View Full Version : MM – The Golden Age – The Lightness of Flying the Mew

October 21st, 2009, 16:14
G-AFAA is the 1937 E3H version of the Mew Gull—built to be Edgar Percival's own ride. The E3H was the fastest of the factory-built Mew Gulls—setting the non-handicap speed mark in the 1937 King's Cup (see photo below). However, Jack Cross engineered changes in Alex Henshaw's legendary Mew (G-AEXF) to enable it to win the 1938 Kings Cup and set the London-Cape Town record in 1939. Note the distinctive aerodynamic low-cut profile of G-AEXF. On the other hand, the stock G-AFAA allows for a taller pilot who wants to wear a suit, a tie, and a proper hat—as did Percival in his racing career (photo).

Percival himself was an interesting fellow. Born in Albury, Australia (later of Uiver fame), he served in the Royal Flying Corps, alongside Billy Bishop, during WWI. After the war, he flew professionally in Australia—both commercially and competitively—and then moved to England as an Air Ministry test pilot, notably for Schneider Trophy aircraft.

In 1934 he started his own aircraft company at Gravesend, Kent. His Gull, and then the Vega Gull, were much respected fast long-distance touring aircraft. Charles Kingsford Smith flew a Percival Gull in his record-setting England-Australia flight. And it was in Gulls that Percival, C.W.A. Scott, Amy Mollison, and Jean Batten set several long-distance-speed records. The military training version of the Gull, the Percival Proctor, proved a success.

The racing Mew Gull E1 was first flown in 1934 and it was much refined for the second version E2H in 1936. The new model was quickly recognized as England's fastest competition aircraft, setting the pace in any number of contests. Mew pilots dominated the Kings's Cup during both 1937 and 1938 and British light aircraft racing during those pre-war years. It has been said that only the Mew Gull compared with the Spitfire for harmony of controls and flying balance. Powered by a 205hp Gipsy six, it relied on aerodynamics and lightweight design, rather than brute power, for its speed.

It's going to be a cramped, bouncy, and thrilling ride to Melbourne.

October 22nd, 2009, 08:17
Leaving Mildenhall for Vienna (EGUN-LOWW) in the Percival Mew Gull (G-AFAA).

October 22nd, 2009, 11:44
Down safely at Vienna (LOWW).

Lots of strong and shifting winds low over Central Europe. (The Mew likes to breathe thick air.)

October 22nd, 2009, 11:46
Were can i get this aircraft?

October 22nd, 2009, 11:53
A quick pit stop for a 1930s Mountain Dew and off for Bucharest.

October 22nd, 2009, 14:17
Ah, crossing the Carpathians and a safe welcome to Bucharest. Now, where did I leave that those carrots and wooden crossbow?

October 22nd, 2009, 14:22
Hi Jake,

The Mew Gull is by Michel Migaud (here at SOH he's oldliner52). You can find his work here (look for Mew Gull):


(I've repainted G-AFAA to seemingly match the 1930s colors--not absolutely sure of the colors, of course.)

Hope this helps,

October 23rd, 2009, 07:09
And now, over the Black sea and Turkey into Aleppo. You all have me worried about the Taurus Mountains. The low-flying Mew will have to sneak through.

October 23rd, 2009, 10:40
Down for refueling at Aleppo (OSAP). Good flight over the Black Sea, the Anatolian Plain, through the Taurus Mountains, and now down into the Syrian desert.

Hmmm. Looking out the window, it seems that we're no longer in Europe.

(Wx is real--using Active Sky Advanced--to Duenna's consternation.)

October 23rd, 2009, 10:51
After a quick refueling and recycling stop, departing for Baghdad. Looks petty bleak country to the east...

October 23rd, 2009, 12:52
Down for a bite to eat (and maybe a movie) in Baghdad.

Sloppy approach--wasn't paying attention and the city sort of snuck up. Couple of "S" turns and finally had to wing around to Rwy 33. No style points today.

October 23rd, 2009, 15:57
Going to try to catch up with Austin in beautiful downtown Jask.

Milton Shupe
October 23rd, 2009, 18:13
Wow MM; you are covering some serious ground there. :applause:

October 23rd, 2009, 18:15
Diverting to Bushehr (OIBB), happily a prepared airfield. Understand that the hotel here has a better chef than the one in Jask.

NB. FSX pilots might wish to check their NDBs in Iraq before flying.

October 24th, 2009, 08:26
Let's see if we can get all the way to Karachi for a hot Hyderabadi Biryani.

October 24th, 2009, 12:52
Long and largely uneventful flight from Bushehr to Karachi. (Did manage to hurridly avoid a granite-filled cloud at one point.) Light winds made for good time.

Now for that Biryani and a Kingfisher.

October 25th, 2009, 06:37
splendide! nice run. got to find this model and try her out. percival is a great designer.

October 25th, 2009, 07:47
Yes, delightful little aircraft.

Now heading out from Karachi to Allahabad. Looking forward to the Indian desert and then the "tiger-infested" jungles (that so worried Roscoe Turner and Clyde Pangborn.)

