Time: 10:25 - 11:35 (9:25 - 10:35 GMT)
Aircraft: EuroFOX - G-UFOX
No - it isn't a typo - we kinda gatecrashed the EuroStar fly-in with a EuroFOX.
Actually, this was our second weekend this year that we had earmarked for a trip to France. The WFAeC group were also having a fly-out to Dieppe - originally we didn't think that we would get accommodation, but we did, so we decided it would be good to tag along, albeit only for the weekend (not the Friday like others). Once again, the weather has different ideas. We would have needed to clear customs in France somewhere like Le Touquet which like Dieppe has a runway directions of 13/31. The forecast was indicating 15 gusting 25 knots at a full crosswind, which is beyond aircraft limits for both our plane (12 knots) and also Colin and Jac's (10 knots). Forecast for Sunday wasn't too good either. Eventually, all hope of it changing (favourably) are extinguished, we are forced to bin out continental plans yet again. I'm still surprised that the WFAeC guys are worrying about the temperature in Dieppe rather than the wind.
The weather on this side of the channel is OK, so plan B is to go to the EuroStar fly-in at Sywell. Colin and Jac have a EuroStar and had hoped to go, but the dates changed to coincide with our planned trip. Now that opportunity is gone, it seems like a good plan to tag along with them.
George and I fuel up and checkout the plane. It is my turn for the outbound and eventually the cloudbase is rising, we have got PPR and then we take off on 03 a short while after Jac. We head north and past Hannington Mast and can just see the rear of G-JT glinting in the distance. It seems a bit bumpy but not too bad. Up round Aldermaston and then turn right towards Reading to go round the Benson Zone. The cloudbase is keeping us at about 1700'. We catch up with the Aldous' near Whittles and despite throttling back, we still seem to be overhauling them. Past Stokenchurch tower and over Bledlow Ridge we are going past Princes Risborough (where my sin-laws live) and I notice something large and strange. This turns out to be a large tent over the Catholic church where they are making repairs.
Up to the corner of Aylesbury, past Milton Keynes and then approaching Northampton. I make the call on the radio and predictably they are busy, but the radio operator is very good - calm and informative. We join overhead for the hard runway 03L (none of the grass runways are in use). We circuit round and can see from the windsock that there is a fair amount of crosswind and a little gusty. The initial landing goes a bit squiffy (possibly a gust - dunno), so I hit the throttle and then steady for another go. Loads of runway left and I put it down OK. I'm asked to continue down the runway until I get to the 15 runway board - I am aware that Jac is coming in behind me so I don't want to hang around. Then directed down runway 15, but then told to head straight towards the tower - away from the large gathering of EuroStars. I am finally told to park next to another EuroFOX - I'm also asked to get them to move a little further away from the hard path as a Jet would be passing soon. This plane turns out to be Steve's new one and very smart it looks too. Clearly they want us to park in the cheap seats, so we don't spoil the EuroStar photo (by looking so much prettier than them).
We go and sign in at the fuel kiosk whilst C+J park with the rest of the EuroStars. We see Steve and just then Alan White arrives in his EuroStar which is now bright red. Steve has been working on it and has replaced the dash too. Then into the cafe for tea and an all-day breakfast - it is very busy in there, so we have to sit outside in the cold. The fleet of EuroStars is actually quite impressive with an estimated 45 planes turned up.
After lunch we have a walkaround and look at the Art Deco style Aviator hotel. Then we went for a look around the little wartime museum on site. You can meet an interesting type of girl here.
When we have had enough fun, it is time to leave. After checkover, this is one of the few places where we have to request start-up. Then we taxi down to the threshold of 03 and George takes off. The journey home is pretty much the reverse of the outbound. As usual we are having a look around for anything interesting on the ground such as impressive house etc. Back at Popham we join overhead for a landing on 03.
This flight has bought my total flying hours up to 400 - wow.
Later on I see Jamie (who used to have the hangar next to us at Hook) with his new Cri-cri. He is having a little trouble starting the engines. Great little plane.
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