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Old Friday 11th October 2013, 19:03   #26
Jos Stratford
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Jos, I bet you do go on Air"buses"!
O yeah, love them :)
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Old Friday 11th October 2013, 19:17   #27
Barred Wobbler
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The Tiger Moth flight I had in the photos I posted earlier brought back particularly poignant memories. The flight was a birthday present from my sons and there was a choice of location. The closest was Sheffield (about two and a half hours away), but I opted for Duxford, because I like the place and it was a better day out. There was no display, but the museum is a great day in itself.

It took some doing, with the first attempt aborted after driving three hours south to Newark before I got the message that strong crosswinds and low cloud had wiped the flight out (it was a lovely summer's day at home when we left and it still was when we got back). The rearranged date was a complete cancellation because of wet weather and on the third attempt we made it all the way to Duxford (250 miles each way) before increasing crosswind strength wiped out that one too. It was fourth time lucky.

The poignancy comes into it regarding my late father. When I was a lad he had a thing about two aircraft in particular, Tiger Moths and Hawker Hurricanes. Not for him the sleek grace of the top of the pops Spitfire. He liked Hurricanes. My first two aircraft models were a Keil Kraft rubber-powered balsa and tissue paper Tiger Moth (doped training yellow) and a Hurricane - both built by my dad, because I was too young, but they piqued my interest.

All those years later when I opened the envelope containing the details of the moth flight on my birthday, my thoughts immediately returned to my dad.

On the day of the flight, after the briefing and just as I was about to walk out to the moth, there was the roar of an engine overhead, and totally unexpected and out of the blue the plane in the photo below came in, flown by Carolyn Grace. I took the second photo from the moth cockpit as we were taxying out to the east end of the runway.

How I wished my old man could have been there to witness it.
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Old Friday 11th October 2013, 19:24   #28
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Originally Posted by Barred Wobbler View Post
The Tiger Moth flight I had in the photos I posted earlier brought back particularly poignant memories. The flight was a present from my sons and there was a choice of location. The closest was Sheffield (about two and a half hours away), but I opted for Duxford, because I like the place and it was a better day out. There was no display, but the museum is a great day in itself.

It took some doing, with the first attempt aborted after driving three hours south to Newark before I got the message that strong crosswinds and low cloud had wiped the flight out (it was a lovely summer's day at home when we left and it still was when we got back). The rearranged date was a complete cancellation because of wet weather and on the third attempt we made it all the way to Duxford (250 miles each way) before increasing crosswind strength wiped out that one too. It was fourth time lucky.

The poignancy comes into it regarding my late father. When I was a lad he had a thing about two aircraft in particular, Tiger Moths and Hawker Hurricanes. Not for him the sleek grace of the top of the pops Spitfire. He liked Hurricanes. My first two aircraft models were a Keil Kraft rubber-powered balsa and tissue paper Tiger Moth (doped training yellow) and a Hurricane - both built by my dad, because I was too young, but they piqued my interest.

All those years later when I opened the envelope containing the details of the moth flight on my birthday, my thoughts immediately returned to my dad.

On the day of the flight, after the briefing and just as I was about to walk out to the moth, there was the roar of an engine overhead, and totally unexpected and out of the blue the plane in the photo below came in, flown by Carolyn Grace. I took the second photo from the moth cockpit as we were taxying out to the east end of the runway.

How I wished my old man could have been there to witness it.
That's a cracking story, what a wonderful present from your lads. Fair play for you persevering after 3 anti-climaxes, and enjoying your dream flight.

I live 5 miles from RAF Cosford museum, where there is a Hurricane, Spitfire, Mustang, and I think a Tiger Moth as well as loads more. I take my young lad there every week or so, as its free. Hope he enjoys the planes when he is older along with birds.
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Old Friday 11th October 2013, 20:06   #29
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You're not alone Wolfie,
I grew up near Manchester Airport, & have been a spotter since the age of 10.
My next door neighbour at the time was a very keen Birder & already having a pair of 10x50 bins from Dixons, i began to view the birds in the garden whilst waiting for the next Dan-Air 727 full of holidaymakers to come screaming overhead.
Remember seeing a lovely brown bird with bright blue wing patches walking around the lawn one morning, & asked my neighbour what it was. He gave me a copy of the original Collins guide to look at, & having identified it as a Jay, i was hooked.
The 2 hobbies complement each other quite well, as the busy period of the year for air traffic is usually summer, whereas spring, autumn & winter are generally quieter - quite the opposite when it comes to birding.
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Old Friday 11th October 2013, 21:05   #30
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Been into pretty much everything that flies/up in the air (birds/planes/astronomy/UFOs/insects) at one time or another. I blame my star-sign - Libra (its an air sign).

