Shobdon Food & Flying 2014

Last year, we enjoyed Shobdon Food and Flying Festival so much that we immediately put it in the diary for 2014, and on Sunday, the day finally arrived. We’d kept the whole weekend free so that we could select the best day for the weather, and thankfully one of the two days turned out fine!

I did most of the flying, although the journey there was quite arduous battling with all the thermals, so Lee flew for a bit to give me a rest. Shobdon is near the Welsh border, just beyond Leominster, so we flew past the Malvern Hills, which you can just about make out in this photo.

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I did all the radio calls, as I need the practice – I’m planning on flying to Shobdon for my solo landaway test for my PPL. I was so delighted when we landed and one of the marshallers came over to us and, after giving us a warm welcome, told me how good my radio work sounded, and how clear I was – that was a lovely confidence boost! Here’s Wilhelm parked up. There were lots of other aircraft – more than you can see in this photo.

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After we’d paid our landing fee (half price landing fee, at £6, and free entry to the food festival – bargain!), the first thing we saw was a load of lovely old cars.

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Another view of all the visiting aircraft parked up.

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There were loads of non-pilots there, with cars parked all the way down one side of the airfield. There were lots of gorgeous dogs too! We had a nice time pottering around trying samples of various foods and drinks. We even tried a tiny sample of a local cider, though the chap selling it still couldn’t convert me!

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I liked this illustration of where everything was!

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For lunch, I couldn’t resist these aircraft-themed stonebaked pizzas. I went for the Gazelle – goats’ cheese, peppers, red onions and mushrooms!

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Here’s the freshly baked pizza – it was really tasty, though quite difficult to eat without a knife and fork as all the toppings kept falling off!

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The Snowdonia Cheese Company stand was the one I made a beeline for in the food tent – I discovered them at Shobdon last year and have been a firm fan ever since. We tried lots of the samples and I came away with six pickled onion flavoured cheeses!

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We were intrigued by this little cross-section of beehive on a stand selling honey products. It’s quite fascinating to see how perfectly symmetrical all the little hexagons are!

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The air displays started after lunch with this gyrocopter, which did all kinds of movements that I had no idea gyrocopters could do. With added smoke for dramatic effect!

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Then there was an aerobatic display by a Slingsby Firefly, which was difficult to get a decent iPhone photo of because it was moving so fast!

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The final air display was a parachute team, which was taken up by this rather snazzy red Jet Ranger helicopter.

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Here’s one of the parachutists on his way down.

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Back in Wilhelm and about to head home!

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I flew us all the way home. As you can see, I had my hand on the throttle the entire flight, because the sky was so thermic that I had to keep making adjustments to the power to maintain the altitude we were flying at, to counter the effects of constantly being pushed up and down.

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This was Worcester on the way home; you can see the racecourse in the foreground, and a little further down the river, the Cathedral with the cricket ground on the opposite side of the river.

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Back home, I unpacked my cheese after a lovely day. We’ll definitely be back again next year, but in the meantime I’ll hopefully be flying to Shobdon all by myself before too long!

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Finally, here’s our GPS trace. The bit where it curves round to the right out of Wellesbourne is where we took off and had to turn to the east for noise abatement procedures before heading west. The bottom line is our outgoing flight, which we started without the GPS by heading for the Malvern Hills, which we knew to be roughly in the right direction. Then you can see us setting the GPS and correcting the heading just before Pershore! The homeward flight was a straightish line all the way on the runway heading out of Shobdon, with a veer to the north to line up for a circuit and landing back home.

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