LAA Sywell Experience

LAA Sywell Experience

Postby tankbuster on Sat 02 Sep 2017, 7:20 pm

I don't know if this may be of interest but you never know.

It's probably about twenty years since I attended a PFA (as it was then) rally. I can't remember my last one but it may have been Wroughton or Cranfield. Most years I am tempted but a run of not so great weather means I haven't been to one in the modern era. Until now; weather forecast good, so today was the day.

Back in the 'old' days many of the attendees were vintage, a third could be classified as 60s, 70s and 80s spam and the remainer was homebuilts. I remember some years when we were disappointed that the homebuilt turn out was smaller than we would have liked. What a different story today homebuilts rule and relatively modern designs and builds make up the great percentage. The vintage turn out was very disappointing and those mid 20th century spams which now qualify as vintage were very thin on the ground. I assume that somewhere in those lost years and the move from PFA to LAA it became a predominantly home built organisation and consequently the rally now reflects that. Nothing wrong with homebuilts and that was always really the PFAs raison d'etre but not to the exclusion of all others. Some of today's attendees were beautiful and some of the paint jobs have to be seen to be believed. There were over 50 Vans! I'm not even sure the brand existed when I last attended and some of the finishes (no duplicates) are glorious as are many of the other modern composites. But what happened to Luton Minors, Evans VP1s (1 today), Tipsy Nippers(1) and what about Variezes (1 today) they were breeding like Rabbits in the 80s.

The field was packed with aircraft yet strangely the arrival rate did not seem to reflect this. There was rarely a time when the sky was full of aircraft as I remember (or is that the mind playing tricks). In fact it was basically a slow but steady stream of 21st century composites arriving. I remember many foreign visitors in days gone by but they were thin on the ground and of course half of them are probably UK based anyway. A Swedish Tiger Moth was very nice but in amongst the homebuilts, there were probably no more than half a dozen of foreign origin. Ercoupe SE-BFX was a treat. It used to attend all of the PFA rallys and it's still coming.

In praise of the organisation. Good value for money at £12, which covers all three days if you want it, and £10 a day for the airside pass although I'm not sure why anybody would attend and not go airside. The closeness to the runways is excellent for photography and recording arrivals and the long line of people stretching along it's length was testament to this.

After taking many shots, practicing my panning and slow shutter abilities for about 4 hours I decided that it was getting a bit boring. So I walked the display tents and the main aircraft parking area admiring one paint job after another but it wasn't really doing it for me so just a little disappointed I gave up at 3 and headed for home.

So for the LAA member, homebuilder and potential homebuilder it has developed considerably and I'm sure is an enormously useful exhibition.. For the spotters/number crunchers, there are a lot of regs. But for the person like me for whom modern light aircraft aren't my primary interest it all seemed a bit dull and samey. I get my usual dose of this at Popham fly ins a couple of times a year and weather permitting, I have to say the variety at Popham is more appealing and often turns up a few surprises.

I won't be going back next year. None of this is meant as a criticism, it's just this person's personal experience. I sure some people love it and good luck to them but it wasn't for me. I think I'm more of a Tiger Meet guy. I'd love to hear other views.
Trevor C
recent and not so recent pictures here https://trevorc28a.wixsite.com/trevspics
tankbuster

Re: LAA Sywell Experience

Postby Mike on Sat 02 Sep 2017, 9:11 pm

Th 'Swedish Tiger Moth' was actually a much rarer (and better looking) DH60G III Moth Major.
Mike

Re: LAA Sywell Experience

Postby tankbuster on Sun 03 Sep 2017, 11:36 am

Mike wrote:Th 'Swedish Tiger Moth' was actually a much rarer (and better looking) DH60G III Moth Major.


Thanks for the correction. I never noticed at the time but looking at the pictures it is a bit of an oddball. Those wings are very straight. I'm sure I must have seen a Moth Major before but I can't recall where or when.

