The Bleak Midwinter

It’s late December, and the weather is rubbish. Red dots everywhere on Skydemon. The cloudbase is down, visibility is down:

…and the wind is up. Not very good flying weather:

Time to think back and reflect on the summer, when it was clear and sunny with light winds and hot and bright and…well, you get the picture. Here we are on a long range photo-reconnaissance mission into Northumbria:

“Enemy” aircraft on the scope as we approach the Fife coast…Warthog 13 and 14 very wisely stayed away from the mighty RV:

As did Pirate 21, a Hawk from 100 Sqn which was about 10,000 feet above us in the impossibly blue sky as we passed Holy Island on the way down the coast:

The target for the mission. Near Alnwick there is a farm where combine harvesters go to die. John Manners Ltd dismantles them for parts and scrap. There must be a couple of hundred machines hidden away between the trees, not visible from the road but a good landmark for any passing aircraft:

Summer weather is not always clear skies. Fair weather cumulus clouds can sometimes kick off into cumulonimbus storm clouds, very dramatic with the blue background and the sunshine:

Cloudsurfing is great fun. Dodging in and around (Legal bit – whilst always adhering to the specified separation minima as laid down in etc etc). In both these pictures the other side of the aircraft was completely clear of cloud.

Summer was also when I was asked to bring the L4 Cub and do a flypast for a classic car meet called the Scottish Torque Show which was held near Dunfermline in aid of the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund (RAFBF). The show even had its very own NOTAM for a Spitfire display by the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight but the rest of us just did gentle flypasts (Legal bit – whilst always adhering to the specified separation minima as laid down in etc etc). I thought it would look boring to have a Cub gently tootling past hundreds of feet up but feedback after the event said that it was appreciated, especially as it was a real WW2 Cub in D-Day invasion stripes.

For this important mission I needed a navigator, and paramedic Darren from work was volunteered. Here we are pretending to do some quick planning at the aircraft…

It took took longer for my navigator to get into the aircraft than it did to plan the flight. Getting into the front seat of the Cub is a bit of contortion act:

But once in, it was up and away to the show. We had a 5 minute slot starting at 25 past the hour, and had to orbit once or twice outside the Edinburgh zone to kill time. Then when we called up for zone entry to the show, the controller had no idea that it was happening, despite the NOTAM and the fact that all the details had been passed to Edinburgh ATC beforehand. It required a bit of explanation on our part, and flicking back and forth between the Edinburgh frequency and the show frequency. We made it work somehow. As we flew past Darren managed the photo below. It was not a massive event, but great fun to take part, and all in a good cause.

After the flypast we went to Kingsmuir. Darren did most of the flying. Here is the Cub version of the RV grin:

Also seen on the “World’s Coolest Co-pilot” last year:

Several others were issued with their RV grins as well. Another work colleague and her daughters. RV grin:

More of an “Oooh there’s my old school” than an RV grin but it still counts:

RV grin:

Summer was also the time when we demolished the old garage:

…and started work on a newer, bigger version:

The new garage (WORKSHOP!) is now complete and we have been fitting out the inside with insulation, tools, workbenches etc.

More info on the workshop and why it is a workshop will be forthcoming next year, but for the moment…

…Happy Christmas to any readers. You know who you are. And now that we are past the winter solstice…summer is coming!