Having suffered the only postponement to our Young Aviators at Haverfordwest, home of the Pembrokeshire Flying Club, due to the weather back in July my eyes were firmly fixed on the weather forecasts throughout the week prior to Saturday 15thSeptember, the rearranged date. Clearly the wonderful summer weather had now deserted us, we are well into autumn after all; we must have caught just about the only bad weather of the sunny season on the original scheduled date but that is the luck of the draw. Right now there was much concern about the impending threat of rain and gales spilling onto our shores from Hurricane Helene which was giving the Caribbean such a bashing and was about to launch its venom on Carolina, surely that was far enough away from Haverfordwest to be of no bother I thought but the Beeb and MSN forecasters seemed not to share my confidence.
Throughout the week I must have driven the flying club chairman, Matt Gregory, who was co-ordinating the fast approaching Bader Braves event, mad by bombarding him with texts, emails & phone calls; he too had his eye on the met reports and his finger on the trigger ready to launch yet another postponement. As it turned out our concerns were wasted energy for Saturday morning confounded all the forecasters’ advice and dawned quite bright and with nothing more than the gentlest of breezes.
It was just a short drive from the hotel to the airfield but all seemed very quiet when we arrived; I gave myself a quick pinch to make sure that I wasn’t dreaming or lost a day somewhere, a quick check on the wristwatch calendar; yep, Sat 15 Sept so, mechanical failure apart, I had the right day!! Then the sound of laughter came through which I quickly tracked down to the café which was packed tight with loads of familiar faces from our previous Pembrokeshire Young Aviators events all swigging tea and tucking into huge platefuls of very tasty looking breakfasts while the air was thick with banter and playful mikey-taking which goes a long way to making The Pembrokeshire Flying Club such a great venue for our event.
After the usual back slapping, handshaking intros and renewal of long standing friendships the café began to empty as pilots and organisers set about final preparations for the day and the arrival of the first of the Bader Young Aviators. Suddenly the air of calmness was broken as the engine of the first of the aeroplanes burst into life quickly followed by two or three
more before they taxied from the hangers to the apron in front of the clubhouse and in no time at all, the airfield had come to life and the apron was full of aeroplanes ready to go.
Right on schedule the first of the excited youngsters arrived; there was hardly time to complete all of the paperwork before Matt was introducing a pilot to his first guest and they were whisked away to the waiting aeroplane for a safety briefing and readied for departure. As all this was going on the next young Brave arrived and the procedure was repeated as it continued to be steadily throughout the day. By now flight No1 had departed and was taxiing to the far end of the runway to prepare for take-off. Haverfordwest Airport is an ex-RAF station and so from apron to line up point is quite a distance which gives the youngsters, most of whom were taking their first flights, a good opportunity to familiarise themselves with the inside of a light aircraft and to come to terms with the array of knobs, switches, dials and buttons in front of them!!
Once ready the first flight accelerated along the runway before lifting off and climbing away into the distance. Despite there being an agreed general route for todays flying many of the friendly pilots offered to fly the Braves over their homes or schools providing the location was within reasonable range which made the whole experience far more exciting. After some 45 minutes or so the first flight was taxiing back to the apron and the first Bader Brave was helped from the aeroplane to be reunited with their family members; beaming from ear to ear she was excitedly explaining where they had been and all about their flight. There was just time for the pilot to present the flight certificate and pose for a photo or two before the next round of introductions were done and off he set again with yet another Brave.
Once back at the clubhouse there was an opportunity for the youngsters to meet the friendliest and prettiest canine Young Aviator in the shape of Sky who was very playful and kept the youngsters fully entertained. Lunches from the restaurant seemed to be a big hit with everyone and Chris and his team were working absolutely flat out trying to keep everyone fed, watered and happy, a task they achieved with apparent style.
And so it continued throughout the day; a few concerns mid-afternoon when the wind picked up bringing in increased cloud cover but nothing to compromise safety, slow up the Bader Braves operation or dampen spirits. By around 17.30 the final flight of the day returned safely to base; indeed, this was the final flight of what has been an extraordinarily successful Bader Braves Young Aviators season.
As the last youngster disappeared for home with their family the banners came down, paperwork was checked and shuffled into some semblance of order, aeroplanes were re-stabled in their hangers after completing a fantastic day’s work and all fell silent again; it had been a fantastic day and once again we are all indebted to Matt and all of our great friends of The Pembrokeshire Flying Club. Now it was all but over but not quite ……… it was time for the final debriefing of 2018 so all off to The Three Coins lads!!!