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Wales Mountain Flying - 2014

August - 2014

The Phoenix helicopter convoy at it again… this time it was for a mountain flying, overnight stay trip to Wales. The venue of choice was absolutely stunning and the weather gods were on side! Thanks to everyone who came.

The crew of twelve including four instructors, two operations staff and six pilots all met at Blackbushe around midday for the pre-flight briefing. The briefing involved all route information as well as some tips on flying around the mountainous landscape. After a round of tea and coffee it was time to head to the pads to A-check the aircraft.

Four R22’s and one R44 all departing in convoy was not something you see every day and was a sight to see both from the skies and from the ground. The route involved passing through or close to lots of different airports and airspaces. Although all radio communications were the job of the lead aircraft, the cross country flight was great experience for all involved, how often do you navigate that far in one flight and speak to that many ATC services?

With the wind against the fleet of five helicopters, a fuel stop and break was well needed. Shobdon seemed to be the most logical place when planning and proved to be a good choice. After almost emptying the airfield of avgas and a quick toilet break the convoy was back in the air heading directly to the hotel.

After just 30 odd miles routing North West from Shobdon, the fleet had the beautiful lakeside hotel heli-pad in sight with its incredible mountainous surroundings. The landing site from the air appeared tight and with a slightly downwind approach it looked to be a very challenging site. However after a dummy run and orbit from company boss Paul Andrews it was clear to see there was plenty of space for all five aircraft on the grass heli pad.

With only a few hours of sunlight left the crew put the aircraft to bed for the night and headed into the hotel. The hotel had a beautiful restaurant with some good food and an equally impressive view overlooking the lake. After dinner the group moved into the bar and enjoyed a few drinks and a winner stays on doubles pool championship. The time flew by and after a few hours playing it was inconclusive who the winning pair was although I think Toby and Tom would disagree.

A good night’s sleep in the hotel room and a traditional “Welsh Breakfast” in the morning set everyone up for a fantastic day’s mountain flying. Each aircraft took a slightly different heading into the mountainous welsh country side but after exploring individually the fleet met at what looked like the highest peak in the series of local valleys and hills. The peak proved to be a challenging landing sight but a rewarding one with an incredible view. The crew enjoyed a quick break at the peak with its breath taking views, many taking the opportunity for some epic landscape photography shots and the odd mountain selfie.

The exploring by air then continued in a loose convoy formation around the hills and valleys. The fleet took a quick break at the surprisingly busy Welshpool airfield, also known as mid wales airport, before heading back to the hotel for a spot of lunch.

The trip was great fun not just for the exciting flying but also for the great comradery with everyone who came along. Everyone who came as well as any interested students are welcome to collect a DVD, which will have a montage of the photographs and video footage taken along the trip, from either Blackbushe or Goodwood. The DVD is available to all students on request. Hope to see you all on the next Phoenix Fly In and thanks for all of those who came.