October 25th, 2009, 11:39
Straightforward leg into Allahabad (VIAL)...no desert, no tigers, no wind.

Second checkpoint reached.

October 26th, 2009, 12:28
Heading past Calcutta and over the Bay of Bengal. Typhoons today...or tomorrow?

Aiming for a proper British colonial bar at Rangoon.

October 26th, 2009, 13:12
Heading past Calcutta and over the Bay of Bengal. Typhoons today...or tomorrow?

Aiming for a proper British colonial bar at Rangoon.

Adivsed to stay clear of the airport bar after visits by myself and Bry,,,,not recommended.

May have left a bad taste in the mouth of the management there...:icon_lol:

However,,,an ice cold Burmese beer awaits you at the Green Elephant in town.


October 26th, 2009, 15:24
Ah, the genuine advantages of being the first pilots to reach one of our airports...will give the burly barkeeper the slip.

Thanks for the tip on the Green Elephant. Was aiming to visit the bar at the Strand, to follow in the footsteps of Rudyard Kipling and Somerset Maugham. "The place to go" in Rangoon [during the colonial era]. Similarly, will stay at Raffles when in Singapore.

October 26th, 2009, 17:01
Safely down in Rangoon. Looking forward to a refreshing drink.

October 28th, 2009, 10:14
Down the Malay Peninsula toward Alor Star.

October 28th, 2009, 12:52
Ah phooey. FSX locked up solid 2 1/2 hours into the flight. Duenna shut down so nothing on record. Ouch.

Do-over. :frown:

Bry Rosier
October 28th, 2009, 13:34
I know that feeling :( very frustrating but mine was only after 1 hour .

October 28th, 2009, 14:36
Arggh. Thanks for sharing in the misery...

Departing Rangoon for Alor Star (VYYY-WKMA).

Deja Vu all over again. :rolleyes:

Gad Zooks! Went with MSFSX weather to see if problem was ASA. Took off to discover air pressure of 23.07 inHg. Gosh...going to be a peculiar flight tonight.

October 28th, 2009, 17:58
If at first you don't succeed...

Safely down at Alor Star before the plug gets pulled. ;)

October 30th, 2009, 17:16
Heading for Singapore and the bar at Raffles.

October 30th, 2009, 17:33

October 30th, 2009, 19:08
Safely down in Singapore. Lots of thunderstorms and sudden wind and air pressure shifts (getting down to 25.22 inHg). For some period, I had to fly below 3,000' in order to keep the Mew below an atmospheric 8,500' where it starts to pant rather noticeably--a tactic made the more interesting by the thick clouds and ridge of mountain tops.. But nicely through and to Seletar.

Now, off to the classic bar at Raffles for good conversation and a bit of colonial luxury. Hope to find Harv presiding over the gathering...

October 31st, 2009, 09:24
Next, Selaparang. (WSSL-WADA)

October 31st, 2009, 14:01
Down at Lombok's Selaparang.

Odd tall tree stands majestically before the runway on short finals--thank goodness for the "Spitfire" approach.

November 1st, 2009, 05:34
Heading for Port Darwin and the lucky country.

November 1st, 2009, 09:59
Long low flight over the shark-infested Timor Sea. Ran into those tropical lows that pushed the aircraft below 3,000' in order to keep the Gypsy breathing. Constantly had to fiddle with the mixture and keep an eye out for the waves below. (And watching closely for telltale fins above the surface as well...)

Happy to see Darwin when it appeared under the wheels.

November 7th, 2009, 05:16
Out of Darwin for Cloncurry (YCCY). Looks like the weekend brings wind on the nose. :rolleyes:

November 7th, 2009, 06:03
FSX again went dead an hour into the flight. (No more Active Sky for me.) :banghead:

November 7th, 2009, 09:57
Sorry to hear that MM. I guess it's better to lock up after one hour rather than four. Every time I hear about a problem with FSX it just keeps me in FS9 for racing a bit longer. I'd love to have the better graphics and features, but didn't want to risk a 6 hour flight with a system crash. Knocking on wood... I've never had a system crash in FS9.

November 8th, 2009, 07:29
Another try. This with MSFSX Wx. Pausing for passing thunderstorm on the field...

November 8th, 2009, 07:53
Rains continue, but storm winds have died down. Need to get off.

November 8th, 2009, 11:39
Made it safely enough. Flew low below the headwinds, a tactic made more difficult due to Jeppesen/FSX awful atmospheric pressure algorithm.

Real world weather in this area (after the thunderstorms of Darwin) was about 29.92 while FSX typically registered something below 27.00 inHg. (World record stuff.) This meant that the aircraft's altimeter was typically registering 2,000-3,000 feet too high. Flying low proved a twitchy thing today.

Anyone else having this sort of problem?

November 8th, 2009, 16:43
The World Record for lowest atmospheric pressure is 870 millbars or 25.86 inches of Mercury. (http://wmo.asu.edu/world-lowest-sea-level-air-pressure-excluding-tornadoes) This record was registered in 1979 during Typhoon Tip, the world's largest and most intense tropical typhoon on record.

