Chitchat with other pilots seems to suggest we all have at least one airfield which it seems as though we’re simply not fated to get to. For me it’s been Caernarfon.
Prior to the day’s flying it’d been put off in succession, by:
- Dead starter (Though Brian and BIBT took pity on me and I went as a passenger on that one)
- Someone else’s aeroplane rolling down the hill and bumping into ours
- Babysitting due extremely pre-ETA arrival of second tiny nephew
The past two weekends had also been alternately wet or gloriously sunny while I was otherwise tied up.
Finally, in desperation and suffering junkie-like withdrawal I dipped into my annual leave from work and took a Tuesday afternoon off to go flying!
I made it down to the airfield by about half past one and chatted for while over other people’s tales of woe for once (Poor Cambrian have had a pranged Tommyhawk and a wrongly impounded Cessna on their hands this month!).
I also took the opportunity to get the local gen on the rather vague NOTAM about Work In Progress on the runways. This turned out to mean sweeping and grass cutting (and with any luck weedkilling to get rid of the bizarre green slime that nearly has me on my backside every wet day I visit)
They’d picked a good day for working on the runways though as there was nil wind and all four possible directions were a viable option.
I got given 28 and headed off. A quick call to check there was no objection to be turning against the circuit direction to get straight on track to the north and I was away.
There was a suggestion of haze in the air but the visibility was generally excellent and I burbled along happily mulling over a difference a month makes.
Next week TOMS will be disappearing into the hangar for annual and a new engine and a month or so ago, the prospective cost of same had managed to finally push me off the rackety edge of being able to afford this shared ownership game. I’d made the decision to give up the share, told the group, examined options for alternative flying, made myself a new sketchy budget and almost managed to get over a certain amount of wailing and childish self-pity.
I’d paid my subs to the end of September and, making the most of it, went along to several fly-ins, smiling and trying not to wince as people chatted about TOMS and shareoplanes and future flying.
And then I got an offer too good to refuse and was reminded all over again how very lucky GA pilots seem to be in their friends.
So, hanging on my the skin of my teeth and the generosity of my mates and still airborne over the glorious Welsh coastline I swerved around clouds and called it an excuse for practising steep turns and had to resist the urge to shout and sing nonsense.
Caernarfon was quiet-ish and I joined downwind after slipping past the mast and high ground to the south and convincing myself I’d never make a fastjet pilots — the sight of hills higher than wings makes me feel decidedly wary!
I fancied a nose round the museum while I was there, so dawdled only long enough to snag a drink and kitkat in the cafe before heading across where an extremely keen member of staff told me a bit about the museum and ushered me in to the glorious muddle of wings and tails and murals.
It’s pretty packed and I could have spent most of the afternoon there — if it wasn’t already mostly gone and rapidly cantering towards 4 o’clock. Lots of the aircraft have open cockpits you can climb up in and there was a chap building a Bleriot in a corner of the hangar. I absolutely must go back with (older) nephew in trail, he’d adore it!
Since I wanted to catch the refuellers back at Swansea (that was is becoming a ‘for once’ as well!) I headed back out to TOMS, pulling a face at the sight of my rather untidy parking.
Up anf off again and an easy run home with entertainment en route provided by a Hawk who flashed past underneath me, somewhere down in the weeds, rolled well on the way to inverted before hauling round into a valley and disappearing.
Better nerves than mine!
I just about snuck in for fuel with five minutes to spare and some more novel R/T from Swansea Radio: “Golf Mike Sierra, you’re lucky…”
The ‘sweepers’ were making use of the airfield JCB to move our Tie Down Blocks of Doom back into position, just in time too!
I’m a dawdler over putting the aeroplane to bed, and the light was going by the time I ambled out and headed home.
Well worth snagging the leave for!