Unscheduled landing at Dunsfold

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    Arthur Jones

    In 2014 I had a share in a Jabiru fixed wing microlight hangared at Farley Farm, a farm strip near Winchester. There was a little haze so we waited for it to clear before we took off. To our amazement, almost immediately after take off we were in cloud. A lesson learned – haze doesn’t look anywhere near so thick when you’re looking up at the sun compared to looking down at the ground! We broke through the cloud and fortunately had three GPS devices with us for navigation. The TAFs for that day showed the weather to be better further east so we headed that way, ensuring we didn’t infringe any controlled airspace. Heading east, we were hoping to get on the ground as soon as possible so headed to the nearest airfields of Popham and Blackbushe but they were all covered in cloud so we aimed for Redhill.

    Just as we flew over Hascombe there was a break in the cloud and we saw our chance to slip into Dunsfold. As their radio frequency was not printed on our map we had no way of contacting them so we overflew them, taking note of the runways and wind direction. It was a Wednesday and cars were whizzing around the periphery of the airfield, possibly being filmed for Top Gear. We landed on their huge (for us anyway) runway and parked right next to the 747! To add to the surrealness of the day, a move (‘Artificial Horizon’ I believe) was being filmed at the site of the 747 and consequently there were ‘zombie’ creatures milling around, equally surprised to see us I expect. It took us about half an hour of searching to find someone we could apologise to and offer landing fees. Once done, we sat in the cafe until the cloud lifted back west then got permission to depart. All the runway lights were put on for us, quite a spectacle given that we were airborne after about 100 metres with 95% of the runway unused! To add an ironic twist, I needed to collect my daughter from school in Bramley (I live in Hascombe) but had to fly all the way back to Farley Farm to retrieve my car from the airfield in order to drive back to Bramley so I could collect her from school.

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