Launch Day Arrives.
The three of us met at Earls Colne just before they open at 9am. The temperature was already 25 degrees! Bags packed, route planned, charts neatly folded, plogs written out for the first leg. This day could not have been any further from the grey day in February when the idea was hatched. The sky was clear blue and the weather was hot. What was this weather going to do to our lift and rate of climb (the day peaked at 35 Celsius)? Paul and Simon (the two experienced instructors) decided to drive out along the taxiway in the clubs fire truck and decided upon a point along the runway where the take-off would be abandoned if we were not airborne. Having made that decision, they then passed over this first hot and heavy departure to yours truly, the lowest hours pilot on board, muttering something about it being character building!
Just before departure we have a quick photo with the aircraft and Simon manages to give himself a Dunces hat with the “A” of the registration, so we need to take another!
AK was then thoroughly checked out, and the luggage arranged between the luggage compartment and back seats for balance. We knew we would be close to the mass & balance limitations and the heat would not do our take-off performance any favours. We decided that the grass area in front of the apron, leading up to the threshold of the hard runway would make for some useful extra run-up space, so we started our take-off roll at the very edge of the field! The hard runway at Earls Colne would be the shortest runway we had planned to use on our entire trip. If we could get off of here – we could get off of every planned runway thereafter!