Popular Flying Association International Air Rally

Dan Falbe
EAA Chapter 1000 Det 6
Mildenhall, UK

Originally published August 1997

The dreaded Chapter 1000 Project Police staged an international strike with a raid on the Popular Flying Association's (PFA) International Air Rally. PFA is an organization in England with goals similar to those of EAA. With current membership of 8,500, PFA has formed local 'Struts' (Chapter equivalent). This year the PFA held their annual fly-in over the July 4th weekend at Cranfield, the home of a well-respected aeronautical university.

The United Kingdom Detachment of the Chapter 1000 Project Police staged the raid on Saturday 5 July. Arriving early, the PFA welcomed us (I deputized my wife Nancy) with front row parking. Even though the gates weren't open yet, many homebuilts were visible from the parking area. Over 500 had already arrived by Friday night, even though the weather was marginal. Saturday's weather was forecasted to be perfect, and many aircraft were expected. The day dawned with low ceilings, but it quickly cleared and many aircraft were arriving as we watched. As we entered the grounds many PFA members noticed both the Chapter 1000 and Project Police badges and realized they were in trouble.

Cranfield turned out to be a smaller scale version of Oshkosh. By the end of Saturday there were over 1,500 aircraft on the field, representing almost all of the popular kit and plans-built designs. The sport aircraft movement in Europe has a different flavor than found in the US, however. With the high cost of gasoline (near $4.00/gal) ultralights and very light aircraft are more common than the high performance types. The most numerous types present were the Europas, Team Mini-Maxes, Rans S-7s, Kitfoxes, and Avids. Also in attendance though were several RVs, Long EZs, Lancairs, Acro Sports, and even 1 WAR FW-190.

The top awards were presented on Sunday morning. The Best Plans-Built trophy went to a white Falco F8L (registration G-OCAD). The Best Kit-Built trophy went to a beautiful black with purple trim Lancair 360 (registration PH-BPM).

In addition to the outstanding workmanship demonstrated by the majority of the aircraft, I was impressed by the distance traveled by many of the attendees. Many aircraft had flown in France, Germany, and Belgium, but I also saw at least 10 that had flown in from Sweden. One Rans S-10 had even arrived from Finland.

I spent a lot of time exploring the exhibition tents, and looked at several version of alternative engines. The two drawing the most attention were the Jabiru 2200, and the two Mid-West Engines rotary engines. The Jabiru 2200 is a 2200cc 4-cylinder, 4-stroke, horizontally opposed air cooled engine developing 80 hp at 3300 rpm. The Jabiru's installed weight is under 120 lbs. Jabiru also had a composite kit aircraft on display powered by, you guessed it, a Jabiru 2200. I took several photographs of this well thought out installation.

Mid-West Engines had two versions of their rotary engines on display. The single rotor AE-50, and the twin rotor AE-100. The AE-50, a 50 hp model, is certified to JAR 22. The AE-100, a 100 hp model, is only for use in experimentals. One Europa was present with an AE-100 installation. Although the performance data on these engines looks good, the fuel consumption figures are on the high side. The data on the AE-100 shows max power consumption of 10 gal/hr.

The flea market and vendor areas were similar to stateside fly-ins with representatives present from Vans, Murphy, Stoddard-Hamilton (showing the GlaStar), Skystar, and Poly-Fiber. While inspecting the Poly-Fiber demo area, attention was drawn to the presence of a member of Chapter 1000 by a member of another Southern California Chapter. Working in the demo area were Jon and Phyllis Goldenbaum from Chapter 1. No matter where they go, the Chapter 1 folks just can't get away from the Project Police.

Overall the event was well organized, and there was only one incident. On Friday, the nose gear collapsed on a Tri-Q during landing, and the aircraft was destroyed by fire, but no one was seriously hurt.

All the PFA members who saw my badge welcomed Nancy and me, and we definitely enjoyed ourselves. We left the Rally with several bags full of literature, and I took lots of photographs. I will be forwarding the good stuff back to HQ Chapter 1000. This concludes the report on the 1997 PFA Rally Project Police Raid.

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Revised -- 8 April 1998