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Articles: "Near Miss!" - The 2006 European Luscombe Rally

"No don't worry, 'not air to air' but 'weather to Rally'! Saturday morning crawled into life as a lethargic, damp and overcast beast, set to wreck all of the hard work that's gone into the 2006 Luscombe Rally. Sally and myself 'crawled into Oaksey Park in appalling weather at around 9.35am and with heavy heart, set about getting Oaksey prepared for the 'rush' of Luscombes and visitors, in glorious sunshine that we prayed for, later that morning. We then waited.. and waited... the Spot was ready.., The Flour Bomb Target was in place, slowly being diluted by the rain..., and the BBQ was popping and spitting in answer to the 'Beast'.I'd already eaten 3 Burgers- to prevent them from burning, of course!

Suddenly, out of the murk, the sound of a Continental appeared, no... THREE Continentals, attached to Luscombes, appeared! We rushed out to spot them and eventually saw them on the perimeter of the airfield and they all had a go at the Spot, which I won't tell you the results of, because I'd hate to embarrass them, nevertheless G-BTIJ, G-KENM and G-AFZN joined G-BRUG and G-BROO in the Luscombe Paddock - We were away at last, well done lads..!

Luscombe Rally

Another noise was rapidly becoming apparent: That of the phone ringing- the cancellations of numerous Luscombes who were travelling near and far, heartbreaking but understandable. Slowly, the weather improved with the rain stopping and the cloudbase lifting to a staggering 800'! This meant that a slow trickle of hardy Luscombe pilots crawled in, arriving in all sorts of directions, creating a whole new meaning to 'Standard Circuit but I was proud of the 'lads', built of sturdy stuff! One notable effort was that of John Morris in G-BSYF who got as close as 5 miles but had to turn back to Old Warden due to weather, thanks for the gallant try, John, very frustrating...

The BBQ was now going a treat and even the odd glimpse of blue sky lifted spirits, which were also going down well too, as we made our way into the middle of the afternoon! The Spot landing was proving a problem but we all had a laugh. I grabbed Sally and 2 flour bombs, remembering which one to throw out and promptly showed everyone not how to do it, but it got the show on the road. The overall standard (except myself) was surprisingly good, with a high standard all round, including the visitors, although pilots seem to have a funny idea of 50 feet!! Brian Austen, the airfield owner dropped a couple from his Scout Chopper, not quite in the rule book.. I must say, the Flour Bombing produced some very strange Luscombe flying... We all had a giggle… By now we had 22 Luscombes, A miracle, considering the weather prospects earlier and our deep heart thanks goes out to you for making it happen- A NEAR MISS!

Luscombe Luscombe G-BSSA

The real kids started to show their true colours towards the evening as the Frisbee appeared, trying to knock over 5 bottles of water, not Beer, as that was now being consumed in vast quantities in the Clubhouse! Yours truly had purchased a small radio controlled electric plane with the object of testing Luscombe pilots' skills on landing on a simulated Aircraft carrier. Having finally put the plane together (fragile to say the least!) based on a Piper, it promptly fell to bits within 2 minutes, not built like a Luscombe eh? Balsa gliders appeared, built the 'Luscombe Engineers' but didn't fly... Mike Cross completed an interesting display with his radio controlled Piper (Traitor) but impressed us with it returning in one piece! I think he fly's that better than the Luscombe, amazing what he'll do with an aircraft when he's not in it…Curry arrived shortly after my 'Demo' in G-BRUG, which didn't seem to put them off their appetite.I've never seen such group of 'Vultures' descend on food- after all those Burgers too..The whole of Oaksey fell silent as these poor starving people slurped their way through the petrified Chicken Masala, save for the odd "Gerroff, that's mine mate!" Grabbing his (her!) Ale…Beer 'n' wine then carried on into the night, with some unusual stories (!?!) slurring out of the yellow stained mouths of swaying Luscombe pilots and visitors alike, very romantic... But less about me!

Line up Luscombe Aircraft

The next morning the 'Beast' had given up and sunshine prevailed all day, typical! B'fasts, totalling 34, were cooked in record time, thanks to Sal and Mrs Rats (not a Spitfire pilot) with me cowering in the background trying (and failing) to keep out of the way and trying to help.. I'm amazed at how much Luscombe pilots can eat really, probably medicinal, easing the hangover maybe?

Luscombe Airplanes Luscombe G-BRUG

A further 6 Luscombes and more visitors arrived making it all very relaxed. I was very pleased to see so many new faces and particularly impressed with the number of Luscombes now receiving even more TLC as we're realising what an asset we have in the Vintage, Classic world.We're still losing around one luscombe a year to accidents.Around 54 are in flying condition at any one time.

As Sunday drew to close we achieved a figure of 28 Luscombes, an amazing number as we had lost 3/4 of a day! Nine Luscombes cancelled due to the weather, so the potential of 30 in good weather was very real indeed, a NEAR MISS! Next year we'll do it! I hope you will all automatically stick this w'kend in your diaries as Brian Austen has kindly offered us the use of Oaksey again, Thanks Brian. Thanks to Dave Mathers for handling the radio professionally and delivering the Curry! Big thanks goes to Sally for all the hard work with the website and running around the Rally like a headless chicken and finally, last but not least, a BIG thank you all for making the Luscombe Rally another success, here's to 2007!

Shields were awarded for various categories, the first being the Best Overall Luscombe (not easy) judged by the wives and girlfriends of Luscombe pilots (Different!) and this was won by Cliff Lovells'1941 Luscombe 8C G-BTCJ. Furthest flown was won by Pete Bush in his immaculate recently restored Luscombe 8E, G-BROO in “red arrow” red. Oldest Luscombe awarded to John Iliffe in his 1939, converted Luscombe 8A, G-AFYD. Most original, won again, by Adriaan Brouwer in his 1954 Luscombe 8F, N9945C, flown over from Holland. Spot landing goes to Simon & Paddy in G-BSNT and finally, the Four Bomb drop goes to Keith Old in G-BSSA - well done to you all!

More news on the Tour will be out in early Autumn! Other ideas are popping up, we'll let you know!

Safe flying,

Nige ‘Bertie' Barratt.

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Luscombe Aeroplane G-AFYD