My local patch, Riverside Nature Park is next door to Dundee Airport so if anything interesting is around I tend to take a few photos (had 2 RAF Beech 200s on Monday). Also another of my regular haunts - the Eden estuary at Guardbridge is just down the road from RAF Leuchars with decent views of the movements from the hide. Spent more time photographing birds this year on the beach two days before the annual airshow than the planes (had a Sea Eagle and an Osprey close together while the Austrian Typhoons practiced their display).

A few planes from Dundee Airport in amongst my Riverside Nature Park set on flickr...
http://www.flickr.com/photos/stonefa...7628116956133/

More plane photos here...
http://www.flickr.com/photos/stonefa...7622693611581/

Birds are now my main interest but I do still keep an eye and an ear on anything else flying around. Some of the flight tracker apps are great for ID-ing contrails high overhead.
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Old Friday 11th October 2013, 21:18   #31
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A nice story Barred Wobbler

I also flew from Duxford, I took my old mate (the cheeky chum I mention in the Lancaster story) for a flight in a 1938 DH Rapide for his 50th birthday - quite an experience Sadly he passed away in 2009 but I have an everlasting image of his face, rigid with fear as we trundled through the sky over Cambridge in this distant cousin of the Mosquito

Happy days
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Old Friday 11th October 2013, 22:13   #32
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I'm not such a plane nut as others here, but my father served in the RAF in WW2 and was a keen model plane maker in his youth so something rubbed off. Also as a kid growing up in the 1950s you could hardly be unaware of the air of excitement regarding aircraft development - something which "Empire of the Clouds: When Britain's Aircraft Ruled the World" by James Hamilton-Paterson conveys perfectly.
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Old Friday 11th October 2013, 22:30   #33
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A nice story Barred Wobbler

I also flew from Duxford, I took my old mate (the cheeky chum I mention in the Lancaster story) for a flight in a 1938 DH Rapide for his 50th birthday - quite an experience Sadly he passed away in 2009 but I have an everlasting image of his face, rigid with fear as we trundled through the sky over Cambridge in this distant cousin of the Mosquito

Happy days
Thanks.

These Rapides were taking flights up on the day we were there, 5 July 2009.

Maybe one of them was the one your pal rode in. I would like to think so.

Another thing that was memorable about that day as we flew a circuit over Saffron Walden and points eastward were the number of now cultivated fields that still showed (through the variation in growth) the outlines of the old bomber runways on the airfields that were constructed during the war. They fell into disuse when they were no longer needed and reclaimed. From the ground they look like any other field, but from the air it's different.

The third shot shows the USAF hall, opened in the late 1990s to commemorate the 8th Airforce that flew from Duxford. When I first visited it on the way home from East Sussex, where I'd been visiting friends in 1997 it still smelt of fresh paint. It holds American aircraft, including B24, B52 and an SR 71 Blackbird among others. At the rear of the building on the way to the entrance is a wall commemorating the USAF fliers.
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Old Friday 11th October 2013, 22:48   #34
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That is some treasure there B_W, thank you, for sharing that.
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Old Friday 11th October 2013, 22:59   #35
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Inside the USAF hall, SR71 Blackbird (sons to the right, bless'em).
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Old Friday 11th October 2013, 23:05   #36
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Hi BW, that's quite a place eh? IIRC there's a B52 strung from the ceiling that's at eye level in the cafe - extraordinary

Thanks for the pic of the Rapides, it was the black one wot dun it!
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Old Friday 11th October 2013, 23:16   #37
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The B52 is right in your face at eye level as you walk in the door. What I found striking was that although the aircraft is huge in overall dimensions, the cockpit is about the size of a photo booth. It's tiny.

