Date: 16/5/2015

Time: 13:05 - 13:50 (12:05 - 12:50 GMT)

Aircraft: EuroFOX - G-UFOX

Holmbeck Farm

Today, we had planned to go to France - the weather had other plans. Or at least the weather on the other side of the channel was not co-operating, whereas in the UK it seemed lovely. The TAF's and METAR's were a little contradictorily between different locations, but when we looked at some webcams and could only see grey, that kinda made our minds up. So we elected for our backup plan - to go to Holmbeck Farm. This little airfield is up past Aylesbury next to the disused Wing airfield. We have often passed it and said we must visit there and had heard that they wanted people to go in to retain their viability and status as an active airfield. We already had the airfield information and route planned, so after we had an early lunch we prep and are ready to go.

It's my turn for the outbound journey. We had observed that the wind was (once again) swinging around a lot and was between two runways - either a crosswind from the left on 03 or from the right on 26, slightly favouring 03, so we takeoff from runway 03. We climb up to the north up to about 3000' and go round the Odiham MATZ panhandle and avoid a paraglider circling around the Hannington area. Then up between the Aldermaston and Burghfield Restricted zones and on to the Stokenchurch tower. There is certainly a lot of thermal activity - one moment I'm getting over 700'/min rise rate, and the next the same sink rate. A little bumpy in places too.

Passing to the east of the Benson MATZ, we head up past Aylesbury and three miles out, we give Holmbeck a call on SafetyCom and get a reply - not surprisingly they are using 29 which is pretty much into wind. We join overhead as Colin is already descending on the deadside. Avoiding the no-fly at the end of the runway, we turn downwind, then the slightly extended base round a farm for the "cranked" final approach (their description which made us laugh). There is a row of tall trees to the left that I have to avoid and a deep gully before the threshold. Fortunately, we have been warned about the steep upslope at the beginning of 29 and they are not kidding. All of us independently think about when we have been to Spence (Eastbatch Farm) with the steep upsloping runway. I pull back on the stick for a gentle touchdown just before the crest of the upslope hill. Colin has gone to the end of the runway ahead of me and obligingly was waiting for my arrival before backtracking, so I get to the parking a little before him.

We wander down the airfield and meet Bob who runs the airfield, where he is constructing a hangar. After a chat we then head down to the end to sign in and pay the minuscule £3 landing fee. Then into the kitchen cabin and get a cup of tea made for us (sorry, I didn't catch the name of the lady who made it for us). We have a pleasant chat and also watch a relatively large helicopter take off. There are a number of hangars - some are McGregors like ours and some homebuilds.

Before we leave, we wander down to the threshold of 29 - yep a fair old upslope! Then we prep for the journey home - Ian's turn. Before long, we are taxiing down to the club cabin, but not to the threshold as it would be a job to get back up that slope. Open the taps and we are off again. It is perhaps a little less bumpy now and we follow a similar route home. South of Reading, we drop to have a look at the Police college (Ian's son is a policeman). At Hannington we see a paraglider circling at the same position - presumably the same chap. I'm surprised that we haven't had more of a tailwind on this journey, but the wind has gone round now and when we arrive at Popham, they are now on runway 26. We join overhead and another good landing from Ian.

So unfortunately we didn't get to France, but that can wait for another day. Instead we had a pleasant flight to a friendly airfield, so as consolations go, that can't be bad.


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