The Friday evening is when we all meet up and this year it was at Chiltern Park, near Reading. What a great start it was too! They had a burger van with beers too - and more food than just burgers. With a well laid out seating area everyone was able to meep up and enjoy a quiet evening.
I had radio problems (I hadn't connected the battery!) so I was flying in with Jiri and his Spacek SD-1, a lovely small aircraft. By the next flight I had realised my mistake and the radio was fine. I just told everyone that I had found a loose connection!
The follolwing morning, after bacon butties we were away early to Farway Common. With hopes of reaching SCilly, we took a quick fuel stop at Perranporth and on to St Mary's on the Island. We took a stroll down Old Town beach for a relaxing swim in a not too cold sea, followed by an ice cream in the cafe. By this time my radio had stopped working again but ATC allowed me to take off using my mobile phone for clearance. I flew in a loose formation with Colin who maintained radio contact with ATC through the corridor back to the mainland. Back to Bodmin for the night.
Waking on the Sunday we had breafast provided by the Cornwall Fluing Club at Bodmin, then flew to Dunkeswell, northeast of Exeter. Everyone decided that a visit to West Wales was preferable to the planned route and made the crossing just west of Cardiff; meanwhile I struck out for Gloucestershire airport. The airport is used by aircraft of all sizes and types, so ATC is keen for pilots to follow the procedures and routes, and to make radio calls at specific points that they publish. It seems a bit complicated when you first see their document, but it is all straight forward and avoids mistakes. If you intend to visit, ask to park at the Aviator Cafe which is next to the microlight school. On arrival I parked next to the school aircraft and was asked to move as they were expecting 100 microlights. I had to put them straight on that one!
From there I flew up country, through the Hawarden RMZ (pronounced Harden) and wesf of Liverpool where I met the main group arriving aloog teh North Wales coast. We dropped into Ince for the night.
Monday's plan was Carlisle, Cumbernauld and Glenforsa, but my group routed to Strathaven where Colin McKinnon helped us with fuel and a coffee break. Then we were off to Glendoe airfield in the hills above Fort Augustus from where we walked into the town. Quite easy as it was all down hill. Getting back up later in the evening was more of a challenge! We made the most of the evening in the small town with haggis and chips from an establishment on the side of the canal which we ate in the British Legion. After an evening of beer and whisky tasting we made our way back to the airfield and our camp for the night.
On Tuesday we flew the length of Loch Ness, past Inverness and into Easter airfield under the Tain Range where Davy always gives a warm welcome and looks after us admirably. Leaving our kit there, some of us visited Lamb Holm on Orkney before returning to Easter for a barbeque and the night. With the milltary off duty we were able to fly the range and line up on the targets!
Wednesday morning Davy produced hot p[ies for breakfast - excellent! The weather wasn't so good today; we only reached Insch where we were stuck due to the weather. We walked in the rain showers to the pub for ameal only to find that it had clsed down! Back to the club house for emergency rations! Thanks to Ken Wood for allowing us to camp in the club house overnight.
Thursday was Balado airfield, then over the Forth at the three (yes, there are three now!) bridges where I was asked to circle while a passenger jet arrived at the airport below. And on to Currock Hill, a gliding club which seemed very pleased to see us, providing coffee and Avgas. From there to Breighton and finally Skegness. We didn't get to the beach - there was a pub restaurant on the camp site which took our attention first.
Needing fuel I flew to Fenland on the Friday. I was disapointed to miss Weybourne where the Musselburgh Collection of tanks and militaria can be seen. With tanks filled, we headed on to Sutton Meadows for coffee and chocolate biscuits. I had meant to transfer 10 litres of fuel from my can to my tank but forgot. From there we were headign to Poppham, so we dropped in to Harpsden Park on the way to make the fuel transfer. Fewer than 30 miles more nad we arrived at our overnight stop. Only three of the 73 aircraft made it to Popham where we camped in the lee of a hedge for thenight. The majority had turned for home due to deteriorating weather forecasts. The A303 cafe which had agreed to stay open for us had forgotten and was closed, so we cooked meals purchased from the filling station opposite the airfield.
Despite low cloud, on the Sunday we managed to get away, only to be caught out by rising ground and low cloud. Looking round for a diversion airfield we picked Glidden Farm from the charts. We were convinced that we had the co-ords correct but couldn't see the strip. Eventually, landing in a field, the farmer came to see us. This strip has been closed for years and was now full of cows! However, he was still pleased to see us and took us to the farmhouse for coffee while we waited for a break in the weather. Finally we arrived at Sandown at about mid-day.
We had the usual walk along the cliff tops, a stroll along the beach and back through the town to the airfield. Dan made us very welcome and cooked a great meal that evening. A guitarist provided the entertainment that evening with some support from a friend. On the Sunday we set off for home after breakfast.
Another great trip!