Time: 15:05 - 16:30 (14:05 - 15:30 GMT)
Aircraft: Ikarus C42 - G-CDMS
Forecast (once again) was poor for today - windy, very gusty and thunder showers - not ideal. I think about binning it, but the forecast improves marginally and a quick call to the office proves that both Steve and Roy are still instructing, so I decide to give it a go. With the treat of rain, I use the car - it's not that I mind getting wet on the bike, just that it will need to be cleaned after riding in the wet. When I get to the airfield, the cloudbase is OK and one moment the wind is gentle and the next, it is blowing - yep gusty!
You can never really tell what it will be like, until you actually get up in the air. My plan (if conditions are suitable) is to fly to Sandhurst (where I live) to have a look at the damage caused by the fires in Swinley Forest last weekend. I was at home then and there was almost continuous sirens passing the house, so I guessed that the common was on fire.
I get G-MS out and warm it thoroughly, given it has a new engine. Once prepped, I'm off from runway 21 and it does prove a bit bumpy. The visibility isn't brilliant but not as abysmal as it has been recently. I head off north to where Hannington Mast should be and eventually it comes into view. I find I am having to 'fly' the plane, with reasonable stick movements just to keep it level, but soon get used to it. It also needs a fair amount of right aileron, not helped by the lack of passenger.
The outbound flight goes well with a reasonable offset needed to counter the side wind. I find Sandhurst and Crowthorne and can see the blackened areas, mainly between Broadmoor Hospital (criminal nut-house) and the Transport Research Laboratory. There is a large area completely destroyed highlighted by a crossroads of the footpaths. I have to be careful not to blunder into either the Heathrow zone or Blackbushe ATZ. I try to take some pictures, but it is quite difficult on my own, keeping the plane level, fighting the bumps and maintaining a lookout for other aircraft, so sorry they aren't too good. Just as hard to find my house and attempt a piccie.
I then head back to Popham. Along the way, I spot what looks like two private airfields right next to each other at Bramshill - I must investigate these further. The vis still isn't good, but the return is uneventful and I join overhead for a landing I am happy with - think I'll put it away now!
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