( Editors Notes – As you can see from the photograph below, our Huey Crew had an unusual encounter whilst looking after the Loach static display at the Children in Need, CARFEST North Festival 2014. To find out how the rest of the weekend went, read Crewmaster Simon Johnson’s Newsletter. )
“May the force be with You!!” –
By Crewmaster Simon Johnson - August 2014
CarFest was the idea of Radio 2 presenter, Chris Evans who wanted a family orientated event to raise money for the BBC Charity Children In Need. The aim being to provide everything needed to entertain the family including powerful exotic cars, children's activities, food, arena events and pop concerts. All this is scheduled over an exciting two and a half day event at Car Fest North which compliments a similar arrangement at CarFest South so that the whole country can get involved.
Earlier in the year we were delighted to be invited to attend CarFest North at Oulton Park with Huey 509 and Loach 011. The organisers wanted 509 to display and the Loach to be static. It was agreed that we would take the motorhome with us to provide accommodation for the team.
We were asked if the Loach could fly in early on the Tuesday before the event got under way. There were concerns for the safety of the display stands setting up near to our allocated spot because of the down draught from the blades. It was agreed that I would take the motorhome down first thing and make contact with the organisers on the ground, check out the landing site and make sure the area was sterile for the landing. I was joined by members of the set up crew and the safety officer to make sure everything was safe for Phil's arrival.
Phil's landing time was 0830 and he gave me a call at 0750 to say he was lifting from base, this meant he would be landing bang on time. I monitored the ground radio and heard Blackpool approach taking to Loach 011. At 0825 Phil called me on the radio to say he was just leaving the low level corridor that allows aircraft to transit between the airspace of Manchester and Liverpool airports. I heard a familiar buzz approaching from beyond the trees on the north and east of the site. A few moments later the Loach appeared. Phil did one circuit to recce the site and to spot me and from there on in he made his approach and followed my directions to the ground.
Engine cooled and blades static we set about fitting the wheels so we could reposition the aircraft to where we wanted it to be, and then sort out locating the motorhome. We were in the very fortunate position of having loads of time to set things up, a luxury we don't normally have. First off we moved the motor home and levelled it up as it was going to be home for the next six days. Then came the awning, followed not so swiftly by a 9x9 tent which we were setting up behind to allow for Rob (Huey pilot) and Dick (Loach pilot) to have their own accommodation. It was a good job the weather was good and we had plenty of time, because oh boy did we need time!! Puzzle solved, it was time for lunch.
The afternoon’s activities proved entertaining as we had decided we would cover the camp with camo nets. With the use of fencing and various cords and bungee straps we managed to cover the motorhome and tent and latterly the trailer to hide it away. LZ Oulton Park was complete. Jo came down that night to deliver the trailer as we had taken the Smart car behind the motor home to give us transport if we needed it.
For the next few days the CarFest site took shape all around and more and more people arrived. What had been open ground in front of our pitch was covered by various stands and arenas to house the other attractions.
Whilst all this activity took place several recces were made to get the layout of the site in our minds and to find the vital facilities to make life comfortable. We had many visitors in the set up days to take a look at the Loach and have a chat. We had also been able to visit the other displays during the lead up to the events.
Two gentlemen arrived on a very smart Suzuki Quad bike to take a closer look. I started to chat to them when they said that they had a Bell 47 up in the arena which was part of their stunt routine. Listening to their accents it was obvious that they were from Australia. David Russell was the stunt motorcyclist and Gus was his technical assistant. Their details can be seen via the following link
After a long talk I went with them to have a look at their helicopter. Still very recognisable as a 47 it had been modified for their needs. The original engine had been removed and replaced with an engine that looked very familiar to me, a 289 Ford V8 fitted to Ford Mustangs in the 60's but was out of a Falcon.
During the following days I visited them to see how they were getting on and in the evening they come down for a natter and a brew. Much to my surprise neither of them drank (alcohol). Australians that don't drink?!!
Thursday evening saw the arrival of Jo and Nina on site. This made it much easier for them to get to our spot rather than arriving the following day when the last batch of exhibitors were turning up. Dick Barton arrived early Friday morning again to avoid the rush and found it somewhat easier on his motorbike. Rob was to fly 509 with Phil co-piloting on the Friday morning but the weather was not in our favour and eventually they lifted late in the afternoon. Dick and I headed over to the farm to meet up with John Hales, the landowner whose field was to be the home of 509 over the weekend. When we arrived there were the two Lynx helicopters of the Black Cats in situ so we chose to put 509 on the far side of them beyond an electric fence.
I heard Phil calling on the radio shortly after they had taken off from Howarden Airfield after refuelling. We soon heard them but could not see them. Eventually they emerged from the gloom and they had soon spotted us on the ground. A familiarisation circuit followed before Rob made his final approach. Once landed and shutdown John kindly brought up his pick-up and we loaded all Rob and the rest of Phil's gear in the back. The team for the weekend was now complete.
Overnight the weather remained changeable but Saturday morning dawned wet and horrible but it didn't stop the crowds arriving. Stalls under cover were doing a brisk trade. Hardy folks came to see us and have a chat to myself and Dick. The arena events went on as planned though some shows were changed slightly.
The Red Barrows put on some excellent entertainment with their light hearted take on the Red Arrows.
||We think Jo from the Huey Crew would quite like a job with the Red Barrows, she seems to be enjoying her training in this picture.
The sheep with names like Red Ram, Woolly Jumper and Sheargar also were very amusing racing around the arena over the jumps followed by a very enthusiastic sheep dog in the Lamb National. David Russell put on a good show of stunts on his Suzuki motorbikes but due to the ground conditions he wasn't able to do the helicopter jump.
The evening’s entertainment was a selection of well known and lesser known (but all brilliant) acts taking to the main stage. To list a few over the weekend there was Elisa Doolittle, Toseland, Texas, Simple Minds, Sophie Ellis Bexter, 10cc, Seasick Steve and Jools Holland.
Sunday was the best day of the weekend with the sun making appearances periodically. The air display went ahead on both Saturday and Sunday but due to the weather conditions not all aircraft were able to display. However 509 did her thing on both days with the added attraction of the two gas firing .50 cals adding to the sound of 509's display. Following the display on Sunday the Huey departed back to base at Wesham, though making the most of the huge crowd by the main stage by flying around the site whilst 10cc played on stage. David Russell put on his final show in the arena and managed to get to do his show stopper stunt of jumping the length of the Bell 47 with main and tail rotors spinning at just about full whack. Great stuff.
Monday dawned, a bright and warm day which is just typical. We broke down the camp fairly quickly and got Jo and Nina on their way with the trailer in tow. Phil and I finished up and moved the motorhome in readiness for the Loach to leave. By late morning Phil was on his way and myself not long after. Phil's flight back took 19 minutes, mine, Jo and Nina's journeys took somewhat longer !
It was a great weekend, all in aid of a great charity event and one we would happily support in the future if they will have us back.
We would like to say a big Thank You to Chris Evans and the CarFest Team for including our helicopters and crew in such a superb event. The CarFest events are major fundraisers for Children in Need and every ticket purchased helps provide support for disadvantaged children in the UK. In order to find out more or to make a donation please refer to the CarFest Website below.