> Popham 2007
By Phil Parmiter
Will Gillam (G-CBOS Rans S6), Colin Whitford (G-MARO Skyranger), Colin's good mate Richard and myself all met the week before to discuss the arrangements for the Popham trade fair weekend. We decided to try and take off early Saturday and fly back late to avoid the rush. 7am was going to be our departure time, leaving Popham around 5ish to avoid the worst of the traffic.
Well that was the plan. I pulled both planes out of the hangar at 6:30am and checked both plane topping up the oil and carrying out normal pre-flight checks. Everyone arrived just as I was locking the hangar up at 6:55. We all loaded the planes with our personal bits and Colin and Richard got into G-MARO while Will and myself hopped in to G-CBOS. Colin wound over his engine but it failed to fire as his battery was flat. I also wound over OS only to find the engine wouldn't fire either! Soon we were all out of the planes discussing our next plan of action. "Hmm perhaps some one is trying to tell us some thing," I thought.
Back into the hangar. I pulled out the big tractor booster used on the farm and this soon had both planes fired up and warming. After putting the booster away and settling down to check the temps before take off I noted the time was getting on for 7:50 nearly an hour spent getting the engines fired up. So much for missing the breakfast rush at Popham around 9. All was well as we taxied out with Colin going first, as the Rans is the faster plane. I was flying OS and Will was doing the nav, as an exercise in preparation for his PPL exam.
The cloud base was only 2,000 ft and we both headed off keeping 500 ft under the base. Colin said the Rans' strobe lights stood out superbly against the dull grey of the morning. They were so good he decided to buy a set while we were at the event!
The flight was uneventful apart from the immense enjoyment I get from being airborne. Will's nav was excellent and at no point did I have to check his heading or make any corrections to his chosen flight path.
Colin did pass comment that he was freezing his nuts off, though, whilst myself and Will basked in a warm cabin due to the Rans' cabin heater.
I took the lead once we neared the airfield and descended on the dead side with Colin following behind, and called downwind with only one ahead. This wasn't as bad as It seemed last year with up to 14 on final at one time. I side slipped down over the A303, and touched down and taxied to the turn off point. I was marshalled to the parking area and switched off just a Colin landed.
Both Colin and myself made a mad dash for a pee: Colin blamed the cold, whilst I blamed incontinence. Afterwards I headed for the nearest coffee vendor and brought us all a welcome cup of char.
This was Will's first time to Popham and he wanted a pair of Lynx headsets with a charger. Colin was determined to obtain a set of strobes like the Rans' by the end of the day. Richard was just pleased to do some plane spotting. Hmm, a candidate for a note pad and pen I think!!
I was on the look out for a suitable present for Colin as it was his birthday the following week so I headed off to look around the stalls. The first place I saw was Big John [Moore] from Cyber-stitch and I ordered a fleece for Colin with his name and reg number on it. A bit further down a spotted the teddy bears with goggles on I though it would make a different gift for Colin to hang up in his car. Next was Pooleys with map, compasses and a carbon monoxide tester (this was for the Rans though).
Once I had made my purchases I spent an enjoyable hour trawling around the new planes on display. The variety of companies who attend this event always impress me and this year was no exception. A replica Nieuport XXVII and Fokker Dr.I also took to the skies to entertain the crowds.
I spotted the guys, who had been off to the southwestern side of the field and had been looking along the flight line, and met up again. We decided another coffee wouldn't go amiss. The weather was near perfect now and with such a relaxed atmosphere, everything was set for one of my most enjoyable visits to Popham. We all were amazed by the number of plane spotters - they certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves. I personally don't understand this side of aviation but hey 'you pays your money and makes your choice'.
Lunch was a baked potato with tuna and certainly filled the gap. An ice cream mid-afternoon and before we knew it, it was time to spread our wings and fly home. I was a bit trepidatious about the Jab starting after the morning's fiasco, but there were no worries as both planes fired on the first attempt. We taxied across the active runway and backtracked down the taxiways. Colin in the meantime had taken off and was winging his way home. We were about 15 mins behind.
We made a diversion to look at another farm strip and by the time we were overhead the landing field Colin was already down and opening the hangar doors.
Another successful adventure!
Devon & Somerset Microlight Club