Time: 11:55 - 12:30 (10:55 - 11:30 GMT) & 13:30 - 14:05 (12:30 - 13:05 GMT) & 14:20 - 14:50 (13:20 - 13:50 GMT) & 16:05 - 16:45 (15:05 - 15:45 GMT)
Aircraft: EuroFOX - G-UFOX
My sister Wendy and her family have come down from Aberdeen and have being staying with me for a few days. Lovely to see them and I invited them to come flying on Sunday. After breakfast we make our way to the airfield in seperate cars. I introduce them to G-UFOX and do a safety brief.
The airfield is quite busy - not only is there a SportsCruiser fly-in arranged, but a display group of five Tiger Moths are there. They treat us to a synchronised take-off and display over the airfield which is most enjoyable. My parents have also turned up.
After the plane is checked and prepped, I am going to take Chris (Wendy's husband) up first - he has to leave soon to go back to Heathrow for a flight home. After warm-up we are soon taking off on runway 26 - they are currently using 26 for take-off and 21 for landing. We head north up towards Hannington Mast and the usual "playground" area. The visibility is quite good, but there are a few thermals to push the plane around. Chris has a go with the controls and we go up to Greenham Common and fly over the runways that have been dug up. After a quick look at Newbury racecourse, we head back south and have a look at Highclere Castle (filming location for Downton Abbey). Further south, I demonstrate some steep-banked turns which are always fun for the bolder passenger. Then back to Popham for an overhead join for 21. There is a fair amount of crosswind which is quite gusty - the landing goes a bit wobbly. A bit of throttle to settle and then we're down - not elegant but safe. Not happy with this all the same.
After a break and chat, it is Wendy's turn. Taking off from 26, like many, she is surprised about how quickly we are in the air. Again we head off north. Wendy isn't keen on trying the controls, but is pleasantly surprised by the ride - less bumpy and bouncy than she had imagined. We go along Watership Down and then over Highclere Castle (well it's nice to show people something they can relate to). Then past the folly by the lake and south along the A34. Rejoining for Popham, they have changed the landing runway to 26 - possibly because the Tiger Moths had finished? Landing much easier this time, without the crosswind.
Dylan next - my littlest victim. I fashioned a bit of a booster cushion for him; although the visibility sideways through the door will give him good views, it may give him sight over the cowling. We take off from 26 again and heading north, there are some breaks in the clouds that I think are big enough to climb through. With the throttle set for cruise climb we circle upwards over Overton. At about a mile up, we visit the clouds and then start our descent. I give him a go with the joystick, very carefully covering my own control. However, he is surprisingly good.
Finally, it is Andrews go. Again we climb up to the clouds for a bit of a look around and then back down again. We go to Watership Down, but this is a bit wasted as he hasn't heard of the book or film. Then back south and Andrew is brave enough for some tight turns (laughing whilst looking straight down!). He also has a go with the stick. During the flight, Andrew asks many sensible questions for someone his age, such as "is it different to fly when on your own, due to the weight?". Eventually, it's time to go back to the airfield.
I had hoped to take my Dad up too, but he couldn't comfortably get in the cockpit with his legs. He did owever take some lovely pictures. Ah well, a nice day.
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