“We’re all here at the airfield,” a fellow pilot texted. Sure they were. Having another cuppa no doubt. What else do pilots do? Even though the rain was pelting down and the wind gusts weren’t only showing on every weather app, they were listed on the TAFs. Navigating the road, or rather mud track, to the field has become hazardous to the health of any vehicle, and the runway, although not closed, is muddy, rutted and slippery. All in all, not a time to revel in the joys of flying. To be sure, though, if there were a break in the weather, theses guys would be up in a flash.
This has been a particularly wet and windy winter. The only pilot I know who says his hours aren’t down from last year flies from a hard runway further north. All around the country airfields are closed and have been for some time. Perhaps it’s easier than going there, hoping to fly, and leaving discouraged. I know for myself, the joys of a hard runway have never been as sharply evident. What is better – being able to fly all year long, or having the late summer evenings to fly until sunset?
I remember a friend arranging a birthday trial flight for her husband. It was to be at the start of October, and she was very worried because it wasn’t ‘in the season’. “Nonsense!”, scoffed the CFI. “There isn’t a season and winter flying is the best there is.” So true, when bouncing in the summer thermals gives way to those smooth-as-silk days of flying, perhaps in crisp winter sunshine, you would wish winter to go on forever. Unless it’s this sort of winter, with wild winds lashing rain across already sodden fields.
Tennis players just go indoors for the winter. Other sports simply have a summer season. I know I am not the only pilot champing at the bit for a decent window of flying weather, especially having missed a couple of the spectacular days we have had. I use it as a time to catch up on London’s art exhibitions, which fall by the wayside when the days are great for flying.
A GASCo Safety evening this week reminded me how much there is I could be doing to brush up on my textbook knowledge of flying. I look around our hangar and think, this is when we should be clearing and sorting. It’s always the problem though, isn’t it? When it’s hot and sunny, you want to be up there flying, and when it’s not, sorting out the hangar is not particularly inviting.
So what do you do when the weather doesn’t allow for flying time? Do you think we should just shut up shop and start the season in spring and then tie-down from October? Do you use it as a time for polishing your radio technique and your air law?
I will be heading off to another art exhibition, secure in the knowledge that the weather won’t affect any of them. I would be happy to advise on what’s worth a visit. Just click this link for the best of the London art scene.
And if you want to know why we are in a weekly cycle of storms every weekend, the Met Office has the answer. Here’s to some better flying weather – one day soon!