Date: 31/07/2011

Time: 10:30 - 11:20 (09:30 - 10:20 GMT)

Aircraft: Ikarus C42 - G-CFHP

Cheese and Scrumpy

Something new this weekend - we are planning to take a couple of planes away for an overnight trip. We are going to the 'Cheese and Scrumpy' fly-in at Weston Zoyland airfield in Somerset. It's the usual four of us, with Colin and Jac in the Eurostar G-RE, and Ian and I in G-HP. When our plane finally turns up we check, fuel and prep it. Stowing the luggage is a bit of a game. Ian has all his stuff in a holdall and straps this to the frame in the rear behind the pilots seat. I stuff my sleeping bag, wash bag and sweatshirt under the passenger seat and strap my tent to a frame strut in the rear. All seems safe and secure. We also have to careful with weight and balance although I'm quite pleased that my kit weighs about as much as I have lost since January - I must have been a bit of a bloater.

I flew to Zoyland last time, so when we are finally ready, Ian flys the outbound trip. We take off on 03 and head past Bourne Park and Manor Farm towards Pewsey. We continue round the Salisbury Plain danger zone which is apparently very active. Past Frome and Glastonbury towards Zoyland. The airfield has some predefined approach routes to avoid local no fly zones and we chose the approach from the north. We make our calls and hear someone has a problem and needs a priority landing. After this we approach to join but there a number of flexwings also joining, not necessarily in the correct pattern. Ian correctly elects to turn round and orbit to allow the circuit to become less congested, before joining. We land on runway 16 and pull off the grass onto the hard and a marshal holds up a sign asking if we are staying overnight. We nod vigorously and are directed to the grass parking area, following Colin in the Eurostar.

Together we walk to the clubhouse and sign in. Then we went and had a beer - it's a really weird feeling getting out a plane (not at Popham) and having a drink (alcohol). We then return to the planes, tie the aircraft down and erect the tents under the aircraft wings. About 40 microlights are staying the night. In the evening, they have a hog-roast, chilli and barbecue to eat. There is also a band setup in an articulated lorry trailer, with the side open - they are really quite good. We continue drinking beer, then Colin and I try some of the local cider - quite nice. It is a nice and friendly social. We go back to the tents around midnight - it's not too comfortable and I wake up at 4:30 and am really thirsty. After getting some water from the toilet block I don't seem to get back to sleep for over an hour.

In the morning we get up and go to the clubhouse for barbecued breakfast. I have a really good sausage, bacon and egg in a bun. Once fed we take the tents down and re-pack the planes. We have planned to go back to Eastbach Farm (Spence) airfield where we were made so welcome a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, we can't raise them on the phone. We are just looking for alternatives and when Ian attempts to call Wadswick somehow he re-dials Eastbatch and gets an answer - great, we can go!

I haven't landed at Spence and really want to, so I fly this leg. I prefer the route that Colin suggests rather than the one I planned so I change to his. We head north - this takes us under the Bristol zone where we have a maximum altitude of 1500'. At a ridge of hills, I head through the cutting of the M5. Up to Clevedon and then out from the coast over towards Newport. The visibility isn't too great and we are still low, below 1500' until we clear the height restriction and can then climb to 2500' Once over the Severn estuary, we turn at Upfield Farm and through the gloom towards the hills and towards Spence. We can see the new and old bridges.

Once we find the airfield (relatively easily) I join overhead and go a fair way downwind to avoid some habitation, which takes us over the river and over Wales, then turn round for final approach back into England. Spence has two runways, but you can only land uphill due to the dramatic slope, giving only two landing directions and two take-off directions. I'm a little concerned about landing on such a slope, but it goes well and I'm pleased with the landing. I turn left onto the taxiway up the hill, then back down the other side to the parking area where Colin and Jac have just parked. Jac flew in as she hadn't landed here either.

Bruce soon turns up and later Graham. You always get a great welcome at Eastbatch and we have some tea and biscuits. A little field mouse (airfield mouse?) joins us whilst we have a good chat. They have just cut the hay. However, I am still impressed that their airfield is in better condition than my lawn - not saying too much as that is mostly moss.

We have to get the planes back for 3pm, so eventually we have to get on our way. After warmup we have to climb up the hill to take off on 24 with Ian at the helm. We cross the Severn and then have to turn south to avoid a gliding competition at Ashdon Down, the across the Lynham zone that has just been deactivated and across the north tip of the airfield. Then we continue on and back down the valley to Popham. Land in plenty of time.

A great weekend.

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