Updated: Dec 16, 2021

Was that Santa that just flew by? - Captain Braders on a past Christmas holiday flight

In this issue :

Shaw's Report - A Winter Whiteout: Captains Shore and Bladders have an adventure.

Club Night Report - Summary of a very interesting flexwing voyage in Kenya.

Christmas Club night - The promise of the Wheatie beckons.

Cheshire Flyers Club Awards – Winners announced (and previous winners described).

Achievements - Congratulations due.

Clearing the Fog (by 500 feet) - Ian Macbeth shares the magic of the mist.

Santa visits CF by Dave Moore whose perfect Christmas present will be a P2 seat anytime.

Late Downwind - for your Christmas list: Dave Creedy's excellent book on his flying to date.

Christmas reading - The Shepherd by Frederick Forsyth.

Best Christmas present ever - David Creedy treats his wife to his, no, 'their' new plane.

Cheshire Flyers Christmas Past - 'passed out' judging by sights in a lot of the photos I've seen.

The working pilot's Christmas - Mark Jealous

Langton's Ghost of Christmas Present - Daniel sees a Brocken spectre.

High Flight - Youtube link to John Magee's famous poem.

CAA wants to keep us safe - link to Safety Sense leaflet on use of moving maps.

The Brexit files - Tourers and would-be tourers take note. This is the official HMRC notice.

IMPORTANT! - Make a diary note of the 'official' Club tours (FAFs) for 2022 (at end of e-zine).


Shaw's story: Winter Whiteout - a word to the wise

I think it’s time for a story. All names & locations have been changed to protect the hapless.

The date - 15th December 2010. The place - a 400m undulating strip in Cheshire – let’s call it Acrid, the home airfield of Yan Shore, a dashing, stylish, highly intelligent, witty and capable club pilot with oddly spikey hair. Yan shared a Eurostar with his BFM (best flying mate) Don Sadbury. Don was a slightly overweight, highly experienced, flying instructor whom everyone looked up to; also affectionately known as Capt. Bladders.

In between the Eurostar’s use as a training aircraft, they would often nip off for a quick Bacon Butty (BB) somewhere local.

Wednesday 15th December was just such a day and, as they climbed out into a cloudless, windless, sky, they could not fail to admire the breath-taking beauty that the Cheshire countryside delivered beneath them.

The trip would take them on an anticlockwise circular route around the Manchester Airport zone, taking in the Dambuster training grounds of the picturesque Derwent Valley, into Barton Airfield for the obligatory BB and back home down the low level corridor to their home base for tea and medals. It was a short hop, done hundreds of times before, nothing special about it other than the rich, fanciful, banter of two flying soulmates.

Today however the faint mist on the ground looked particularly stunning, with the peaks of the hills emerging from the rapidly developing white fluffy valleys. As they approached the north east fringes of Oldham it was time to tune into Barton, a lively GA airfield, always full of traffic, both training and pleasure, but today was to be a bit different: nothing heard; the airfield as quiet as a mouse.

The white mist now enveloped the valley floors and, as the aircraft made its way towards the lower lying grounds of north Manchester, the usually clear navigational route of the M60 motorway had long since disappeared into white oblivion. “Oh dear”, they each silently thought…

“Barton Information, G-CDUT inbound at the Swinton Interchange, request join please” pronounced the authoritative voice of Capt. Bladders.

“I’m sorry G-UT” came back a pensive reply, “The airfield is closed due fog”.

“Errm, Roger, Standby” replied Capt. Bladders.

“Bollocks, what should we do now?” uttered Yan.

Capt. Bladder’s primary concern was his tiny bladder (hence the nickname) and with no loo in sight for miles, this was now a major problem.

Yan, on the other hand, being rubbish at time management, had only factored in 10 minutes for the entire 100-mile round trip (including BB); a major diversion was not an option; besides they didn’t have the fuel anyway.

Cockpit resource management was never our – I mean THEIR, strong point.

“Fuckety Fuck”, they both said in unison.

“Thanks for the information, G-UT will continue onto Acrid via the low level” said Capt. Bladders.

“Roger, G-UT, safe trip” came back the reply.

As the beleaguered crew approached the Manchester low level corridor, at 1100 feet they could have easily believed they were at 40,000 feet looking down on the white cloud layers below: just a sea of milky white fluffy stuff. They could have been anywhere, although the trusty Garmin 496 gave clues that they weren’t about to encroach on the forbidden Manchester zones.

With less than 45 minutes fuel left, in hindsight the sensible option might have been to dial in 121.50 and come clean – “London Centre, sorry we’ve screwed up, can you help us?”

