Visibility and Dampness - Cycling Aviator

13th Nov 2016

Another week of mixed disciplines, evening sessions on the turbo and a decent distance social ride on Sunday, with a quick flight up to Duxford in between.

Two things I tend to avoid, firstly flying in bad visibility as it’s just stressful aviating not being able to see where you are going. Legally under the Visual Flight Rules I operate within the lower limit is 3km, that’s way lower than my personal limit. Secondly I don’t enjoy cycling in the rain that much. Not so much for the getting wet, although that is as good a reason as any, it’s the treacherous road conditions beneath the tyres, especially in the colder months. It’s safe to say I failed miserably to avoid either conditions this week.

The flight up to Duxford was to meet my lovely wife, Emma, who, being a teacher, was taking the year six students for a school visit and it seemed like a great opportunity to meet for lunch. Usually one of the great things of winter flying is the smooth air and very clear visibility, today was not one of those days.  The weather was a very misty early on in the day but slowly clearing. I gave it longer to clear than I'd planned as I took too much out of the battery starting to plane the first time and when it shut down, due to me not turning the bloody fuel tap on as I was just warming the engine. She then wouldn't turn over quick enough to fire so I needed to wait half hour with the battery on charge. The flight up was lovely and smooth and with the sun behind me the viz was fine. Passing one the other pilots from Stow doing the reverse journey with his newly acquired WW1 replica biplane, Duxford came into view in distance. I make no apology, but I am very fond of Duxford, it was there at an airshow that my dad and I spoke about how cool it would be to fly in there, it was also the first place I visited as qualified pilot, sadly without my late dad. It never gets old joining the circuit at this historic airfield and landing where many courageous airman have touched down in far more difficult times.

My lunch date had a flaw in it's plan however. Sharing it with fifty 11 year olds.

I also witnessed the slightly scary person that is Emma armed with a whistle and school teacher attitude! Which was the point where I headed back to the apron to ready for the flight back before the mist dropped back in. The flight back could be used as exhibit A as to why I avoid those conditions.

My second foray into unfavourable conditions was Sunday when I ventures out for another group ride in beautiful blue skies but very moist conditions under the wheels. It still takes a little extra care when the roads are wet this time of year with the added fallen foliage on the ground but it was a very pleasant 50 mile trip out to the Bakehouse in Highwood, nr Chelmsford, with five other guys. We had no mishaps or problems on the way out to the mid ride fuel stop, in my case an epic bacon baguette, and it seemed that the leader's bar mounted camera, there to capture any issues that would benefit from video evidence, be it insurance or Facebook, would be unnecessary. It did capture an event on the way back home, it recorded the ironic footage of it falling off and travelling sans bike for a few meters.  

The official ride was 36 mile but as I'd ridden to and from the start point in Hullbridge today's total was just over 50, although I had to take a couple of slight detours to nudge the distance to the half century.

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