Shortly after 2.30pm Maurice, Tracy and Douglas climbed aboard and 509 headed for Lasham, flying at 2000ft on route over Shipston, Wantage, Newbury Racecourse and then hanging a left into Lasham.
We landed at 3.25pm to be greeted by a camera/film crew! The camera/film crew had been given kind permission from Phil Connolly and also the Event Organisers to film our arrival as they were making a 20 minute extract of the famous Robert Mason book ‘Chickenhawk’ (Chickenhawk Book available from the Huey Website Shop). Huey was made accessible for the photo shoot as was Rob for a quick interview on how to fly a Huey.
Whilst the ‘stars’ of the show were busy, the remaining crew put up the tent and set everything up in advance for ATC Lasham Open Day in the morning. We finally secured the aircraft and set off for home leaving Huey to settle in for the night at Lasham.
When Rob woke up the next morning and looked out, it seemed the weather was not too bad but once on the road heading for Lasham it became quite clear we were in for a rather wet day. The Gates opened at 10am and despite the poor weather the crowds were pouring in. There were static displays to warm to the motor enthusiast, bike enthusiast and aviator as well as hanger tours of the big jets in for maintenance.
Due to the low cloud base and the poor weather in general the Air Ambulance arrived 3 hrs late. The Cloudbase possibly got as high as 200 ft and 'sucker's gaps' regularly appeared but then it clamped again just as people thought they might be able to do something. However, model aircraft carried out an almost uninterrupted flying show - it was certainly not interrupted by full sized aircraft. The programmed flying display was cancelled and the star of the show, the Vulcan Bomber, did not attend but this didn’t dampen the atmosphere of the event at all. The public were treated to a ground display from the fire fighters and from the only aircraft to get airborne which was the Bell 47 which had flown in from the other side of Lasham airfield!! Meanwhile 509 had a steady stream of Huey lover’s, helicopter enthusiasts and of course small budding future pilots keen to board the aircraft and check out the machine guns!
(It later transpired that even if the weather had been kind, the Vulcan would not have appeared for after start up at Yeovilton it only taxied a few feet before it was realised the brakes had failed).
As the day went on, everyone got wetter and wetter and the cloud base got lower and lower. It was decided not to fly Huey to Thruxton that evening but to tether the blades and leave her there for the night. Rob intended to return the following day when weather conditions were forecast to be a lot better to fly her to Thruxton. So 509 spent the night with the Bolkow 109 of the Hampshire Air Ambulance whose crew had also decided that the weather was too bad for their return to base.
Never was a decision to go a day early better justified in practice. During the day Huey was refuelled. She seemed to be parked on level ground but it must have been slightly sloped for after refuel the gauge read 1,300 lbs, a good 100 lbs more than is usually seen. Even after the trip to Thruxton, the gauge still read close to a normal refuel at Blackpool – Huey 509 really is a thirsty bird!
At the end of a fantastic day, Tracy and Douglas hopped onto a train back home after a great weekend, Huey 509 with Rob and Maurice jumped into another hire car (this was nearly not the case as one of the organisers, thinking they had arranged this car, tried to prise it off Rob for what the organiser saw as a greater need - to get a Blade’s Pilot back to Lincoln. Certain views were expressed and Rob retained the car.
Finally, we would like to thank the ATC Lasham Event Organisers for their kind hospitality and support to Huey and her Crew. All credit to them for a wonderful Open Day.