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Breakfast Fly Out to Popham!

Our breakfast Fly Out this month was to Popham. The visibility wasn't great - a bit hazy - but perfectly flyable, and the temperature was a pleasant 12 degrees. As everyone started to arrive at Redhill around 9:30am, the weather reported at Odiham was OVC 800 feet, so not ideal. Planning commenced anyway as we knew the weather was due to improve later on. The reported runway in use at Popham was 08, as that favoured the wind direction at the time of the report. Anyone visiting Popham for the first time should really call ahead for an airfield briefing since there are specific approaches to Rwy 08 and Rwy 26.

Our mascot mutt "Max" was overseeing the preparations, ably assisted by instructor Simon...

Planning complete and with the weather improving, the gang stepped out into the morning sunshine to prepare the aircraft for departure:

For those who haven't seen it yet, this is the newest addition to our fleet - G-CEZI, a PA28-161 (Piper Cadet):

The fleet lined up and shortly ready for action:

The youngest of our intrepid group first needed to have his car seat installed into the back of the Piper Archer to enable him to see out of the window:

'A' checks complete (and car seats fitted), the two Cessnas and two Pipers made their way in convoy to the fuel pumps:

After refuelling, power checks were carried out at one of our new holds at Redhill - Echo 1 - for a Rwy 18 departure. The girls were the first to depart in G-BOLV - not because the boys were being polite, more a case of the girls being better organised!

Click here for a video of the girls taking off from Redhill.

PPL Dan G was next to depart in C152 G-BOYL, then instructor Mark departed next with the Osborn family in PA28 G-BXWO and finally instructor Dan with PPLs John and Dominic bought up the rear in G-CEZI.

Click here for a video of our student Mark taking off from Redhill.


Meanwhile, the Beechcraft Duchess twin which joined us elected to depart from Rwy 26R:

PPL Dominic flying G-CEZI, our PA28-161:

While PPL John enjoys having the rear seat all to himself:

From Redhill, it was a standard Junction departure, west to Guildford, along the Hogs Back to Alton and then on to Popham. On switching from "Farnborough West" to "Popham Radio" before arrival, it was apparent that Rwy 26 was now the duty runway. For many of our participants, this was their first visit to Popham, and so they were pleased that Rwy 26 was in use. Each aircraft called overhead and descended into an 800' (QFE) downwind leg. There is a petrol station which serves the A303 in front of the threshold of Rwy 26 which must be avoided at all costs. Consequently the approach to Rwy 26 is made alongside the petrol station, over the top of a large white arrow engraved into the ground which directs you to the 26 threshold, with a last-minute change of direction to the right through 10 degrees or so, and roll out on the immaculate grass runway. A very exciting approach which put a smile on everybody's face!

The photos below show both the curving final approach, plus the petrol station to be avoided:

Each aircraft taxied off the runway and headed for the parking area, where a nice gentleman was waiting and directed us to a spot, and also chocked the aircraft for us once we had shutdown:


We shut down and disembarked the aircraft, and made our way to meet up with the rest of the group in the delightful club house. The atmosphere at Popham is a very club-oriented, friendly place with lots of arrivals and departures. The very reasonable landing fees paid, everyone headed to the café for brunch:

While most chose the fresh full English option for brunch, while it was being prepared it gave everybody the opportunity to share their experience of their flight:

Everyone gathered outside in the mid-morning sunshine to eat, drink and watch the world go by. The general consensus on the food quality was that it was of an acceptable standard for an airfield café:


Soon it was time to head back to Redhill, but not before we watched the local Antonov AN-2 (in the background of the picture below) start up in the hope of a small display. Unfortunately it shut down shortly after starting, much to everyone's disappointment:

Checking the aircraft before departure:


We departed in convoy once more for the return flight to Redhill:

By now, gliding was in full swing at Lasham, so it was wisely decided to give the area a wide berth. Instructor Mark J with student Mark O and family (in G-BXWO) were soon overtaken by Mr C in his immaculate Beechcraft Duchess as they were south of Lasham, and took this picture of it cruising past:

 

Those in the PA28-181 Archer (G-BXWO) decided that trying to remain behind the Cadet (G-CEZI) which had only 160HP was being a bit silly, so they pressed ahead. With a tailwind behind them, the flight time back to Redhill in the Archer was 30 minutes, back into the circuit with a join for 18 from North of Reigate. Here is a snap of Gatwick taken on the way past:

Special congratulations go to student Mark O who flew the return leg in G-BXWO and completed his first landing in a PA28, "and a very nice one too" adds instructor Mark J. The pressure was on for Mark O, as his family were in the aircraft with him!

All aircraft back safe and sound and the end of another successful spring morning fly out. Thanks all who took part and thanks also to Popham for hosting us!