Time: 12:40 - 13:25 (11:40 - 12:25 GMT) & 14:35 - 15:45 (13:35 - 14:45 GMT)
Aircraft: EuroFOX - G-UFOX
Lee on Solent
We had hoped to fly as a group on Sunday, but the weather forecast was not encouraging. I decided the best bet was to try for Saturday and finish before it changes in the afternoon. Sadly, no one else could make it. I had no real plan for today - did consider trying to get into Colemore Common, but I couldn't get an answer for PPR, so I decided to settle for Lee on Solent.
I head off on my usual route to the west of Southampton zone and over the New Forest and Beaulieu. I join downwind and then land on runway 23 although I did try to extend final a bit to reduce taxiing to the end. I park on the grass opposite the main building and then climb the stairs up to the tower - here I find out that you no longer book-in here and that they have a new smart portacabin on the ground floor for this. However, whilst I am there someone else asks if I was the EuroFOX pilot as there were concerns about how much the Helicopter (that was giving tourist flights around the Solent) was wobbling my plane around. Probably OK as the undercarriage is quite springy, but I tied it down anyway.
I then set off down the Pilots Path to the beach. As I passed the carpark (on the other side of the fence) I saw that there was a burger van serving - that was new too. However, I wanted lunch on the beach, so I continued down to The Shack and ordered a bacon & egg bap and some tea. Really tasty and a pleasure to eat it on the shingle of the beach - and a proper tea mug too.
I can see the weather was building to the south so I guess it's time to head home. After untying her and a quick checkover, I'm soon taxiing around the peri track to line up on 23. I hear someone call final on the radio to take the grass, but given the speed that I'm airborne and away, he quickly changes to using the hard runway. With the smooth tarmac and no passenger, the plane really accelerates. I'm lower over the Solent than usual and having a look at the boats, but still at a safely legal height. Round Hayling Island and in through Chichester Harbour entrance and up the creek to my old sailing club. Past Dad's house and then climbing to the north. The clouds look invitingly low and I try to get above them, but they seem to be a bit higher than before, so I change to going below them. Up past Colemore Common for a look and then up to Alton.
I still have a desire to chase a steam train along the Watercress Line, but never seem to find one. Today I spot a diesel train heading south-west towards Ropley At Ropley there is a steam train waiting and I wonder if it will set off after the diesel clears the single track line. After a flying around for a turn, they eventually set off. I manage a few poor photos, but also have to concentrate on flying slow - but nowhere near as slow as the train.Nice to see the firebox glowing bright inside the cab. Enough fun for today and I head back to Popham and pop in some circuits, with three quite crosswind landings - all good practice. It just starts to spit with rain after I have washed our plane, so I chose the right time to stop.
A nice day
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