Once again the members of the West London Aero Club (WLAC) provided another fantastic day for Bader Braves at their White Waltham Airfield home.
Despite a very gloomy start to the day with a disappointing hint of rain which thankfully disappeared as the morning progressed and some very blustery (something of an understatement!!) conditions which caused a slight delay to the start of proceedings, the Young Aviators were in for the customary super day at the venue that was the birthplace of Bader Braves back in 2006.
When we arrived to prepare for the day at 09.00 one or two flights had already been taken by club members and visitors unconnected to our event; each expressed the view that it was “going to be a bumpy day” – how right they were.
After struggling to get the Braves display erected in the wind and set Jess up in the reception area which, although under canvas, was a challenge in itself (quite funny watching her trying to find stones in the garden that were big enough to act as paperweights!!) there was just time for the first cuppa of the day before the pilots of the day assembled for their briefing in “The Snug”. Most of the pilots were familiar faces for, over the years, they have been loyal and generous supporters of Bader Braves, kindly giving their time and aeroplanes to our event. After agreeing the route of the day and dealing with the technicalities there was a word of warning about the high winds – it was likely to be “fun and bumpy” and it was suggested to Jess that she advised everyone of that fact as they arrived.
Briefing over and everyone took up their stations! Jess amidst the meeting, greeting, handing out goodies and paperwork duly issued her weather warning which seemed to draw little more than a nod of acknowledgement: certainly The Braves were living up to their name as none hesitated in stepping forward.
By 11.15 some of the pilots with larger aeroplanes felt that the wind was quite “flyable” and that all clear was sounded. Just five minutes later the first of 36 flights taxied out for final checks and take off for a thirty minute flight heading over the River Thames to Henley and beyond and returning over Reading. Over the next 15-20 minutes the wind eased and in no time at all Bader Braves Squadron had eight aeroplanes airborne with others loading, carrying out final checks or manoeuvring in to position ready for take-off. By mid-day although the wind was still a bit “lively” the clouds had been blown away and everyone was enjoying glorious sunshine as the picnic lunches arrived as too did the Young Aviators for the afternoon session.
There wasn’t really a lunch break as the pilots were keen to keep the flying going just in case conditions worsened as the afternoon progressed; thankfully they didn’t. Quite a queue formed when the ice cream van arrived and one or two of the Braves were for just a moment torn between a Cessna and a 99 but any doubt was just momentary as the 99 would still be there but the Cessna would have flown!!
As flights continued, there was much quaffing of tea (or, as I rather jealously noted something a little stronger by one or two of the dads!!), chatting in the sunshine on the clubhouse lawn and no end of laughter, it was a really happy atmosphere until flight number 36 landed bringing our super day to a close. Some 120 people had enjoyed a flight throughout the day which includes one or two excited youngsters who actually were lucky enough to get two flights in. Then it was time for farewells and before long the relative quietness of early evening fell on White Waltham. Just the odd powered aircraft movement now as the Braves Squadron aeroplanes were being covered up at the end of operations or quietly wheeled back to their hangers.
Just time for Jess and I to offer our thanks to each of the pilots and helpers for making the day so special and in particular to our dear friend Deny Batchelor who continues to organise the whole day for us as she has done so efficiently and loyally for so many years – please don’t give up Deny, we want to come back in 2017.
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