Sunday, 11 March 2012

RAF new home

I think I am right in saying that our hangar is at the intersection of the W-E and NW-SE the end of the original main runway, 25 (250deg). It is a WW2 structure, but I presume it was moved by the farmer? I have no idea where it would originally have been sited. Our runway is less than a third of the length of the original one. Mendlesham Mast (B on far left of top picture) is now roughly where the original control tower stood.

During WW2 the airfield was first an RAF fighter station with Spitfire MkIXs, then a base for the
34th Bombardment Group, (USAAF), flying B17s.

There is a memorial, where I must go and pay my respects, and numerous derelict buildings, but as with many such sites, they have become storage and factory units. I have seen one blister hangar like ours just beside the A140 ( behind the mast) which is the site of a steel fabrication company and other structures are in this compound. The Mast is the main feature in the area, at 1,002', when you are flying in. You can also see it a long way off when arriving by road. I took this somewhat blurry picture of the mast at dawn this morning from the hangar.


Two days in a row

Yesterday I flew to Bentwaters (former RAF, then USAAF base). I was there in about twenty minutes and then seemed to take ages to get back because of the headwind...and I worried that the hang glider people would lock up and go home, knowing all the time that I had left my keys on my cabinet in the hangar! Needn't have worried, though.

One of the pleasures of the day was meeting Sergei, a Russian software engineer who lives in Scotland and who had come down to do a two day winch launch conversion course; he is used to hang gliding off hills. He is a weightshift pilot and used to have a Quantum, which seems to have been in the same batch as mine and Steve Prouse's.

Look at that awful viz!

This morning I thought I'd get in a dawn flight before getting on with today's job of plumbing the bathroom. I was there by 5.45 and ready to fly at 6.20.....but had to hang about another two hours before the visibility looked promising. But I hit a bank of cloud at 700' and the visibility to the East was non existent, what with sun, haze and cloud, so I dropped back in and then waited another half hour, and then did two short hops before calling it a day. With no wind to speak of, that cloud was going nowhere.

Pretty but frustrating

But it was a good experiment in early morning starts. While I was hanging about I mused about the advantages of flying from Mendlesham rather than Great Oakley:

1 A fair and affordable rent (£30 cheaper)
2 No restriction on dawn take-offs.
3 Only one aeroplane in front of mine.
4 Only half an hour from home.
5 A runway just outside the hangar, so no long, time and fuel-wasting taxies.
6 The hang glider people are very friendly and there is no snobbery; good atmosphere.
7 Mendlesham Mandy...a speaking weather station!
plus, the doors have been greased so that they are not a hassle now either.

Advantages of G.O. : Doug, Sam and John (I miss Craig too, but he isn't there now either), a door which opens with a button and choice of runways.

On the whole I think I am now a lot better off.