I was also struck by the size of the tail turret of the Lancaster in the entrance hall. Men flew out and back in the dark at 20,000 feet without contact other than intercom with their crew, knowing they were number one target for any night-fighter in a space about the size of a computer chair, without heating.

I knew a man, gone now, who volunteered and was a tail gunner in one of those. He didn't have to. He was a coal miner - a reserved occupation during the war. That's bravery.

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Old Saturday 12th October 2013, 08:28   #38
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While we are on the subject of Duxford:
- it was the first place to have an operational Spitfire Squadron (No. 19)
- it was the principal location for filming Battle of Britain (during which one of the historic hangars was blown up for an airfield attack scene after permission had been denied
-it holds a cracking all-piston warbird airshow every July called Flying Legends which I would only miss for a tick
-it is probably the best place in Britain to listen to the song of the Merlin

Here are some Duxford Spitfires:
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Old Saturday 12th October 2013, 08:50   #39
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Wow 16 Spits in the air! Must have been a hell of a sound. Love that 4th image especially of the Spit closing in on the ME109.
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Old Saturday 12th October 2013, 10:24   #40
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Wow 16 Spits in the air! Must have been a hell of a sound. Love that 4th image especially of the Spit closing in on the ME109.
The sound was amazing. Unbelievable. Every hair on the back of my neck was on end. The crowd was silent apart from the sussuration of camera shutters and more than a few had a sly wipe at the corner of their eye as the planes roared through.

BTW currently there are 32 airworthy Spitfires in Europe. Now that would be a real sight......

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Old Saturday 12th October 2013, 10:50   #41
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While we are on the subject of Duxford:
- it was the first place to have an operational Spitfire Squadron (No. 19)
- it was the principal location for filming Battle of Britain (during which one of the historic hangars was blown up for an airfield attack scene after permission had been denied
-it holds a cracking all-piston warbird airshow every July called Flying Legends which I would only miss for a tick
-it is probably the best place in Britain to listen to the song of the Merlin

Here are some Duxford Spitfires:
Waking up this morning I got to wondering when the final show of this year's season would be on. I had a rush of blood and a sudden urge to go down.

Good news - It's on tomorrow.

Bad news - the weather's crap.

It got me remembering the other time I went to the same display. It was spread over two days of the weekend and the visit resulted from another spur of the moment decision. I looked at a report on Ceefax on the Saturday morning and asked my wife if she fancied seeing A Bf109. She was up for it, so the next morning saw us up bright and early with some spicy chicken wings for sustenance during the day and we were off down the A1.

The day had been billed as the last flight for 'Black 6', the only flying Bf109 that had actually seen service in the war. It was on loan to the Imperial War Museum and it was due to go back to its owners, the RAF Museum after the display.

We got there before most of the crowds and there was Black 6 right in front of us on the taxi track, with the engine cowl open and the motor roaring as fitters worked on it. Great views.

It was due to do a mock dogfight in the morning with a Spitfire, and a repeat in the afternoon, but the morning flight was cancelled because of a blustery crosswind and they didn't want to risk it with the notoriously narrow undercarriage.

As the day wore on the wind lessened and at about 4.30 the announcement went out that they were going to have a go, with the final decision being taken by the pilot when he reached the end of the runway. If the wind was OK, he'd go. If not, the spit would do a display on its own. In the event the crowd thrilled to the sound of the engine winding up and away he went to give us a fine display with the spit. It wasn't one of his better decisions.

As he came in to land he passed us and I remember saying to my wife 'Bloody hell, he's going fast' - and so he was. Too fast.

He bounced on one wheel, then came down on the other before bouncing again, high into the air. After the second bounce I lost sight of him behind the tail of a parked Catalina and waited to hear the engine open up for him t come around for a second attempt.

He didn't.

The crowd went quiet. The 109 didn't return. He'd bounced over the M11 motorway and attempted an emergency landing the a recently sown field on the other side of the road. He got down, but the wheels dug into the soft earth and the aircraft ended up on its back, with the pilot fortunately unhurt, but having to hang upside down on his straps until they could get a crane in to lift the plane enough to open the side-hinged canopy.

