Nice to see an Optica flying past my office window at Thruxton yesterday afternoon & this morning - can't be many airworthy ones left - anyone know what the plan is for this one & it's "sister" parked up on the airfield?
Understand they're a bit touchy about CG, there were some lead weights which had to placed in certain places (in specific holders) for different loading conditions - pilot only, pilot + passenger, etc.
Interesting airplane - wonder if it could be updated with composites as a homebuilt?
I flew one out of Old Sarum, years ago  2 up and we didn't have much runway to spare on 24. Complicated series of red lights and lead weight/ C/G positions depending on 1,2 or 3 occupants! Ask Derek Piggott about flying the Optica. I don't think he thought it was much good.
The "flying lightbulb" was a classic 'design fixation' [in this case achieving visibility in an aeroplane as good as a helicopter] and the compromise was c/g complexity and power unit/ducted fan problems. Big engine/low thrust. Aeroplanes don't hover, other than Mr Farley's.
Remember the first [underpowered???] version that took off one Farnborough Show and had the commentator saying "I see the Optica is taking the scenic route" or similar as it trundled seemingly the whole length of 24 before staggering off. The engine was buried [as a ducted fan] and needed about 35 huge long AN bolts to be removed before one even saw any part of the power unit! They re-engined it pretty quickly. More power and fewer bolts [but still too many!]
Interesting to see in flight but never made it commercially. For fairly obvious reasons.IMHO
Had the pleasure of a flight in the prototype with Angus McVitie. With throttle shut and some flap, there was enough residual thrust from that huge fan to maintain altitude at 45 kt ias; it handled much like a glider (microlights hadn't been invented then but like a 3-axis one too). When Angus said let's go home, I eased the nose down, opened the throttle and applied about 45 deg of bank, noticing that he moved as if to take over the controls. After the police fatal accident, I wondered if they were in the same configuration as we were, and whether in that configuration it might flip into a spin if you were a bit slow applying power which of course Angus would recognise, hence his move to take over. Still I managed a good landing anyway.
Quote : "Aeroplanes don't hover, other than Mr Farley's".
I think I'm right in saying Mr.Farley did indeed do some test flying on the Optica, but I don't know what he thought of it - maybe it might be mentioned in his book we're all waiting for !
I've read the police version of the accident report on the link mentioned, though I must say I am a little cynical about people on the ground witnessing ' fiddling with something central in the cockpit '...
The fuel selector does seem a reasonable cause, though whether it's a good idea to mess with that on a new basically unknown aircraft at low level is another thing - the vague story going around at the time, as I heard it, was that the police pilot took ' very low stall speed ' a bit too far.
Hi, I am doing my dissertation on Optica edgley. Can I meet any pilot who operated this optica or any police helicopter pilot? I just need to consult about payload and other considerations what the pilot really feel in optica.
Although the 'official' date of first Police operation was 15 May 1985, I distinctly remember one operating in the Aldershot area using a police callsign the day before and when the tragic news came in the next day, thinking 'those may have been the guys I talked to yesterday'. When they departed from Aldershot, they had thanked us and told us it was a successful operation as they had traced the person they were looking for.