Time: 10:35 - 11:35 (09:35 - 10:35 GMT)
Aircraft: EuroFOX - G-UFOX
Ian and I had hoped to go to Compton Abbass today. The forecast had looked OK, but had deteriorated. The night before it looked better first thing as it should get worse and windy in the afternoon, so we decided on an early start. We got to the airfield and prepped the plane, but everything to the south and south-west looked rather dark. A call to Compton proved that they were in rain with nothing flying. There is a big bank of weather coming slowly up from the south Can't fly into it and would be dodgy to fly too fly away from it in case we couldn't get back..
We met Pete and Dave Greenly who had just come down - they had been on a quick excursion up to 10000' in a Eurostar. We decided to go up and have a look - if nothing else, we could try the performance of the EuroFOX at high altitude.
Once in the air, apart from being a bit bumpy, the most obvious thing was the band of weather - very dark and uninviting. Even Old Sarum would be out of the question. Elsewhere, the visibility isn't great either. So upwards we climbed, heading to the west where there is a gap in the airways that we can climb up in. At about 2000' it becomes quite smooth and calm. At 4600 rpm we have a gentle cruise climb. We pass by Bourne Park and north of Thruxton and the Salisbury Plain danger zone. A little looping around to keep within the legitimate area. Once up to 10,000' I try a short burst of full power to check the performance - 400'/min at 60 knots - not bad! Great views though, despite the visibility, with a cloud layer far below and the menacing darkness to the south-west.
I pulled the power to start the descent, but the engine temperatures plummeted, so I kept at least 3000' rpm so it didn't get too bad. This protracts the descent but worked out OK and heading east, I tried calling Brimpton a few times in the hopes of landing there, but no answer (and no PPR), so we head back to Popham giving plenty of time to get normal heat back in the engine before joining the circuit overhead for 08. Whilst descending on the deadside, the same bumpiness starts again. Thought this, along with the quite string wind was going to make landing interesting, but it worked out OK to a reasonable landing. Time for tea and bacon butties.
Later on it has cleared up a bit, rather than getting worse. We decide to go for a quick flight to Chilbolton - Ian's turn this time. We take off and head south west. The inversion layer is even more pronounced now. Ian joins downwind for an exploratory fly-by first before landing. On the second go he isn't happy so goes-around - always a mark of good airmanship. We landed on the third, parked up and had some tea and chat. We also examined their nice new hangars (rather jealous). Eventually we head back to Popham and put our toys away.
Not the journey we had hoped for, but a nice day anyway.
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