It was indeed the last flight of Black 6. I went back for the Flying Legends the following year and Black 6 was still there in bits in a workshop at the rear of one of the hangars. I believe the cause was traced to a faulty magneto that prevented him winding the engine down enough to get to a safe landing speed - something the fitters were working on when we arrived.

It's incredible to think that this took place on 12th October 1997 - 16 years today. Where the hell does the time go?

Photo of Black 6 taxying past us for its flight.
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Old Saturday 12th October 2013, 12:49   #42
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Wow magnificent tales.

I was always fascinated by WW2 machines, went to the IWM in London last year and I particularly wanted to see the Heinkel HE111 German bomber with its vulnerable cockpit. Think it left a lasting memory with me to see how vulnerable they were, getting shot to pieces.

I would definately go to Duxford if there were ever to be anything like 16 Spits again! It must have been the site so many people saw during the war, as a RAF group went out to meet the attackers.
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Old Saturday 12th October 2013, 13:13   #43
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Inside the USAF hall, SR71 Blackbird (sons to the right, bless'em).
The SR71 was an amazing aircraft. At around 3000mph, the skin got very hot, and the aircraft became about 15cm longer, due to expansion of the metal fuselage. The corollary was that, while parked in a hangar overnight, it tended to leak fuel because the structure had shrunk and expanded so often, and I presume that preparing the beast for flight involved refuelling it as late as possible before take-off. Maintenance costs were immense (one of the reasons cited for grounding them, but they had quite a long in-service life. No current aircraft has a comparable performance.
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Old Saturday 12th October 2013, 13:25   #44
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I can remember when I was at school and it first turned up in the Observers Book of Aircraft, billed as the Lockheed YF12A - a fighter prototype.

I thought the future had arrived.

I declared there and then that it was my favourite aircraft.

It seemed to disappear from view and never came to anything, then many years later (mid 70s) the news and the papers were full of this amazing aircraft that had just broken the speed record for crossing the Atlantic. It was going so fast they said that it had to turn over Belgium to land in England. It was called the SR71 Blackbird they said.

I thought to myself that it looked very like that favourite of my school-days, so I went off to the library and found out that it was indeed the same, now in production and kept secret - that's why my 3,000mph fighter had seemingly vanished along with that other favourite, the Valkyrie.

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Old Saturday 12th October 2013, 14:05   #45
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Barred Wobbler,

with reference to "Black 6", I was lucky enough to be at the 1995 North Weald Fighter Meet where for the first time since WW2, not one but two genuine ME109s flew together over that airfield!

I borrowed a VHS camera from work but the battery died just as the simulated dogfight commenced between these old adversaries and a Spitfire and Hurricane

I did get some nice footage though and one day I'll have to dig the tape out and transfer it and stick on youtube

Here's some pictures of that occasion, not my photos though
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Old Saturday 12th October 2013, 15:37   #46
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SR 71's (from Beale AFB) used to do 'touch and go's' at our air strip (long for small town). U2's still do - quite frequently. 'Crack their burner' right over my house. My fave' SR 71 moment was during an 'Open House' at their base. One came over quite high at mach 3. Then lower at Mach 2. Then swooshed and banged pretty low at Mach 1. Then the guy landed and stepped out of the plane. Anyone could shake his hand. Seemed quite beyond my grasp.
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Old Saturday 12th October 2013, 15:55   #47
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I have had a passion for aviation longer than birds, just about. Built almost 200 Airfix kits, then spotted in the 1970s, travelled extensively for business from about 1992 until now (approx 900 scheduled flights) and got my PPL in 1993. Have just under 400 hours mainly in G-AWBC (Arrow I - seven of us owned this old money hoover) but hung up my headphones after a second horrid incident. In 2002 I wrote a book about aviation (long out of print, but including all the above subjects) and also wrote several magazine articles (including about the incident above, will try to find it and post it) - then kind of repeated this with birds!

Unlike birds, I was pretty good at aircraft recognition, winning the ATC individual competition in 1973 (I was 14) and the Air Britain all comers (for cadets) individual in 1976. I could bore you for hours about planes, perhaps I just did!

I was birdwatching in Porthgwarra on Thursday and it was a pleasure looking for birds but also identifying overflying airliners - in fact where I live (Southampton) the New Forest is a great place for both activities - last time I was at Acres Down there was another planebird chap but not sure who it was.

