Bader Braves – Shropshire Storms Swoop on Sleap…Keith Delderfield’s report.


Report by Keith Delderfield



Saturday 19th July saw Mother Nature at her worst in Shropshire!! My phone sprung into life around 06.15 with the first call of the day from a concerned parent of one of our Bader Braves enquiring as to whether or not our Young Aviators Day was going ahead because of the storms!!

What were they on about?? When I turned in on Friday evening the weather had been great; a really lovely summer’s evening in fact. I had slept like a log and had not been aware of any storms. I pulled the curtains of our hotel room to one side, blinked a few times at the sudden glare of daylight and squinted as we older folk do when trying to focus without our specs on!! Certainly it was a bit grey but not raining; but after fumbling around to locate the aforementioned specs, getting them sorted out and fitted, I refocused and had another look. Oh crikey!! Not good!! No rain but clearly that was just luck. It was most threatening and very murky; clouds were low and visibility was very poor.

The plan was that the operations team were to meet on the airfield at 08.00 when, if there were any major concerns, decisions would be made. So I tried to reassure the concerned parent, suggested that they remained at home for the time being and told them that I would be in touch once the decision had been made. Within the next half hour I had repeated that message at least eight or nine times; clearly there were a few weather issues around the country a fact that was quickly confirmed by BBC Breakfast News.

By the time I had snatched a quick shower and gobbled an even quicker breakfast, it was pouring down …… bad sign!!

The Shropshire Aero Club home at Sleap was only a 5 minute drive away and we arrived just as a gloomy faced Neil Edgley, co-ordinator of our event today, was fiddling with the electronic lock on the airfield gate.

My phone kept ringing, I kept giving the same answer but, all the time, hope of flying today was fading. Around 08.45 all of the stalwart volunteers, be they pilots or ground crew, for the “briefing”; brief it was too, no option other than to sadly abandon the day. Met reports were for worsening (if it could possibly happen) weather with little hope of things improving until much later in the day.

And so the unpleasant task of having to phone round 50 Braves to impart the bad news began, an operation that took an hour and a half. Fortunately all but three families were informed before leaving home or intercepted en-route; however, the three that made all the way to a rather dismal Sleap were given a tour of the hangers and the very nice Aviation Museum (have a look in there if you are ever in the area, it’s most interesting!!) before setting off home again.

All round it was a very disappointing day but, of course, the one thing over which we have no control is the weather. So apologies Braves for such a let down on this one but hope that you understand and thanks to all of our friends at The Shropshire Aero Club and Sleap Aerodrome, particularly Neil and his great team of volunteers, here’s hoping that we can return in 2015!!

And now it’s back to the left over sandwiches; 83 down 97 to go!!!

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