This is the third time I’ve been on Fly-UK and each time has been quite different, due to the weather and the people I travelled with. The first time JB and I shared the narrow Savannah cockpit, the second time I went solo and the this time I shared with Darren Weston.
I can’t compete with Iains great photos and eloquent prose so I’ll do the next best thing and keep it short.
I’d only flown once before with Darren but it turned out we got on well and as always happens, on Fly-UK we both learned a lot and improved our skills.
We arrived at the starting point, Sleap, only to find people were moving on because of the impending cold front. After an excellent dinner we packet up our unused tents and headed back to base (Oxenhope). I figured if we were going to have to sit out some bad weather, better do it at home which was also en-route for the next stop Strathaven. We met at the airfield the next day but decided it was too windy. Following day we finally got flying again and put in some serious effort in slightly difficult conditions in order to catch up. So we flew Oxenhope, Strathaven (nr Glasgow) Easter (nr Inverness) and back down to E Fortune (nr Edinburgh), over 6 hours flying.
At E Fortune we got weathered in again but used the day to visit the excellent National Museum of Flight (just a short walk from the airfield). Well preserved Concorde, Spitfire and outdoor Vulcan. We also found a garden centre that did excellent breakfasts. On the way back on our last morning we crossed the runway and saw a flex wing coming in at incredible speed. It crashed the nosewheel in, lot of damage, no-one hurt.
South from Edinburgh the weather improved, fewer clouds but still quite high head winds. I visited several airfields for the first time on the trip, there was a warm welcome at all of them. Skegness stands out because of it’s unusual location, right in a camping / leisure park. A modest landing fee got us camping and showers. There was an English Electric Lightening and a miniature railway at the end of the runway.
Lands end was also an eye opener since it was the most commercial airport I have landed in, there being flights every hour or so to the Scillies by small passenger aeroplanes and a helicopter. However it was remarkably simple to refuel and park. A little surreal paying your landing fee at the checkin desk with all the holiday makers!
The final destination was Sandown, Isle of Wight. Where there was a big get together, wonderful barbecue cooked by a true master of the coals, and a group photo.
Flying with Darren was great fun, and made life so easy. After the first few flights I didn’t bother writing down frequencies and runway directions before setting off, Darren just looked them up en-route. When we met up with our solo flex-wing comrades I was a bit conscious how they seemed slightly more stressed and were frequently seen scribbling thoughtfully between flights.
Two of my most inadequate skills are identifying the correct circuit pattern when arriving at a new airfield from a random direction and making sense on the radio. I think I improved significantly on both fronts during Fly-UK. I also learned many hints and tips from other pilots such as how most USB chargers cause radio noise and kill your squelching ability. See this post if you are interested:
Here are the boring stats: 2200 miles, 30 hours flying, 21 flights, 9 days, 400 litres of fuel.
Lastly I have to way what a pleasure it was meeting a sizeable group of Germans who had flown all the way over for the event. They liked it so much they are going to organise their own one and invite British microlighters over for it.