A bit of a departure from our usual gliding-focused events, but this year our very own Ian Gale (proud Europa owner as well as being handy with a glider) invited the UK branch of the Europa Club to try something different – flying out of their comfort zone and up to the north of Scotland!
Altogether 13 aircraft (including a Jabiru and a Robinson R44 as ‘honorary Europas’) came from across the UK to sample the hospitality at Easterton for a few days. The trip was arranged to maximise the amount of fun for the visitors while minimising any disruption to normal gliding operations. Thursday was arrivals day, with glorious weather pre-booked weeks in advance by Ian and bacon rolls provided to restore hungry pilots after a long trip. After all the aircraft had been lined up in a neat double row in the parking area, the pilots were rounded up and taken for a meal at the Bootlegger’s Bothy in Hopeman before being dropped off at hotels for the night. Bright and early the next morning they had the unique treat of a tour of RAF Lossiemouth (including a chance to sit in a Typhoon cockpit), before stopping back at the club for an epic picnic lunch prepared by Sally Gale. Afterwards they had the afternoon free to explore local airfields, with most heading to either Dornoch or Easter to sample the local restaurants for a few hours, returning for a second night stop. On Saturday morning everyone got ready to depart before the day’s gliding started, with some continuing north to visit the spaceport at Unst and others heading down the Great Glen to Glenforsa, or making a dash for home in the south of England. Overall the event went amazingly smoothly, aided by perfect weather and slick organisation by Ian, and from the sound of it our Europa Club visitors enjoyed themselves greatly.
Many people deserve thanks for helping to make this expedition happen, from Ian Gale (of course) for organising the whole thing to Martin and John B for mowing the entire airfield in readiness, John B as assistant Air Traffic Control, Julian as Ground Control and standby Bacon Maestro, Baz and Rick as taxi drivers and of course all our lovely visitors.
I think it’s fair to count this trip a success and we hope to see the Europa Club again. Early reports suggest that they are keen to come back next year, and possibly even sample some gliding next time – perhaps this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship...