Enstone – message lost in translation
Have you ever taken off and then realised that you forgot to request PPR? Well that’s what happened to us for the first time last weekend when we set off to Enstone Airfield and had a day full of surprises!
Getting ready to fly hadn’t been its normal routine and we had been in the air for about ten minutes when I asked my buddy if he had called ahead for PPR. Whoops! He had forgotten. Because we had never been in this situation before we weren’t quite sure of the protocol. I sent a text back to base and asked them to call Enstone but there was no response. We only had about 20 minutes to run so I had a go with my phone. 2 failed calls and then I got through but of course the person at the other end couldn’t hear a word I was saying. Throughout all of this time, Farnborough were warning us of multiple contacts in the vicinity so I had to keep stopping to help with the lookout. I decided to have one last try with a text and very briefly said that it was my buddy’s fault and could they please call Enstone for PPR urgently!
Now picture the scene. A busy flight school on a hot summer’s day and suddenly it is thought that we have an emergency (fault – urgent!). i Messages started littering my phone with advice to declare a Pan to Brize, Enstone had been alerted etc.
Meanwhile, up in the sky, we happily flew along ignoring all advice and laughed at the fact that we only wanted PPR. About 10 miles out we listened into Enstone radio frequency where all calls were just from traffic in the circuit. We apologised for just turning up and requested PPR from a fellow aviator who said we were most welcome and gave us joining instructions.
Once in the circuit, the ground radio was manned and we had an uneventful landing. As we manoeuvred to park, a friendly chap holding a hand held radio gave us a double thumbs up and we smiled at his welcome. It was only when we arrived at the club house that we realised that he had grabbed a radio because he had been informed that we had some sort of emergency. We had a good laugh with him and explained the confusion but it was lucky that it wasn’t a larger airfield or we would have had fire trucks etc. waiting for us!
As we sat in the sun with coffee and a sticky bun, we chatted with our ‘radio man’. We heard how the airfield had been an old WW2 base where it was rumored that black bombers with no bomb doors were based… very strange. Even stranger, we both spotted what we thought was a fluffy dog on a lead only to realise that it was a very big cat. It was then led by its owners to an aircraft where it waited patiently to board and then flew off on the lap of the front seat passenger. Just when you think you have seen most things…
The airfield was very busy with the runway in constant use. A twin landed and taxied over with one occupant. He jumped out, strode over toward where we were sitting and said ‘Is this England?’ then walked on. Needless to say, we were a bit lost for words and despite laughing, a small part of me hoped that it wasn’t a serious question!
We continued to sit and watch the arrivals and departures as well as an Aero display but ducked at one point when an aircraft looked like it was going to do a ‘go around’ but then appeared to be aiming directly at the club house behind us and passed overhead at what seemed to be about 40ft. We had forgotten that there was another grass runway that ran parallel to the main Tarmac runway.
It was with slight nervous laughter that I took off wondering what other strange things could happen on the way home. Luckily, all was calm despite a very busy circuit at Fairoaks.
I love visiting all of these different airfields. There is always a story to tell upon our return. I doubt we will forget to ask for PPR for a while though!