Flying For Fun 2005 - Kemble U.K. (EGHP)

 

'Bolkow to Kemble'

The PFA's annual 'Rally' took place during the weekend of 1-3 July 2005 under the new name of 'Flying For Fun'. The organisers were attempting to re-brand the event in a bid to attract a wider audience from both the flying community, and the general public.

From it's beginnings as a homebuilt fly-in, the 'PFA Rally' has grown into a gathering of all types of aeroplanes, from homebuilts to helicopters, 'spam-cans' to vintage, and everything in between. The week leading up to FFF05 had seen terrible weather in central Europe. Many European pilots typically fly to Kemble on the Thursday and Friday, and the Bolkow flyers are no different. Gunther Butterweck (D-EHAC) had planned to fly from Bonn Hangelar (EDKB) direct to Kemble (EGHP) on the Wednesday/Thursday, but record levels of rainfall in that part of Germany made this impossible. The forecast for the weekend was for cloudy skies with some sunshine and heavy showers - a typical English summer! Friday dawned bright and sunny in southern England. A promising start - perhaps the weather will be good after all?

With the aeroplane (D-EDNA) freshly polished, I set off from Farley Farm (Hants) for a short flight to Popham (EGHP) in order to pick up fuel. Arriving at a busy Popham at 0900L, it seemed as though everyone else had the same idea. A variety of types all taking fuel, including a pair of flex-wing microlights from Switzerland! Fully fuelled, I departed Popham and headed north towards Greenham Common (Newbury) where I would join one of the published recommended VFR routes to Kemble.

Turning north-west over Greenham common, I skirted around the first of many rain showers that were to dominate the weekend. Despite the rain showers, the visability was very good, and the air very smooth. Crossing the high ground to the north-west of Newbury, I easily picked up the town of Swindon far away on the horizon. To the east of Swindon there are a number of VRP's that form the final part of the VFR route. These published procedures are a very effective means of providing a little bit of order to the chaos of getting 1000+ aeroplanes onto the same piece of tarmac without the use of ATC. It does, however, rely on everyone reading and understanding the AIC before flying into Kemble. (more on this later).

By this point I had 'intercepted' a 172 and was following at about 3 miles in trail, cross checking his navigation against what I expected to see. This portion of the VFR route involved routeing due west keeping to the south of Fairford and to the north of Lynham. 'Only about 12 miles to run to Kemble, this is where is gets interesting', I thought. Sure enough, dots began to appear at an alarming rate on the canopy. Two possible conclusions... I'd either flown through a swarm of bugs and they had plastered themselves over my nice clean canopy, or, those dots are aeroplanes. 'Those dots are aeroplanes!' Having flown into the 'Rally' on numerous occassions before, I had an idea of what to expect. But all previous occassions had been as a passenger, with my only involvement being an unhelpful (I realise now), ''look another aeroplane, Dad!'' It's entirely different when you are in the left-hand seat. 'Oh, for another pair of eyes now', I thought.

Having received the ATIS giving runway 26 for landing, I proceeded to the the designated holding point for runway 26 (Hard). Malmesbury water tower is located to the south of the airfield, with the procedure being; to leave the water tower at or below a designated height, and route towards Oaksey Park (EGTW) airfield and a collection of lakes that sit to the south-east of Kemble. From here, there is a base-leg that parallels a railway line and an offset final approach to avoid overflying Kemble village. On finals, you are instructed to give your aircraft type, abbreviated callsign and intended runway (e.g. Bolkow D-NA, 26 Hard). Expect no reply, unless told to 'go-around' or 'break left for the grass'. Pretty straight forward, but again, relies on everyone 'singing from the same songsheet'.

On leaving Malmesbury water tower, amongst the standard finals calls comes; ''Kemble Radio, G-XXXX, Cessna 172, VFR inbound to you, 15 miles to the north of the airfield, 2000ft on QNH 1011, request airfield information, joining and landing instructions''. Oh dear. After a silence of perhaps 10 seconds comes, ''aircraft calling, er, we have the PFA Rally taking place, er, didn't you read the AIC?''. To which the pilot replies, ''Yes sir, I have printed it out and have it with me''. The bemused controller advises, ''G-XXXX, suggest you read it and call me back on final.''

Very hard to concentrate now as I am laughing so hard there must have been more than some degree 'pilot induced oscillation' going on. I discover later that this was certainly the busiest time for arrivals over the weekend, as everyone was making the most of the fine weather. At this stage there were 2 aeroplanes landing at the same time, one landing long, the other short. Following an RV-4 on final the Bolkow touches down gracefully on the numbers and makes the first intersection. Pleased with that! Taxiing past the crowd, the Bolkow gets a great deal of attention. Hundreds of cameras snapping away at the old girl. The Bolkow is definately a crowd favourite. Following a prolonged taxi, I shut down and am immediately approached by people eager to have a look at the Bolkow.

 

Derek Hampson (Hampson Snr) arrives from Rotterdam (EHRD) via Fenland (EGCL) in G-BSME about 45 minutes later. Similar weather enroute from Fenland. Sunshine and showers. By 13:00L the weather deteriorates significantly, and there is only a small trickle of arrivals for the rest of the afternoon.

 

No more Bolkows arrive on the Friday. Stewart Luck is here, and is busy leading the PFA's education activities and the 'Spirit of Brooklands' Rans project, so has not flown his Boelkow Junior G-ATTR in.

Saturday morning is even worse that Friday afternoon, with low cloud and light rain, but aeroplanes continue to arrive. At any other fly-in, the numbers would be encouraging , but the 1100 aeroplanes that make the trip seen to be a disappointing turn-out.

 

 

Two more Bolkows arrive on Saturday morning. Nik Beavin arrives in D-EMUH from Essex, and G-ATDO arrives around Saturday lunchtime as we are preparing to depart.

With the forecast for Sunday being even worse than Friday or Saturday, we (D-NA and G-ME) decide to depart before the airshow on Saturday afternoon. Speaking to people afterwards, Sunday turned out to be the best day of the three! Perhaps more Bolkow's arrived on Sunday? Whether there will be a FFF06 or not is yet to be decided. There will, no doubt, be a 'PFA Rally' of some sort. Whilst the event didn't really live up to the pre-show promotion, the sheer variety of aeroplanes to be seen is reason in itself to attend. Of the 1100 (approx) aeroplanes that attended the 4 Bolkows (sorry if I missed anyone out) certainly drew a lot of attention.

No doubt, next year, with better weather, more Bolkows will make the trip to Kemble.

Colin Hampson D-EDNA