Lastly it can be (mildly) amusing to do birdwatching as plane spotting / flying, as you often see birds in the hold ready for a vectored approach and I always think of Sparrowhawks as Polish planes - SP-HWK, can't look at a Gannet without thinking Bristol Freighter either.

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Old Saturday 12th October 2013, 16:34   #48
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Some beautiful photographs of historic aircraft by others above. Love to have the opportunity to hear if there is difference in sound of the Rolls Merlin, vs. Packard licensed Merlin.

Below is again from the regular patch, at the confluence of the Mississippi & Missouri rivers. The first, a DC-3( dressed as C-47). The second was taken 7 minutes before the Vickers VC-10 posted above. The VC-10 actually flew over as I was watching the coyote fish "with" the Heron, rather "hunt" for the Heron themselves.
Edit: added last, a scan of an old polaroid from 1979.
The mockup and test bench Enterprise, aboard its carrier as it toured the US,
prior to first crewed launch, STS-1, Columbia.
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Old Sunday 13th October 2013, 11:23   #49
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Location: Hampshire
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Hi All

I can't find my second hideous misdemeanour while at the controls of my Arrow, but here is the first one - not for the faint hearted amongst you.....

We had yet again procured the services of a babysitter and so on 9th February 1997 I booked Bravo Charlie with the intention of having a relatively easy day flying to Oxford, having some lunch and then returning in the evening for a meal with friends. It was a beautiful day if a little hazy, but cold and bright on the ground. I went over the top with flight planning as I even filed a flight plan, believing that it would be easier to pass through the hallowed Solent Control. I think I took beacon hopping a bit too literally too as I planned to go via SAM – madness! We took off and all was fine as I routed towards the SAM VOR. Bournemouth passed me onto Solent Radar on 120.22 with ‘they have your details, have a nice flight’. I am sure Solent really didn’t need some PPL filing a flight plan to Oxford so they routed me to the west and north and then got rid of me as quickly as possible to Brize Norton. We tracked towards the Compton VOR, no problems, a bit scary near RAF Benson with ‘multiple contacts’ from Brize which were Bulldogs doing aerobatics and then quite soon we were a few miles from Oxford, bang on track with the GPS showing it just ahead, confirmed by the OX NDB. I called Kidlington (that’s the name of Oxford’s airport) and inadvertently lied when I said I had the field in sight. Could I find it, could I hell! To this day I cannot believe I missed it but I did and the first cock up of the day occurred when I realised I had almost strayed over another airfield which I later worked out was Weston-on-the-Green, a parachuting place – I gave myself a severe bollocking over that. Shortly after that I found Kidlington and we landed, paid a bargain, 5 at weekends, landing fee and sauntered off into the city of dreaming spires, or is it perspiring dreams, for lunch.

Oxford is a lovely place but having studied for a while at Cambridge I am obliged to say that it is not as nice as the light blue city. After a greasy spoon bacon sarnie (are bacon sarnies de riguer when flying, I always seem to be eating them?) we walked around the city and then got a taxi back to Kidlington where I picked up the METAR (current weather) and the TAF (forecast) for Bournemouth. Now either I misread the weather, or the TAF was wrong. I know if I wanted to I could get the weather for that day and check. The truth is I do not want to, because I think I misread it.

We taxied out, departed ‘20’ and were on our way following the same route back home, initially to the Compton VOR and then to the SAM. We flew past Compton and headed for the SAM VOR – it was all going very nicely. At Newbury I was fascinated by the sight of an infinite eiderdown of cloud complete with quilt effect that lay in front of me. It was briefly an ‘omigod’ moment, but then I thought what a fantastic opportunity this would be to use my IMC in anger.

I carried on and spoke to Solent who seemed a trifle concerned that I was going on to Bournemouth.

‘Bravo Charlie, would you like the latest weather’

‘Thanks, go ahead’

‘Visibility 1500 metres, overcast at 700 feet’ well below the minima for me.

