So….the CFI’s Cup is presented annually to the student who, in the opinion of the CFI is the most deserving! During this year we have had a student who has ticked all the aviation boxes – he has natural aptitude and flair, attended many Ground School sessions where he has astounded his peers with his encyclopaedic knowledge of all matters aviation, won the Christmas quiz, would have achieved 100% in all 9 theory exams except for one silly mistake, been on a fly-out, and even brought us cake!!!! A big well done to Neil.
After literally months of meticulous planning and excited anticipation, plus, not a little worry (would the weather be suitable, would the aircraft be in check / serviceable, would the Instructor be in an amenable mood, etc, etc), the morning of the 18th May arrived as suddenly as a dust storm appears in a desert. I say the morning, but it seemed like the middle of the night to the bleary-eyed bunch of intrepid aviators that gathered round the Flying School kettle.
There was, though, an almost tangible frisson of excitement and enthusiasm that would, no doubt, have been familiar to the Lancaster crews prior to the Dambusters raid. Amidst nervous jokes and serious mass and balance calculations it became apparent that everyone’s biggest worry had come to nought.
We couldn’t have wished for finer weather, better still, we had a slight tailwind, better still, good flying weather was forecast to prevail all weekend!!
Amazingly, despite only minor technical problems, all aircraft and crews arrived on the unfamiliarly large runway at Albert, France, virtually on schedule.
In no time at all we were all on a bus starting the tour with a visit to the Lochnagar Crater.
The Somme side of events was expertly (no under-statement there) organised by Paul Rogers and Chris Cherry, who, if they are not celebrities yet, no doubt soon will be! These guys normally run tours of battlefields on motorbikes. To say Chris knew his stuff would be akin to saying Stephen Hawking had a sharp mind!
Altogether, we visited several battle sites, cemeteries, memorials, and museums in the Albert area of the Western Front.
Suffice to say the consensus was that it was all round a superb weekend if, at times, rather sobering when witnessing the battle sites and resting places of so many young combatants that will never grow old.
You can read history books and watch TV documentaries as much as you like, but actually being there and picking up 100-year-old shell fragments really brings it home, and stimulates the thirst for more historical knowledge.
The weekend was enjoyed by 18 of us in 8 aircraft from Fenland. Even before we were back, thoughts were being given to the next trip – Flanders and Normandy being 2 possible candidates for a future escapade.
Wales’ loss was France’s gain!!
We were pleasantly surprised to be visiting Calais on Saturday when, for some time, we had planned to fly to Caernarfon. This was not a navigational error but a cunning ruse to avoid the worst of the showery weather! With sparkling visibility and fairly smooth conditions, both Max and Neil, two of our keenest students, gained some valuable experience and thoroughly excelled themselves. A casual observer would have thought they were well-experienced pilots rather than the low-hours students that they are! Jeff, David, Neville and George travelled in style in G-AVEH, although the extra speed was not so advantageous this time, as the C172 consistently managed to turn up after the showers had cleared!!
Calais airfield makes a cheaper and quieter alternative to Le Touquet, being unencumbered with any form of ATC at the weekend!
Un jour fantastique was had by all; the only drawback being that with 4-up in the 172, there was no space for cheese or wine!
“Fancy a fly-out?” says Jeff.
“Good idea!” says I.
So the search for a destination began…. and we very soon found ourselves planning a club trip to Amiens for the Fly-In weekend in May. We luckily, and very kindly, had a helping hand from Martin, a regular visitor to France, who organised PPR for our 9 aircraft and 19 pilots and passengers, and gave us the heads up on all things France, including brushing up on (or learning) French RT. Which we did…….
Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t perfect on the morning as we went, and some sensibly decided that they’d wait for a better day for their first Channel crossing. But 11 of us made it in 3 planes, stopping at Calais for customs, and changing seats. And then on to Amiens where we would be able to put into practice our new-found RT skills.
“Amiens, G-ECGC, vent-arriere, trente” says I, proudly. Quickly followed by “What did she say?!”
