Geoff Hibbert's 2010 blogGAR Entries

DEC 02 2010
Who says it's Grim oop North?

Well, while most of you were tucked up in a nice warm bed, some people, well just me, was travelling the 90 miles or so up to Manchester Airport. “What’s so unusual about that,” you might ask? Well nothing normally, but this morning it’s -9.7 degrees centigrade as I pull off the drive! Yes, as the coldest November night on record comes to an end, surely it’s a great idea to go and stand outside an airport on my own for five hours? Yeah right!

It’s been a long time since I had anything much to write about really. Yet another disastrous year salary-wise has meant that just surviving has been a real issue and available money to be spent on diesel, travelling here and there, has not even been an option. However, as another year passes me by, another job is also just about to be started, so hopefully, 2011 will see me out and about a bit more.

As I pass by Uttoxeter, on the A50, my temperature gauge drops down to minus eleven! Minus eleven, is this a good idea? I pass a car that’s rolled off the A50 and is at the bottom of the embankment: “Should I really be doing 70mph?” I ask myself. Still, I made it and arrived in toasty warm Manchester. At minus five and a half degrees, this will feel like summer compared to frosty Loughborough. And to be honest, it really did. I had seven layers of clothes on (numerous visits to the Mach Loop in winter have taught me that you can never wear too many clothes, once you’ve finished your climb or walked to your allotted spot) and once the sun came up (yes I know, a rarity in Manchester) it was lovely and warm.

I had been briefed and fully expected to be faced with easterly departures, which I was a bit unsure of, but as I arrived, John Higgins sent me an “apologetic” text (thinking I’d decided not to make the trip), saying that they were “using runway 23 and it’s glorious here, r kid.” Well I say “apologetic” but I actually think that’s an anagram of the word “gloating git”, but I can’t quite get all of the letters to tie up!

Anyway, I was there, my first trip out in months and my “mate” John Higgins was there too, with a couple of old friends of mine. Tom Gibbons, the man with the strongest handshake in Europe (I can’t fathom out quite why he has such mammoth strength in his right hand, maybe a misspent adolescence - who knows?) and Barry Swann, a legend in his own lifetime. “Polite Tourettes”, is how we describe his condition and of course he makes La Petomane, look like an apprentice, if you know what I mean? But hang on, where are they? A quick text reveals that they are at the 23 end of the runway and I’m halfway down! Oh well, it’s back to looking like a weirdo Billy no mates, on my own again! No change there then!

Whilst the position I was in is fantastic when the airport is busy, on a cold Sunday morning, it’s a tad distant and the only aircraft that used runway 23L was the Emirates A380-800. It’s funny that this passenger airliner is still drawing crowds in just to see it. During the morning period I was on my own entirely for a large part of it but, as lunch time approached, families started to arrive to see the spectacle of the world's largest airliner. I’ve seen the A380 a couple of times now. Once at the Berlin Airshow and once at Farnborough and it’s very impressive. The one thing I really hadn’t appreciated though was just how quiet it is. Where I was standing, I was only 75 metres away (I measured the distance on Google Earth) and it was just a little more than a whisper. That’s very impressive and no doubt a fact very much appreciated by anyone who lives under a flightpath!

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