We arose to a beautiful sunny day, with the aim of taking G-EVIE down to Bournemouth to meet with Lorraine Richardson, Evie’s niece, as well as Emma Wilce, now a senior first officer with FlyBe and the first cadet to complete a scholarship in G-EVIE, and Lauren Simms the next cadet to complete her PPL in G-EVIE. Due to an incident at Compton Abbas, the airfield closed for the day so, unable to take-off, my aunt and uncle came to our rescue with a kind offer of a lift in the car, which enabled us to all still all meet up, though without the aircraft.
Our gathering enabled us to recreate a photograph taken nine years ago of Emma receiving the first G-EVIE scholarship, as well as the present day one with Lauren. Additionally, we were able to bring together some memorabilia of Evie Saunders’ story – her headsets, logbooks and licences, all of which will now be kept together at Tayside Aviation. After many photographs and several cakes baked by Emma, we departed, feeling that Evie’s legacy and story was really coming back to life.
Following on from this visit, we were invited round the corner to the Police Helicopter unit at Bournemouth airport, and were shown around by Ayla Holdom. It was very exciting to get the chance for a seat in the helicopter, though sensibly given my last encounter with a helicopter, albeit safely in a simulator, we stayed firmly on the ground. Ayla showed us the workings of the glass cockpit with which the helicopter is equipped, and after a couple of quick photos, we had to retreat for the helicopter was required for a job. We stood at the side of the helipad as it took-off, enjoying the face-full of grass that was being blown up by the rotors.
We returned to my family’s house for the evening, planning to resume G-EVIE’s tour the next day if everything was back up and running at Compton Abbas. It hadn’t been a pleasant start to the morning, and our thoughts are with the family and friends of those involved in the incident. However, meeting with Evie’s family and those at the police helicopter unit was a welcome reminder of both the enjoyment to be gleaned from aviation and the vital role of air transport.