However, the intrepid crew hatched a devilishly cunning plan, so cunning it could have easily have been used as an abject study into The World’s most ‘Cunning Plans’ by the Professor of Cunning at Oxford University.

“Right” said Capt. Bladders, “I’ll get my AFI (let’s call him Mike) Mike on the radio when we approach Acrid. Mike can take off in the school’s flexwing and tell us how low the cloud is; in the meantime, we’ll descend to the top of the cloud and work out how thick the layer is. I bet its only 200 feet or so. We can then set up a long GPS approach to Acrid and punch through – Easy!”

This cunning plan didn’t fill Yan with complete confidence; he’d already cheated death punching through many layers of clouds with no instruments on another continental trip; his luck might be about to run out.

As they rounded Winsford Flash, 129.825 was dialled. “G-UT to Acrid Ground, you on frequency Mike?”

Complete silence…

“Acrid Traffic, G-UT inbound, you on frequency Mike?” in a slightly more forceful tone.

Again – complete silence.

It appeared their cunning plan was about as much use as a chocolate fireguard!

THEY were now at Sundbitch, a nearby town just 2 miles to the west of Acrid, with 20 minutes fuel remaining and a sea of white beneath them. Options were indeed limited; about as limited as a man having no arms or legs with an itchy bum.

As they reached the overhead, the red low fuel light blinking away, Yan was contemplating to whom he could express his undying love in his last living moments. It shouldn’t have been Capt. Bladders, but hey – there wasn’t a phone signal and any port in a storm! Before he had chance to utter the immortal words ‘Dearest Capt. Bladders I loxx'… a massive hole appeared in the cloud over the airfield. Below them lay the greenest, most green, beautiful, mother earth airfield you have ever clapped your sorry eyes upon. Full flap, dirty dive and they were home, back on the ground and safe.

And so ends another daring ‘do – or die’ tale that they often recount over a packet of digestives and mug of coffee in the clubhouse or over a glass of Sauvignon on one of THEIR many club flyouts.

BUT – imagine if they didn’t have a GPS, or their radio was on the blink. It was only supposed to be a short local hop, in glorious conditions and they both knew the area intimately. What could go wrong?

Ian Shaw 😎


Club Night November 15th guest presentation

Many thanks are due to Hal Colliver and Rachel Green of v1 flight for the presentation that Hall gave on his adventures flying a flexwing in Kenya. We were all enthralled.

“OMG – total respect to Hal Colliver.”

Sharon Cox reviews the talk below, illustrated with photos kindly supplied by Hal.

I am literally stunned. Hal delivered his presentation in a fairly matter of fact way, explaining his many predicaments and describing his feelings along the epic flight that he did, while his audience listened intently without interruption. The enormity of some of the challenges was almost too much to take in. I have subsequently found myself ruminating on the several layers of context that I try to make sense of and the many questions that have arisen in my mind as a consequence.

Hal’s experience, in quick summary, comprised acceptance of an interesting, fun, paid assignment, to fly along the coast off Diani Beach, south of Mombasa, Kenya, looking for large marine mammals, whale sharks - papa shillingi; a dawning realisation that it wasn’t quite as first described before arriving, to the shock of reality at the destination, with the aircraft on offer simply not being airworthy. This then led to a couple of internal flights to pick up an alternative flexwing which looked to be in much better condition (until close examination) and an epic, scary, challenging flight back to the coast in the replacement aircraft; finishing with doing the job that was expected, coping with challenges there too and finally having to escape, or in Hal’s words, “Do a runner”, in order to be certain of making it home to England in relatively good health.

For me the presentation was a sobering reminder of the difficulties that can be encountered when trying to operate in Africa: the extremes of climate in Kenya causing rapid deterioration in airframes and sails if they are not well looked after; the lack of all sorts of infrastructure; poverty and exploitation of the population; lack of basic resources and access to spares and so on, that we back home in England take for granted. Added to this were human complexities of difficult personalities, corrupt and false behaviours, and a differing value system, to make life there really quite difficult and potentially dangerous.

The videos of the vastness of the landscape helped Hal to communicate his feelings about the flight across Kenya, the loneliness of the huge plains and the incredible dangers that would beset him if he had to put down in an isolated area likely to be full of game and no guarantee of a good landing. All the while he was flying in an aircraft that had required considerable work to get into sufficiently airworthy condition to contemplate the journey, but which he felt the need to check constantly while airborne, via the viewfinder of his camera pointed rearwards. Hal was frank about his fears.

