Date: 11/02/2012

Time: 16:05 - 16:55 (GMT)

Aircraft: Eurostar EV-97 - G-CERE

Shoreham (snowy Popham)

It snowed a few days ago - and last night was really cold - when I got up, the temperature in Winchester was -10C. The TAF's are also showing poor visibility. Despite the sunshine, it doesn't look too hopeful. Anyway, there's certainly no need to rush down to the airfield, but at least the temperature is rising slowly.

When we get to Popham, near midday, the temperature has just risen above freezing point. After a bit of a chat we go out to the plane to investigate the possibility of de-icing it. A pleasant surprise is that it looks good, with most of the ice on the front gone. We turn it round, so the back end is now in the sun and put my large black towels over it. In no time at all, it's defrosted and we've mopped the water off. During this process, we watch a paramotor come into land - first time I have seen one of those at Popham (or anywhere in real life). Whilst Ian goes off to the cafe to get us some bacon baguettes, I warm up the engine (which takes ages!) and bring it round to the clubhouse. I get a chance to go and chat with the paramotor pilot - I have a vested interest as I have a couple of paramotor lessons booked (courtesy of Jo).

We have our bacon baguettes and tea and as everything has gone well, we decide to go to Shoreham; with Ian doing the outbound leg. We fuel and prep the plane. Soon we are taxying to 03 in the snow. We go past Echo Whiskey, which until recently was the club gyro and has now been bought by two club members, Clive and Gary. Mac has just had his last flight in it before Clive and Gary take it off to its new home at Chiltern Park. We are soon airborne and climbing over a very white Popham. But the weird thing is that most of the rest of the countryside isn't snow covered - mostly just our airfield. We head off down to the southeast. There is a remarkably defined inversion layer. Below it, it is quite claggy but above it is very clear and smooth. The tops of the south downs do have some snow and eventually we see the coast appear through the lower level smog. We have listened to the ATIS and then give Shoreham a call. Ian joins overhead and we descend into the mists and have the final approach to 02 from over the English Channel. The ATC here were actually really helpful which seemed like a nice change.

We park up and go and fine the office to book in. We then head into the art deco main terminal building - this obviously used to be in better condition (when used for filming Poirot) but is looking a bit shabby now. Inside it looks a bit smarter - there is also the arrivals/departures screen with our plane on it (arrivals). We have some tea, cake and a chat.

Soon it's time to make our way back (my turn). After a quick checkout and a longer engine warm we are off along the taxyway under to control of the helpful ATC. We don't get to see our planes registration on the departures screen as we have already left. I take off and climb up above the inversion layer (which seems to be lower now). The visibility below appears worse, but still clear above the layer. Back at Popham, it is still under its snowy white pall. Round the circuit to a good landing on 03.

Didn't think we would get to fly today and it turned out good. A real bonus as I haven't flown for nearly 4 weeks (and haven't flown a Eurostar for ages). And we both get the letter "S" for the challenge.

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