Day 4 aka The BIG one – Looking for Mountains, Monsters, Wizards and so many bridges!
DAY FOUR – Distance approx. 500 nautical miles (5-6 hours flying time)
Day 4 was a BIG day, we had to cover over 500 nautical miles! It was set to be a long but exciting day for the all pilots. It was an early start at Warwick Hall and after a super breakfast, it was straight to the helis and managed to get away by 9am. Capt. Smyth took a fantastic video of TEAM G-RJVH (Cabri G2) departing although there was some worry from our social media followers that the door wasn’t shut.
We had met a chap at Warwick Hall who had just bought a ruined castle, so decided to begin the day by flying South briefly to take a look then head North up to Gretna Green (no weddings to crash there unfortunately) and Hadrian’s Wall. We flew over to Haltwhistle and headed Westbound along the wall through Scotland to the Western Edge towards Knockdolian Castle. From there we carried on up the Coastline passed Carrick and a WHOPPING great wind farm up to Turnberry.
We were keen to tack across to the Isle of Arran which is a regular holiday haunt for the Whites! Over Holy Isle near Lamlash and along the East coast passed Brodick Castle. The weather was not great, I mean we were in Scotland after all! Although there was a lot of blue sky there were a lot of showers as well, so we decided to head back to the mainland.
After Arran, we all had to take a bit of a wiggle through some of the smaller islands off the West coast of Scotland on our way to Oban airport to try and avoid the heavy showers, low clouds and poor visibility! It was a big test for all the pilots, but we made it. Oban is a great big airport and we were quite surprised that such a massive airport had no catering facilities so lunch consisted of the few snacks that we had with us and decided we wouldn’t stay long and after refuelling we got going again!
We headed over the highlands to Fort William, and of course Ben Nevis! We had been looking forward to flying over the highest mountain in the British Isles however, the cloud was such that the summit was completely out of bounds which was a bit disappointing. Instead we flew around it which was as challenging as it was beautiful!
“Most challenging was Scotland and the weather in some of the valleys near Ben Nevis”
Day 4 was all about avoiding the worst of the weather but we pretty much flew a straight line straight up to Inverness, this route takes you through the big Lochs including Loch Ness itself. No signs of Nessy but would recommend to any experienced helicopter pilots out there as you really have to FLY this terrain; peaks, water, cloud etc.
“Standouts – zooming along the three Lochs including Ness at 110 nm and dodging clouds along the Welsh coastline!” – Phillip Hahn
By the time we got to Inverness the weather had improved dramatically and it turned out to be a glorious afternoon. We turned South East Bound following the original Highland Railway Line and through Aviemore, a popular ski resort and continuing all the way down to Perth.
Fully fuelled and rearing to go we departed Perth in a South East direction. Passed Lago Bay and across the Firth of Fourth to Gosford House and onward over many, many bridges! Then in a more East direction, picking up on the Coastline down towards Eyemouth passed Holy Island and Bamburgh Castle. Once in Northumberland we couldn’t miss the photo opportunity of Alnwick Castle of Harry Potter fame. Our final destination on Day 4 was Eshott Hall – a beautiful Georgian Country House clad in wisteria. The rest of the helis landed at Eshott airfield some refuelling ready for a quick getaway the following morning. Team 66 headed straight to Eshott Hall as we didn’t want to land heavy. We had certainly saved the best for last and we all had a wonderful evening to celebrate quite a momentous day and expedition!