→FGUK's Saturday Night Flights
[http://www.fguk.eu FGUK] rounded off November with four more memorable outings, forsaking the bleak winter scenery of the United Kingdom for the warmer climes of South and Pacific America before returning to the Lake District for some low flying exercises within easy flying distance of our home base of Llanbedr (EGOD).
We started the month by leaving the fast jets snug in their hangars and paddling out to board seaplanes and flying boats dating from the classic age of intercontinental flight to modern day transport and fire-fighting aircraft. The additional challenge of beginning our flight from Lake Titicaca, 12000 feet up on the Andean Altiplano, set regular FGUK fliers practicing hard during the preceding week, with some of the older aircraft requiring skill and patience to even start their engines in the thin air, and all pilots adjusting to the unusual and slightly tricky experience of taking off at altitude. Their efforts paid off, forming up around Flight Leader Algernon to skim the Andes before descending steadily down with the terrain to land in a flurry of surf off the Peruvian coast. This was almost certainly a collection of aircraft never seen flying before, with a truly gargantuan Hughes H4 Hercules (the ''Spruce Goose'') joining Canopus, the first Short S.23 'Empire' flying boat, a Bombardier 415 water-bomber, classically-beautiful Consolidated Catalina PBY and Grumman Goose among others.
Next week saw a return to a more traditional FGUK theme, with assorted fast jets hammering across somebody else's airspace. Flight Leader Neilson chose Hawaii for this flight, in order to showcase the new scenery package included in FGFS 2.8; it attracted a varied selection of fighters and ground attack aircraft including several classics from Dave Culp's hangar, which FGUK now hosts and maintains. Two F4 Phantoms, two F-15s (one C and one E) and a brace of Tornado GR4s shattered the peace of the island for two hours, at speeds high enough to require a refueling at Hilo. As is becoming standard now for all flight planners, Neilson put a good deal of preparation into this flight, with an illustrated flight plan and a downloadable Route Manager route available in advance of the event, and as always, our multimedia artists got to work during the following week to collate and shape their collected stills and video clips into galleries and movies, which are available in the FGUK media forum (see the link below).