The final Bader Braves Young Aviators Day of 2017 was hosted on Saturday 2nd September by The Pembrokeshire Flying Club at their Haverfordwest Airport home and what a finale it turned out to be!
The event had been rescheduled following a complete washout back in June and, despite some rather non-committal and “woolly” forecasts from the BBC over the few days preceding Saturday, this time the sun was shining brightly when we arrived at the airport on Friday afternoon and it continued to do so throughout the evening. But when we peeked through the curtains early on Saturday morning expecting to see the sun rising there was a big shock in store; it was grey, damp and foggy, in fact visibility was less than 100 metres
After a very short trip from the hotel to the Airport we quickly had banners in place and everything ready for the first of the Braves to check-in but although there was time for a cuppa as we watched John (John Wilson, Chairman of Pembrokeshire Flying Club and organiser of the day) and his willing band of volunteers preparing aeroplanes for the day, spirits were rather low as there appeared to be no sign of the fog lifting. A few of the club members were heading off to the LAA Rally at Sywell but thanks to the weather they were already 2 hours behind schedule. Suddenly there was a hint of movement on the trees around us and a sliver of blue put in a brief appearance through the grey ceiling; John now had a little grin on his face indicating that things were looking up; within a further 10 minutes or so the fog had lifted enough for the perimeter of most of the airfield to be in view; a further 10 minutes and the distant Preseli Hills were clearly visible.
Two aircraft coughed into life and were soon outbound and the mood amongst the volunteers heightened along with thecloud base. The Bouncy Castle was being erected and John called his team together for a final briefing; it was all systems go as the first of the Braves arrived.
As more sunshine broke through the cloud the temperature rose and there was now a very happy air of expectancy among the swelling tribe of Braves. In no time Jess had dealt with the paperwork, distributed caps and tee-shirts and directed them down the line to John who was busy organising and preparing them for embarkation and subsequent departure. Right on time the first of the many Bader Braves flights of the day taxied away to the far end of the runway, a journey that took a while on this former RAF station which at one time had been under the control of Coastal Command, and from where some pretty big aeroplanes were operated requiring a substantial runway for take-offs and landings. Once there however, it didn’t take long for the sound of the rising pitch of the engines to reach us back at the club house indicating that Bader Flight was on its way and we all watched as it lifted off and climbed passing overhead as it set off on its trip of 30-40 minutes.
Pembrokeshire and in particular its coastline offers some really wonderful scenery and now that the weather had settled down the Braves were treated to a spectacular trip taking in views from Saundersfoot over the beaches of Tenby, along Milford Haven and St Brides Bay towards St Davids before setting a more easterly course for the return to Haverfordwest. Whilst the first flight was away, the second flight went through the same procedure, departures and arrivals just getting busier and busier. Once down and back with their families, the Braves were presented with their certificates by their pilots, orders for lunch were placed in the Propellers Cafe and the Bouncy Castle was working overtime.
Throughout the day a couple of the club members had placed their very handsome biplanes adjacent to the apron offering some great photo opportunities for the Braves. Indeed the bright red Pitts Special, a powerful and fully aerobatic aeroplane, flew alongside some of the Bader flights and even provided an impromptu demonstration of its aerobatic capability above the airfield.
Braves arrived and departed throughout the day; flights departed and arrived throughout the day and, sadly, the clouds that had departed with the fog in the morning began to arrive back! The last flight had now returned, the last Brave had set off for home, the last cuppa had been quaffed, the aeroplanes of Bader Squadron were back in their hangers. Haverfordwest Airport was now empty and silent; the sky was now 80+% cloud covered and the temperature had now dropped considerably necessitating the addition of another layer. It’s now 17.30 hours, another fantastic Bader Braves Young Aviators Day was over; clearly just in time because light was rapidly fading.
Time for a de-briefing but, alas, Propellers was now closed; only one thing for it – relocation to “The Lost Coins”!! Thanks to John and all of his great voluntary team at Haverfordwest, another 44 people had enjoyed their flights (some even had two goes!!); another memorable day in Bader Braves history and a day that brought down the curtain on our 2017 season on which I shall reflect in due course so watch this space!!Bader Braves, Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire Flying Club, Young Aviators Day