The Further Adventures of YP (or The Long Way Home)
This story is part 2Ĺ of the trip to Biarritz and takes up where
Bobís account of the trip from Biarritz to Líaigle leaves off.
After so much grief and agro, with getting YPís engine sorted out and the tribulations of Bob & Neilís flights from Biarritz to LíAigle, it was with some trepidation that Bob, Mark & I (plus a South African guy from OATS along for the ride) hired G-DRBG (172) for another go at getting YP back into the UK. We had another special permit/cert for flight as YP was well out of annual by now, and we really had to get her home.
The previous day I had rung the club at LíAigle where the Chief Pilot had said Ďno problem I will be on site, give me a ring on my mobile and I will meet youí.
The plan was to fly straight to Rouen, clear customs, do the short hop to LíAigle grab YP and return both a/c at best speed, Bob to EGWE with BG and Mark/Me with YP to Henlow Via Headcorn to drop Mark off.
All of us stayed at Henlow on the Friday night and bright and early Saturday we rose to meet the fog and mist. The Beeb Met man said it would burn off very soon and be a very nice day. Up to the airfield, no one about, start scrapping ice off the 172, get METAR/TAF for Rouen 3Kts Southerly, 999, few 3500 temp -1. No change until late in afternoon when front due to arrive from East. Finally after a much longer than usual pre flight and loading up we finally set off. Flight plan activated by phone from the by now occupied clubhouse. Completely lovely flight down no drama, handed over to Lille, no answer as usual, to Paris info, and then to Rouen. About 20Nm out from Rouen cloud appears to be very low and descent actioned without further ado. 15Nm out Cloud now 1800 AGL and thick snow! Rouen radio are talking to circuit traffic so it canít be too bad. Mark had brought his GPS so we skirted the snow until we were only about 5 miles out and then we made a small dash of it. Actually at the airport it was blowing a gale but no snow. After landing we taxied in cleared customs and the heavens opened with thick snow again. I asked for and received the current METAR, issued a few minutes before and Lo it was 999, Few 3500. So much for weather Iíll stick with the seaweed. I tried to ring the chief pilot at LíAigle to tell him we were stuck for a while but, of course, no answer, left a message, no reply.
The weather took a while to clear and we refuelled had some coffee, walked about a bit, had some more coffee and a kit kat until after about 2 hours the weather was OK to make a short 40Nm mile dash to LíAigle where we arrived with a very stiff wind, snow and low cloud. No answer on the radio as usual, and caught sight of the airfield at the last minute despite accurate GPS info, had a mad scramble to get the flaps down before we had landed.
Once parked the clubhouse appeared manned, so we ambled in and sorted out fuel for YP. Was there any charge for the three weeks in the hangar?, yes but only if you wanted to make a donation (which we did). Mark and I transferred all the gear into YP, checked very carefully all over for hangar damage and a thorough pre flight including the mag bolts! The new light weight starter makes a great difference and we were soon flying past Rouen towards Headcorn. We routed up past LFAT just in case but everything was running so well we had no fears over the water, landing at EGKH after about 2 hours. A very quick turnround, as it was getting late and I didnít want to push my luck with the light, and 15 mins later I was passing Rochester on my way home. Thames Radar were very pleasant and I spent some time chatting to them as the transponder appeared to have packed up. Henlow at last, YP back in the hangar nearly nine months after leaving for France for a few days!
P.S. The radio & transponder were fixed, the annual completed and only a few weeks to go before we set off for France again. Where? Biarritz and Toulouse where else?
P.P.S. Biarritz is a great place to visit, Resort town with all the bars & clubs plus beaches etc. A cheap Ryanair flight can be as little as 25.00 one way or you can fly in yourself.
Last updated: 07-Oct-2005 09:06:45