The air pressure for Cloncurry (YCCY) in FSX right now is 24.98 inHg. Gosh!

Extremely difficult to start the aircraft and a trial run took thousands of feet of runway to get the wheels to lift. Unreal...

Interesting choice. Fantasy weather from MSFSX or risk FSX crash with Active Sky? :isadizzy:

November 8th, 2009, 17:23
OK. Going to gamble with Active Sky and something approaching real world weather. Fingers crossed...

November 8th, 2009, 17:53
Hoping for good mews!

(Okay, that one was a stretch)

November 8th, 2009, 18:18
Double Drat!! That witch doctor has failed again.. gonna have to see about getting me money back ;)

Great Ozzie
November 8th, 2009, 18:39
Real world weather in this area (after the thunderstorms of Darwin) was about 29.92 while FSX typically registered something below 27.00 inHg. (World record stuff.) This meant that the aircraft's altimeter was typically registering 2,000-3,000 feet too high. Flying low proved a twitchy thing today.

Anyone else having this sort of problem?

Hi Mike,

I saw this earlier but forgot to respond until now (sry btw).

Check out this .jpg of ASA when I was crossing thru Pakistan in the Comet... Flying from Baghdad to Agra. "It" began in Southern Afghanistan and continued thruout the mountain passage of Pakistan. The Altimeter automatically reset to its minimum setting in the Kollsman Window; since I was using the Autopilot set to 11,500' - the aircraft began descending. It stopped around 8500' on the Shift-Z Altitude, I think. I do remember having to climb to clear mountains... looking at the Shift-Z Altitude, I keep increasing the Altitude on the Autopilot until an Autopilot/Altimeter reading of 14,700' equaled 11,500' Shift-Z Altitude. Very bizarre to say the least.

Once inside India, the Altimeter started making "slow increasing jumps" of say 40 to 60'. Every few hundred feet increase I would decrease the Autopilot by roughly a concomitant amount (staying "ahead of" the Altimeter). There came a point where the "B" key came alive and I could start resetting the Altimeter Setting. Before too much longer the Autopilot Altitude Setting/Altimeter Reading equaled the Shift-Z Altimeter and resetting the pressure in the Kollsman with the B-Key seemed to be functioning normally... And I continued on to Agra w/o (further) incident.

November 8th, 2009, 19:46
Fun flight from Cloncurry to Charleville. After a little experimentation, settled down on nap of the earth (well, 2000' ASL, 1000' AGL) flying. Produced a 7kts headwind but avoided much higher winds aloft.

And, as a bonus, got a spectacular view of FTX Queensland. Rather stunning scenery at this altitude and speed. Good thing there are no Redwoods in Australia...

November 8th, 2009, 19:54

That's exactly the same pattern. When the air pressure goes below 948 millibars (on this altimeter) the adjustment stops. Guess that the manufacturer was not planning on routine trips at record air pressures...

Got similar phenomena in both FSX Wx and ASA. But the extremes were much worse in FSX weather--at least over the last few days.

Makes for nervous flying--or at least encourages the pilot's attention.

Wonder if this is really typical of the FSX weather engine nowadays--and we have not really noticed it before. (Or wonder if everyone knows this well already...if so, how do folks routinely work around this?)


November 14th, 2009, 06:26
After a week's office work, now on to Melbourne.

As ever, facing headwinds. Estimated Time: 3 Hours 20 Minutes.

November 14th, 2009, 08:09
Remember the magic number is 12. Good Luck!

November 14th, 2009, 09:45
Safely down.

Flew down to 2,000' to duck under the winds. Good luck in avoiding headwinds (and catching a slight helping wind) made for a good Racing time. But my ETE now looks pretty awful!

Ah, the complications of competition!:isadizzy:

Milton Shupe
November 14th, 2009, 10:04
Hey MM; congrats on completion. :applause: Yes, the headwinds weren't as prevalent as I predicted throwing my time off 3nm/h on average.

Thanks for making it all fun. :applause:

November 14th, 2009, 10:19
Congrats on finishing the race!! Too bad the precision time didn't work out, but it's sort of like hitting a hole in one in golf. While there's great skill in getting in close to the hole in the first place, it takes a bit of luck for it to actually go in.

November 14th, 2009, 10:20
Congratulations Mike! I wish I could have flown racing times like these. Nice run and a brilliant race.

Bry Rosier
November 14th, 2009, 10:24
Congratulations Mike . A superb Race , well done :ernae:

Great Ozzie
November 14th, 2009, 11:18
Congratulations Mike . A superb Race , well done :ernae:
Hear Hear! :ernae:

November 14th, 2009, 11:55
A tip 'o the cap to ya Mike. :icon29:

November 14th, 2009, 14:58
Congratulations, Mike! A great race!!!

November 14th, 2009, 18:30
Mike, Welcome to Melborne.... :jump:

Here's a cold one for ya :) :icon29:

November 14th, 2009, 19:51
Congrats MM! :ernae:

See ya there tomorrow! (or the next day)

November 15th, 2009, 17:10
Great job, Mike!