Sunday, 12 September 2010

Barton (City Airport, Manchester) Fly-in

I learned to fly at Barton back in 1978. For decades before that, and for decades afterwards until it was purchased from Manchester City Council by Peel Holdings some years ago, it was the playground of Lancashire Aero Club (LAC). LAC moved out some time after our Chipmunk G-BCSL was relocated from there to Liverpool John Lennon, but it is always good to go back to the place that was for generations the home of grass roots aviation in the north west.

Mal, the wife of friend of mine, Mike Hyslop, is mad about flying and I'd agreed to take her in the Chipmunk to the fly-in. Mike and Mal picked me up this morning and we drove to John Lennon, where Mal and I strapped into the Chippy and Mike set of by road for Barton.

Mal in the Chippy rear cockpit, at Liverpool John Lennon

Mike Hyslop, who took the pictures (except this one, of course)

I strap Mal into the rear seat

Mal ready for the off!

....But not until I'm strapped in!

We got airborne off 27 and I persuaded the Liverpool controller to give us a routing to exit the zone at Burtonwood. Once out of the zone we had a look at LAC's new home at Kenyon Hall Farm strip. The low cloud base precluded any aerobatics but we did do some 'spirited maneuvering'. Barton was busy as expected, but we joined overhead as number one, rolled off the height with a near-wings-vertical slip, turned downwind, and did a wheel landing on 27R in the strong north west wind, holding the tail up almost until we stopped.

Taxying in at Barton

Once we got 'ground side' at Barton after booking in at a table set up by the air parking for that reason Mal and I wandered through the crowds past trade stands and stands belonging to flying organisations. The Western Windsock area had been given over to parking to accommodate the vast numbers of visitors to the event.

Eventually we arrived at the Tower and climbed to the first floor level balcony for a view of the arrivals. Here we met Graham Robertshaw and his friend Duncan McKellar who was ex-RAF and knew the Chippy from his service days. Eventually, Mike arrived and we decided it was lunch time and headed to join the considerable queue at the club house.

After lunch we wandered around to the Chipmunk as Graham and Duncan hadn't yet seen it. Duncan was particularly interested, and spent some time in the front cockpit reminiscing about his service days!

I'd expected to be flying Mike back to Liverpool while Mal drove there, but Mal is the keener flyer so she took the rear cockpit again for the return flight.

With Duncan, before departing Barton (Picture by Graham Robertshaw)

Taxying for take off at Barton

Off back to Liverpool, with a barrel roll on the way!

There was quite a queue for take off at Barton, and it was some time before we were away on 27R. I climbed into a visual circuit and once downwind requested a 'touch and go'. The AFIS chap on the radio demurred at first as they were not supposed to be allowed on a busy day like today, but we seemed to have hit a quiet moment so he relented and I continued around to a short final for a 'wheeler' touch and go, which earned considearble praise from Duncan, apparently!

Once clear of the Barton circuit I turned to the north to climb to 2,500 feet (about the limit, due to the prevailing cloud base) for a barrel roll. I was determined that Mal should be turned upside down at least once in her sampling of our lovely aeroplane!

Liverpool Approach cleared us into the Liverpool Zone via Burtonwood, and we soon got a direct routing to 'Jags' (a visual holding point at the Jaguar factory, north of the airfield). I reported I had the field in sight and we were transferred to Liverpool Tower who cleared us direct to right base for runway 27, soon improved to 'report on final'.

So, we'd got out of Liverpool this morning, and back in this afternoon, with no delay. That doesn't happen very often! A super 3-point landing on 27 (wish they were all that good) in front of a waiting Boeing at the 27 hold had us back on the GA apron, where Malcolm from Keen Air waved us right into the hangar!

By the time I'd wiped the oil off SL and completed the post-flight paperwork, Mike had arrived by road. A final 'aviation' touch to the day was as we drove home along the M56 we got a great view of the Emirates A380 Super Jumbo heading north just after it had taken off from Manchester.

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