Photo: Charlotte Graham, 'Quick pull the rip, or we'll miss the lock!'
We were back to Naburn Lock over the weekend of the 16-18 September 2016 for our annual Naburn Lock 'Splash and Dash' meet
I'm not sure how many years we have been descending upon Naburn Lock for our September meet but one thing is for certain, our reputation grows with the number of spectators turning up to watch our launches, and this year was no exception despite Friday night and Saturday morning being a little too windy for our intrepid pilots. Even though it was too windy to fly (or go dipping), it was perfect for a relaxing weekend.
Saturday night was a gem, and everyone took to the air in an orderly fashion - sadly no-one dipped into the nearby River Ouse, but attempts were made on other bodies of water - more on this later. John Russon had lifted the trophy the previous two years so the heat was on. So was the infamous diver's helmet trophy going to make its way back over the Pennines for a third year, or stay at home?
To add to the fun of the weekend, we held the 'Pennine Red Hot Chili Challenge' with entrants being encouraged to bring along a chili, and for all to sample and then vote for the best. Unlike the hoards of cakes entered for our Great BBAC Bake Off at the Henge Hoppers meet in 2015, just two chilis landed for judging - so it became a hotly contested supper time treat. Vying for the title of chili champ was Alex Smith and Phil Traviss. The chili voted to be the best was Phil's and so Alex sulked (all weekend).
Sunday morning dawned a little misty in places (mainly over that there river!) but the winds were almost flat calm so off we went again. Everyone meandered slowly towards Elvington airfield, former WWII RAF Bomber Command Station and now home to the Yorkshire Air Museum, and no, I'm not on commission but it is worth a visit! Quite a few took the opportunity of the wide open spaces and runways to land there, and retrieving was a doddle.
So, nearing the end of the meet, the survivors get-together consisted of Phil being presented with a pair of oven gloves as his prize for winning the Pennine Red Hot Chili Challenge, Alex being presented with a packet of toilet rolls for his effort, and Malcolm Skilbeck being presented with the Splash and Dash Trophy for his attempt in G-OATV, in a pond en route to Elvington, however Malcolm chickened out at the last minute when Alex told him if he got our balloon wet or dirty, that I would be likely to kill him! (Not true of course!).
Sadly this was the last time the majority of us would see our own Terry Chamberlain on the launch field, Terry was recently diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis and those at the meet would have seen Terry with an oxygen cylinder to aid his breathing, nevertheless he still had his same sense of humour and determination. Terry and Barbara had sold their balloon G-LIMP to Abi Sutcliffe, daughter of 'Super Dave' Sutcliffe who flies the huge red balloons over York and the surrounding area. Terry was pleased to be able to do the ‘hand over’ and to see Abi take the balloon into the air for a training flight with Kevin Graham. None of us would have guessed that he would leave us all so soon as he sadly passed away a week later. Terry will be very much missed.
All-in-all a lovely weekend again… but I must tell you of the biggest disappointment of the weekend, well two in fact; Kevin Graham missed a slot - deciding to go and watch his football team thinking the slot wouldn't materialise, and Martin Read not going pot hunting on Sunday morning due to their B&B being next to a very noisy nightclub keeping him awake all night. Unheard of!