If It Hadn't Rained....
.... on the 3rd July 1988, the last day of the Popular Flying Association's rally at Cranfield, I would never have met my fellow Magneteer, who was this time accompanying me back to Rognan for my third visit in almost as many weeks.
The Monday before, I and another Magneteer left Bodø, climbing out past the famous maelstrom just discernible under the bridge,
and flown on over mountain lakes before landing in Oslo for a welcome couple of hours lay-over in the SAS lounge.
Leaving Oslo, the sun dipped below the horizon and Norway's lights came on below as we sped our way to Heathrow at nearly 600mph.
It was a clear evening and London's western approach was bright as a button - in sharp contrast to my cottage, which was being re-wired. When I got home, it was like a war zone so I was not unhappy when the call came through to return to Rognan asap and get out of Sparks's hair.
But, getting back to my story, I'd flown with my then wife, down to Cranfield in the old L4 for the PFA rally. It was a lovely morning and our gaggle of aircraft from Norfolk and Suffolk set off for the show in fine trim, each assuming that the others had looked at the weather and all was well with the world. Well, come 2 o'clock in the afternoon, the sky blackened, the heavens opened and stayed open for the rest of the afternoon. We tied the L4 down in the lee of one of Cranfield's hangars and phoned a friend who, very obligingly, dropped everything to come and collect us in his car.
A few days later, we found a volunteer to drive us back to Cranfield. My current fellow Magneteer was one of our number; he'd had to abandon his Baby Lakes. I'd never met him before, but we've been flying chums ever since.
On our last day in Rognan, we had a couple of hours to spare so popped across the mountain, passing frozen, snow-covered lakes, into Sweden.
The road-kill is of a different order in these parts, this sad scene lent poignancy by a pair of smashed spotlights just out of frame.
The mission was to purchase a tin of Surströmming - a Swedish delicacy. Just enough salt is added to Baltic Herring to prevent it from rotting but allows it to ferment in its own juices for at least 6 months. The result is the most disgusting smelling, but apparently delicious dish. Well, we'll see.
We left Bodø for Oslo and caught a second flight into Heathrow, crossing the English coast just a few miles north of Southend - which I remembered was where my friend Dennis - a seasoned airshow performer - first displayed the Avro. It was blowing a real hoolie on the Sunday of our return from the show and our ground speed was knocking 110kts; the Avro cruised at around 65kts indicated.
As I'd been away for it seemed, most of October, I looked in on Learned Counsel to see if he'd been pulling his weight on the Mazda-engined Locost in my absence. He explained that the installation had thrown up one problem after another - well, it never rains....