Time: 15:05 - 15:30 (14:05 - 15:30 GMT) & 16:05 - 16:55 (15:05 - 15:55 GMT)
Aircraft: EuroFOX - G-UFOX
Microlight Trade Fair
Traditionally, we don't bother flying on the Microlight Trade Show weekend - it is usually either really busy or rubbish weather. I guess we have occasionally got in early to leave and come back late. However, we usually spend a day looking around the show. This year, Roger of EuroFOX UK (importers and UK agents) asked if we could put our plane on their stand. They wanted to show what a three year old EuroFOX with 400 hours looks like. We want to help if we can.
I leave work early on Friday night, but as always not as early as I had planned. I go down to the airfield to give her a clean and polish - only had enough time to polish the cowlings and the top surfaces of the wings but I think it looked OK. The next morning, I get up early (well really, really early for me) to get her out, warm up and take her round to the EuroFOX stand. Here I meet Roger and Steve and we have a chat. Later I have a walk around the show - to be honest there doesn't seem to be as much here as usual. Maybe the awful weather forecast at the beginning of the week put people off coming. Still, there seems to be plenty of interest in the EuroFOX's.
Later, in the pilots briefing room, we have a meeting with Ian, George, Colin and Jac and other EuroFOXers who are going on the planned Nitra trip later in the year. Here we can meet each other and discuss accommodation, flying plans, emergency contingencies etc. All very productive. In the evening, I put G-UFOX back to bed in our hangar.
Sunday morning, again I get up early to get down to the airfield (not quite as early as yesterday) and I am surprised to find that George has already got her out - a bit frustrating to find I didn't need to get up so early if only I had known. I take her back round to the stand. It is even a little less busy today. Some time later, we get a complaint from a marshal that we can't leave her on the runway side of the dividing tape. This is a little surprising and has never been an issue in any of the previous years. I think that they have marked out the stands too close to the runway, leaving too little room for the taxiway. A Skybolt had parked next to me who should have parked on the other side of the runway, but hadn't been marshalled at all. I wait for him to move before moving mine behind the tape as it would have been difficult to have moved her without the time and expense of warming the engine up.
Some time ago, I wondered about doing my 1 hour biannual training learning in a flexwing - I have never even tried one yet. I thought about going up to see Shelley in Darley Moor, but the very next day I get an e-mail saying that she has just had a baby - probably better plan for someone else. I meet Tony Hughes of Wiltshire Microlight Centre near the BMAA stand and talk to him about doing it with him - hopefully I can do this later in the year. In the mid afternoon, the show is beginning to break up and I head back to the EuroFOX stand. Tony is there negotiating with Roger and is saying that he really wants to go for a test flight - Roger and Steve cannot do it as they are now packing up, but I mention that I am about to go for a bimble. He jumps at the chance.
After I have retrieved the spare headset from the hangar and checked the plane over, we pull her out and warm-up. Soon we are taking off on runway 21 and then head off northish. Once out of the circuit, I hand over the control to Tony. He goes through some general manoeuvring and when I mention that she is quite benign in the stall, he decides to try it out. He tries it under various conditions and is probably more aggressive at it than me as he can get the nose to drop but still in a controlled safe manner. Initially, I am finding it hard to resist my hand lunging forward to the joystick - I guess I am not used to someone in the right seat flying in this manner - my guests are usually non-flyers. He does remind me that he is an instructor! The biggest drop is with some power on and whilst turning to the right - still all good and benign. He also has a little fixation in trying to see how much economy he could get by flying slowly at 60knots. He seems happy with the light and responsive controls and loves the visibility both downward and especially up through the skylight during a turn. Once he is happy, he hands it back to me and says head back to the airfield. I join overhead and land on 21.
I have a little look around to see if any of my friends are around and want to go for a bimble - it seems that they have gone, so I'm off on my own. First I head off north and practice orbiting a fixed point - in my case, the Hannington Mast. Then back down the A34 and some steep banked turns for fun. Then I try some slow flight past the west side of the airfield. I continue southwards past the A303 and drop down to race a train along the track towards Micheldever Station - I win easily. Then back south at around 1000' I investigate the area under the Southampton CTA - an area I have very rarely been into which is odd given that it is so close to Popham. Then east to Alresford which I fly around and then follow the Watercress Line to Ropley. Enough fun for today, so I have a gentle climb back to the airfield and join overhead again for 21. I do a low pass and tryout the conditions that are getting gusty as the front comes in. On the second go round, again it is a little unsettled as I approach the ground, yet settles at the last second into a greaser landing.
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