Hadn’t been to a fly-in for ages so jumped at the offer from former TOMS member to ride along to the Flyer Leicester meet up. Even the weather cooperated, bright and sunny, with broken cloud up around between 2500′ and 3000′
After TOMS’ demise, Andy got a share in an Archer at Cardiff, the highly polished and neat, G-OPET. The plan was for him to pick me up en route from even-wester Wales, sufficiently early to avoid the worst of the rush – the thread was getting long!
There was a certain amount of deja vu as we headed out. We’d learned to fly around the same time, shared TOMS for longer and flown together quite a bit. Cardiff’s a bit different from Pembrey and Swansea though! First challenge was finding someone with the right sort of swipey badge to let us airside, but once out there it was a quick job to uncover, untie and getting G-OPET ready for the off.
Cardiff, on the ground, was quiet and there was no delay to getting off. It sounded busier in the air though and even more so on the Bristol frequency to which we found ourselves slightly unwillingly handed over. We saw few of them however, and eventually moved onto Gloucester where there were also plenty of voices but no visible aeroplanes.
Birmingham’s listening squawk was deployed as we passed them, me and Andy being of one mind in planning a route around them via the nice conspicuous cement works VRP. Then it was a case of eyes peeled for Leicester which proved a bit harder to spot than expected.
And then the other aeroplanes did appear, three more on, or approaching, final including one so unexpectedly low we’d both been looking in the wrong place for him. Around we went! So much for arriving early! Definitely an easier job for two pairs of eyeballs than one though and we were down without collecting any bits of other people’s aeroplanes not too much later, in time to say hellos and join the fast growing dinner queue.
The local cadets had been enlisted to help with the dishing up and were being kept busy! The club is nice if a little overheated in the sunshine and with quite so many bodies milling around! We spent some time chatting and watching the arrivals while waiting for lunch to arrive and getting progressively warmer in the conservatory-like seating area, before eating and retiring to the balcony for some fresh air in time to watch the queue in reverse as people started to depart.
Andy topped off the fuel before joining them.
The flight home was straightforward and I followed the radio and navigation with half an eye and ear, mostly just gazing about out of the window and enjoying all the different things you notice on the ground when you’re being a passenger.
Andy’s an old hand at the Cardiff procedures now where I’ve only been in there once and that on a weather diversion, so the views of Cardiff city were particularly good fun and I swapped the GPS I’d been potching with for the camera to snap some typically haphazard shots.
Back down, we taxyed in to be greeted by particularly frantic hand flapping from a foreign helicopter pilot parked next to the tiedowns, whose finger gestures I sincerely hoped only meant he wanted to lift in two minutes. There ensued a few seconds frantic negotiation by handwaving which negogiated this to five and after Andy brought the aircraft to a halt we got out and pushed back to a safe distance.
A function of some sort had taken over the white building cafe and we enjoyed the music as Andy filled in the paperwork and we waited for the helicopter pilot, and partner to be on their way so we could heave the aeroplane back where she belonged.
MacDonalds drive through for ice cream flurries on the way home and a good day brought to a close.
Lovely to be out somewhere new-to-me on a sunny day!