Time: 10:45 - 11:55 (GMT)
Aircraft: EuroFOX - G-UFOX
Wellesbourne Mountford Fly-In
One of our fellow EuroFOX owners (Nick) is a member of the Severn Valley Microlight Club who had a fly-out organised to go to Wellesbourne Mountford. He very kindly opened it up to EuroFOX owners as a meeting for them (us). The weather has been quite poor, but for once luck is with us and the forecast for proposed date (and only that date) looks OK.
However, the weather has been terrible with over 50 knot winds. For safety, we folded the wings and hid our plane in the side of Greg's hangar (with his kind permission - thanks Greg). So today, we need to get plane out of hangar and unfold the wings. We finish prepping the plane and warm up, before heading round to the fuel pump. We get some fuel in one tank, but then the fuel pump breaks. Fortunately we already have more than sufficient to safely do the journey and Colin and Jac have already fuelled. I'm not entirely sure why, but we didn't discuss swapping around and stuck to our own planes.
Eventually we are ready, Colin and Jac take off first on 21 and we follow. We head north past Hannington Mast - my original plan was to dogleg around a NOTAMed balloon release and route via Membury. Seeing our two course diverge we realise that the others are going to the east of the balloon zone. I have a go at changing my planned flight on my SkyDemon GPS software (running on a 10" Android table) to route via Compton VOR and Didcot. This is actually surprisingly easy and goes well.
The visibility is good with a cloudbase at around 4-5000' and a few clouds below. When we get near Brize we call for basic service again as we are above 4000' and therefore do not need a zone transit. However, we are quite surprised when they curtailed our basic service early, when we are barely half way across.
As we approach Wellesbourne with 10 minutes to go, I make the call but something is wrong. When I press the PTT I can only faintly and crackley hear my own voice, so I stop. I try again and then Ian tried from the P2 side - just the same. However, the lady radio operator of Wellesbourne Information said "station calling, go ahead". It seems she could hear us, so we were able to continue our approach.
We join overhead and I can see that there is a significant crosswind. On final approach the strong crosswind results in us crabbing quite a lot. I plan land at an angle to the runway to counter the crosswind. Approaching the surface it also proves to be quite gusty and bumpy - it doesn't go so well and we have a bit of a bounce. I have another go further down but we need to call a go-around. On my second go, my approach is better and I have much more starboard wing down - but it is at the limit and still needs some crabbing. I get her down - not elegant but down.
We go to control tower to book-in and pay the landing fee. I explained about the radio problems that I was having and in return I was told that there was about 15 knots crosswind - not necessarily at the exact point when I attempted landing, but possibly and certainly around that time. This explains the problem I was having as the aircraft has a published limit of 12 knots.
Next we go into the café which is (predictably) really busy. After ordering tea and full English, Ian manages to get us a table. Whilst sat down we see a few EuroFOX's in circuit - I go out to greet them and have a chat. But I'm soon back into the café to enjoy my breakfast and a chat. I'm amused to receive an e-mail from Roger, who is actually standing next to me (sent that morning). After another great breakfast we go outside to squint over the planes and take some photos.
There are four EuroFOX's that have made it. After ourselves, there is Jim, Nick and of course Roger. All fine examples.
After the fun, we have to think about getting back as there is some cloud and rain forecast back at Popham that afternoon, so we can't be late. After checkover and warm-up, Ian tries the radio and it works OK. However, this is short-lived and by the time we join the departure queue (near the Vulcan), the fault returns. Fortunately we can still communicate with Wellesbourne and we take off on 18 and continue south on our way home.
Fortunately the clouds are high enough to go over the top of the Brize zone, which is just as well as we cannot raise them on the radio. Looking around, we can see that there is an awful lot of flooding around - probably a good idea that we went somewhere with a hard runway. Our height also allows us to go over the top of Harwell and Diamond. However, further south it looks a lot darker and we have to descend.
Approaching Popham we still have no radio transmission. Fortunately, by monitoring the frequency, we have already got the QFE from someone else's request. We land and put it away.
Despite the problems, it has been a good day.
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