The Grey Lady liberates The Red Sparrow (certificate 37 and a half)

On Sunday 2nd of August 2009 a daring mission was launched. Mid morning two brave and hardy young pilots donned there flying suits and climbed aboard their trusty tube and dacron warbird,  “The Grey Lady”. (G-STRG)

"The Grey Lady"

"The Grey Lady"

Their mission was simple, but audacious. They were to enter enemy skies, locate an airfield, land, liberate “The Red Sparrow” (G-CBLX) and return safely to England.

At about 1030hrs The Grey Lady, fully fueled,  rumbled (much like a Vulcan bomber doesn’t) down the runway and ambled lazily into the sky.

As the controllers in the tower watched the aircraft dissapear from view, armed only with a map, a pen and some sweaty sandwiches from Tesco the valiant crew set a course to the West. Soon they would be leaving the skies of  England and crossing into the Welsh skies, where even small farm strips are protected by Main Battle Tanks and bazookas.

An hour later, as clouds gathered in the Welsh skies, the faint distant roar of The Grey Ladies HKS engine (and the slightly less faint rumble of the crews stomachs) could be heard approaching but (shock horror!) no-one was listening. 

At 1130 The Grey Lady in stealth mode suddenly appeared over the hills and swooped down onto the ground at Kemeys Commander airstrip.  The crew rapidly disembarked, lterally pouring out of the flappy bungy cord secured doors onto Welsh soil.  Totally surprising the enemy forces (they were having a natter by the hangar) our brave English boys rapidly set about liberating “The Red Sparrow” from the confines of the barn it was being held in.

The operation was alas hampered by the embibing of a bottle of drink and the tesco sandwiches, but time was regained thanks to some aiding and abetting by friendly local resistance pilots.

In no time at all The Grey Lady and Red Sparrow were out in the open making a run for it, despite the tough going (freshly moan, flat, quality grass) they successfully made a break to the far side of the open field.  Ever mindful that the alrm could be raised any moment and a Soviet Main Battle Tank could round the corner of the hangars the bold English pilots frantically made last minute checks and finally…… just in the nick of time…..applied full power to their engines and roared down the runway…. lift off ! Climbing into the sky banking left to avoid any possible tank shells being launched by the airfield (and tank owner) Alasdair (only joking!)  the brave formation of English aircraft headed back East seeking the safety of crossing the Severn estuary into friendly skies and the green and pleasant lands of England.

(cue stirring patriotic music, run titles ……..)

you have been watching…

Wing Commander “Blue Light” Jones

Flight Rightenant “This Way Up” Parker

Funded by the British Board of Bullshit Blogging

Ok, enough of the drama….

I’ve made the decision to move out of Kemeys Commander and “Red Sparrow” is now based at Kemble in Woodside Hangar Number 1 – the Kemble Flying Club (Pegasus Flight Training) Hangar.

I trained at Kemble with Kemble Flying Club on G-BYFF Quantum 912 and so it’s like coming home, only this time bringing my own aircraft with me.

A big thanks to Neil Jones who kindly flew me from Kemble over to Kemeys Commander in G-STRG (“G String”) aka “The Grey Lady” an AX3 last Sunday so I could collect “Red Sparrow” G-CBLX without the hassle of trains/lifts etc by road to retrieve cars etc. 

The flight was nice, I hadn’t been in an AX3 before and enjoyed Neil’s company and good piloting. It was a lovely sunny day to start but cloud was bubbling up and there was some headwinf to fight on the way over to Wales, however things cleared up revealing more blue sky.

It was a shame to leave the Kemeys Commander crowd, they’re a nice bunch whom I’d only really just started to get to know, but in the end the hangarage there wasn’t working for me and the Kemble opportunity was a no brainer.

So, after an hour or so moving planes in and out and checking CBLX over, the Grey Lady and the Red Sparrow taxied and departed off 31 into the blue sky and turned East toward England.


Kemble from aboveWe flew in loose formation all the way back, a bit bumpier than before as the thermals had started and about an hour later we joined Kembles circuit.



It was good hearing the familiar voices on “Kemble Information” and ending as I vacated runway 26 hearing  “Golf- Lima Xray, taxi to woodside, welcome to your new home” from the FISO.

The Control Tower at Kemble Airport

The Control Tower at Kemble Airport

The afternoon was spent helping to do some tidying and cleaning in the hangar and putting CBLX into her new parking spot.  I also had a nice catch up chat with Mike Oakley over a coffee on AV8 terrace watching the never ending air show of mixed traffic that Kemble enjoys.

Very nice to be back with the old faces and characters. Very nice to get such rapid responses to the appeal for a ferry flight. Very nice to be home.

I think Kemble Flying Club with it’s decent new hangar and office at Woodside, (now with toilet!) coupled with Kembles top notch facilities of FISO, RFFS, Av8 Bar&Bistro etc is well set for a potentially bright future as a great place to train and a great club to be part of. I look forward to enjoying the hangar banter, watching the activity, being a total propellorhead and enjoying some good days out flying.

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"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward,
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