That’s the difference comparing this long 4-day week-end with the last one just a week ago – for microlight flying anyway. Last week-end I managed to fly all four days – this week-end, none. The reason? Yes, you’ve guessed it, the old enemy – high winds 🙁
With high pressure sitting over Scandinavia and with lows over northern France and out to the south-west of the UK, we’ve been on the receiving end of some very nasty, strong, cold north-easterly winds. We’ve had lovely clear blue skies but with winds that you wouldn’t believe – day after day. They started to pick up on Thursday and for the last four days we’ve had continuous day-time winds of not less than 15-20 mph with gusts as high as 40 mph. And today seems worse than the previous three. Those wind speeds are way above the safe limits for microlight flying so MYRO has spent the whole of this long week-end tied down at Linton. I went down yesterday to do a little bit of tidying up work in advance of the move over to Stoke but I couldn’t do everything I wanted to because the gusts were too strong to even think about removing the wing covers, that were being billowed out by the continuous force of the wind. In fact it wasn’t much fun working outside on the airfield in it at all.
But having said that, I did manage to get some flying in over this week-end after all 😉 The annual Microlight Trade Fair and Fly-In was being held at Popham (near Basingstoke) on Saturday and Sunday. Usually hundreds of microlights fly there every year and many camp over for the two days. Well, that didn’t happen this year because of the high winds but quite a few of the more robust pilots did make the trip. We flew in as well – but not in a microlight though. Instead Ken, Peter and I flew over from Biggin Hill with Tom in his retractable gear Piper Arrow 200. It was a lot of fun – and the first time that I’d been in a Piper Cherokee since I flew G-KATS, a Cherokee 140, back to Biggin Hill from Le Touquet in 1984 – 27 years ago! Here are a couple of pics I took – the first is as we climbed out of Biggin and the second is as we flew over Epsom racecourse heading for Popham.
Popham was a bit disappointing – I went two years ago but not last year when I was told it was hit very hard by the recession. It was similar this year, and what with the high winds as well, visitor numbers were again well down. It was a great shame because if events like this don’t get support, they will of course, die away. Part of the reason though is because of the way in which the UK microlight market is subjected to extreme over-control and restriction which means that fewer and fewer new models are being introduced. This compares to the myriads of new ones with innovative technical ideas also, in France, for example, where there are none of the ridiculous controls that we have over here. So typically British don’t you think – make sure you introduce as many laws, rules and restrictions as possible to keep the ruddy plebs down and under tight control…. 😡
The highlight of the day for me came when I was offered the front right-hand seat for the return journey and was able to fly Papa Romeo most of the way back to Biggin. It was great to be back doing it and I’m so grateful to Tom for handing the controls over to me. It soon came back and I was feeling pretty comfortable after a few minutes. It was a brilliant feeling to be back flying a Group A after all those years and I just wish I could afford to continue doing it (not that I’d now give up flying microlights, of course, even if I could …) 😕
I’ve just got myself another Canon camcorder off Ebay. I decided that much as I love my present one, it isn’t ideal for the kind of use I’m putting it to. It’s a Canon model MVX450 that uses MiniDV tapes. The recording quality is very good but it’s a bit heavy to mount on MYRO’s panel with the suction mount I use and also I think it’s also not the best type of camcorder for me because of the amount of vibration it’s subjected to in MYRO. So I’ve gone for a solid-state Canon – the FS19 that has a 5 hour internal flash memory store and can also record directly onto SD or SDHC memory cards. It also only weighs 225 grams compared to about 400 grams for my current model once you put a tape in. I’m told that the quality of the output of these solid state models has leaped dramatically in the last couple of years or so and the material I’ve seen on YouTube etc seems to support this. I can’t wait now to get my hands on it and give it a go!
Well, as I type this it’s Monday afternoon, the sky is clear and blue but the wind is still blowing a hooley. So the Bank Holiday is finished in microlighting terms after really hardly getting started, but there have been compensations. After finishing at Biggin on Saturday, the four of us went off for something to eat. After a few Millers and a half-rack of ribs I think I’d probably have been over-weight to fly MYRO but it was a great way to finish a boys’ day out 😉