Following on from being given the chance to photograph C-47 “Drag-‘Em-Oot” back in June of 2012, a further opportunity arose in August, when Jon Butts once again contacted me to make me aware of a commemorative flight that would be operating from Lee-on-the-Solent. The particular commemoration in question would mark the 60th anniversary of the first flight of the Saunders-Roe Princess – an occasion we marked on old GAR.
Unlike the last time I’d flown with Jon, this time the Blackbushe-based Cirrus was unavailable, so instead Jon went to collect one from Shoreham and we arranged to meet one another at Lee.
It was blowing an absolute gale, but the wind just about managed to keep the clouds parted sufficiently to offer a little hope that some nice pictures could still be obtained.
On this occasion the target aircraft would be a Cessna 182, but not just any old Cessna 182: G-ESSL, a Cessna 182R Skylane, complete with floats! The aircraft is operated by John Russell under the guise of Euro Seaplane Services Limited and is in a rather fetching two-tone blue and white colour scheme.
John’s time on target was 1228, so leaving nothing to chance, John made sure he was airborne and in the hold a good few minutes before, with us staying well clear.
After his initial run up the River Medina, he flew a 180 and returned from where he came. We were required to maintain 1500ft throughout, while John was allowed down to 500ft, and I was very tempted to run a “Spot the Cessna” competition with some of the pictures!!
After exiting the river he headed right, at which point we joined up and flew out and around Osborne House – Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s family home – before passing over Calshot Spit.
It had been hoped that after the flypasts John would perform, it would be possible to capture some sea landings, but sadly the wind meant that the sea state was not suitable.
We headed back toward Lee-on-the-Solent and followed John along the coast to Southsea, at which point we left him to carry on his merry way to Goodwood, where the aircraft was booked in for some scheduled maintenance.
Jon and I landed back at Lee with another air-to-air experience ticked off. Despite the tough conditions, we’d still come away with some quite nice, rather different pictures.
Once again, sincere thanks go to Jon, and indeed John, for the opportunity to be a part of it!