Articles > Belle Vue Scout Camp  (8-10 June 2007)

By Ian Abraham

I had volunteered some time ago to help the Devon Strut at this year's 3 day scouting event, so I got to Dunks about 2 in the PM on Friday, and rigged the Quantum. It was very warm and the viz was bad (normal Dunks) but by about 4 it looked good enough to try a circuit. I had phoned Belle Vue and the report was good. "The weather's fine and I can see the sea," the lady told me over the phone, so it was time to try that circuit and see how bad it really was. At circuit height I could see the Wellington Monument (just) and the thermal activity was slowing so I set a course for Belle Vue. Once off the hill the viz improved considerably and an hour later I arrived overhead, calling blind as there was no one on radio.On landing the only people there were the owner, a helper and two of the scout masters. I was the first so had first choice on where to pitch my tent and tie the plane down - but time for a cup of tea first. Ian gets prime position

The scouts arrived by coach at about 7 and were milling around the hanger when most of the other planes arrived. This immediately grabbed there attention, but all they got that night was a talk on airfield safety and a late dinner before bed, leaving us adults in piece for a couple of hours to sample a beer or two.

After a late night, breakfast at 7 looked very optimistic but in practice with the fresh air and the anticipation of the day I was up and after a couple of Wheetabix, two cups of coffee and a bacon buttee I was awake and ready to do my bit: helping in the lessons were I could; and escorting the children out of the hanger and strapping them into planes and then escorting them back into the hanger when they returned.

The children had a gruelling day of lessons, Navigation, Met/RT, Instruments/GPS, Controls/Handling and a 30 minute fly around a course they had plotted - the pilots under strict instructions to turn GPS off and not to help with the navigation. Without fail they all found the way home and all got out of the plane with a smile, hardly containing the excitement as they walked (bounced) back to the hanger to exchange notes with their mates, They were arranged in groups of six and after the flight there was actually a small gap in the program, largely due the superb weather not holding anything up. Accordingly I was asked to do a little talk on microlights and to show them the control differences to fill in this gap. 

Is Met that interesting?I started by asking if any of them had ever flown in a microlight, and with only one exception they all said no, so I asked who had just got out of the Jabiru and Eurostar. They are microlights. "!!" was the reply. Then walking over to my Quantum I ran through the controls and the main differences to the conventional 3-axis aircraft. To my surprise they were generally interested and had lots of questions, then I finished off next to Dave Millins Rans (another microlight!!) explaining the relative ease of getting the microlight licence rather than a full pilots' licence, and that it could be a more cost effective route into flying for those interested in pursuing the hobby - trying to advertise our sport a little to the next generation! After lunch the Scout leaders and non-flying helpers were given a short flight around the coast and some of the aircraft were refuelled. Before returning to Belle Vue, I also took the opportunity to have a bimble around the north coast in the silky smooth evening air. I did a couple of low passes for the young audience on return, my low flying skills are nowhere as polished as the Red Barron's, but I still drew the crowd after I had taxied back to the tent. They could see the fun and wanted to have a bit of it, but the minimum for this event is 250 hours and I only have ninety in the book so could not take any passengers. But maybe next year. The day finished much the same as the last, by sampling a few beers outside the hanger in the cool evening air til midnight, swapping the odd yarn. Emeraude with passenger

On Sunday the weather was starting to break up as the weekend had been HOT so I decided to leave early and miss the heat of the day, getting back to Dunks at 10.   

The question was asked if I thought any Devon & Somerset MC flexwing pilots would like to come in next year, late on the Saturday afternoon and take any willing kids up for a circuit or two. Is there? Just something to think about: its free landing, camping and a bacon buttee in the morning. This is the third event of this kind. I have done this year and can think of no better way to advertise our sport, and I just cant thank the Scout or Devon Strut organisers enough for putting on such an enjoyable event. I am looking forward to the next already.



Devon & Somerset Microlight Club
Dunkeswell Airfield, Dunkeswell, Nr. Honiton, Devon EX14 4LJ