The advent of war left no time for the luxuries of record
breaking and the Kingsford Smiths, C.W.A. Scotts and Mollisons became history
and folklore. Being a lifelong aviation freak (I was 43 at the time this was
written in 1989), my childhood heroes were those kind of folk and I have always
wondered what inspired and drove them on.
In 1984, after a few years of defacing cliffs with my
teeth during hang gliding escapades, my wife decided I should learn to ﬂy real
aeroplanes. Six months later I was ﬂying my own Super Cub and loving every
minute when Neil Williams inspired me with his article on the Bucker Jungmann;
the search was on!
I eventually found a CASA 131 (Spanish built example) for
sale at Elstree. This was the subject of an extensive restoration by Hornet
Aviation at Selby and 18 months later G-TAFF was rolled out in her present
livery. Two years of fun and aeros with the British Aerobatic Association left
me wondering about a long distance ﬂight. After a disastrous engine failure in
December ‘87, I decided to ﬁt a zero-houred replacement (ENMA Tigre GIVB) and
to modify the aircraft extensively to get maximum range.
I obtained a 200 hour engine from the States for £900
(including shipping!) and handed this over to Norvic Racing Engines to strip
and zero. All dual controls, front seat and inverted fuel and oil systems were
taken out. Two extra ferry tanks were manufactured (a 30 gallon saddle tank for
the front hole and another 8 gallon tank as an extension to the existing main
tank). This gave me a total of 56 imperial gallons. The fuel selection was done
via a Christen wobble pump, which also served as a low point water check, ﬁlter
and manual back-up pump to the single mechanical fuel pump on the engine. A 3 gallon oil tank was ﬁtted and this, with the
extra fuel, gave me 8 hours at 1900 rpm (100 mph). All this work took me ﬁve
months, but by June 1988 she was ready to ﬂy. The ﬂight was planned for
October, so during the last two weeks of June I put 50 hours on the engine,
before disassembly and packing in a P & 0 container for shipping to Darwin.
Two friends, Alan Horsfall and Sherburn engineer Les Scattergood were to come
with me to Darwin, (both were already heavily involved). Flights were booked
and ﬂight planning sorted. Mike Grey from Overﬂight International had kindly
come forward and at less than cost got all my diplomatic and ﬂight clearances
sorted. From June to October I spent my
time getting ﬁt and trying to lose about three gallons of fuel (21 lbs)!
Disaster struck in October with the military coup in Burma so, after a great
deal of soul searching, the departure from Darwin was postponed to 29th