Flying through

Friday, 25 October 2013

Weekend in Serbia October 2013

Nato bombed government building

We saw an Orthodox wedding taking place in this church
Went to Serbia on a trip organized by Mitch the Magnificent, one of her Mystical Tours. First one we have been on and definitely will lead to many more - a hilarious and fun filled weekend.

We started in Belgrade, which has a mixture of old and new buildings. This is partly because, being a Balkans' country, they have a history of war and destruction. At one point the guide told us with pleasure that there was a period of 130 years of peace. 130 years! Not much peace in a couple of millennia.

In spite, or perhaps because, of this history of war, the Serbians know how to live it up and there are plenty of bars and restaurants in Belgrade. Places were full of music and dancing. Two nights we went to restaurants with live music, and one evening we danced between the tables - apparently later it is on the tables. However, most of the food was awful, and the wine was for those who like quantity rather than quality.

We saw a few heros, including Victor Winner here who was moved from the town square out to the Kalemegdan Fortress after complaints from 'local ladies'. Perhaps they were disappointed by his big feet.

On Saturday we visited Tito's tomb. He died in 1980 and apparently his wife was under house arrest for the next 33 years, until her death this year. Her book about Tito has just been published. The tomb was interesting but lacked flamboyance. There were lots of statues in the gardens, copies of famous statues elsewhere and by well-known (at least in Serbia) Serbian sculptors.

On Sunday we took a coach to Novi Sad, the second largest city in Serbian and known for its heavy bombing and complete bridge destruction in 1999. An interesting and historic town, much of which still remains intact. On the way we stopped at a former monastery with a wonderful atmosphere and antique and soulful wall paintings. We also visited a vineyard, some nice wine, some rather strange, and a centre of beekeeping.

It struck me that Serbia is still trying to come to terms with its past. Its history is so full of war, confusion and regulation that it will take years to get used to the freedom and peace of the present. Our guide told us that jobs are few, particularly for the middleaged, and that social security is insufficient to live on. The government is not rich. Serbia is in the process of joining the EU, she has been accepted and should be a member by 2014, however we saw no signs that they were joining the currency, so presumably this is just an initial stage. What happens next will probably be a slow acceptance into the bigger European community, but one thing is certain, Serbia could do with more than 130 years of peace in this millennium.
Victor Winner

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Cavalon Flying @ Booker

Gee in Cavalon @ Booker
Went flying in the Cavalon gyrocopter today at Booker, Wycombe Air Park.
Wonderful little machine and extremely stable. If it were a sailing boat you would consider it a cruiser as it can fly for five hours without having to refuel, you can fly hands off, and it will go at 100 miles an hour - rather faster than a sail boat!

It was a little squirrely in take off, probably the result of a castoring nosewheel, but very stable in flight and would make a really good tourer. I enjoyed flying it. It lands and stops in no distance at all... NB. I have been told by Andy Wall - Cavalon salesman - that the Cavalon does not have a castoring nosewheel. So, there must be another reason for the squirreling on take-off. He has offered to let me do circuits in the machine - I will see if I can do better... watch this space for what, I hope, is not a disaster!

For more and a wider choice of pictures see the Winter edition of Helicopter Life magazine.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

HeliExpo at Goodwood

MD902 Explorer used by Kent & Surrey Air Ambulance
Phoenix Helicopters at Goodwood airfield had an open day today with the air ambulance MD902 from Kent and Surrey, a Hiller and several other helicopters. I was expecting the appearance of several Rotorways but by the time I left that had not yet arrived.

Interesting chat with both the doctor and the pilot of the MD902. Both like the 902 as an ambulance platform.

Kent and Surrey HEMS have to raise 6 million pounds a year to cover expenses and these are entirely raised by public contributions.