Saturday, August 28, 2010

Chance Encounter

Flitting around the countryside this afternoon, I  came across Charlie Brown and his Spitfire, parked-up at Rochester. I watched it arrive yesterday afternoon from one display and it's out to France today for another.

I thought I recognized the aircraft and Charlie B. said I was right, it was the the same one I had a good look at in 2005, in another 'Blog' piece I wrote.

Then, it was temporarily marooned at Manston by bad weather on its way out to Malta, painted blue for the special occasion and with the registration "U2". Corgi made a special model of the Spitfire for the 'Merlins over Malta' event and I managed to get one for my small collection.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

On the Harbour Arm

Many readers may have heard  BBC Radio Kent with John Warnett and Clare McDonnell broadcasting live from the Margate harbour arm this morning.

The breakfast show explored many different opinions and heard from equally many voices, Tony Flaig, Cllr Iris Johnson, Cllr Martin Wise and even me, sitting in the bright sunshine, enjoying the view.

It was good to hear a broadly positive view of the town, the work that's being done to regenerate its seafront and its prospects to come from all sides of the political divide.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Blazing August

I'm hoping to get over to Margate to the' Dippers & Dunkers' before the biblical rainstorm, threatened for this afternoon appears. A quick glance at the radar weather map shows that a large red spot of bad weather now near Brighton, should be with us by mid-to late afternoon with up to 7cm of rain forecast. (Looks as if the first storm missed us but there's an even bigger one behind it!)

Yesterday, I had three flights over two music festivals, 'V' at Chelmsford and the 80's revival at Henley.  For August, it was pretty bad as you can see from the embedded video and getting any of the flights even part-done counted as a small miracle, given the howling gale over Essex and rain over Reading and the Thames Valley.

This last week, the nation has been 'Remembering the Few' and on Friday I chanced across a Spitfire and Hurricane of the Battle of Britain Flight, as they made their tour of Kent's historic airfields. I was just behind the ridge at Detling when the two passed by relatively close from the opposite direction. It reinforced the war-time fighter pilots stories that excellent eyesight is an asset and that if you don't see the enemy aircraft then its too late to avoid being shot down! In comparative speeds, it would have been curtains for the councillor!

I did see however that an embarrassed BBC were forced to remove a wartime colour photo from their website (pictured) celebrating the Battle of Britain, when it became obviously clear that one of the license 'luvvies' responsible, didn't know the difference between a Spitfire and an American Aircobra and couldn't be bothered to check either!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Some Facts on Dalby Square

A recent press release from the Dalby Square Project Group' appears to have been widely distributed to local blogs and the media and claims a ' Multicultural Meeting Place Under Threat''

The press release email states: "Jenny Cranstone of the Dalby Square Project group, which has been widely praised for its work in improving the square, said: “If this land is lost, where else can our young people safely play?”

The green has been praised as a valuable meeting place and recreational area – in particular helping bridge gaps between local people and multicultural newcomers to the square. All this, residents fear, is now at risk.

She said: “All ages, but particularly the young people see this land as their own area. When they heard of plans to build, they were not just dismayed at another council plan to put money over welfare, they were angry and determined to campaign to stop it.”

This subject was of course debated at last week's Cabinet meeting but the contents of the release by Jenny Cranstone, which complains of a lack of consultation and more, has prompted a swift reaction from Leader of Thanet Council, Bob Bayford, who clearly wishes to put the record straight. He writes:

"I feel compelled to respond to the email  and set out the council's position. It's really frustrating that people are being misled in this way over plans to 'take away their community green'.

Not only has this land been clearly designated for housing in Thanet's current local plan since 2006, but the area is also extremely well served by two play areas - one of which is in Dalby Square itself (see photo).

The second is a state-of-the-art play area - the Viking playground - funded by the council and central government. This is less than two minutes walk away from Dalby Square.

Furthermore, to say that there has been a lack of consultation is simply not true. The council has carried out a number of high-profile consultations regarding the future of the site as part of its asset management programme and the development of the Local Plan. In addition, both the Viking play area and the one in Dalby Square itself had a high degree of residents' input.

The applicants are a housing association and the proposed scheme will provide high quality social housing. It will provide 32 units of housing and as we have c.4,000 people on the waiting list the need for this scheme is unanswerable."

Saturday, August 07, 2010

In the Sim Again

It's the middle of my peak flying season and it appears to be peak meetings time at the council too; perhaps it's something to do with the summer holidays or more likely the vigorous debate that surrounds the asset disposal programme which now lies partly within my own portfolio and is presently under a review.

This last week, I've been back in the 'Sim' again to prepare for my mandatory annual re-test. It's always a big leap back into a multi-engine, 'glass cockpit' with lots of 'whistles & bells' plus spoken warnings, from the single-engined aircraft which counts as my main office during the summer months. Tidying up my photo library this evening, I stumbled across this old photo of a Pitts S1 that I owned that was sponsored by Lotus Development. Remember them? They were bigger than Microsoft twenty years ago in a distant time before Windows.

The little 'S1' was a bit of a beast to fly. Weighing hardly anything, it felt like strapping a very powerful racing car engine into a very small go-kart with equivalent torque. It could take-off almost vertically and hang on the propeller. With no visibility over the engine and a high stall speed, landing was the most 'exciting' manoever and felt rather like throwing a bathtub on casters down a runway at 90 knots and praying it wouldn't bounce. You've got to be a little crazy to fly the Pitts S1 rather than the more popular two seat and heavier S2, because it's so twitchy with a bite to match. These days I prefer to fly something which is less likely to rearrange one's internal organs in under a second!