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263. Dunnit!

02/07/2016

It’s been an exhausting and roller coaster ride, this last couple of weeks.

The weather interfered profoundly with the Thassos trip, and left us a little frustrated that more wasn’t achieved, but delighted that so much was.

Yesterday saw myself and Theo plunged into gloom as the weather interfered with the planned flypast at the official Somme 100 commemoration at Thiepval, and by this evening were were back on a high, having achieved all our ambitions for the trip to France.

We’d identified today as the best possible day to get flying as the wind was perfectly aligned with the runway at Albert. We’d looked at alternative locations, but rejected them for various reasons. But this morning’s forecast predicted lots of showers and gusty conditions all day.

Nevertheless we went to Albert aerodrome at 0845 to find the place all locked up. As we waited, a small car arrived, bearing my french cousin Claude Michenau, who’d traveled 7 hours to see us and stayed overnight. With his assistance we managed to find a friendly staff member who let us in to the field, and between the showers we took 11264 outside and ran the engine with cousin Claude (who is an experienced pilot) sitting in the cockpit with a huge grin on his face.

Then the pilots of the other two aircraft turned up and started work on their aircraft; work which ended in both being grounded, although they did manage to run the engine of the Albatros, which kept cousin Claude happy too!

Then big showers came through, and we spent time chatting to them and looking out of the hangar doors watching the clouds chase past and the occasional downpours. We reassessed the weather and decided to stick it out, since there was nothing else to do, and things might improve in the afternoon.

Morgan-Jeffery Hugon turned up on his day off, and showed us round the three Dassault Flamant aircraft he’s maintaining.

Marcel Dassault MD 311 Flamant

ILA Berlin 2010

Morgan-Jeffery Hugon showing us round the Flamant in the hangar

Morgan-Jeffery Hugon showing us round the Flamant in the hangar

Our friendly staff member showed us the grass strip which was occupied by the gliding club, and it seemed eminently suitable, and indeed the glider people offered us the use of some of their hangar space in case of further showers. But the better bet seemed to be to wait until 1800 when the aerodrome officially closed, and the showers and thermal would be likely to have finished.

More waiting.

The staff member, whose name I never got, invited us to their canteen for coffee and we watched the end of the first leg of the Tour de France on the television.

More waiting, watching the gliders circling overhead in the afternoon thermals.

Finally we rolled 1264 out of the hangar and hitched her up to the electric tractor manned by Morgan-Jeffery who towed 1264 up to the grass strip which was by now uninhabited. the wind was down to around 10kt, straight down the strip. The cameras were all attached and the camera crews positioned down the strip.

Theo primed the engine, I strapped in, and at 1909 she started first pull and I lifted off. All seemed well, and I headed off to the Thiepval memorial, clearly visible only a few miles away on the skyline. The lowering sun was magnificent and the memorial truly spectacular. I went around it two or three times, hoping the cameras were doing their stuff.

Thiepval memorial, viewed from a Bristol Scout. Other Bristol Scouts would have been flying over the area 100 years before, assessing the German positions.

Thiepval memorial, viewed from a Bristol Scout. Other Bristol Scouts would have been flying over the area 100 years before, assessing the German positions.

Then I headed on to the Newfoundland memorial, close to where David Bremner fell, and looked at his picture in the cockpit and thought of him as we circled around. Then is was back to the aerodrome and a few beat-ups and manoeuvres before landing after about half an hour. It was a huge relief to have achieved this much, and one of my most enjoyable flights.

The film crew wanted another circuit which I did, and then Theo got into the hot seat and completed another ten minute flight which left him as exultant as me.

We towed 1264 back to the hangar and retired to the Buffalo Grill for a celebratory meal, knowing that we’d finally achieved success in our mission. Amazing!

The team celebrates. Cameraman Adam, soundman Callum, Cameraman Elliott, director Stephen, pilot David, pilot Theo, crew member Noel, pompier Claude.

The team celebrates. Cameraman Adam, soundman Callum, Cameraman Elliott, director Stephen, pilot David, pilot Theo, crew member Noel, pompier Claude.

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6 Comments
  1. Gaye Saxon permalink

    I am totally thrilled for all of you especially since I visited all those places you mentioned with my dad who I know is grinning from ear to ear in heaven. What a trip you’ve had! with love and congratulations from us all here in the USA xoxoxo

  2. Ross Atkinson permalink

    So excited for you. After a week of certain disappointments, this must have been a wonderful feeling to get up and fly over France. Congratulations from The Land Downunder.

  3. Hi Bristolscout team,

    I just discover your article who narrate your history in Albert in last July, I’m so happy you achieve your goal and I’m so excited I was able to participate at this, my congratulations!!! I wish you a good continuation for the future!!! Please inform me when you finish the film, I just see the trailer 2 😉
    Kindly & Friendly from Albert-Picardie Airport

    Morgan-Jeffrey Hugon

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