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To our west, the bay of Yell looked an interesting option, with a field sloping up-hill. It peaked on top to the name of what I later discovered was called the Hill of Lusseter with a 30 degree slope.

As we approached over the cliffs, the picture was quite dramatic, with inky blue sea below us. I flared as we crossed over the fence and within moments we were down.

I had never seen a more surprised expression than I had when we taxied to the top of the field. A 79 year old elderly man looked stunned, and had what looked like a pipe dangling from the side of his mouth.

“Um… Hi, you look a bit surprised. I wondered if we could buy some fuel from you?”

Very soon we were joined by two other locals who were keen to see what had landed.

“We saw you coming down, we though you had crashed into the ground!” Gavin, one of them said.

I called Scatsca who may have been wondering where we might be.

Whilst we hunted around for jerry cans, the elderly man suddenly appeared in his Vauxhall Corsa with a black plastic petrol carrier. £16 of fuel later, we were ready to go again. The wind was rolling down the hill and were about to discover that fuel and weight calculations are especially important during a very short field takeoff. We had less than 160 metres with the upslope, and no second chances if the engine stopped.

At the top of the hill was a disused car and a spiked, rusting tractor rake, sitting in deep tractor tracks. We found some steel poles and filled in the rut as best we could, giving maximum coverage in case we overshot and needed the extra distance. I walked the length of my planned takeoff run and noticed the ground undulated on the sloping ground. It was going to be a very tight and the room for error very small. I had to make full use of as much field as possible. We taxied slowly to the bottom of the hill and stopped just short of where the grass was starting to become clumped together in mounds, 5 metres from the fence. We turned for takeoff into wind.

Now at full power and in the long grass, we were creeping only slowly over the damp ground.

2/3 of the way up the hill, we rolled over a small lip and the trike bounced into the air, mometarily knocking my foot off the throttle as it started sinking again. It was not at flying speed yet. The car and rut were approaching fast and too close for comfort.

I saw Gavin and his friend looked on as I pushed the throttle to the floor and the rake rushed past our left side as we started to climb.

I looked behind and watched the bay grow smaller below us as in the picture on the right. I said a big thankyou to whoever had been smiling down on us.

Returning to Tingwall airfield was a welcome sight and once more the winds were light. The Islander aircraft followed us in, and I got talking to the pilot, Noel. Very soon, it was his turn to try out the purest form of aviation!

As we got strapped in, Noel bombarded me with lots of interesting questions. The moment we lifted off, I heard a loud “This is awesome!” in my ears. I took it from that that he was enjoying himself.

We discussed what a solid and docile plane the Islander was, and how a 30 knot crosswind poses no problem at all for it.

Noel ran us back to the Bed and Breakfast that evening, but not before we collected the fuel cans that Martin at the airfield had loaned us to get fuel. There was no doubt they had been exposed to the Shetland elements. On the outside they were nearly orange with rust.

As I filled up at the garage in preperation for the longest leg of the journey, a trail trickled along the forecourt. The fuel had started leaking out of the bottom of the jerry can and I sheepishly positioned it over the drain. I bought two 5 litre containers and transferred it into them.

TINGWALL - UNST – 12:30 – 13:30
UNST – YELL FIELD - 13:40 – 14:00
YELL FIELD – TINGWALL - 15:00 – 15:20
NOEL(TINGWALL) – (TINGWALL) – 17:00 – 17:45
Total Flying: 2:55 mins


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