Along with Project Propeller, the Burned Children’s Club Flying Day, at Bourn is one of my best excuses to get airborne!
Once again this year I was toting the chainmail making kit along and had also managed to kill quite a few evenings making up keyrings of the stuff for the youngsters to take away, since there was such a keen interest last year.
The weather forecast looked mixed all week and arrived wet but clearing on the Friday morning. I delayed a while for clearer skies then set up into patchy blue only to rapidly catch up with the retreating rain of the morning. The straight line over the hills was out so it was the usual skulk along the southwards route, crammed between the hills to the north and Cardiff’s control zone to the south.
The cloudbase was not actually all that low (the hills are very high!), but there were a lot of showers about and my head was on a swivel constantly checking left and right and especially behind to check I still have escape routes if it should threaten to close in on me.
Outside of the showers the visibility was really quite good making the flight rather strange and pretty. I could see the coast quite clearly, although separated from in by a veil of silvery rain, which streaked and shimmered the sky between. To the north, when the clouds parted I could see way up the valley to the high peaks of Brecon.
The cloud cleared up as I reached Newport and lower ground and I swung north to pick up something close to my planned track. Crossing the river into England just north of Gloucester I could see a line of rain which I suspected really was the rest of the morning’s downpours.
Shades of Project Propeller once again as I started trying to find a way around it, first south, then north, pressing eastwards where I could and hoping against hope not to find myself ending up diverting into Gloucester all over again.
I ticked off each landmark I reached, feeling gradually more hopeful. I bore cautiously north of Silverstone with its RA(T) for the Aerobatic World Championships though it was hard to imagine much twirlybatic flying going on in this.
Somewhere not long later it cleared up again, and stayed clear and pleasant for the rest of the trip.
Bourn was easy to spot, but trickier was picking out the current runway from the masses of disused tarmac. Traffic was pretty busy, but I still caught a “Hello, Leia,” on the radio!
Not quite oriented with the runways, I went for an overhead join to be certain, and was soon set up and ready to land. The excess of “old” tarmac fooled my eye once again and I ended making a rather low and flat approach to the threshold with cranes and bushes zipping past to left and right! Not my best approach ever, but down and taxying into to a wonderful warm welcome and lots of Flyer Forum-ish faces!
Just in time for lunch too!
Quick bacon roll, then out with the chainmail gear, which had apparently been quite eagerly awaited to judge by the number of people who approached me as I set up.
It was nice to see some of the same kids back and their enthusiasm undimmed.
We had a very pleasant interruption to watch a display practice by a very attractive Pitts Special which taxyed in afterwards to great applause (I always forget what little aeroplanes they are!)
I’d found neon pipecleaners for the mail-demo this year and with typical creative they were subverted into a number of other decorations as well!
After the kids had been bussed off, the pilots soon fell to chitchat and comparing of aeroplanes and I got the twirl in Keith’s (or Keef’s in forumish) lovely Arrow which he’d offered me a fly of earlier in the week.
Keith most trustingly offered me the left-hand seat in the charmingly registered G-UTSY, even with my utter inexperience of complex aeroplanes and advised I treat it like a big Tomahawk. It was in fact a lovely well behaved aeroplane to fly, and I enjoyed it immensely. Rather more acceleration than a Tommy zipping down the runway, mind you! The speed picked up nicely and all was very comfortable. Nice going-places aeroplane. We did a turn around the circuit before slowing down (dangling the wheels helped!) and setting up for the approach. I did a slightly less dramatically low approach and was pretty pleased with the landing.
Cake was out by now and people were finishing up and starting to filter off home. Thoughts of encroaching weather were on people’s minds and I nipped on the computer in the office to have a quick squint. Similar to the rest of the day really – showers, but hopefully dodgeable ones. In any case there were plenty of alternative airfields en-route and with fuel sorted before leaving Bourn my only time limit was daylight. I had time in hand to detour as much as needed.
As it turned out the showery clouds had all collapsed into pretty, fluffy Cu, and I had a straight run home.
I’d once again leaned on the “on” switch of the GPS when stuffing in my bag on arrival so that coughed and died somewhere after Banbury, when I last looked at it and decided the groundspeed readout in the stonking headwind was too depressing to think about!
Two and a half hours it took, and I diverged from my course only to dodge Silverstone and look at a reservoir or two and a pretty ridge north of Neath…
Hmmm maybe I should just stop pretending to even try and fly in straight lines… What’s the hurry anyway 😉 When has the aim ever been to do less flying…