07 September, 2013

What! No Wings!

Twice this year I've been at the control of a craft with just a rudder & throttle for directional control. Firstly for a week on holiday and secondly on a day trip with some friends. No wings, no tail, no ailerons & no elevator - sounds like not a lot to do then?

Well the mode of transport was a narrowboat on both occasions and very enjoyable they were too. The week holiday was from Willington Marina in Derbyshire during which we had mixed but dry weather. Some days were calm & hot, others were cool and windy, the wind having more of an influence than might first be expected on a vessel weighing around 20 tons! Having my wife and daughter with me worked very well as it meant they could enjoy looking after the locks whilst I struggled with controlling the boat, hmm or was the other way around ;0)

We travelled along the Trent and Mersey Canal and visited Shugborough Hall then we turned back at a winding hole a little further along the canal. Turning around a narrowboat is fairly straightforward provided it's done slowly the technique being to get the bow into the V shape winding (turning) hole and then swinging the stern almost to the far side of the hole before reversing out back into the canal. Some straightening up after that is needed but that's pretty much it. The last day was really windy and steering in the crosswind was quite tricky but we coped okay. 

Having enjoyed that relaxing holiday earlier in the year I was pleased at the opportunity get on the canal again nearer home when a group of us hired a narrowboat for the day. It was a fantastic day, calm hot weather and a couple of other chaps on board to share the driving. How many miles did we cover? Not many, didn't want to, it was more about relaxing and enjoying the experience which we certainly did so the journey was just Middlewich to Lostock Gralam where we stopped and a fantastic picnic courtesy of our wives.

Guess what holiday we've got booked for next year. Now if I can find a nice bit of canal for my catalina...hmm :¬)

Avro Vulcan XH558 Over The Gate

Well I've been out soaring at "The Gate" again and just like last time found there was more than just models in the sky. This time the big bird was none other than XH558 and what a sight it was.

The weather on Saturday 31st August was quite breezy and gusty when I arrived about 2pm so that was pleasing! I wasn't out to do anything too adventurous, just get lots of flying in and practice landings so I chose to just take the SAS Fusion. I accepted the offer of a launch from Keith Rathbone for the first flight which passed without incident and I launched all the following flights myself; I'm not sure how many, 4 I think. Considering each flight lasted at least 20 minutes that's a fair bit of flying so the afternoon soon progressed.

Then about 1615 hrs there was was the unmistakable sight and sound of the vulcan flying  fairly close to us and east to west. Being high up in the peaks we were able to watch it disappearing into the distance for some time, in the general direction of North Wales. It was then that I remembered two things, Rhyl airshow was on the same day and my camera was in my car parked a short distance down the road.

There was some discussion as to whether or not it was likely to come back our way but no-one really knew and we carried on flying. By this time the wind had dropped a little but the lift had improved significantly. The air was smooth and I was able to take the Fusion up as high as was visibly safe. Whilst engaged in this activity some other flyers arrived with chevron wings to engage in some combat with each other. I accidentally scored a hit on one of them, well it might have been an accident :o) and that made me a target , great fun.

Well what a good day it had been, lots of great model flying and seeing the Vulcan fly past. The only thing could improve the day would be to see it again with my camera at the ready but it was time to pack up. 

So at the back of the car with everything packed away in the boot I looked longingly in the general direction of North Wales and there in the distance was a plume of grey smoke, growing longer and longer. I wasn't going to miss it this time! I'd got a number of lenses with me including a 300mm maximum zoom job (that's equivelant to 600mm for a 35mm SLR) but I went for 40-150mm zoom as that would be easier to hand hold in the breeze. Having grabbed the camera I looked again, it was coming almost straight for us. Fantastic. Did I get the photos I wanted? No, never satisfied some people! I did get some not too bad ones though.