Once again the weather threatened to disrupt our Young Aviators Day on Saturday 16th July at City Airport & Heliport, Manchester…………….. but it didn’t!!!
When we left our Tring office on Friday morning the sun was shining and the forecast for the weekend had been quite promising and Jess and I were really looking forward to our event on Saturday; but as we progressed north on the M1 the clouds thickened and the Radio 2 forecaster wasn’t altogether encouraging predicting “a band of rain getting stuck over the Manchester area on Saturday!!” – oh no, not a repeat of 2016.
I changed channels to one of the local Birmingham stations to see if they offered any more hope but they didn’t and as we zipped along the Midland Expressway the heavens opened; our hearts sank quicker than Titanic hitting the iceberg. A quick stop at the first M6 services we came to and a text to Dave Crozier (co-ordinator of the whole event for us) seeking his views and in no time he had been in touch with his meteorological chums at the airfield who predicted an improving situation for Saturday. So, a bit buoyed up with this news, we soldiered on through the seemingly endless M6 roadworks north of Birmingham to our hotel. Despite the fact that it was still drizzling as we went to bed I felt reassured by Dave’s infectious confidence, that is until next morning when it was pouring. A quick call to mission control in order to get the info I needed so that I could fend off my anticipated onslaught by parents but, much to my surprise, the message I got was that “it will all be OK for your 11.00am start!”.
So off we set to the airfield. Half an hour later we arrived to find it still shrouded in murkiness but, most definitely brighter on the horizon. In the Runway26 Café, our home for the day, Dave was busy briefing a group of ATC volunteers from 1969 Rossendale Squadron who were to be our ground marshals of the day once we got going. Out on the airfield some of the pilots were already preparing their aeroplanes for the days upcoming (hopefully) activity. Then it was briefing time for the pilots 10.00, just 45 minutes until the first scheduled arrivals. Time for pilots’ briefings and, of course, a cuppa!! It had now stopped raining and the clouds appeared to be lifting, visibility was improving and the distant hills were now clearly in view. As our band of volunteer pilots finalised and agreed flight paths a smug grin came onto Dave’s face; he glanced over towards me, winked and threw in “well where are all these Braves then??”
His confidence with the weather was well rewarded as too were his meticulous preparations and as the first of our Braves arrived and completed their check in procedures, the ATC marshals introduced themselves and lead their charges out to the awaiting aeroplanes handing them over to their pilot for their flight. It wasn’t long before safety briefings had been completed, the controls of the aircraft explained to the excited Brave and they were taxying out towards the end of the runway; final checks by the pilot, line up throttle open and away. This was a routine that would continue throughout the day but for those waiting their turn Dave had organised an opportunity to visit the control tower which was quite busy on Saturday, not just with our event but seemingly endless comings and goings of a number of helicopters as well as routine airfield operations. The control tower itself is quite famous having featured in many movies and television programmes. There was also opportunities to tour the hangers which not only house a vast array of different aircraft including a Spitfire, but provide a range of maintenance operations. All in all plenty to see and do.
The weathermen were quite right in that conditions improved steadily throughout the day and by 16.00 the last flight had been completed. It’s always good to see so many smiling faces as the Braves leave for home and we are again indebted to Dave Crozier and his band of volunteers, to all of the ground marshals from ATC Rossendale and to the airport authorities for working so hard in putting them there; hopefully they will all be just as enthusiastic in 2017!!
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