Time: 14:05 - 15:05 (GMT)
Aircraft: EuroFOX - G-UFOX
With the crap weather we have been having, you have to take any opportunity. This weekend, Saturday looked (and was) rubbish and Sunday was possible, but to be honest I wasn't holding out to much hope. The airfield was closed up to and including Saturday due to waterlogging.
This (Sunday) morning I checked the airfield webcam and predictably it showed that the airfield was shut. Out of interest, I checked again around lunchtime and was surprised to see that it had changed to "No Circuits". The forecast was OK, apart from the occasional (TEMPO) heavy cloud with rain, higher winds and possible CB's. The skies are clear at home, so I decided to drive to Popham.
I checkout the plane and when I am booking out, I hear Colin calling that he is on final to land. I run off and get his service stickers for his Logbook, then I flag him down as they are going by to give them to him - have been trying to remember to give them to him since I did the engine service mid December.
So now me and the plane are ready, but a large low cloud has moved over the airfield (I had hoped it would miss). The wind has increased and there is some light rain. But it looks like it should blow over, so I wait. Eventually I am warming up and then trundle down to runway 21 for my checks. Due to the mud, I elect to take off from the intersection and then head off to the north.
We had a discussion recently about the possibility of doing a turnback on the event of an engine failure during takeoff (EFATO). It is generally accepted that you shouldn't attempt to turnback, but obviously there will be a point where you are high enough to complete this. Ian's guess was 300', but Steve suggested that you could do it in 150' with a rapid 45 degree bank turn. I was curious to try it for myself.
After getting to a safe 3000', I found a ground feature (line of hedges) that I could consider as the runway and gave it a go. After several attempts, even with practice, the best I could manage was 200' - and that was without thinking time as I knew it was happening. So I guess Ian's estimate of 300' is the best you (or I) could reasonably hope for. If you don't have that height over the ground, then you must land in front, irrespective of the surface.
Then I went over to Greenham Common for a low pass over the disused runway. I watched the new Star Wars film recently that had some scenes filmed in the bunkers here.
Then back to Popham to join overhead for 21 and then faux-circuits with 4 low approaches (no landing due to the mud) and then finally a landing.
All good and I enjoyed the first flight of the year.
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