We all gathered at 08:30 at the EBG office, studied the NOTAMs, weather forecast, etc, then trooped out to the pads to ready the aircraft – the R22, G2 and two R44s. On this outward leg I was flying G-EERY with Ken. The slower two-seaters took off first, followed by the four-seaters.
En route we were quite busy on the radio, requesting to transit the Boscombe Down CMATZ, then skirting Southampton airport zone. As we approached Yeovilton, we could hear the R44s ahead of us on the radio, but the controller seemed unused to dealing with GA traffic, repeatedly asking the pilots to state their full call sign. The resulting confusion slowed us down a bit, and with G-EERY running tight on fuel, we diverted to Compton Abbas while the others struggled on to land at Yeovilton.
Having refuelled, on returning to Yeovilton we were warned to steer clear of a large military helicopter that was conducting a recovery exercise in line with the main runway. However we were cleared to land at the threshold of Runway 22, and made our approach. On the apron, four marshallers stood ready to bring us in, and the skill and precision of their movements was something to behold – almost like a dancer!
Into a truck that drove us out of the secure area so we could join the others, and then we all entered the RNAS museum.
In the first hangar we were met by a line of helicopters, from a the rather striking-looking Westland Dragonfly (built 1949) through to a Westland Wessex and a Sea King (1970).
I’m sure each member of the party had their own favourite exhibit at the museum – perhaps the Concorde prototype, or the very early Navy aircraft, but for me it was the “Carrier Experience” – recreating the sights and sounds of an aircraft carrier through video projection and lighting effects.
After a couple of hours, it was time to walk back out to the apron, where we were instructed to contact three different ATCs – Ground to start engines, Tower to depart and Approach to fly out. At this point I swapped into the back seat of an R44 for the return journey.
First, we made the short hop to Compton Abbas for refuelling of aircraft and people. Refuelling the aircraft was complicated by the fact we could only fit two at a time beside the pump, and while manoeuvring we had to avoid over-flying the fixed-wing aircraft parked nearby, in case their wings bent down.
The day was rounded off by an excellent pub-style lunch at the airfield restaurant, followed by an uneventful flight home. I thoroughly enjoyed it.
EBG Pilot Club Member