Over previous years it has always a treat for Bader Braves to make a visit to our friends at The Ulster Flying Club; this year was most definitely no exception!!
As always we knew that it would only be the weather that could spoil our day with the Newtownards based club. Friday’s weather forecast promised us good weather for our event and for once they were right for Saturday 18th June dawned bright and sunny, plenty of blue sky, little wind and good visibility; the forecasters had been smart enough of course to cover themselves by adding a word of caution and that “conditions may deteriorate later in the day” but that was far from our minds as we drove to the airfield to prepare for the day.
Once again Barry Wallace had marshalled the great band of volunteers from the club members and everything was ready for the Braves to arrive; aircraft were fuelled and parked in line on the apron, the clubhouse and gardens were spick and span, the bouncy castle inflated and checked for “bounciness”, the lunchtime barbeque being prepared, face painters all ready with the tools of their trade neatly lined up, the nail bar with a whole range of paraphernalia on display and, of course, most essentially, the tea pot was steaming!!! Everything was perfect and it wasn’t long before the first of the Braves arrived.
Just time for a quick welcome and briefing by their pilot for the flight and straight into action. As they were excitedly strapping into the aeroplane and listening to flight safety information more Braves began arriving and after a quick welcome from the DBF team and a tee shirt fitting by Jess, they were directed to Nora and Wilma who had cheerfully accepted the task of flight planners; they in turn passed their charges on to the willing group of young student pilots from the club who were the airside controllers and escorts for the day and they finally helped the Braves into the aircraft that were flown for us once again by our loyal friends Mike, Alan, Allen and Brian, a process that continued efficiently throughout the day until all 23 Braves and their families had enjoyed their flights – a total of 72 in all!!
As the morning flights returned to base coming in over the beautiful Strangford Lough to deposit their passengers before setting off again, the BBQ was coming to life. I actually saw one of the chefs in tears as he chopped his way through a mountain of onions!! Queues quickly formed to sample the range of bangers and burgers that were on offer and soon the clubhouse lawn was covered by the happy families as the flying continued throughout the lunch period well into the afternoon until the final flight landed around 16.30.
The weather forecast guys had, however, been quite right in adding a word of caution about the continuing good weather as towards the end of proceedings cloud was building up, wind was increasing and it had that look of the downhill spiral!! In fact Sunday was a really grim, wet day so how lucky we had been!!
As the last Brave set off for home the clear up operation went into full swing and it wasn’t too long before the club returned to its pristine pre-Braves state and normal service was resumed. Then, as always, it was a last cuppa with the Ulster Flying Club team and the opportunity of going over the day; all agreed that, without doubt, it had been a very successful day and everyone seemed keen to do it all again in 2017, everyone that is with the exception of Barry who flagged up the possibility that this may have been his last one!! Barry has been organising this event for us since the very beginning back in 2011 so come on Barry – you don’t mean it, just squeeze one more go eh!!!
Of course there is a whole team behind Barry without whom Braves Ulster couldn’t have happened and so to everyone at The Ulster Flying Club from the helpers on the day, the pilots and BBQ chefs to the behind the scenes folk from those in the control tower, the caretaking staff, re-fuelers in fact far too many to mention, it’s the most enormous THANKYOU from all of the Bader Braves and everyone at The Douglas Bader Foundation.
You can click HERE to download a copy of this report as a pdf. It will open in a new tab and can be saved or printed for your records.
With apologies to all who attended the Young Aviators Day at Ulster for the delayed publication of Keith Delderfield’s report.