What crazy weather we are experiencing this summer!! 2018 will certainly go down as a year with the hottest summer that we have experienced for quite a while but just as we are all getting used to it something happens, usually in the shape of thunder storms, which spoils the day.
Friday 3rdAugust seemed to be heading that way as we drove the 250 miles down to Bodmin; very hot, clear blue skies and bright sunshine as we set off from home BUT very hot and humid and very overcast when we eventually arrived at Bodmin Airfield, home of The Cornwall Flying Club!! Event organiser (& airfield duty manager of the day) Pete White was at the clubhouse door to welcome us with a cup of brew. It’s always great to catch up with an old friend and the local news but Pete’s usual chirpy manner was somewhat subdued today as he expressed concerns about the weather predicted for the following day – Bader Braves Day!! It seemed that a front was laying just off the north coast bringing with it very low cloud and a lot of mist. Right now his concern was that an incoming flight from Lee-on-Solent was struggling to find the airfield through the clag; there was much chatter over the airwaves, even discussion of the flight diverting but suddenly the pilot reported that he had a visual and Pete quickly relayed ground conditions, wind speed etc and guided the aircraft safely down to land on runway three-one. A mightily relieved Pete returned to his now rather tepid cuppa and explained that this poor weather had been hanging around all day long, indeed one of the aircraft that had been volunteered for the Bader operation the following day was grounded at Perranporth where the cloud was “on the floor”!! Still, as Pete pointed out, tomorrow could be a whole lot better although by 8.30pm hopes were not too high as the cloud was now a real drizzle and visibility at the hotel was little more than 100mtrs!!
It was certainly a much better morning on Saturday although still cloudy and nothing like the great weather that we left at home the day before. Faces at the airfield were a bit on the long side as we arrived and as the volunteers from the Feet Off the Ground group, the charitable part of Cornwall Flying Club, were milling around waiting the 10.00 briefing but confidence about the cloud lifting to a flyable level was very split, 50/50 at best. First flights were not scheduled until 11.00 so there was plenty of time for the traditional cuppa or two before the planned start and about half an hour for the cloud to break; thankfully break it did!!
As the first of the Braves arrived one of the aeroplanes took off for a quick recce of the weather around the planned route for today’s operation. By the time the first wave of Braves had completed the paperwork the PA28 of weatherwatch landed safely back and the pilot was in deep conversation with his flying colleagues. Suddenly there were some broad grins as Pete announced that all was good to go and the fog was now disappearing fast. In no time at all flight number one was loaded and ready to go and flight number two was being readied.
There had been a rapid and miraculous improvement in the weather; blue sky was now very much on the ascendancy letting the sun shine through to burn off what cloud was still hanging around. The first flight was now away and a very nicely turned out Cessna 182 purred along the runway, lifting off and disappearing into the distance on a route that would take our Braves over both north and south coasts above Wadebridge and Padstow before turning towards Newquay where they turned again to overfly St Austell and The Eden Project, then one final turn to head back in over Lostwithiel and home!!
The rate of activity was now pretty high; the restaurant was in full swing where Carol was going flat out to keep volunteers and Braves alike all fed and watered. By the time our afternoon group started to arrive it was getting really hot to the point that shade was in big demand but the flying continued as too did car rides provided by a member of the local Austin 7 group who worked really hard to meet demand for a trip in his beautiful vehicle.
And so the day progressed with flights, like the Braves, coming and going until we were left with the last flight of the day around 17.00. Once that had been completed and we had waved off the last family there was time for a quiet “debrief”, another cuppa and a giant slice of Carol’s rather splendid coffee and walnut cake – mmmmm!!
It had been yet another hugely successful Bader Braves Young Aviators Day but I would expect nothing less from the great team at Bodmin where the hours of planning had provided a great day carried out with the utmost safety, efficiency and enthusiasm.
And so our day ended with our friends from Feet Off the Ground (FOG); two lots off fog in the same day but, without doubt, the FOG at the end of the day was far, far better than the fog of early morning!!