Light Aircraft Association Rally 2018
Sywell, Northamptonshire 31 March – 2nd April 2018
Report by Peter Davison
This popular annual event is unique in the British aviation calendar and is long established at Sywell. Though dependant on the weather, this year near perfect, it attracts homebuilders in particular to network and purchase components and learn from both experts and peers the skills required to build, fly and operate in the general aviation environment. It naturally attracts enthusiasts and photographers keen to record all that is new and of special interest in one location. This generates considerable income for the LAA and its contributors and encourages the next generation of private pilots, engineers and fabricators.
Vans aircraft confirmed their dominance of the homebuilt market with numerous examples among over nine hundred visiting aircraft. Sywell attempts to park similar types together; challenging for the ground marshals, some of whom came specially from North Weald in Essex. Type concentration not only highlights multiple attendees but also allows unique ‘one-offs’ to stand out. It also places pilots near like minded and equipped folk with whom they can share experiences.
Recent years has seen an increase in modern gyrocopters and this year a rare outing for some of Ken Wallis’ collection showed something of the lineage. Their safety and simplicity of operation has certainly improved dramatically.
The static park featured some historic types including Mew Gulls, a Comper Swift and classic twins from the Miles family, Gemini and Messenger. As a contrast one of the new streamlined Tecnam P2006Ts graced the visitor park. Timber has, in part, been super-ceeded by fibre-glass and composites.
Within the sales tents were workshop opportunities and demonstrations of basic manufacturing techniques plus talks and presentations on flight safety and GA regulations. Given the considerable cost of pilot training, even at PPL level, it is commendable that these training opportunities are available for the minimal price of an admission ticket.
The LAA now has a new headquarters building at Turweston Airfield and is increasing in its professionalism each year. With ongoing battles to protect and preserve general aviation facilities across the country at least this organisation seems well equipped to represent the sector. The adult approach to allow and control airside access is to be applauded. This public engagement with both safety and common sense encourages a culture of understanding and regulation that certainly encourages new members to join the sector.