Flying a Tiger Moth in the depths of Winter can be a glorious experience on those calm, clear, sharp - but rare - days of anticyclonic high pressure. Sunday 8 January dawned as a beautifully calm, but sadly very foggy Winter’s day. Depending on whether one prefers the forecasts issued by RAF Brize Norton or Heathrow Airport, the weather was due improve to either ‘doable but illegal’ or ‘barely legal’; on the basis of Heathrow’s prediction of the latter, we left home at an unfeasibly early hour to set up the Finest Hour stand so pilot Bob Edmonds could fly anyone who so desired.
With the fog slow to lift, we waited until the Scramble had achieved a critical mass of attendees before revealing the presence of the Tiger, our plan being to disrupt the otherwise quiet morning with a couple of local hops. The best laid plans are only that and, unfortunately, the aeroplane suffered from a small but important fault that prevented us from flying. Nonetheless, we enjoyed welcoming an ever-increasing band of visitors to the stand, keeping us engaged throughout the event.
An early visitor was Bicester Heritage’s Tiggy Atkinson, who made a much more attractive photographic subject than the usual overweight middle-aged men (standard definition of ‘pilot’) who occupy the Tiger’s rear seat; it was a pleasure to introduce her to the detail of our ancient flying contraption and moderately amusing to witness her unbounded enthusiasm for its original 1940 morse signalling lamp! Equally satisfying was the impromptu visit from the local Air Training Corps Squadron, 2507 (Bicester) Sqn; it's always satisfying to introduce a new generation to our wonderful world of aviation - these youngsters displayed sound aviation knowledge and kept our Chief Pilot on his toes (literally!) with the odd challenging question!
Thanks to everyone else who visited, chatted and reminisced… we’ll be back at the next Sunday Scramble on 23 April, offering 20 minute trial flying lessons. Shortly after that, our fleet expansion will begin in earnest, so please check our Facebook page and Twitter feed for more details of that and our new competition to win a flight with Finest Hour Experiences!
Pictures by Ken Brannen