I went to Welshpool this afternoon, and found the place like a graveyard. It took me 5 minutes to find anyone to pay a landing fee to; there was one chap starting a Europa (whoever you are, don't forget pre-takeoff checks...), a couple of ac under covers at the far end, otherwise it was like the grave.
I hope it warms up a bit at the weekend. It's a far cry from the days when I trained there, when Pool Aviation ran it - there would have been half a dozen training ac outside, a full cafe, someone on reception (and the radio), the CFI in his office, and up to a dozen students sitting around reading up on the next lesson or cramming for an exam.
Sad, really. And I can't imagine where the money's come from for the runway extension, which is a shame as it's a good facility.
I went to Welshpool this afternoon, and found the place like a graveyard. Tim
I went in there on a week day last winter and had the same miserable "why did I bother" experience. Some bored, non-aviation minded, teenage girl took my landing fee and I bought a coffee from a vending machine. Then some JetRanger (?) decided to send my handbraked(!) aircraft across the apron, and I had to run like hell to save it. The pilot didn't even acknowledge me when he later walked past, let alone apologise.
Pity, because Welshpool should have real potential.
You sure she wasn't just dressed like a teenage girl?
They need a decent cafe there. Enough pilots still fly "burger runs".
Weather works against Welshpool much of the time, with cloud bases at/below the hills and the only way in is with a low level radar letdown from Shawbury (and then follow the railway line from Shrewsbury into Welshpool, at under 1000ft AGL) or down the unpublished NDB/DME IAP... on many days of the year it's a seriously tough place to get into.
A lot of small airfields are pretty dead during the week at this time of year. Welshpool was buzzing last summer, and probably will be again as soon as the weather picks up. They have a big ad for instructors in the latest copy of Flyer, and they must need them for a reason.
Things there are a lot better than when Pool Aviation ran the place, attracting people through low prices, but cutting corners to an unacceptable extent - and putting it that way is being kind. And no, I won't go into detail - that was all a long time ago, and is best allowed to die a natural death. But any nostalgia for the old days at Welshpool is definitely misplaced..
Location: Down at the sharp pointy end, where all the weather is made.
I know what you mean, but we ran aerobatic competitions at Welshpool for several years very successfully, with the co-operation of Pool Aviation. Unfortunately, when T & V left, we weren't able to carry on and had to go elsewhere - back to Sleap as it happens, so we still have a competition in them thar parts (North-West of the Wrekin, that is...)
Ah, Welshpool, with its 1,500' circuits and the electricity pylons on Final.
The first thing that is apparent to me is that you did not call for PPR. It is stated clearly in the flight guides that we are PPR by telephone; you cannot expect a welcome when we didn't know you were going to arrive.
We did have one aircraft call for PPR for yesterday, and made sure that there was someone here for when he arrived later in the afternoon....
Welshpool Airport is DEFINATELY never again going to be run like it was when Pool Aviation were the operators. The locals here were not happy being 'buzzed to death' from aircraft flying over their heads from dawn until dusk.
We are now PRIMARILY a business based airport, our people were out doing just that yesterday. We do have 2 flying schools, (fixed wing and rotary), but they operate between the hours of 9 - 5, and sometimes not every day. Yesterday was one of the days when both schools were not operating, hence the 'graveyard' scenario. I will add that both our schools are successful, and as Whirly correctly says, the fixed wing school is presently advertising for instructors.
The europa by the way, lives here, as do about 19 other fixed wing aircraft, plus 6 rotary wing, making a total of 26 in all.
As for the cafe, it is open for cooked food at the weekends During the week, tea, coffee, cakes and cold snacks are available to purchase.
By the way WR, we don't employ any teenage girls....?
I'm sorry, but I did ring for PPR, twice, and got the answering machine, which rather proves the point. And I left a message, which should have been received, if anyone had been manning the office at all.
Not only that, but I called on the radio at 20nm and received information in reply, rather than being told I did not have permission to land - nothing I have seen says PPR required by telephone, and plenty of airfields are happy with PPR by radio. (VFR Flight Guide is what I use - the 2006 edition, updated regularly, with the latest update incorporated, and it just says PPR.) If I'd been told to bog off I'd have gone to Shobdon, and I wish I had.
I'm sorry that there isn't enough support locally for the airfield - I don't know what constitutes 'buzzed to death', as the airfield was run according to perfectly standard procedures, and was never as busy as e.g. Kidlington or Gloucester, which are in much more built-up areas. There were, for example, never more than 3 aircraft in the circuit, and the circuit height is 1500ft, well above most people.
