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The Great Pub Crawl - May 2016

The Fighting Cocks & Knoll House Hotel

A Phoenix Helicopter convoy of 4 Robinson helicopters took to the skies on the world’s best alcohol free pub crawl.

The initial trip planned was an ambitious helicopter convoy over the channel to France, tracking the European coastline to Northern Belgium. However after weeks of planning, early on Saturday morning, the decision was made to cancel the trip as the Aerodrome forecasts on the continent showed fog, low cloud, heavy rain and thunderstorms.

In the space of an hour or so, a more localised ‘Plan B’ was formulated. We named this trip, The Phoenix Pub Crawl! The trip included landing at two excellent private locations in some of the most scenic areas of the south of England.

At around 11:00, Blackbushe sent their R44 four seater aircraft and an R22 two seater down to the Goodwood branch. Everyone then headed over to the beautiful Goodwood aerodrome café for a pre-flight bacon roll! With the crew now fuelled and ready to go, the pilots then headed into the Goodwood classroom for a state of the art pre-flight briefing. With the help of Google Earth and the Met office, everyone was clued up on the routing and excited to get going! If the thought of a helicopter pub crawl didn’t get everyone smiling, the laminated OS map/ Google Earth goody bag information packs did!

Three R22’s and one R44 wasn’t the largest Phoenix formation to request rotor start at Goodwood, but it was still quite the sight on the apron. After departing Goodwood the formation battled the poor horizontal visibility, heading initially to the west down to Portsmouth before coasting out over the Solent. Once the formation had reached the Isle of Wight shore, the hunt was on for The Fighting Cocks Pub! Formation leader G-OAVA and its crew were the first to descend onto the beautifully prepared Pub landing area.

After a few soft drinks and some Pub garden banter, the formation were off yet again. This time en route to Knoll House Hotel near Studlands. The routing took the crew along the stunning Isle of Wight southern coastline before transiting Bournemouth International Airports airspace along the gorgeous golden beaches.

After passing Sandbanks, it was just a few moments before the picturesque hotel of Knoll House was in sight. “Black Phoenix Formation, visual with private site, letting down”

After a few drinks, some excellent food and a paddle in the sea, the group headed off home. After passing Bournemouth the formation split into two and proceeded to their home bases. Thanks to all the students that still came out for some formation fun and thanks to the staff at The Fighting Cocks & Knoll House.