Probably the best way to describe today. We’ve had so much rain lately and with so much more forecast in the next few days, I’ve been getting very concerned about MYRO standing out in it totally uncovered. So I wanted to get down to the field today anyway because with calm winds forecast, I thought I might be able to get MYRO covered up. And, of course, I also hoped that I might be able to get a short flight in too in the first part of the day which was forecast to be dry.
As it was, by the time I’d got all the little chores and things done that always stop you dashing straight out, I got to the field at about 1030am. Everywhere was drenched, of course, and I already knew the main runway would now be closed. But much as I’d worried about MYRO, these AX3s are tough little old birds and as soon as I saw it I knew I didn’t have too much to worry about after all. In fact, when AX3s were used at Popham for training, they all stood outside with just their engines covered, like MYRO has been doing, some of them for years, with no ill effects at all. And so it was this morning with MYRO. The wings and other surfaces were dripping but very little water had found its way into the cabin, and when it does, it can only drop onto the floor where it can do no harm at all. In fact, it gave me a chance to give MYRO a good wipe over with the wet cloth and at the end it looked cleaner than it has done for quite a few weeks now 🙂
Before I’d left home I’d planned a round trip overhead Sevenoaks, Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells but I knew that would be out as soon as I got to the top of Wrotham Hill. Below me I could see patches of fog and low cloud and with rain forecast for the afternoon, I doubted that that would get enough of a chance to burn off in the weak sun that was now just breaking through. In fact for a time, I doubted that I’d even be able to risk taking off, but by the time I’d finished MYRO’s wash and brush up, the sky looked clear enough to give it a go.
So I decided to head west towards Wrotham. With the weather coming in from the south-west I thought that would give me enough time to get back if I saw anything nasty weather-wise coming in. I’d not taken my camcorder today because I had too many other things to sort out without that distraction, so I made do with my little Pentax digital. Because it was so dingy, the shots I took were all rather dark and as a result do not blow up to full size too well, but they give an excellent idea of what the conditions were like today.
I took the first shot a few minutes after taking off as I was heading towards Yalding. I’d had to keep a good lookout as I’d spotted a red Jetranger helicopter working at low level just ahead of me but by this time I’d cleared him.
Now you can see what I meant when I said fog and low cloud. By this time, most (but not all) of the fog had disappeared but there was still plenty of very low cloud hanging around. Here’s another shot a little bit further on with Yalding just coming in to view.
I took the next shot as I passed overhead Yalding. It’s amazing to think that just a few short weeks ago the river and the boatyards below were bathed in sunshine and a hive of activity.
I took the next shot a bit further on as I was approaching the M20/M26 junction at the foot of Wrotham Hill. Not many hardy souls out on the golf course, as you can see.
Notice how the low cloud is thickening at the foot of Wrotham Hill as the airflow moving up from the south is forced to rise by the slope of the hill. I flew on and took some shots as I approached some lumps of the cloud but none of them came out well enough to include because they were all too much out of focus.
After a few more minutes I didn’t much like the way the weather was turning, so I decided it was time to get back to the field and land fairly pronto. The horizon to the south was becoming much darker and the amount of low cloud was increasing quite quickly. I found my way back to Linton very easily, especially with the help of my little GPS, joined overhead and descended into a left hand circuit to land on 29R, the winter runway.
You have to do a few little jinks to avoid houses and a couple of other things on the approach and you only line up with the runway quite late on final. It’s also a bit more challenging with the winter runway which is much shorter than the main one, because everything has to be dead right. And today it wasn’t. With no wind at all, I was a bit high and couldn’t bleed off the speed. As I approached the threshold it was pretty obvious that I was going to land far too far into the runway for comfort so I decided to go around. Better safe than sorry, especially with the grass being so wet, and the next time I got it on the button.
I then spent the next two hours getting MYRO nicely covered. In the process I got rained on (although MYRO didn’t 😉 ) and the next shots show the final result.
Not too bad, but it all depends how strong the winds are over the next few days which are forecast to be very wet indeed, starting from tomorrow with just the odd respite during the coming week. I hope the coverings do not move too much.
So that was how my flying day ended. As I said, good in parts – although any day which includes an hour’s flying should be described as a good one, really, I suppose 🙂