Time: 14:30 - 14:55 (GMT) and 15:45 - 16:25 (GMT)
Aircraft: Eurostar EV-97 - G-CERE
A number of things came together today to make an interesting days flying. Visiting a friend, visiting a new airfield, the alphabet challenge and it's also Colin's fault.
Peter was one of our nicer customers and used to come and use our EMC chamber. Whilst chatting we found we had a common interest in aviation. He said that he keeps his plane at Frensham (at that time, I didn't know there was one there) - I said I would like to visit some time. The Alphabet Challenge has also given me even more incentive to visit.
It's not entirely Colin's fault! We were chatting in the Popham cafe whilst hopefully waiting for the weather to clear (it didn't) the other weekend and he mentioned that he never goes to new airfields on his own - not because he can't, but just because he normally flies with others (his wife or us). This got me thinking when I last did this - looking back through my logbook I found it was Hinton in the Hedges last year, but the previous one was ages before that. I made a mental note to ensure I can do this for confidence reasons and today is an ideal opportunity.
Peter gave me the contact details of the airfield owner. I spoke to him and he very kindly gave me permission to land - a real treat as the airfield isn't open to general public and is invitation only. I agreed not to give out his contact details, so he doesn't get bombarded with requests. They have a single runway on 07/25 that is over 1000m - incredible for a farm strip. In fact the only downside today is the wind is about 10 knots from the NNW - a full 90° crosswind. This is approaching the aircraft's limits, but should be OK - I could do with some crosswind practice.
When I get to the Popham, my plane has already been used and is waiting on the fuelling square - saves me having to get it out. I check it over and put a can of fuel in, then move it to the line as I know Steve may need to fuel the other Eurostar too. A quick call to ensure it is still OK to visit and I'm on my way. I take off on 03 and am climbing at an impressive 1500'/min. The visibility is OK and I head down towards Four Marks and then on past Colemore Common to Liss, making a good 100 knots over the ground with the wind. I cant do a direct route due to the Oakhangar HIRTA. Then I turn to Liphook and then north again to the airfield. This isn't too hard to spot as it just to the south west of the Frensham Big Pond, where there are numerous sailing boats milling around. I overfly the airstrip first (as instructed) to check there aren't any horses in the gallops. Then I circuit around, avoiding the neighboring houses and turn back over the pond for final approach. This takes me over the Hotel - I had debated doing a dogleg to avoid this, but with this degree of crosswind I just concentrate in getting in with a substantial crab approach. I float further down the runway than I would normally have done as there is no headwind to slow the approach and during my concentration, it seems I haven't quite fully closed the throttle. Correcting this, I flip it round straight before touchdown for a reasonable landing. I go down the taxiway towards the hanger.
There are quite a few people here and they are all friendly. One chap (sorry, can't remember his name) comes out to meet me. We go into the hanger and meet Peter and the airfield owner and a few more. We discuss the Alphabet Challenge and various other aviation related topics. Peter inspects my Eurostar and is amazed that it uses only 10 litres an hour - his uses 55! However, his is doing nearly twice as fast and can carry 6 people. I get a chance to look around it. There are several other aircraft in there including a Tiger Moth and a couple of Flexwings. After a while they have to leave for other commitments and I start to make my way. Before I go, a guy called David turns up and starts to uncover his RV-8. He very kindly invites me up for a quick flight - I would really love to, but unfortunately I have to get back - rats!
Quick check and warmup and I'm off. I head away from the hanger and find there's a taxiway down the side of the airstrip. Soon after turning down it I find that it is quite narrow - I guess it may have been better to have backtracked. It's a long way to the threshold, a quick power check and I'm off. I try a few hasty attempts at some photos and then head off to the south. At Liphook, instead of going straight back I decide to go and have a look at the Hazlemere tunnel - not that new anymore, but I haven't seen it. Then back to Popham via Liphook, Liss and Four Marks. Landing goes well on 03 as it is much less crosswind.
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