Friday tea-time, damp, moored up just in time to avoid a proper soaking, hatches battened down, and we were warming ourselves up while watching the cloud base lowering to about 400ft and the wind picking up, when a loud noise startled all of us our of our post cruise lethargy.
Straight over the boat, scud-running under the solid low overcast at (at most) 300ft above the ground, was a Douglas DC3, a large old twin-engined airliner more often known as a Dakota. Hanging a smart left and right to avoid the Banbury housing estate, then barely clearing the ridge of hills that runs alongside the canal from Banbury down to Adderbury it disappeared from view: we were holding our breath waiting for the bang and cloud of black smoke to appear over the ridge-line (and which fortunately never materialized).
It’s bad enough watching the helicopter heroes scud-running at low level in crap weather, but at least they can slow down, hover and if necessary land in a field. Can’t imagine what the Dakota driver thought he was doing or think of any close airfields to Banbury these days. Perhaps he was making an ill-advised visual recovery into Kidlington (sorry, “London Oxford Airport”), but military style nap-of-the-earth flying in an antique airliner is not only in direct contravention of Rule 5 of the Air Navigation Order, but downright suicidal, one would have thought. Quite discombobulating.
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