Time: 14:00 - 14:45 (13:00 - 13:45 GMT)
Aircraft: EuroFOX - G-UFOX
Chiltern Park (not France)
Colin, Jac, Ian and myself had hoped to fly to St. Omer in France - we had reserved the weekend (and another in reserve) and booked overnight accommodation for this. Once again, circumstances had other plans for us.
The weather forecast seems to be changing on an hourly basis, but a common theme is the threat of April showers. But there is also poor visibility to begin with. We meet up at Popham, but Colin and Jac have been here for a while as they were doing their check flight and shakedown (all went OK). Time is ticking on, but there are problems. Not just the weather, but the St. Omer airfield has been NOTAMed closed to visiting pilots (only open for local based aircraft). We had tried to contact them, to see if there could be an exception but could/did not get a reply. So with no permission, we have to change plans - perhaps we could go to Le Touquet? Unfortunately, we couldn't get any reasonable accommodation. Perhaps just a day trip - but the forecast is for windy showers in the south east, in the afternoon, which puts the return journey in jeopardy. Nah - better play it safe and hope for a day trip tomorrow which (currently) has a slightly better forecast.
So what to do today? With the forecast wind we ant somewhere with a relatively north-south runway - Chiltern Park fits the bill and as a bonus, we have some free landing vouchers. They also do food, so that's settled then.
Ian's turn for the outbound. After prep, we are soon we are lining up on 21. We take off and circuit round to the north. Up past Hannington and Aldermaston. Approaching the Benson Zone we give them a couple of calls, just in case, but predictably they are closed, so we can continue. We are lucky - they are between parachute jumps as we approach the airfield, so we can join downwind for runway 22L (unusual). The wind is swinging around quite wildly - one moment it is down the runway and crosswind the next. Jac lands before us and is asked to backtrack and keep to the 22L side. We are asked to do the same.
We park up and after talking to a C-42 instructor we go in to book in (when we finally figure out the hidden button to get through the gate). As we pass the cafe bar we order some bacon and egg butties, which were very nice.
My turn for the home trip. Before we checkover the plane we have a chat to the radio guy as we pass him. It seems the parachutists have finished for the day, so we don't need to worry about them and he also says that we can use runway 15 if we like as it (currently) looks more into wind.
After warm-up and run-up checks, we follow G-JT to the other side of the runway, but they are still doing their run-ups, so I go past and take off from 15 - they follow. I elect not to go directly back, so I head to the west of Newbury and then track the A34 south to Bullington Cross. Then east to join overhead for 21. Once again, the wind is all over the place, veering from down the runway to full crosswind from the left. Despite that, the wind is still reasonably strong and I come down near the threshold. Once down I hit the throttle for a touch-and-go and circuit round again. Another reasonable landing (particularly given the condition) and I would probably have finished there, but once again we were near the threshold and I couldn't be bothered to taxi all the way up to the other end, so I opened the taps again for another T+G circuit. This time I deliberately put it down near the far end close to the hangar area.
Not the flight we wanted, but all good. Hoping for better luck tomorrow.
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