Hal used the viewfinder of his camera to check the engine and airframe integrity while in the air. He had tried to wire any bits that might shake off in flight before taking off from the Ranch where he collected the flexwing. So not really a selfie.

Hal illustrated his talk with photos and video clips of stunning scenery; the timelapse runs ably communicating the extent of the unpopulated landscapes and difficult terrain as well as the challenges of bare earth runways. I am trying to erase the memory of the wriggling grub in one of the recesses of the engine block.

Significant power lines on approach to the dirt airstrip, from which Hal ran off into bushes, because there was a ground steering issue on the aircraft that, in his fatigue and need to focus on landing on the narrow strip, he forgot about. Hal had one full day to fix the aircraft after his runway excursion - at Rukinga Wildlife Sanctuary.

A relief to see some human settlement and aesthetically pleasing but few places to land in an emergency.

Spotting a whale shark so that the tourist boat can bring the swimmers to meet the animal.

The day job..... 'Sweet spot' for sightings - flying around 2,500 feet but to relieve the monotony, sometimes Hal flew at 20-30 feet above sea level. If the Tower at the local airport were 'having a bad day' Hal would fly under 1000 feet as his route crossed the Approach.

The office...

My ultimate conclusion from the talk though is that while Hal clearly took as many precautions to keep safe as he could, there were lots of situations where the outcome could have been less favourable. It reminded me that while we all bemoan ‘Health and Safety’ and other regulation at times, it keeps us safer than our contemporaries can expect to be when operating in large parts of the African continent. Hal was asked if with hindsight he would still have undertaken the job; he replied that he was glad he had gone through the experience.

Many thanks again go to Hal for sharing this experience with us all.

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Christmas Club Night - December 13th 🎄🎁

After months of isolation, the Flyers Committee has decided the time is ripe to organise an informal social gathering. All members, new, old and very old are invited to gather at the Wheatsheaf on Monday 13 December starting around 7.30pm for a drink and a chat.

Attendees are encouraged to self test on the day.

Annual awards will be awarded, banter will be bantered and we hope that this tentative first step back into face to face meetings will be the forerunner of many more events – social and flying – for 2022.

The Awards 🏆

The previous winners, if they are able to attend, will hand on the prestigious club awards to this year's worthy winners.

Ray Garnham Cup

The Cup is awarded annually to: "That member of the Cheshire Flyers Microlight Club who, in the opinion of the Committee, has shown the most enterprise, or made the greatest contribution to the sport, in relation to his or her capabilities".

The cup was donated by Ray Garnham’s wife in memory of her husband, a Cheshire Flyer, and his passion for flying microlights. Ray sadly lost his life in 1995 while flying his plane over Snowdonia/Caernarfon.

2021 – Ian Shaw for the Ray Garnham Cup for his unstinting dedication to the Club as Chairman since he was appointed some six years ago when he left the room during a committee meeting. In particular, he is receiving the award for keeping the Club together during the testing Covid times through application of his ‘Master of Ceremonies’ skills in the conduct of a very successful season of Zoom meetings. Presenters have become most eager to deliver talks to the Flyers mainly to hear their own comprehensive CVs that have been compiled mercilessly by Ian. Some say that Ian’s detailed and passionately delivered introductions surpass the quality of the talks, others just wish he would get on with it.

Noel Alms Memorial Trophy

The Noel Alms memorial trophy is awarded to ‘That member of the Cheshire Flyers Club who, in the opinion of the Committee, best fits the criteria of dogged determination, tenacity and triumph in the face of adversity’.

The propeller which forms the trophy was inscribed in memory of Noel Alms, a very active member of Cheshire Flyers who accomplished much and is remembered fondly by those who knew him. His family are very proud of his achievements.

2021 – Gordon Verity, Steve Dancaster and Steve Webb have been jointly awarded the Noel Alms Trophy for their close and effective liaison with Manchester ATC on Manchester low-level corridor safety issues, initiatives for reducing infringements and establishing safe, legal and workable procedures for Hawksview arrivals and departures. The rest of the Hawksview crews are indebted to the work of the recipients in raising the standard and safety of operations from the airfield to a new level and will enjoy seeing the Trophy being proudly displayed on the wall of the airfield clubhouse.

Senior Mug

Noel Alms received a tankard in 2002 as the oldest pilot to attend the IOW Rally. His family has asked that this inscribed award is made to the oldest pilot at any occasion of our committee’s choosing. We have called this award the ‘Senior Mug.’

