The Eurofox Project
G-MOYR is living up to expectations, and “doing everything it says on the tin”. Integrating the EuroFox into our Pawnee/Super Cub tug fleet has worked out nicely. By chance, our Cub suffered an undercarriage collapse as we were completing the Permit flying, so EuroFox slotted straight into the gap! The new tug’s towing performance is better overall than the Super Cub - 30secs to 1 min slower to 2000′ but much quicker getting back on to the ground, leading to noticeably quicker turn round times between tows. Average fuel consumption for aerotowing a mix of 2-seat and single seat gliders is working out at 2.7 litres of UL91 to 2000 feet. YGC towing charges reduce on 1st April, and we are introducing EuroFox training tows to 1000 feet for 2-seat training and early solo flying. Towing pictures to follow when my camera comes back from the menders, it never recovered from being dropped on the workshop floor during the build!
The weather has slowed the conversion process down somewhat, but G-MOYR has risen to all the challenges thrown her way. With 60% of the airfield waterlogged and unusable much of the aero towing has been off a soft runway 24, or from the footpath side of runway 20 opposite the caravans. Neither run is longer than 600 metres but EuroFox tows the DG’s and K21’s very safely; as the instructors and glider pilots get used to the tug taking off before the glider, the whole procedure is becoming safer and more routine. The turn round time between tows is working out slightly quicker than the Cub/Pawnee operation.
In order to avoid carrying unnecessary mass into the air, we are recommending using the left tank as reserve with about 10 litres fuel and the tank cock off, and using the right tank (40 litres) as the main supply to the engine. That fuel load is good for about 15 tows, and 2 hours towing at a stretch is enough for anyone before a cup of tea becomes a safety essential!
As a result of feedback from our tuggies we are going to move the heel plates forward so that boot heels rest on the plate not the carpet (I think it must be me that’s deformed, having located the plate position during the build!), and remind everyone that there is no need to attempt to force the doors open during the pre-take off checks using the door frame; just a visual check of the latch at the bottom is all that’s required (’cos we’re getting a bit tired of ‘rebuilding’ the doors each week). Gorilla (Pawnee) flying techniques are not required, and the bigger tug pilot can remove the seat cushions to give more cockpit space if required, using a thin shock foam one instead.
Let’s hope the weather starts improving soon. G-MOYR can then really show us what she capable of as a glider tug, and to the tug pilots who have not flown EuroFox yet - you will love it!
10 of YGC’s tuggies have now converted to EuroFox, and are now finessing their skills on unsuspecting glider pilots! G-MOYR has just reached 25 hours on the engine, so it’s back into the workshop for her first check over. This photo was posted on the BGA’s Facebook page.
We also had a very interesting set of barograph traces sent in to the Office. One of which illustrated the dramatic effects of atmospheric wave action on an aerotow climb profile. The other was a ‘normal’ tow for comparison which appears to have avoided the wave completely (or managed to fly in the updraft!). The ‘wavey’ trace was from a EuroFox tow flown by a ‘first-timer’ - obviously working hard there, Les! These early days with our new tug have been a very good test for the EuroFox; towing the heaviest 2-seaters in light winds off soft, wet ground has been quite challenging, but she has coped really well.
The north eastern end of Sutton Bank is a soaking wet sponge, so we have been aerotowing from the footpath side of runway 20 which is the ‘driest’ part of the airfield. 2 more tuggies have now aerotowed with G-MOYR, and have returned commenting favourably on her performance and handling.
EuroFox’s light footprint is paying dividends on the soft turf - as the glider undersides get ‘artexed’ with black Yorkshire mud, the tug only gets easily removed mud pellets that flick off the tundras. Compared with the Pipers the ground ride is very comfortable, and the visibility from the cockpit is very good.
Now the builder has been banned from the left seat, it has been good to see our creation flying from outside the cockpit. The aircraft is amazingly quiet and looks super in flight. Early calculations indicate that the EuroFox tug ‘does just what it says on the tin’. Having bulked the aircraft with full fuel and ballast to MAUW, we topped off the tanks after a 45 minute flight test, 18 aerotows, and 20 minutes of famil flying with 45 litres of UL91. The tanks were probably about 10 litres down from full up after refuel, so 1 hour flying and 18 aerotows on 55 litres is jolly respectable - that’s roughly half of what you would put in a Pawnee after 12 aerotows!
G-MOYR has her Permit to Fly, and the real work can now begin. This is a great Christmas present for the Yorkshire Gliding Club, and we are very grateful to the CAA, LAA and EuroFox UK for all their help since April.
Not counting the time spent at the Aeropro factory at Nitra, John, Mike, Debs, Dave and Richard have clocked over 500 hours of work assembling our new tug. We are sure that it has been worth all the effort!
G-MOYR is ready to go. All the test flying has been completed satisfactorily, but we must be at the bottom of the CAA’s Xmas card list for the issue of our Permit, so all we can do is wait patiently. In the mean time the new tug has been repeatedly polished, and generally looked after so that she’s ready to go the moment the Permit drops through the YGC post box!!
Best Wishes Everyone
More aerotowing today with Pask, Marshall and Tayler sampling the delights of EuroFox tugging power. Ellis (sick-note) took most of photos, and missed the more spectacular ‘test-pilot bounces’ thank goodness! Actually the airfield has been smoothed and rolled at great expense, and is pleasure to fly off. The big hole is no more!!
The guillotine check held no surprises. It is a proven system and the 2 ‘knives’ deal with the tow rope like a hot knife through butter! Now we have to put it back together again.
Inspector Mark signed off the last bit of work on G-MOYR on Thursday pm, and there was enough daylight left to hook up a heavy K21 (Albert + largish student) and launch up RW02. Despite the soft turf, uphill, light wind and starting north of the winch track, the combination was comfortably airborne before the top of the hill, and the 60-65 knot tow was completely normal. The retract winch works a treat, as did the short landing in the SE corner of the airfield (Just because we can!). Photo’s next time.