Shobdon and Enstone

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March 13, 2010

Saturday the 13th March was North Weald Fly Out Group’s planned trip to Shobdon and Enstone. With our February trip to Thruxton and Wycombe partly scuppered by the poor weather it was refreshing to see some half decent TAFs which gave a more positive outlook for a good day. And a good day it was despite not unsurprisingly the TAFs somewhat failing to live up to predictions, but that appears to be the norm at the moment. As usual everyone gathered at ‘The Squadron’ for pre-flight planning and final weather checks. Visibility was very good with light winds and some broken cloud around 2500-3000ft. Very flyable. After a bit of a hiccup with FC’s battery being run down whilst trying to start what was probably a flooded engine for an earlier flight, it was time to mount up for the relatively long flight to Shobdon which is just west of Leominster in Herefordshire. This was to be new ground and a new route for many of the members, almost all of which had not visited this airfield before.

 

Routing out for most was to be north through the Luton/Stansted gap and then a left turn towards the Daventry VOR and then more or less a direct track west towards Shobdon. With the group being one aircraft down, it was three to an aircraft for this one. The crews were made up of Paul Bazire and Phil Fellows in ‘VB’ with Stewart Braddon riding shotgun to keep an eye on us. ‘FG’ had Julian Mitchell with Marcus Eich and Kaushik Koley. ‘FC’ was the fly out veterans aircraft with Pete McDonald, Malcolm Jarvis and Barrie North. Darren Foss and Axel Waldecker were joined by George Tunks in ‘MM’. Finally Simon Pimblett and Helen Saunders filled ‘FA’. Bob Chapman also joined us on this one in his 172 ‘CC’. Occasional group participant David Rickwood was to meet us at Shobdon direct from Gloucester in the little Eurostar ‘MI’.

On the route towards DTY, it all started to go a bit murky with the viz reducing considerably to around the 5km mark in patches and the cloud base lowering to around 2300ft. Unforecast of course! Pete McDonald in ‘FC’ opted to use his IMC and pop on top of what was a relatively thin layer of cloud into bright sunshine. A good use of the rating and perhaps an encouragement for those without it.

 

This route offers plenty of uncontrolled airspace with some interesting points such as the drag racing strip at Santa Pod which is located on the old Podington WW2 airfield. Legend has it that the airfield is haunted and amongst various ghostly happenings the sound of a crashing B17 bomber can still be heard! The old cold war V Bomber base at Gaydon is a great navigation landmark with its large runway which is now used by the motor industry for vehicle testing. Passing Wellesbourne Mountford airfield (a nice stop that one) we had good views of Stratford-Upon-Avon and the Shakespeare theatre by the river.

The higher ground and hills of Wales soon became visible in the rapidly clearing air and we began our approach into Shobdon for an overhead join not below 1500ft due to Gliding to the north. Shobdon has a very wide circuit pattern for noise abatement and if you consider going, it is wise to do some homework to familiarise yourself with the various points to avoid upsetting the neighbours. This is also important so as to be able to safely fit into what can be a very busy pattern with a separate microlight circuit and gliding taking place around what is quite hilly terrain.

All in safe and time to meet up for the usual chin wag over lunch. The cafe at Shobdon is quite compact but offers lots of outside seating for warmer days or the more hardy in mid March. The food choice and quality is very good, the prices reasonable and the service very fast given how busy the place was. Well worth a visit this one either in its own right or as a stepping stone for further afield. Busy with good facilities and plenty going on, it’s what a flying club should be like with lots of different types including what can only be described as a ‘rash’ of small Eurostar type microlights all over the grass making it more interesting.

 

With Phil Fellows having to earn some cash to pay for his expensive flying habit, it meant that VBs crew would be missing out Enstone and would be heading up north to Leeds/Bradford to allow Phil to work the next couple of days in Harrogate. Saying goodbye to the guys, they promptly departed north over some great scenery, once again the IMC coming in really handy as the ground got higher and the cloud lower up towards Stoke on Trent resulting in an ILS approach to Leeds/Bradford.

The remaining crews headed off towards Enstone, a nice airfield in some lovely countryside north of the Brize Norton Zone. Enstone is quite hard to find despite its quite large hard runway, but once in offers a good taste of rural flying. There is a flying school on the south side of the airfield but the average visitor will stop off at the very welcoming but rather basic portakabin club house where tea, coffee and biscuits are available, but it’s usually do it yourself and leave the money in a jar.

On another occasion you might be lucky and have one of the more senior gentlemen there do it for you together with some tales of flying in years past included for free.

Departing Enstone the route back was via Oxford and the Luton/Heathrow gap all without drama and now with excellent visibility and a high well broken cloud base. All apart from VB back into North Weald and the end of a well enjoyed day visiting two new airfields for most as well as exploring a new part of the country from the air for the first time provided a good navigation exercise for our intrepid aviators.

Let’s hope this is a sign of things to come as we approach the spring and the start of our bigger planned trips. Thanks for your continued support.

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Contact us

North Weald Flying Group operate out of the Squadron at North Weald Airfield.

The airfield is 10 miles south of Stansted and can be seen from the M11. Follow signs from the A414 and on entrance to the field, follow the perimeter track all the way around the field until you arrive at the distinctive Squadron building.

email: paul.bazire54@gmail.com
phone: 01992522090