novel. (Pg 39)

    Having made these comments, however, you obviously have seen Sportstars in RAAus Flying Schools in the eastern states of Australia. They are a very popular and safe plane, and as you have indicated they are “designed for students” (pg 81) and do sit on the tarmac, “leaning forward, all gorgeous curves and tilting wings, seemingly too innocent and beautiful to become a weapon of war”.(pg 39)

    Finally, thank you for a great novel. If you are ever in South Australia, please give me call, and I would be delighted to take you for a scenic flight along Adelaide’s Fleurieau Peninsula coastlines in an Evektor Sportstar.

    Cheers,

    Evan John

    Vice-President
    Aldinga Aero Club
    Colville Rd
    Aldinga SA.

    Phone: 08 8326 0609
    Mob: 0408 804 289

    1. Hi Evan
      I’m so sorry, I only just saw your comment as the notifications sometimes go astray amongst my various devices. And thanks also for picking up the errors and sending such a detailed letter. I did a trial flight in an Evektor at Kempsey Airport as part of my research, but wasn’t able to take detailed notes as it all happened so fast so please forgive my inaccuracies. The registration error was somewhat deliberate as I don’t want to run the risk of using a “live” registration.
      My wife is from Adelaide so we go down there for Christmas every second year. I will definitely let you know next time I’m down there, and I’d love a scenic flight!
      cheers and thanks again

      Greg

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