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255. 21 June 2016. Nearly There.

23/06/2016

Our inspection of the airstrip had shown that there was still a good deal of work to do. The access road was impassable, the hangar was a tent with no sides and the entrance was too low, and the strip itself was too rough, and had several large ditches across it.

Monday being a Bank Holiday, it was unlikely that much would happen and so we perforce took the day off, lounging in the Ilio Mare holiday complex.

Tuesday was altogether a different story. There was scheduled to be a press conference at 1100, so after breakfast we put out all our display material in the bar, and the press conference went ahead. Inevitably there was a good deal of proselytising by the local dignitaries which was all Greek to us!

Giving a print of the Ivan Berryman painting to the Mayor of Thassos whose idea it was to arrange this whole trip, apparently!

Giving a print of the Ivan Berryman painting to the Mayor of Thassos whose idea it was to arrange this whole trip, apparently!

Theo and I both got our chance to speak, and had to do so in short phrases which could be translated on the fly.

We had to speak in very short phrases to allow translation.

We had to speak in very short phrases to allow translation.

The output can be seen hereherehere and here. Google failed to translate it for me, so I hope you have better luck.

Panos Georgiadis, Kavala Air Sea show organiser, and Paschalis Palavouzis, amazing local historian and our first point of contact. These are the guys who ACTUALLY made it all happen!

Panos Georgiadis, Kavala Air Sea show organiser, and Paschalis Palavouzis, amazing local historian and our first point of contact. These are the guys who ACTUALLY made it all happen!

All dressed up and nowhere to go. Noel and Theo Willford, Sue and David Bremner, known locally as the BS Team.

All dressed up and nowhere to go. Noel and Theo Willford, Sue and David Bremner, known locally as the BS Team.

But in the background we could see people heading off to the strip, and it definitely appeared that things were starting to happen.

At 1700, when the thermometer had retreated slightly from its maximum of 39° we hitched up the trailer and towed it to the field on the – by now excellent – access road.

Final rigging details being checked.

Final rigging details being checked.

The front of the tent had been lifted and sides had been promised, so we opened the trailer and began the process of rigging. We are definitely getting slicker – it was done well within our normal two hours – and we carried out the inspections and signed up the paperwork and logbook.

By now, George, owner of the amphibian trike that is based here, had brought 50lt of fuel and a windsock, so we fuelled up and decided to see if she would start.

She was surprisingly unwilling to go, for reasons we haven’t established, but eventually when we swapped places and I tried, she went fine and the rpm were as good as we’ve ever seen. Meanwhile George had rolled out his amphibian and was whizzing round above us.

Running the engine

Running the engine

So would we fly as well? I took a ride down the strip to see how much it had been improved by the use of the grader and while it was still far from perfect, I decided it was just about acceptable, and we rolled her out to the takeoff point. By now we were running out of daylight, and when she wouldn’t start and a reprime became necessary, it was all getting too late, so we rolled her back to the hangar and tried it for size.

We had many hands to help with this and that was just as well. The opening in the front of the tent was barely wide enough. We found it was possible to squeeze 1264 inside with both wingtips touching the uprights.

And no sooner had we negotiated this hazard than another raised its head.

The tent has four vertical poles in the front entrance, the two middle ones having to be removed to get the aircraft inside. But this causes the top horizontal member to sag in the middle, and a little bracket just contacted the centre section. But with lots of help we got her inside, and once there she was fine.

They’d tried to arrange covers for the sides, but they didn’t fit, so we parked the trailer alongside to act as a windbreak and finally retreated, exhausted, to the bar.

2016-06-21 Hangar

Tucked up in bed. Primitive, but with the trailer parked on the windward side where the camera is, just about okay.

It had been a very busy day, and while we hadn’t flown, we had moved a good deal further ahead, and we are now ready to fly as soon as the conditions permit. The airstrip needs some more work, and we’ll need to look at ways to make the hangar a bit more practical.

But Friday is THE BIG DAY, and it’s still perfectly possible to be ready for that.

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