Time: 11:10 - 12:15 & 14:15 - 15:15 (GMT)
Aircraft: EuroFOX - G-UFOX
Gloucestershire with Tom
Tom is the son of a friend of mine, who is currently at university. He has also recently started training with the RAF University Air Squadron in his spare time - so far he has had 20 minutes in a Grob Tutor. He has also been up in a friends stunt plane (I'm afraid I can't remember what variety). As he wants all the experience he can get, he jumped at my offer to try the microlight.
Today's plan is to go to Gloucestershire Airport, with Colin and Jac in their Eurostar and Ian and his son Jon in a club Eurostar. It's another cold morning, but the frost is melting so it is raining a bit in the hangar. We fuel and prep the aircraft and eventually we are all ready. We take off in turn from runway 26. Once up, I give Tom a go on the controls - usually with new victims I do the rudder peddles, but as he has some experience he confidently puts his feet forward. He is also young enough to pick things up very quickly. He says that the microlight is much more responsive than the Grob - well we knew that anyway. Jon calls on the radio to say that they were coming alongside to take some pictures, so I retake the controls to ensure we are stable until they report that they have finished and then relinquish. I soon become aware that straight and level may be a little boring and it may even help to do some manoeuvres, so I instruct him to do some 90degree turns. All good.
Up past Marlborough and Wooton Bassett, then over the lakes to Cirencester. The visibility isn't brilliant, but is OK. The low ground mist along with the frost looks rather ghostly. As we have been "messing around", we have fallen behind the others. After listening to the ATIS information, we contact Gloucester Approach and get given a left base join to runway 27 (right hand circuit). Near to GCHQ, we turn final and despite the sun, we have a reasonable landing in good time to vacate left onto runway 22 and taxi to the apron. Once again, our similarity to the locally based G-EFOX (nearly identical) causes more confusion - as we approach the parking he ignores us expecting us to head to the hangar. When we turn towards the two parked Eurostars he realises, just as I realise I have to turn sharply to avoid the fire station access - no problem thanks to the manoeuvrability given by differential braking and a tailwheel.
We go inside and book-in - I am initially charged £13.50 landing fee and then find that the others have been charged £9.50. It seems they didn't realise that I was a microlight - perhaps caused by there being non-microlight versions of the EuroFOX. I get a refund. We then go over the road to the cafe and have some lunch and a chat.
We return to the planes and start checking them over, when G-EFOX returns and the pilot (Russell) comes over and we have a chat about all things EuroFOX. Once checked over and warmed-up, we set off on the taxiway to runway 22 this time. Take off on these hard runways takes no time at all and we are quickly climbing out on our way home. The return journey is just the reverse of the outbound until we approach Marlborough, where for more interest, I get Tom to follow land features, rather than the GPS route. When we get to Highclere Castle I do a rapid descending turn around it and then we head south. After a clearing turn a bit more fun with steep banked turns and then back to Popham for an overhead join for 26. Unfortunately the sun is directly in my eye (again) and it isn't an impressive landing, but safe - never mind.
Another nice days flying.
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