As you have probably read from my other post, Tales From The Cold Side, that I am currently in the UK for the summer of 2012 due to bureaucratic problems in Egypt and family matters. You may have also seen that I intend to use my spare time to visit as many airfields in the region as I can to promote G.A.S.E. and hope to encourage GA pilots in the UK to visit us in Egypt.
Well, I have always been good at promoting G.A.S.E. via our website, Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites and I think our fame has also grown through word of mouth from our previous clients, but actually going to airfields in England and trying to ‘sell’ the concept of flying to Egypt to local pilots is something I hadn’t prepared myself for. I had no idea how to go about it or in fact who to ask!
But, the first weekend after I arrived back in England, Dan drove down to stop with me for a couple of days, and following a good night out on the Saturday we awoke early on Sunday the 27th May and set off for the nearby GA airfield of Wellesbourne Mountford. I had done my research and knew they welcomed the public and had a café with a viewing area. Other than that I was in the dark as to how many aircraft would be there or if I could speak to any pilots.
After a short 8 mile drive through the Warwickshire countryside in glorious sunshine, we arrived at the airfield entrance which was down a narrow country lane and drove into a small car-park where we parked outside the airport buildings which included the ‘Touchdown Café’. Because the sign said ‘viewing area for customers only’ we decided to order a full English breakfast and then took our coffees out onto the viewing area…and what a joy it was to behold that we were a couple of yards from the taxiway opposite the parking area for visiting aircraft!
A quick glance left and right showed that we had made a good choice in coming here as there were plenty of aircraft parked and a fair few in the circuit as well as manoeuvring around the airfield.
In fact the first piece of ‘action’ we saw was a pilot hand swinging the propeller of what appeared from the front to be a 1930’s type aircraft, from the Percival or Miles stable of private aircraft.
As it started to taxi it became obvious that although I may have been right about the age of the aircraft the type eluded me. Time to check the all important Civil Aircraft Markings handbook that all enthusiasts carry (or at least a version of it) and it turned out that this genuinely impressive aircraft was G-AERV a Miles Whitney Straight built in 1936!
Just after this our breakfast arrived and we were duly impressed with the size of the portions and can say that a full English breakfast never tasted as good as this did. Eating breakfast in the blazing sunshine a few yards from a couple of dozen light aircraft with the pleasant buzz of GA aircraft flying overhead is my idea of paradise.
Feeling quite full we spent the next hour or so relaxing in the sunshine watching the comings and goings of a wide variety of GA aircraft. I soon worked out that this Café was a favourite spot for pilots out on local cross-country flights. My trusty handbook not only showed the type of aircraft to the registration but where it was based as well. I could tell that some of the aircraft had arrived from airfields in the Midlands with some coming as far as up from the London or south coast areas.
The pilots would then park their aircraft opposite us, alight from the cockpit and then wander over to the café, entering through a small wooden gate next to the small control tower. They would then order refreshments/food and sit and chat with other pilots before returning to their aircraft, via the control tower to pay landing fees, and then they would depart back to their home field. Wonderful 🙂
I now knew what I had to do…introduce myself, at the right moment, to the groups of pilots around us. I had brought the G.A.S.E. kitbag with us, full of calendars, leaflets, stickers and other goodies and I was determined that these pilots would be taking some of these things home with them or back to their respective Flying Clubs.
The first group I approached were three local pilots who had aircraft based at Wellesbourne. Introducing myself as Eddie from Egypt I asked if they could spare a minute. They were very amenable and in no time we were talking all things Egyptian aviation. They seemed impressed with what we were trying to do in Egypt and flabbergasted that the GA scene there had almost ceased to exist. They were happy to receive the G.A.S.E. merchandise and readily suggested other people and places for me to go to promote our services. One of the pilots even ‘signed up’ for a future flight to Cairo, saying that he had flown in his AA5 Tiger to Cyprus and always wondered about doing the hop from there to Egypt. We look forward to assisting him next year.
Feeling quite happy at my first attempt at being a ‘salesman’ I then visited a few more groups of pilots seated at different tables in the viewing area. Everyone was sociable and happy to talk about what we were doing in Egypt. More merchandise was given away and everyone seemed happy with their goodies but eventually it was time for us think about getting home. A last coffee and last view of the aircraft and then we went back into the café to get out to the car. But first we asked the café proprietor if we could put some leaflets up on his notice board. He was very obliging and we were able to place leaflets and stickers in a number of places around the buildings.
Back in the car park we decided to try our luck at one of the flying clubs and went into ‘Aeros UK’ a multi faceted company that does training, aerobatics, aircraft rental and pleasure flights as well as having a dedicated flying club on site. We met with the owner who seemed intrigued by our sales pitch and was also happy to have a calendar and a few leaflets which were placed in the club leaflet stand. So who knows, we may have even more pilots from Wellesbourne visiting us in Egypt soon!
We did plan to visit the small aircraft museum that was adjacent to the car park before we left but unfortunately the sign on the gate said that they were closed due to construction; oh well, we will be back another day, especially to visit this well run museum…and maybe have another breakfast in the sun 😉
I felt that we had picked a perfect place to start the G.A.S.E. promotional tour and we couldn’t have asked for a better welcome from the Pilots, Enthusiasts, staff and public at this wonderful little aerodrome in the heart of the English countryside. We will be back there soon.