Of course, if you speak French on the radio, someone will speak back to you in French! The rest of our transmissions were in Franglais!! Roger and David, however, did a whole lot better and managed the full vocabulary, so well done to them!
We had a very warm welcome on arrival, free sausage and chips, which we enjoyed to the sound of a very professional swing band, and a complementary bus ride into town. Everyone was so friendly.
Amiens is a pleasant little French town with a stunning cathedral and inviting riverside restaurants. Most of us, James mainly, managed to slake our thirst for international air travel, something to be highly recommended!
All in all a fabulous trip, our furthest, and best, yet!
We were so lucky to be one of a few Flying Clubs to be invited to RAF Coningsby for the day, to see how the other half live…….!
So we grabbed the offer with both hands, and ten of us eagerly made our way there for an 0800 start on a beautiful morning in May.
The object was to engender mutual understanding of each other’s moda operandi , and highlight the importance of (and dispel any worries regarding) RT!! Which they did brilliantly!
A visit to the Tower and Radar Room filled the morning, which, luckily, happened to be the morning a Typhoon practised its display – wonderful!! After a feast in the Sergeants’ Mess, we were treated to a BBMF tour, and then got up close and personal to a Typhoon! What an amazing day!
Our huge thanks to all who helped put on such a fantastic day; we already have a waiting list in anticipation of the next one….
And 119.2 isn’t quite so scary any more…………
We are lucky to be able to make available this well-appointed, clean and tidy Archer II. G-SAPI has to be one of the nicest- flying PA28s ever! Available to Elite Members for online booking. Happy days!
Can you spot yourself in the photo? If not, why not…..?!
This photo was secretly taken on a Wednesday evening at Fenland.
The Clubhouse at Fenland is host to the most informative and stimulating Ground School lectures on all things aviation and PPL; invaluable not only for students but for post PPLs alike. So if you’re serious about your flying, come along and top up your knowledge base and become a better pilot!
Wednesdays 1830 til 2100 in the Clubhouse, everyone welcome, food and drink available.
Remember, knowledge is power…..power is thrust….thrust equals drag………….you may come away £10 lighter, but your spirits will be lifted…..why weight……………….?
Please ring the Flying School for the Topic of the Week. Look forward to seeing you all there.
Here we are on our trip to a bright and breezy Isle of Man.
Despite a medium to poor forecast, 4 aircraft out of the original 11 who planned to go, decided to brave the elements and managed to arrive at the welcoming Ronaldsway airport. Well done to Liam and Andy, 2 low-hours students, who both flew one leg each under minimal instruction, and both did a grand job despite the bumps and showers. Special well done to Roger who managed to get there without an IMC rating, which involved some cloud-dodging and extra distance flown. Although some heavy showers developed, we didn’t let them put a dampener on the day, and the return journey was blessed with beautiful blue skies, sunshine and unlimited visibility to the east of the Pennines.
We’re all looking forward to the next trip…….
Student of the Year 2015 goes to……..Luke Rowley.
The CFI’s Mug is presented annually by the CFI to the ‘Overall Best Student’, and has been presented most years since 1973. Some of the pilots are still flying here!
For 2015, we decided to score all students over a broad range of categories eg. Airmanship, Attitude to Learning, Natural Ability, how often they brought us cakes, er…no…we scrubbed that one off…… and Luke came out on top for 2015. CFI Steve said he was a pleasure to teach! Well done Luke!
We have a trophy!! Joint winner of the famous Guernsey NavEx, flying a timed route over Northern France and picking out landmarks from photos. Congratulations to our CFI Steve (with a teeny bit of help from Lisa!). And for the 3rd year running, winner of the Aviation Quiz (have already drunk the prize!).
We really enjoyed our weekend; the AeroClub always put on a fabulous show, full of aviation activities to indulge in, a spectacular hangar dance, great food and always a warm welcome.
Guernsey is a beautiful island, well worth a visit, so save a space in your diaries for the middle of June next year! We’ll definitely be going back!