Date: 05/07/2012

Time: 18:35 - 18:55 (17:35 - 17:55 GMT) and 19:15 - 19:50 (18:15 - 18:50 GMT)

Aircraft: Eurostar EV-97 - G-CERE

Chilbolton (and grateful)

Another three weeks since I have flown - I know I have been away, but it is mainly due to the abysmal weather we are having this year. Now half way through (the year) I have only managed less than 12 hours (11:40) flying - it should be more than double this! Grrrr! Today is the one reasonable flying day I can see in the forecast, so I plan a quick evening sortie.

The Farnborough Week practice/qualifying is going on this week and there is a holding area up near Newbury and another near Alton, so I need to avoid these areas. I think I may go and visit Chilbolton again - it may not sound ambitious, but it is close and convenient, no need for PPR (if you know the circuit) and a very pleasant little strip. I seem to have lost my little wallet sized circuit pattern card (the card is wallet sized; not the circuit) but I know the circuit well.

The fuelling square is occupied whilst I checkout the plane on the line near the T square, but I've got 30l in it already which should be safely enough as I don't need to go far. Despite the T showing 26, everyone is using 21, so I trundle down the taxiway in turn. It's quite busy for a Thursday night, but that's not surprising given the weather situation.

Soon I'm climbing away from 21 and it feels good to be in the air again. The visibility isn't too bad and the air is reasonably stable. Heading to the south-west, I go up to play with some of the lower clouds at about 3000' and orbit one lonely one (nothing to do with Wordsworth). I then carry on to Chilbolton to join overhead. I suddenly realise I can't remember the runway numbers, so I call left-hand circuit to identify which one I'm using. Down to a lovely greaser of a landing and taxi over to the caravan.

I have a chat with a chap in a flexwing who is visiting from Redlands. In the caravan I pay the landing fee of a mere £3 (great value) and also collect another card for my wallet. Then it's time for us both to leave - quick checkover and I'm off on runway 24 (now I know the numbers). Whilst turning back towards Popham, I spot another aircraft heading north and stop my climb to avoid. Then at the A303 I do some clearing turns and some steep backed turns - to the left first and then to the right. Continuing northwards, I try some slow flight - with one stage of flap and some power I can keep it stable with an indicated airspeed of 30mph - well below the white arc. However, the GPS track shows only a minimum speed of 40knots.

Enough of this - I head back to Popham and join overhead for 21 for some circuits. First T+G was a little flat but OK, followed by another good T+G and then a low-hop landing.

I'm really grateful to have flown and also been somewhere - a pleasant evening!

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