It will never be like Sleap or Shobdon, sadly - there they are actually pleased to see visitors, and feed them, any day of the week.
During the week, tea, coffee, cakes and cold snacks are available to purchase.
OK, perhaps my memory of the lady who took my landing fee is a jaded and I have no memory of her being anything other than decent. The point I was making is that it was rather different to flying to most airfields where you generally meet at least someone who is air-minded. At the end of the day "We are now PRIMARILY a business based airport" sums it up and I have no problem with that. When I next fly in I'll know what it's about; I didn't last time.
With respect to the bit about the helicopter, my mind is certainly far from jaded! (It could have been a visitor.)
I have no knowledge of the previous management, but do recall a television documentary and a lot of bad press about it. That was years ago.
OK, perhaps my memory of the lady who took my landing fee is a jaded and I have no memory of her being anything other than decent. The point I was making is that it was rather different to flying to most airfields where you generally meet at least someone who is air-minded.
I don't know everything there is to know about Welshpool's employees, and maybe they have someone there I don't know about. But the only lady I know there, and the one who is highly likely to have taken your landing fee, is far from being a teenager, but does look and dress very young. However, she has a PPL(A), PPL(H), and I think a twin rating. She may have an IMC and/or night rating too, I'm not sure. In fact, every time I see her she seems to have acquired another flying qualification! So "non-aviation minded"? Hardly.
I must admit that the exact nature of the failings of Pool Aviation has passed me by - I didn't get involved, as by then I had done my intensive PPL course and moved on. Even now, looking back with a bit more experience, I can't see any obvious failings in the instruction I received.
I visited Welshpool back in November last year, on a Sunday. Bright and Crisp after a miserable Friday and Saturday. Did telephone from Haverforwest, and was informed of the local weather. Called on R/T when 10 minutes out, and was welcomed. Landed, and refuelled. I seem to recall that there was tea and coffee available, and a selection of pastries and cakes. Missed the hot food, because it was getting towards late afternoon. It seemed OK to me. The lady that collected my landing fee was pleasant, and friendly. I guess that you must have just picked a "bad" day. It happens - I remember that I got a very uninspiring reception when I visited Fairoaks some years ago, and requested prices on joining/hiring. I was virtually ignored - so needleass to say I never bothered returning for a few years.
I was at Welshpool in the very early days and clearly remember the Air Racing and the Aerobatics; I also remember the death threats from the locals over the noise and the disturbance - try receiving them some day, it's just what you need as a 14 year old schoolkid...!
However, I also worked there during the week during my school holidays and clearly remember the level of business traffic that the place supported - that was after all what the European Funding was provided for - to build a business airport, not one which revolved almost entirely around flight training.
I worked for Pool from their first day for 2 years and enjoyed my time there immensely, however all good things come to an end and I left to pursue other things (like educashun...!)
Although I've long since left Mid-Wales, I've done OK and am now running a big old Aviation company in the South East, which I'd like to think stems from all of the input I got from everyone at Welshpool, not least Bob J - without him I doubt I'd have got bitten by the bug quite so much!
As for what it's like now, well, as I said, the main reason for its development was to support inward investment of companies into Mid-Wales and, as far as that's concerned, it's done an excellent job. Not only has it kept international companies in Mid-Wales it's also served a great role in getting more business into the area - over some of the more popular industrial locations of Europe.
With Mr Prescott's current plan to allow every airfield in the South East to be turned into housing, I'm still an avid supporter of Welshpool and what it's done for the business community of Mid-Wales. Whilst from a purely Private Flying point of view the place might not be as busy as it was when Pool was there, the fact that the runway extension's being done serves to indicate that perhaps the previous incumbents weren't really providing the financial input to let the place develop which it has done since.
The place was always friendly in the past and I can't honestly think that much has changed - we all have bad days FFS - you obviously don't remember Pool's Tony in one of his "better" moods!! At the end of the day, for GA flying it's the weekend that is the most important (and financially viable) and I guess that's what Welshpool's focussing on. Without the turnover of people that Pool produced, the demand for hot food in the middle of the week's probably disappeared a bit too.
But I'm guessing that hot food alone also didn't pay for the runway extension - the business traffic did so whilst nowhere can afford to lose a customer from a purely business perspective you have to balance up the cost of providing a full catering package against the chance of selling all the food in a day!
Sorry if that's a bit rambling, it's midnight and my eyes keep closing. Bloody PPRuNe!