Running a French Holiday Gite in Rural Brittany

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Strong winds prevented a French flying break

I've mentioned before on this Blog that I have been learning to fly a Microlight aircraft over the last year or so.

Admittedly I've not really written all that much about my new-found weekend pastime, partly because I do try (at least occasionally) to keep this Blog on-message (i.e. keep my ramblings focussed on 'running a French holiday Gite in Rural Brittany'), and partly my lack of postings on this subject has been because I've not had much interesting or exciting to write about.

Until last week that is.

So far my Microlight flying has been proceeding fairly well and I'm at the "circuit bashing" stage of practising flying circuits around the airfield. The take-off's are fine, the flying round in the prescribed rectangular route on a straight and level attitude is fine, but the tricky bit is the landings! Basically I just need more practice to get them consistent. And boy have I been practising flying circuits and in particular the landings for some time now.

Last week though was different as my Microlight Club had organised a trip to France.

My previous flying excursions have been limited to bits of Bedfordshire in and around where we live so I tend to have at least some familiarity with the area, and one cross-country journey of some 40 miles or so up to Deenethorpe airfield in Northamptonshire where it has to be said that I got somewhat lost and it was by more luck (and the instructor in the back of the Microlight) that we got there and back at all.

Flying to France was to be on a whole different league - of getting lost on a really advanced scale if nothing else!

We were all due to fly out on Tuesday morning, down to Headcorn in Kent, refuel there then continue on to Folkestone, fly straight over the channel to Cap Gris-Nez, round the back of Le Touquet, and then on to Abbeville where we'd land and stay over at the airfield. All going well we would do some local flying in France, perhaps up and down the French coast, then fly back to the UK on either Wednesday or Thursday.

As I'm not qualified yet I was taking an instructor with me and was planning to swap over at the different way points with another student who was travelling with an experienced pilot.

All in all I was really really looking forward to it, it was to be quite an adventure. Everything was ready for the trip, I'd bought a couple of brand new life-jackets off ebay as apparently there's a 15 minute or so 'bit in the middle' of the channel where if you have an engine failure in the Microlight you're too far out to glide down to a dry landing (ulp); I'd bought a 2 man tent from a car boot sale; I'd packed the absolute minimum needed for the journey and we were all set to go.

Unfortunately the weather didn't play ball and it was clear from the Met Office forecast that it was going to be high winds with 30mph gusts for our designated departure day.

And for once the man from the Met was right the weather was lousy and so instead of an enjoyable flight across the channel and an evening enjoying French wine and food I kicked my heels around at home, bored and very despondent. After all the build-up and excitement of the trip this was a mega-anticlimax.

Couldn't face doing any more unpacking at home (still 8 months after our house move there's plenty to unpack still) so I grumpily turned on my laptop and got on with doing some work.

Grumble grumble

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