Saturday, 22 June 2019

Taking 'The Lunchtime Flyer'

It was a big surprise when my Daughter presented me with my Fathers Day present which turned out to be a trip to the Isle of Wight from the Hovercraft Museum in nearby Lee on the Solent on a Hovercraft on Saturday 22nd June.

The Museum, in conjunction with Hovertravel, arrange a series of events which include a variety of trips on one of the same Hovercraft which normally ply their scheduled passenger service between Ryde and Southsea

The Brochure Cover

The Range of Events and 2019 Dates

As we arrive at the museum gates we can see our craft approaching from Ryde.

It takes a wide sweep to the west before creating Spray and Dust as she swings up onto the Slipway over a large Shingle Bank which has built up on the normally disused slipway.

We discovered that our trip had to wait for 15 minutes while a scheduled, 'Pleasure Flight' around the bay took place. A big demand for the regular service from Southsea on this beautiful sunny day had caused  this unplanned delay.  We were assured that this would not effect the duration of our trip and the time ashore in Ryde.

Meanwhile Ann takes a look around the giant cross channel hovercraft 'The Princess Ann' which, now retired, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

The old ticket office seen here has been replaced by the Garage building behind it.

An old warning sign lies discarded near to the main gate.

Signs on the perimeter fence of what used to be the Fleet Air Arm base of HMS Daedalus with its original Hanger once used to house the Seaplanes originally based here. 

One of the old sliding gates used to access the slipway which is on the other side of the coast road.

With her passengers boarded she is waved off by the ground crew.

Over the hump once again she swings seaward to make her short voyage.

In the distance she makes various maneuvers, giving the passengers a taster ride and display of her flexibility.

From our new vantage point in the queue for our trip she arrives back after 15 minutes. 

She was full for that joyride as the passengers disembark.

There are not so many of us in our queue, however we find on board that some of the previous trip have booked for both flights.

Inside, it is very much like a modern passenger aircraft with its 2-4-2 seating configuration.

The two monitors on the bulkhead, when not advertising, give us a similar safety briefing via video. and yes, The life vests are under our seats. 
The only difference is the lack of Seat Belts to click closed. 

Through the Salt Mist on my window I can see those watching and taking photos from where I was stood a few minutes ago.

Here we are riding over the shingle bank and into the water travelling in reverse. The gap on the slipway is too narrow to allow an 180% turn.

More salt spray hits the window 

Now off shore we swing around giving me a good view of the platform which is lifting the wreck of a WW2 Fairy Barracuda which ditched into the sea just after take off. The pilot was rescued at the time. It is very rare, there being no complete ones in existence.

It is being moved because it is also in the way of the undersea power cables about to be laid from France to the new Interconnector being located on the old airfield.

Passing close to Wooten Creek we pass the new Portsmouth to Isle of Wight car ferry just leaving. 

Rounding the head of Ryde Pier and Fast Ferry Terminal which protrudes out into The Solent due to the wide flat sandy beaches that Ryde enjoys. 

We have soon disembarked after our 10 minute flight.

We have to climb the footbridge over the Ryde to Ventnor Railway line which provide a good viewing point of the surrounding area.

The sweep of the tracks onto the pier indicates how far out into the sea it stretches.

On the other side is the bust station where one may take the open top 'Around the Island' tour if you happen to be there for the whole day of longer. 

The view along the tracks which disappear into a tunnel taking the trains under the hill which the town of Ryde is built on.

The pretty track side gardens to enjoy on this very sunny day.

Just a short time taken to study the Town Map but not too long as we only have an hour and three quarters here. 
Just enough time for Lunch at the local hotel, if you happen to want to do that instead of viewing the town.

After half an hour of browsing, and climbing that hill, we stop in a hotel garden for a much needed coffee.

At the junction, half way up we spot the Town Hall building in Lind Street, which began life as the town's Market Hall.. 

Ryde operates a one way street system with traffic coming towards us here.

The area further up the hill is pedestrianised.

The shaded Church garden was offering a cool place to sit and rest for some of the shoppers.

The Pedestrian Zone

For anyone who views Ryde from sea or across the Solent, this All Saints church tower is the landmark which indicates where the town of Ryde is as it protrudes high above the rest of the buildings. 

All Saints Church, Ryde.

The view across the Solent to Portsmouth & Southsea, Britain's other most populated island, from half way up Union Street. Ryde's main shopping area.

The almost 200 year old Victoria Arcade. The place to go for Antiques and Collectibles, the Museum and very reasonably priced 'Regatta' brand rain wear.

The Royal Coat of Arms on the rooftop.

Statues on the roof of the former Hughes and Mullins store on Union Street Ryde

Gustav William Henry Mullins (1854-1921) was a portrait photographer, patronised by Queen Victoria.

Gustav Mullins was a partner in the firm Hughes & Mullins, photographers, based at Union Street, Ryde, Isle of Wight. 

His firm held the Royal Warrant and photographed members of the British royal family and their guests at Osborne House, Queen Victoria’s holiday home on the island.

Advertising the Saucy Postcard Museum.

As we approach the sea front on our return to the Hovercraft the rhythmic sound of this drumming band filled the air.

The full scene

Our view of the mainland from Ryde with Portsmouth's Spinnaker Tower clear to see in the centre.

Our craft awaits us as it seems to be delivering the Mail.

As we climb the footbridge again we see one of the Islands Trains. Retired London Underground Trains replaced the original steam engines and carriages which may now be found on the Steam Railway here:

About to stop at the town station before continuing to the Pier Head Station out at sea.

The Ice Rink.

Further over is the Ten Pin Bowling Centre

Now back on board with nicely cleaned windows, there is that footbridge.

The very smart Hovercraft Terminal Building seen as we turn on the slipway before heading out to sea.

In the distance, two of the Napoleonic Sea Forts can just be seen.

The scheduled service from Southsea passes by going towards the island.

The Fast Passenger Ferry to Portsmouth has just left the Ryde Pierhead before us.

Thanks to the nicely cleaned windows I get this clear shot of Portsmouth.

The Lee on the Solent coast is clear ahead of us.

One would think that we are stationary but we are whizzing along.

It is impossible not to see the Spinnaker Tower over the fortification banking at Gosport.

These old Gravel Banks on the Gunnery Ranges at Browndown used to have large white numbers and Letters along their tops.

This Hovercraft day was originally scheduled for next weekend, however the famous Round The Island Yacht Race will be taking place then.

Negotiating the many yachts out today was hairy enough for the captain as we needed to dodge five of them to get through here. 

Some of the houses at Lee on the Solent's Marine Parade East.

Lee's main shops which were opposite where the old pier and tower would have been and the Red Roof of the Amusement Arcade which used to form part of the railway station complex.

There is the slipway and those old Seaplane Hangers of our destination

Our wake as we broadside in towards the slipway.

Almost the Pilots Eye view as we head for the shingle hump.

A last shot of Lee from the sea.

Across the craft and through the port window, the car park at Salterns looks busy.

Our house is just above that bungalow behind the trees.

We momentarily lurch upwards as we cross the hump.

Stationery now it is time to leave. 

A quick photo of our Captain who has just climbed down through the floor of his bridge.

While the journey from Ryde only took about 10 minutes everyone seems to have enjoyed it.

There is a queue waiting for the next Pleasure Flight.

Farewell Solent Flyer - I am sure we will be back next time.

One last look as we walk back to our car.

I hope you enjoyed the trip.