2021 – Alan Shufflebotham (Shuff) has been awarded the Senior Mug. Since time began, Alan has been responsible for organising our excellent Christmas Parties and he has been the workhorse behind mobilising facilities for the annual GAFF (Great Arclid Fly in Funday). Although Alan has recently asked to step down from his committee position as Events Organiser, he kindly continues to store all the essential equipment needed for the GAFF. Next summer we hope to re-establish a similar event at Dairy House Farm when Alan will be cajoled to help out with transport logistics and let us use his marquee, table and chairs. We all know he will willingly assist but if he doesn’t, the award will have to come back.

Bent Stub Award

This not so prestigious trophy goes to the Club member who’s had the most spectacular, interesting, or secretive "bend" of the year.

This award is highly prized and, most years, our pilots compete wholeheartedly to find new ways of destroying their aircraft. The best prang, bend or other approach in seeking the Darwin award will be awarded this much sought-after trophy.

2021 – There have been no successful nominees for the Bent Stub.

There are various reasons for the lack of prangs – effective cover-ups, too little flying, improving skill levels, not trying hard enough.

The Committee received a self-nomination for the Bent Stub Award from Dave Creedy. The reason Dave gives can be summarised in this extract from an article he wrote on elderly flying:

“A momentary loss of concentration coupled with unnecessary haste can precipitate a senior moment on the ground. For example, having decided that the engine oil needed topping up. I quickly grabbed the first grey look-a-like oil container. The pink liquid didn’t look right. It was only a splash of antifreeze. Thankfully, ‘Hawksview Handling’ (Gordon and Steve) were soon on the scene to assist with a rapid oil change.”

It has been suggested this nomination should be ruled-out for two principal reasons. Self-nomination of an award would normally be considered conceited; in the case of the Bent Stub, which nobody wants to win, it is just bonkers! Also in this instance, an accident or bend was actually averted; albeit amazingly!

If the Noel Alms Tankard, affectionately christened the Senior Mug, wasn’t the genuinely prestigious award it is, it is suggested Dave would be a worthy contender!

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Cheshire Flyers Club Awards – History

The Cheshire Flyers Club has been awarding its trophies for some considerable years. The following sections list those Cheshire Flyers that have been awarded the various trophies.

Ray Garnham Cup - previous winners

2020 – Nigel and Sarah Musgrave For several years, Nigel and Sarah have kindly hosted a superb fly-in at their house on Anglesey. Their enthusiasm to do the same again this year was enhanced by many other events having being cancelled due to Covid. As soon as was legal and practical, Nigel sprang into action and prepared the adjacent field for our arrival, including a last-minute cutting and rolling of an extra runway due to potential cross winds. Lots of CF members flew in and transport was even laid on for those with heavier aircraft having to land at Mona. With the pizza oven fired up, the party took off. Nigel and Sarah’s ability and willingness to do all the catering, including breakfast the next day, is legendary. Nothing ever seems too much trouble; their hospitality and welcoming nature is appreciated by us all. It could be that the Cheshire Flyers were the only visitors from England welcomed to Wales in 2020. They are, without doubt, very worthy winners. 2019 – Daniel Langton Daniel was nominated for showing great enterprise as a relatively low-hours pilot in facing the challenges of landing at new airfields, overflying Snowdon and braving FISOs, MATZ and ATZs single-handedly in a two-stroke powered flexwing. Most club flyouts these days seem to be dominated by members with fixed-wing hot ships, but Daniel flies a quite basic Quantum 503 flexwing; this is the true spirit of microlighting, offering maximum fun and enjoyment. Without shame or embarrassment, Daniel will always consult those with more experience and is always grateful to receive help or guidance. Furthermore, his article published in MF was thrilling, entertaining, original and inspiring. His ‘can-do’ attitude will encourage other pilots to venture outside their comfort zones and develop their flying skills further. 2018 – Nick Buckley Microlights and light aircraft are becoming increasingly sophisticated, desirable and very expensive. Arguably, the major barrier to flying is affordability. Nick Buckley has been nominated and awarded for the Ray Garnham Cup for his enterprise in developing financial products that will significantly contribute to the sport by making aircraft ownership accessible to many more potential aviators. His business will boost the sales of used and new aircraft in the UK and help flying schools to update their aging fleets. 2017 – Gordon Verity for his creativity and persistence in contributing to the Manchester air space infringement group, and especially for pioneering his idea of a “Take 2” initiative. This initiative simply suggests you plan routes at least 2nm horizontally and 200 feet vertically away from controlled airspace. This idea has now been adopted and backed by the CAA, plus numerous aviation bodies including the BMAA & LAA. A ‘Take 2’ poster has been published and will be included in the