My heart sank. The controller asked if we’d like to divert, but I said I’d carry on and see if it improved – what an optimist! I contacted Bournemouth radar who asked me what approach I’d like and I opted for radar vectors to the ILS. In fact this was the only option as I had neither of the ‘plates’ for the procedural NDB or ILS approaches. Fortunately the weather had improved a bit with the visibility out to 2000 metres and the cloudbase up to 800 feet – or so they said. I think we were at about 3000 feet, and I turned to my wife and said these prophetic words:

‘It won’t be very nice but we’ll be fine’

She nodded in silent comprehension and probably thought ‘merde alors’. With that Bournemouth told me they would vector me in for ‘26’ from the north to I would close the localiser from the right. I was getting quite excited with this, and obediently descended to 2000 feet on a heading of something like 200M. We were straight into cloud and it was pretty bumpy, the instruments performing some bizarre Buzby Berkeley dance routine in front of my eyes. I had to report localiser established and was also cleared to descend to 1500 feet. I watched the localiser needle come off its stops and move towards the centreline. Anticipate, anticipate here we go, turn to pick it up……..I called ‘localiser established’ as the needle hit the centreline and continued past. ‘Shiiiiit’, I banked Bravo Charlie to the right to try to re-establish myself when the controller informed me of my height. I remember it was 1300 feet instead of 1500. Watch the glideslope, that’s moving up – wrong way, watch the localiser - still out to the right – I want my mummy! The controller then warned me again about my height this time about 900 feet when it should have been around 1300 or so.

I took my eyes away from the ILS for a second and was horrified to see the altimeter spinning as fast as the, by now, screaming propeller. ‘Fuck me’ I thought, I really needed to get a grip of this or very soon I felt sure I was going to be presented with a very accurate large scale map of Christchurch in front of me which would increase in size until it was 1 to 1 and we were history. Everything fell silent and somewhere a sixth sense took me back to my training, back to the basics. Aviate first, forget the rest, and in any case we were talking survival here. I managed to level the wings, put on some power and climbed and climbed. 600 feet became 650, 700, 1000, 1200 and the controller asked me what I was doing. After my wife and I had retrieved our faces from the sides of the cockpit and had checked that the interior of Bravo Charlie didn’t resemble the inside of a Maze prison cell I mustered a reply:

‘Sorry, I messed it up and need to do another’.
‘Are you sure you are qualified to do this sort of approach?’ he enquired.
‘Oh yes I have an IMC rating’.

He must have pissed himself laughing at that, it must be one of the most stupid things ever heard on the R/T! Was I an idiot or what? Out of practice flying VMC let alone IMC and I chose to use my IMC in anger for the first time when Bournemouth had become enveloped in a pea-souper. We roared out into the evening sun and continued climbing. My wife was a broken woman sitting beside me I remember she looked as if she had shrunk! I was cursing my stupidity, what had I done wrong? She said that we should be careful of other aircraft in the area trying to do the same thing and I made the comment that it wouldn’t be a problem as there weren’t likely to be any other idiots up here.

Bournemouth radar piped up and grabbed my attention away from my ‘if I survive this I am going to give up flying’ reverie. ‘What would I like to do now?’ they politely enquired. I thought of Southampton, I could go there – no the weather had worsened since we flew over the SAM VOR. I should have taken the offer of the diversion. Okay, um, what next? The controller asked me if I would like to try another approach. Hooray, it had all cleared.

‘Bravo Charlie would you like to copy the weather?’
‘Go ahead’
‘Visibility 600metres, overcast 100 feet….’

I didn’t bother listening to the temperature and the pressure. I wanted to say ‘are you taking the piss?’ I declined his kind offer so he suggested a diversion to Bristol. Our daughter was at home, we had a dinner booked, diverting wasn’t an option. My brain found the ‘statistics’ part of itself and ran some details. ‘Get home-itis’ is one of the major causes of GA accidents – carrying on in bad weather. No I didn’t want to become one of those. I thought of Louise, just 2 years old – and a lump appeared in my throat. I was calm, I didn’t panic, if I had I think we would have been killed, but the awful reality of what I had done, or nearly done, and my current predicament were slowly and painfully dawning on me. I thought positive – for starters we had loads of fuel left, and decided on the diversion option. I was unfamiliar with Bristol so I enquired about Exeter.

