Date: 23/08/2012

Time: 17:40 - 18:15 (16:40 - 17:15 GMT), 18:40 - 18:55 (17:40 - 17:55 GMT) and 19:10 - 19:50 (18:10 - 18:50 GMT)

Aircraft: Ikarus C42 - G-CDMS

Redlands with Rebecca

I need two more letters for the AlphaBet Challenge; an R and an I - my plan for this evening is to go to Redlands for the R. One of my nieces has also just moved to Swindon so I sent her a message to say I was coming. I was very happy when she agreed to meet me at the airfield.

First problem was getting PPR - It turns out Sarah was on her way to a funeral, so couldn't take my call. She very kindly texted me back with permission, so thanks very much for that and sorry for troubling you at a difficult time.

I left work a little early and headed for the airfield. Prepped the plane and soon I'm taking off on 21. I headed north west on a familiar route up to Uffington Horse - over Highclere, between Hungerford and Welford, past Lambourne and there it is. I fly over it as usual and then turn to fly back over it. It seems the crop circle that I have previously seen just below it has been augmented - someone has added a big willy! Then I head towards the railway line into Swindon and give them a blind call - no parachuting today to worry about. Then south, past the double-roofed barn and there's the airfield - always a little closer than I expect it to be. Dogleg round the barn and join base for 24 north, the longer of the runways as there is so little wind. I taxi to the parking area and go and sign in.

There are a number of local pilot preparing for their machines for flight to take advantage of the evening conditions. They are all really friendly and I have a bit of a chat. Then I call Becca and they have just got there, so I wander round to the car park to find them. This is the first time I have met her boyfriend Ben and we have a chat. I then offer Bec a quick flight - she looks shocked for a moment but agrees - great.

A quick check and we trundle down the taxiway for 24 south - plenty of room to take off on this shorter runway. We head east and I suggest that we go to show her the horse. I ask Bec if she wants to try taking the controls, but she declines. Over the horse from the north west (and the big willy). Around over the ridge and then we head back - just a quickie. I approach by the same (recommended) route a last time and land on 24 north.

We are having a bit more chat, but I need to keep an eye on the time - I have to be back at Popham before it closes at 8pm. Hmmm, I think it's just a bit too tight to take Ben up; so next time. We say our goodbyes and soon I'm trundling up the taxiway for 24 south again. Take off and climbout is swift and gain height quickly, so can turn south. Slightly different route back past Marlborough and Rivar Hill and then back along the valley. I keep the nose down a bit to make up time. I initially call for an overhead join, but there's no answer, so I change to a lazy downwind join. Progress back has been good, so on final approach I choose to practice s-turns which I haven't done for ages. Goes well and I touch and go and circuit for another go. This too goes well, so T+G for one last circuit I can squeeze in. This time I bring it in on the threshold and then complete a low hop along most of the length - beautifully done (though I say so myself) with an occasional slight graceful drag of the main. Great!

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