I was quite worried on Thursday 15th September when, from a very sunny and hot Tring office, I called John Wilson, organiser and co-ordinator of our Bader Braves Young Aviators Day with The Pembrokeshire Flying Club scheduled for just over 36 hours time, to hear that “it’s pouring with rain here”. My concern must have been palpable down the phone line as John immediately did his best to reassure me that there was nothing to worry about, everything was all set and the weather forecast for Haverfordwest on Saturday was “pretty good”!!
I was a bit reassured although I know that the interpretation of “pretty good” by some pilots often differed to my own. However, any doubts that I had were ill founded for as I eagerly pulled back the curtains in my hotel room I was greeted by a bright and sunny morning with little cloud and very good visibility. After a quick breakfast and a pretty rapid drive of some 10 miles to Haverfordwest Airport it was perfect timing to meet up with John and the assembled group of sterling volunteers from the club; of course, as I have discovered over the years of running Young Aviators events, nothing happens in a flying club until the obligatory “cuppa” or two had been quaffed so there was a slight delay before John’s briefing for the day; it didn’t last too long and once over the pilots set off to bring their aeroplanes from the hangers to the area allocated for loading/unloading operations throughout the day. It was not quite a Bader-like WW2 scramble, more of a “what a great morning – why hurry – amble!!”
Whilst all this was going on the first of the Braves and their families had arrived and were busy being checked in and issued with goodies by Jess. On the stroke of 10.30 the ground stewards collected the first of the Braves, checked all the paperwork was in order and escorted them out to the waiting pilots. Boarding, briefing and safety checks were quickly completed and the engine of the Cessna 172 which was to provide the first flight of the day, burst into life and as it taxied out to prepare for take-off it wasn’t long before flight number 2 coughed into life and followed suit. Soon the first aeroplane was racing down the runway and lifted off for a flight that would track out towards Saundersfoot where it would turn westerly to follow the coast along over Tenby and on towards Pembroke and Milford Haven before turning again to return to base passing over more of the breathtaking Pembrokeshire coastal scenery and Broadhaven before safely touching down after a flight of some 30 minutes.
Smiling Braves and accompanying siblings, parents or carers were escorted back to their families at the Propellors Café where picnic bags were waiting for them. The ground marshals efficiently gathered up the passengers for the next flight and so the whole operation was repeated throughout the day.
For those youngsters who had taken or were waiting for their flight, a “Bouncy Castle” was available; throughout the day it saw a huge amount of action – must have been a million bounces!! We were also treated to a refuelling visit by the area search and rescue helicopter; no longer a big yellow Sea King but an equally impressive red and white Augusta helicopter which, after having guzzled a lorry load of juice, hovered around just off the ground for a couple of minutes before making a very rapid departure of which Lewis Hamilton would have been proud!!
A number of the club members very generously made their two seat aeroplanes available to our group and were more than willing to give any of the adults accompanying the Braves a similar exciting flight experience to that afforded the Braves until late on into the afternoon. By the time the final flight returned some 64 passengers had been treated to a truly memorable day. Yet again The Pembrokeshire Flying Club had pulled out all the stops to make sure that our 2016 Bader Braves Young Aviators Day with them had been yet another resounding success and we are indebted to John Wilson and his band of cheerful volunteers for making everyone so welcome and for putting big, BIG smiles on so many faces.
Thirty minutes or so after the last Brave had departed for home and all of the aeroplanes had been put back in the hangers there was an unusual, but most welcome break with aero club tradition which came as a rather pleasant surprise for our day finished with not yet another obligatory cuppa but a rapid scramble to the local for a very refreshing pint!!! Can’t wait for 2017!!!!!
You can click HERE to download the original article. It will open as a pdf in a new tab so you can print and keep it for your records.Young Aviators Days