After making far better time on our journey back to Toulouse from Mont-de-Marsan than we’d expected, we did a quick circuit of the airfield to see what had changed from 24 hours earlier. The arrival of an A400M was perhaps the most notable. Down one particular cul-de-sac, Marcus spotted the British Airways A380 strobing and holding just short of the runway. They were using the opposite end to the previous day. He asked what I wanted to do. Silly question!! We headed around to the hill in double quick time and sprinted up it! Having already packed my cameras away for the return flight, I didn’t quite have enough time to shoot the TAM A320 that was on short-final after a test flight as we arrived.
Not long after, the BA A380 took its turn to line up. A local informed us that it would only be a rejected take-off trial, but we were more than happy with that! The sun was already down behind the horizon, but there was still just about enough light to shoot it. The commercial runway that had been closed the day before was open again and the A380’s powering up coincided with the landing of an Air France Regional ERJ-190, which added something to some of the shots.
As the A380 vacated, a Virgin Australia A330 (F-WWTU – msn 1308, which will become VH-XFG) performed an overshoot, though sadly I don’t have much to show from it!
Making our way back to the commercial side, an S7 A320 landed after another test flight. Based on this 30-minute experience, it seems that late in the day is the time to catch the bulk of the test flying at Toulouse!
Hire car filled up and returned, bag checked in and security cleared, we made our way to our gate, where we learnt that the flight was running 30 minutes late. The blue skies and 20 degree temperatures of France gave way to the UK’s more typical rain and sleet, and it looked filthy as we flew down the approach to Gatwick. Some of the lost time had been made up on the return leg, and we landed back about 15 minutes late. While it moved fairly quickly, the length of the immigration queue was scandalous. Welcome to the UK, indeed!
The rain and sleet gave way to proper snow as I made the final leg of the journey along the A14, finally making it home at 0215, a smidge under 48 hours after the adventure started. Without doubt, Day 2 had ensured the trip was well worthwhile. If I were to return, I’d definitely want more than one full day at Toulouse, and probably more than two. I’d have liked some more time at Mont-de-Marsan too. While the angles that are available are very limited, the variety of types – and rarity – means it has great appeal.
Massive thanks to Marcus for driving, his efforts and the company. Where next?!