Image
Trevor C
recent and not so recent pictures here https://trevorc28a.wixsite.com/trevspics
tankbuster

Re: LAA Sywell Experience

Postby AMB on Fri 08 Sep 2017, 1:18 pm

Good post Trevor and I could not have put it better. My experiences must surely mirror yours, as the last time I attended the PFA Rally (as it was then) was at Wroughton in 2003 and Cranfield before then in the '80s. I good variety of vintage and classics there then.
I was also at Sywelll on the Saturday, expecting to see much of the same, but despite the excellent weather and airfield covered in some 300 aircraft, there were very few that I was inclined to raise my camera to and I have an adversion to kit-planes, home-builts and the like. Even 2/3 scale P-51 Mustangs looked ridiculous and should be confined to the scrap dump! I mean if you can't afford the real thing, why bother? At least the new-build Chiltons looked the part and were true-to-scale and could have been mistaken for 'vintage'.
Ironically the LAA have a trophy for the 'best restoration' each year, but not sure what they awarded that to this year?
Likewise, I will not be returning next year and will focus on 'the real thing'...whatever that is!
Adrian
User avatar
AMB

Re: LAA Sywell Experience

Postby tankbuster on Fri 08 Sep 2017, 3:24 pm

AMB wrote:Good post Trevor and I could not have put it better. My experiences must surely mirror yours, as the last time I attended the PFA Rally (as it was then) was at Wroughton in 2003 and Cranfield before then in the '80s. I good variety of vintage and classics there then.
I was also at Sywelll on the Saturday, expecting to see much of the same, but despite the excellent weather and airfield covered in some 300 aircraft, there were very few that I was inclined to raise my camera to and I have an adversion to kit-planes, home-builts and the like. Even 2/3 scale P-51 Mustangs looked ridiculous and should be confined to the scrap dump! I mean if you can't afford the real thing, why bother? At least the new-build Chiltons looked the part and were true-to-scale and could have been mistaken for 'vintage'.
Ironically the LAA have a trophy for the 'best restoration' each year, but not sure what they awarded that to this year?
Likewise, I will not be returning next year and will focus on 'the real thing'...whatever that is!



I'm pleased that it wasn't just me and my nostalgic memory imagining that things were different in the past.
Trevor C
recent and not so recent pictures here https://trevorc28a.wixsite.com/trevspics
tankbuster

Re: LAA Sywell Experience

Postby Orion on Sun 10 Sep 2017, 6:13 pm

I had a very pleasant Saturday afternoon! I thoroughly enjoyed wandering amongst the aeroplanes and I have 25 minutes or so of video so I can enjoy it time and time again.
I shall do my best to be there next year too.
Regards
David Mylchreest
Orion

Re: LAA Sywell Experience

Postby farnboroughrob on Sun 10 Sep 2017, 7:55 pm

The Cranfield, Wroughton, back to Cranfield then Kemble events were the highlight of my year in the 80's and 90's. They were great until around 2003 when Kemble was a washout and they lost s shed load of money. So about 7 years ago they went much lower key at Sywell. I attended a few but it had really lost the magic. I loved the old style homebuilts like the Isaacs Fury, FRED, Luton Minor, Evans etc, real homebuilts, not kit places. Plus very few foreign aircraft attend. The old events were very much a case of we didn't know what we had, a bit like airshows in general in those times.
farnboroughrob

Re: LAA Sywell Experience

Postby Skymonster on Mon 11 Sep 2017, 8:49 pm

The Light Aircraft Association doesn't eschew the Fred, Lutons, and Evans. It's just that there are fewer of them around now, and even fewer people building them. Remember, back in those olden days some lament, it was known as the Popular Flying Association (PFA). But as the number of new projects based around those older home built designs - often built by older guys with beards, working in sheds - declined so the PFA / LAA was forced to adapt to survive. Over a similar period many smarter pilots started moving out of mass-produced American metal into faster, more economical and more sophisticated composite aircraft that could be constructed front kits in a relatively short period of time - and then maintained and kept up to date much more easily under the simpler regulatory oversight provided by the LAA (as opposed to the CAA). The LAA did what it needed to do to survive and prosper, which was to embrace the new generation that wanted the new generation of easier to complete "home builds" while still providing an umbrella for the decreasing numbers who want to do it the old-school way. Nostalgic it may not be - likewise it may not be so appealing to to the old-school spotter - but I suggest the LAA is now more relevant to broader spectrum of aviators than it was 10 or 20 years ago.
Skymonster


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