Time: 12:15 - 13:15 (11:15 - 12:15 GMT) & 14:30 - 15:15 (13:30 - 14:15 GMT)
Aircraft: EuroFOX - G-UFOX
Sandown with Istvan
This weekend should have been the Thorney Island fly-in at Goodwood - OK I know that doesn't make much sense. The Thorney Island fly-in is (was) an annual event which was one of my favourite as it was the only opportunity to visit the Thorney Island airfield. However, this year they came across some insurance problems and could not hold it on the Island. They then got an agreement with Goodwood airfield that they could hold it there (albeit on a different date). OK, I'm still looking forward to this. Then a couple of days ago it seems Goodwood had to pull out of the event - not totally sure why, but "Health and Safety" was being muttered. So apparently now it has been moved again to ...... Popham! Hmmm - not going to be much of a fly-in for me to my home airfield. Similarly, it would be no fun for the others that I usually fly with, and as they are heading to Bournemouth tomorrow, they all decided not to bother. But I don't have a seat for tomorrow.
Yesterday, I was at the sin-laws (like in-laws, be we live in sin) and on a chance conversation with my girlfriends sisters boyfriend, I asked if he would want to come flying with me and he jumped at the chance.
When we get to the airfield, it is quite busy, but not problematically so - not as busy as the trade fair weekend. After fuelling and checking the plane we are soon trundling down the taxiway towards the threshold of runway 21. Like many new passengers, Istvan is surprised about how quickly we get off the ground - that's the wonder of these lightweight machines.
We head down to the south-west towards the New Forest. The clouds are far lower than was forecast and the visibility isn't fantastic, but it is OK and still very safe. I begin to show Istvan the controls and when I demonstrate pitching the nose up and down, he begins giggling uncontrollably - not abject fear, but simply enjoying a new experience. He has a go and is correctly making cautious little movements - not bad. I retake the controls for the part between Southampton and Bournemouth zones where there is a height restriction. When we get to the Solent we can climb a bit, but the clouds are even lower - I chose to go over some of them before turning to round the Needles and head along the south-west coast. It is usually quite calm along here and I give Istvan another go as we travel along to St. Catherine's Point. I retake control and Istvan notices another plane underneath us, slowly overtaking. I do an orbit to distance us from him as I intend to descend and don't want him directly underneath. Up the coast past Ventnor and an overhead join for runway 23 at Sandown. I misjudge the lack of wind a little, so have to sideslip a bit to get her in, but no drama.
Whilst we are in the cafe, enjoying some bacon an egg baps, I watch an unusual little V-tailed aircraft take off, but when it gets past us, it suddenly turns left. I am immediately concerned as the normal circuit pattern it to continue much further and then turn right. It turns back to the airfield, passes very low over the control tower (and the cafe) and lands in the opposite direction. Fortunately, helped by the lack of wind it lands OK. Apparently it's engine had started "popping" and he elected to land it immediately - good move.
When we are fed and watered, we are back off for the return journey. We head north past Ryde and over the water towards Portsmouth. Then we have a loop around my brothers house and my Dads house on Hayling Island, before heading north up towards Butser Hill. The cloudbase hasn't improved at all. After a medium banked turn (near Colemore Common) we head back to Popham and join overhead. It's quite busy and we follow two other aircraft around the circuit, making it a rather wide one. Having established on base leg, I am rather surprised to find an old biplane heading straight towards us. The angle he is pointing means I can't really turn to pass him on the left and I'm ready to turn downwards to the left for avoiding action, but he then turns onto final approach for 21. He may well be non-radio, but that is no excuse for joining in the wrong circuit direction. I have to put a few s-bends in for separation before landing.
We wash and refuel the plane, before putting her to bed. We then go over the other side of the field to see John playing with his quadcopter. We have a go ourselves before returning home.
Another nice day!
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