The weather there was much better although we would have to descend through a layer of cloud around 2000 feet or so but only a thin layer. I could manage this, and by now I had had enough time to realise that the major fault of my approach was my speed.

I told Bournemouth radar that I wanted to divert to Exeter and so set up the GPS and the ADF to get me there. After about 15 minutes I noticed in the gathering dark a gigantic black patch a few miles to the north. I assumed it was a hole in the clouds so I turned right to investigate thinking I could get under the cloud and route toward Exeter. By this time I had climbed to 5000 feet, and so started a slow descent to take me down into the hole. The controller had a fit:

‘Bravo Charlie what are you doing?’

I reassured him about the hole investigation and said I’d call him back. We descended into the hole – 3000, 2000, 1000, 500 feet and by this time we were low over Sutton Bingham reservoir. It was pretty murky and I thought I just could not risk trying to pick my way across the ground to Exeter to the south-west. There was only one option, to climb back out of the hole. Up we went, poor old Bravo Charlie must have wondered what it had done to deserve this. Eventually we levelled out at 5000 feet again and I spoke to Bournemouth radar. I was getting a bit desperate now and asked them if they could ensure that they handed me directly over to Exeter approach. That wouldn’t be a problem.

Bournemouth radar told me to contact Exeter and probably thought ‘thank Christ we’ve got rid of him!’ I dialled up the Exeter approach frequency and was mightily relieved to hear them straight away. They gave me first the weather and then the cost of keeping Exeter open. I wasn’t too interested in the cost, I just wanted to land but I thought it was a bit of a cheek telling me that when he must have known that a) I had no option and b) I was not in the best frame of mind. Next they gave me a steer for the localiser and a descent and once again we went down through the cloud, but nice and slowly this time. Localiser established, we popped out of the cloud and there ahead were what I thought were four white PAPI’s. Fantastic, we were a bit high on the approach but we were going to be okay. As time progressed I couldn’t help feeling that the ILS and the GPS seemed to be a little bit out with respect to the PAPI’s, but I continued the approach using the ILS. After a few minutes I realised that the lights were actually the floodlights of an outdoor sports field! Was this never going to end? Beyond I immediately saw the ‘Christmas tree’ of approach lights and the real PAPI’s – two red and two white – perfect.

I did a greaser of a landing (something had to go right) and we taxied in and after an hour and forty minutes tacho time we shut down. We had survived and the relief was better than when you’ve had to wait all day to go for a pee! I paid the landing fee, we got a 50% discount because there was another unfortunate diversion behind us, so he had to pay 70 too because of the airport being kept open just for us. I thought it strange that a 146 was being readied to take holiday makers off to the sun somewhere and couldn’t help feeling I and the other pilot had been fleeced somewhat. Nowadays it wouldn’t happen because true weather diversions are generally free, but I didn’t care – we could enjoy a few beers and prepare to get back home tomorrow. I phoned the Bournemouth controller to thank him for all his help and to tell him we had arrived safely and he seemed pleased to – ‘I was worried about you there for a while’ he said in his slight Scottish accent, ‘I was worried myself’ I said. We joined the others from the ‘172 that had landed after us and found a hotel a bar and food.

Laying in bed that night I was in one way very pleased, I had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. Yet the defeat that had been written large in my mind was completely of my own making and I pondered on just how close we had been to meeting our maker. I think we were in injury time and the whistle was in the referee’s mouth, but he just didn’t quite blow. The grim reality really hit me and I couldn’t stop thinking about how stupid I had been (was the weather as predicted?) but also how lucky too. I relived the events time and time again and thought over what I had done wrong. There were probably a whole litany of errors but the main one was my speed – I flew the descent much too fast which would make picking up the ILS difficult in VMC let alone IMC. ‘It won’t be very nice but we’ll be fine’ I had said – how true that statement was! Tomorrow would be another day and at last I fell asleep.


Not a nice experience at all, the second one was worse - thank goodness I gave up!

Rob
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Old Sunday 13th October 2013, 17:16   #50
stevo
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As a kid I was into building Airfix models of planes & then at the age of 7 I moved to an area close to woodland.My parents encouraged me learn more about birds/wildlife & i`ve been hooked ever since.

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