Beccles, Suffolk: UK Section Meeting, July 2022

IFFR UK continues with its tradition of holding one-day fly-ins during the summer, and in July organised a trip to Beccles, Suffolk, near the East Coast of England. The weatherman was kind to us and we had a perfect day for flying. My plane was away having an avionics re-fit, so PWP Feroz Wadia, who was flying up from the Isle of Wight, agreed to call in at Meppershall, the short grass field close to our home to collect me.

Feroz arrives to collect me at Meppershall

Beccles is a big parachuting base, and as luck had it, there were around 5 aircraft all approaching the field when we heard the call that the jump plane was five minutes from dropping, so the airfield became a sterile area. No landings were possible until around 10 minutes later when the last canopy was on the ground. There was some careful jockeying just outside the ATZ as we all tried to put ourselves in first place to join the circuit when the field re-opened.

Approaching the coast just south of Beccles

On arrival, we discovered why Beccles has gained its reputation as “the best improved aerodrome in the UK in 2021”. Recent investments mean it now has 3 new hangars, the runway has been resurfaced, a new Cafe & bar has been built, along with 4 new on-site accommodations (including one based in an old double-decker bus). And it was great to see one of our IFFR membership cards on display in the bar.

Note the IFFR advert on prominent display at the bar

Our host for the day IFFR UK member John Raven had arranged for us to have a joint lunch meeting with his Rotary club at the airfield restaurant. We all ate together outside, with the Fisherman’s Platter being the choice of the day.

After lunch, we had an interesting talk on the history of the airfield. It was originally built for the USAAF, it came too late in WWII to be of use to them, so they gave it to the RAF to be used by Coastal Command. From the mid-1960s, it served as the base from which helicopters flew out to the North Sea oil rigs until they transferred to Norwich in the early 1990s. Now it is very much a GA field. In addition to parachuting, it also has flying schools (fixed wing and helicopters) and you can even fly gyrocopters if the mood takes you.

We then gave the Beccles Rotarians a tour of the airfield, and let them see inside our planes – for several of them it was the first time they had been up close to light aircraft.

There was then time for a quick ice-cream, before a super run home in the late afternoon sunshine.

Thanks for the lift, Feroz

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