Time: 13:50 - 14:40 (GMT) & 15:15 - 15:35 (GMT)
Aircraft: EuroFOX - G-UFOX
Today, my friend Phil is coming up with me for a Jolly. Unfortunately, to follow on from the awful low cloud, rain and wind we have had this year, now we have fog. The forecasts are a little varied, but they generally suggest that it should clear somewhat around midday or so. After a check of the airfield webcam which looks a lot better, we decide to go to the airfield to give it a go.
When we get to Popham, I am rather surprised to find our hangar is open and the plane untied. On looking around inside, I find some of George's tools out - he has been working on the MW5 - that explains it.
After fuelling and checking over the aircraft and the obligatory conversations, eventually we are off. I line-up on 03 and we climb up into the sky, although the climb angle is less than normal due to there being absolutely no wind today. The visibility didn't look too bad on the ground, but once in the air (predictably) it seems worse, but still safe.
We head up to the north for some general handling and then round Hannington Mast we turn west along the escarpment past Watership Down. Then we drop down for a look at Highclere castle before going north for a pass along the defunct Greenham Common runway. Passing to the north of Thatcham, I demonstrate the party trick of slowing down and opening the door in flight, and Phil carefully tries it too.
Then on for a loop round the (newly found) Donnington Castle. After which we are heading south and I want to give Phil a go with the controls. However, flying into the sun makes the visibility worse and this makes it very difficult for a beginner when you can't see the horizon, so we turn back north. After some practice and familiarity, we then follow the A34 south.
Past Bullington Cross, we decide to go and land at Chilbolton. There is so little wind that we have a choice of runway direction, but the windsock looks like it slightly favours 06 and a flexwing is rolling off it so I join overhead to land. With the absence of headwind and the floaty nature of the EuroFOX, I once again have to sideslip in for the landing - glad that I had warned Phil of this possibility.
The stop at Chilbolton is only for a little break and also to get another landing in (no circuits allowed at Popham due to runway conditions). It seems very quiet and tranquil. After a small chat and then checkover, we wait for the flexwing to line-up and take-off before we do the same. It seems like the mist is getting a little worse, so after some turns over the fields (for entertainment) we head back to Popham for an overhead join. Again - very floaty and plenty of sideslipping due to the lack of headwind. Another reasonable landing, even though the groundspeed seems high (no headwind).
Nice days flying, despite the vis.
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