Porto Race Not To Be Mist.
The Victory Show at Cosby was perfect… lots of re-enacting and pyrotechnics and I got to roar around in the most famous Spitfire in the world doing aerobatics with Mr Kay in his Mustang… the Leicester curry on the Saturday night was superb and quality wise on a par with the Mumbai curry last week… it led nicely into Monday morning with an early start and a warm beverage and croissant with the Air Race Technical Director, Adrian Judd, at Stansted airport before our early flight to Porto.
We went straight to Maia airport where I flew twice to get my hand/eye coordination back up to speed and to “reload my muscle memory” for this Edge’s controls (little bit different to a Spitfire or 747!)… I was expecting a busy Maia airport with lots of other guys testing and training but I had the airfield to myself for the morning… as you may or may not know, flying on your own without worrying about other traffic, keeping a schedule, flying a particular pattern or route is an immense pleasure… it is three dimensional freedom and made particularly pleasant in the blue skies of Portugal on a summer morning. The small café at the airport does a superb “café de leite” and one of those in the shade and quiet of their veranda is a perfect way to fill the gap between flights…
Monday evening saw us sampling the local produce on the banks of the Douro river and Tuesday was almost a repeat of Monday. Wednesday we moved to our temporary runway (TRW) on the coast. It’s a great location and a short walk to the bars and cafes on the beach… the runway itself is converted from a car park for this week and it concentrates the mind. It is about 600 metres long and is sloped, in fact stepped, so when landing from the sea (going east) it slopes up for about 200 metres, then levels, then slopes up again. It’s important to be on the ground in the first section because once you transit from the uphill section to the level section, you’ll go light on your wheels and lose a bit of breaking action. It’s made more complicated by the wind which, funny old thing, tends to blow from the sea! The choice then is an uphill landing (better for stopping) but with a tailwind (faster ground speed) OR a downhill landing (not good for stopping) and a headwind (slower ground speed)… the swap-over is about 10 knots of wind (assuming it’s from the west)… less than 10 tailwind and it’s better to land uphill and more than that, then it’s probably better to land into wind… it’s fun and adds some interest after a run down the racetrack at 370 kmph and 30 feet!
Thursday was spent watching the fog rolling in and out of the TRW and as a result there was no flying. I told Steve Jones that I had also met the Hollywood actress and model Andie McDowell today… his experience and skill as a pilot and engineer has clearly not been honed by watching movies… he answered “how is he?”
It’s now Friday morning and we’re waiting for the fog to clear again… I hope the fog does not become my theme for the next pit news!