Wales Mountain Flying - 2015
September - 2015
The third Phoenix Helicopters trip of the year, remaining in Great Britain this time but going across the country and into Wales for the annual Mountain Flying weekend. Accompanied by a great group of students and pilots, with weather to match, a fantastic time was had by all.
Having proven to be a highly successful trip last year, our numbers had increased for this year’s Mountain Flying weekend with 20 of us in total descending on Wales, split between seven aircraft (and one car). With one aircraft already at the destination the day before to get the accommodation and food ready, the remaining four R22s and two R44s departed West-bound from Blackbushe mid-morning on the Saturday. Our first leg took us to Cotswold Airport, otherwise known as Kemble, near to Cirencester. The airfield has a long history, starting life as an RAF station before being used by the USAF and is now a civilian airport for general & business aviation. It is also home to various old aircraft in the process of being dismantled, such as 747s, which made for some interesting photo opportunities.
Once the aircraft and pilots had been fully refuelled, we were all ready to depart on the second leg of the journey which would take us to our destination.
Our route now headed North West, passing Hereford and the Brecons out to our left and having passed overhead Shobdon aerodrome, near Ludlow, the hills of Wales began to emerge ahead of us. Crossing the border into Wales, the landing site was just outside of Newtown and was a large field attached to the accommodation that we were staying in and presented a great opportunity to experience landing at an off-airfield site for both the students and PPL holders.
After unloading bags from the aircraft and a very welcome lunch courtesy of John and Philly Sargent, who arrived the day before and became the resident chefs, the pilots once again assembled at the helicopters to make the most of the good weather to begin exploring the Welsh countryside. The loose formation of aircraft flew up to Lake Vyrnwy, where last year’s Wales trip had stayed, and then on to the edge of Snowdonia National Park.
That evening everyone enjoyed a BBQ and chance for everyone to get to know each other, with a nice mix of both Goodwood and Blackbushe students, past and present.
The second day started fairly early with a second programme of Mountain Flying, this time the aircraft split up into smaller groups with some heading as far North as Portmeirion – a unique village that was the location for The Prisoner TV series from the 1960s. After a bit of exploring and a chance to put our map reading skills to the test, we all regrouped back at the accommodation for another great lunch from John and Philly before setting off to Welshpool to refuel the aircraft.
From Welshpool it was back to Kemble for a quick break and a swap round of pilots before picking up the final leg (except for the Goodwood group) to get back into Blackbushe before the airfield closed for the evening, concluding a very busy but very enjoyable weekend.
A massive thanks to everyone involved, especially to the team that planned it, the instructors, the students, and to our friends who met the team there, and helped in so many ways, including cooking all the food! Everyone really enjoyed the trip; it was a fantastic experience not only for the flying, but also for the bonds that developed within the Phoenix team of students and instructors alike. We hope to see you all at the next Phoenix Fly-In, if anyone has any questions about how to get involved then give us a call, whether you’re in training, hour building or are an experienced pilot, we’d love to have you there!