Seven Luscombes departed Popham around 10am and it quickly became apparent that 30 knot head winds were going to slow things down significantly as we made ourway, in glorious sunshine, towards White Waltham. Having picked up Keith & Dave in ‘SA', we now numbered eight Luscombes towards North Weald and duly battled against strong headwinds avoiding Denham's ridiculously huge circuit. ‘SA' led the way, but soon disappeared from view, into the haze and didn‘t seem to be talking to us on the radio. We discovered later that Keith was actually talking to Booker radio, who promptly invited ‘SA' for a formation Luscombe fly past, which he duly did, magnificently, all on his own… With a big grin on his face he asked us at North Weald if we enjoyed that? “Enjoyed what?” we all asked, and then to his horror, he and Dave realised that they had completed this manoeuvre entirely on their own!
Arriving at North Weald, we were greeted by an 16 knot cross wind, and the smell of ham, egg n chips. However, the Luscombe and their owners showed us that they are built of stern stuff and shrugged off the cross wind with a true show of professionalism, the only casualty being G-BTCH with an overheated starboard disc brake. Our numbers had now increased to 14 parked in front of the ‘Squadron‘.
Doing battle with North Weald's cross wind once more on departure, 12 of us set off up to Old Buckeham (against a 30 knot headwind!) with Luscombes bobbing about, formatting on each other for photo opportunities - lots of fun!
Four of us arrived in a diamond four formation trying to impress but sadly our thunder was stolen by a Jodel which crashed on landing due to cross winds and pilot error, thankfully both occupants walked away. I heaved a sigh of relief and looked upon our line up of Luscombes at Old Buckenham with pride.
Departing Old Buckenham before the commencement of a large parachute dsplay, we set off to Fenland, arriving 25mins later on a most beautiful airstrip, the quality of which would put a golf course to shame! Over tea and ice creams we all decided to fly straight to Wellesbourne Mountford as we were flagging and running one and a half hours late. With the prospect of a cold beer in store at Wellesbourne, we arrived only 50minutes later en mass, impressing the locals. After parking up, tents were erected in record time with the promise of a cold beer and grub around the corner! The evening was fun.
The next day we awoke to more stunning weather, well fed and fuelled up we staggered into the air west bound for Lane Farm, East Wales, with pilots manoeuvring for more photo opportunities (such a vain lot!). Now the terrain was getting interesting and on arrival, yours truly, buzzed up and down the strip clearing it of large stags and deer, allowing all 12 Luscombes to land safely. The setting was beautiful and tea and cakes were provided by the owners wife. The lads from BUKU provided us all with an aerobatic display of an electrically powered, radio controlled, spitfire.
Departing low level over sheep strewn hills, north bound to Shobden, we arrived for lunch and were given an educational pep talk by local immigration, police and customs! Now on the look out for terrorists and drug runners, with “browning machine guns cocked”, we scrambled from Shobden, south bound to Upfield Farm situated on the Severn estuary. The landing on its concrete runway and subsequent parking was different!
Departing a short while later for Eaglescott we broke into two groups, some electing to fly via short estuary crossing and some by long estuary crossing, assisted by Cardiff radar who were very helpful. At Eaglescott we were greeted by generous helpings of homemade cakes and Earl Gray tea, and our eighteenth Luscombe.
Fuelled up and leaving a few Luscombes to go their separate ways we set off on our final leg, skirting around Exeter airport, to Farway Common. Due to mist rolling in from the coast, only ‘SA', ‘UG' & ‘TE' elect to land for a quick cuppa. A little later the last two Luscombes of the Tour BRUG and BSSA wearily made our separate ways back to our home bases, reflecting on an amusing, challenging and worthwhile weekend.
Many thanks to all who joined us for making this happen and approaching it in such a professional way.
I believe, in hindsight, that the number of airfields selected each day contributed, along with other minor factors, to the programme running late. Should someone wish to run a tour again one day, less airfields and a greater inclusion of grass strips would contribute to an even more fun filled weekend. Perhaps the inclusion of another recreational activity on the weekend, such as go-karting or a historical visit, would add to the weekend‘s enjoyment?
Sally and I look forward to seeing even greater numbers at the Luscombe Rally, Oaksey Park, on the 5 th & 6 th August. Where there will be lots going on!
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