Today was going to be a long day. Started at about 7AM with coffee. Got in the car at about quarter to eight and was at Staverton by half-past. Had a wonder around then met up with Lee and James. Lee drove us to Denham. We had a good look at James’s new toy, ‘G-JKHT’, a rebuilt R22 with just 5 hours of test flights on the clock, a beautiful machine. James was also doing a ladies PPL exam while he was there, so I was left with doing a flight plan back to Gloucester. James had a little fly in his heli together with the guy who built it. I had a potter around the aerodrome, I did have some Geocaches setup but couldn’t really get to any of them in time. We eventually packed all our crap into the R22 and setoff at just gone 4PM. It fly’s great. We got to Amersham without any problems, then used my flight plan and headed towards Oxford. The weather got substantially worse and the black cloud rolled in and the rain started. I held the heading though. I now had the friction set on the collective pulling 20 inches of power, the map was on my lap and I was trying to work out where the hell we were. The headsets weren’t working properly, I could hardly hear any radio traffic at all. We did a MATZ penetration (crossing into military airspace) all okay and headed a bit too close to Brize Norton. Eventually over Oxford, we then winged it a bit and used the GPS for a more direct route as the weather was awful over this area, plus there was about 40Kts of wind, this little R22 was doing just over a hundred miles an hour in a howling gale. After we cleared Oxford and headed back towards Gloucestershire the weather greatly improved. I was then back to the map and actually managed to work out where we were. We’d now spent about an hour pissing about with the radio and I could finally hear traffic, so I did the approach over Bishop’s Cleve and round the edge of Staverton. Then landed it at it’s ‘new home’ of Staverton aerodrome. As time was getting on I had to shoot off fairly quickly. A good job too as the M5 was backed up again, had to get off at Thornbury and take the A38.
Shit, shower and shave, then it was a walk up to ‘The Swan’, where I met up with Carl. We had a lovely catch-up as usual. The beer flowed, together with the fish and chips. We finished the evening with a couple of rounds of shorts. We got a taxi back, I was dropped off and headed to bed. I think I was asleep in about thirty seconds, it was a long and adventurous day.