The original plan from Compton was to go onto Dunkeswell airfield. However, for ease we decided to pop into Exeter airport instead. Though the two airfields are virtually adjacent they are quite different by nature. Dunkeswell is a typical general aviation airfield, furnished with an air-ground service, busy with light aircraft, gliders and parachutists, while Exeter is a more commercial facility, with stricter air traffic control. In general, light aircraft pilots prefer the former, but having done my training at Prestwick airport, a more similar affair to Exeter, for me Exeter just felt like an easier option. There are times that I’d be willing for a proper general aviation challenge but for now it was a case of trying to keep the flight as simple as possible.
Lorraine and Judith, her friend, both of whom had known Evie, very kindly came to Compton Abbas airfield to wave us off on our journey west. It was only a half hour jaunt across the countryside, and Exeter was happily quiet enough to not have to avoid conflicting traffic, but busy enough to be equipped with a cafe in which we happily feasted.
Claire was next up in the pilot’s seat to take us all the way down to Lands End, but she made the executive decision to go Newquay airport instead, for no more better reason than Lands End was closed. Though we had been routing a slightly doddery route to overfly the Eden Project and other tourist spots from the air, Claire catching sight of Newquay’s beach meant that she expedited the approach and was willing to sacrifice all of the kit necessary for a night’s camping in order to immerse in the sparkling waters. Eventually she realised that possibly a tent at least be a good idea, and promptly emptied what felt like the entirety of G-EVIE’s back seats and had to traipse it several hundred yards across the apron, before loading up a taxi and trailing it a mile down the road to the nearest campsite. Unfortunately our luggage was unloaded two field’s away from where we could pitch our tent and unwilling to make several to-ing and fro-ing trips in the blazing sunshine, we enlisted the help of a pick-up truck, before setting up camp.
The buses into town ran once every two hours, which meant that by the time we had faffed for a long time and were ready and waiting on a stray grass verge for a bus to appear, our time in Newquay was shortening. In the end, we had 67 minutes to explore the entirety of the town, visit the beach for a paddle and find some dinner. Surprisingly, by dedicating precisely 19 minutes to the above activities, plus 10 minutes for getting away from and back to the bus, we succeeded.