The Icicle Trophy and Icicle Surprise

Old Chinese proverb says that no matter how early you arrive at airfield, someone is already there. So it was at sunny 07.10L at Sandtoft on the morning of the Icicle Trophy, although in fairness number one, Phil Atley, had spent the night there. Another quotation, this from God when he was creating the Universe: “Let the Earth contain warm places and cold places, except let all airfields be cold places, especially Sandtoft”. (Ezekiel Chapter 3, verse 4). Kindly He made an exception last year (“Phew wot a scorcher!” … that from the the Yorkshire Post, not Ezekiel), but this year made up for it with probably the coldest contest I recall in 15 plus years of attendance.

Notwithstanding the above having been forecast, 16 pilots and 5 judges arrived, accompanied by a full cast of scribes, registrars, scorers, fuellers, caterers, controllers, instructors, lovers, groupies and hangers on. And spectators, LOTS of spectators.

The Icicle Trophy and Icicle Surprise

The Icicle Trophy and Icicle Surprise

Routine briefings occurred @ 0830 sharp, with the first flight by Nick Richards precisely an hour later, and a landing just three minutes after that. I-Pods were produced (who needs to look at the sky, for heavens (!) sake), weather radar brought up, and the offending rain cell clearly identified. “Clear by noon” pronounced somebody, and at 12.10 Nick restarted the first Advanced group, which was all finished by 13.45. Andrew Holman-West was already airborne when the judges exited after their lunch, and his group of Intermediate pilots completed just an hour later.

So, we had a contest, not a contest about poker online but in spite of the conditions pilots and crew were keen to take our chances with the weather and continue. The latter co-operated right up to the final two Advanced pilots, so ever-keen Andrew stepped in and led the second group of Intermediates, with those last two Advanced pilots finishing the day at 18.40.

At this first event of the season it is always interesting to see the new aircraft: some are familiar aircraft in new hands, and some are new aircraft in older hands. Most remarkable in the latter category would be the Pitts Model 12 flown by Uncle Alan. My (very personal and unqualified) view is that this “Pitts” is about as far from Curtis’s original concept of a simple, cheap aerobatic aeroplane as you could get, but it presents beautifully in the box, rolls sedately, and flicks clearly, certainly enough to gain it second place at Advanced level on its first contest outing.

Presentations were made by Natalie, who had operated the tower all day, to award winners listed elsewhere, although several were received in absentia, most pilots having had to flee before the worsening weather and diminishing light.

Appreciation is due to all involved, including Mr & Mrs British Aerobatics Nick and Jen Buckenham, HOCO Steve Green, and all BAeA and Sandtoft personnel and pilots.

Categories: British Aerobatics