Airfield weather station serves locals
PERCHED 20 feet up and looking over a site that once played host to Spitfires during the second world war, it would be easy to miss.A white and black device with a long antennae, it quietly goes about its job without a sound or movement to draw attention to the thousands of calculations going on within.
PERCHED 20 feet up and looking over a site that once played host to Spitfires during the second world war, it would be easy to miss.
A white and black device with a long antennae, it quietly goes about its job without a sound or movement to draw attention to the thousands of calculations going on within. But this unassuming weather station, based at Ludham Airfield, is not just potentially saving the lives of pilots - it is also offering a tailored service to the surrounding community.
The weather station was installed in December, and information is connected to a website to help pilots find out online about local weather conditions.
And thanks to the community spirit of those who set it up, it now offers local people a good way of getting their own weather information. From windspeeds to the time the sun will set, it gives detail often missed by the county-wide reports and is the brainchild of ex-RAF pilot Pete Birch, 47, and co-owner of the airfield, Don Sargant.
When they set it up, the pair were keen to make sure its use would extend beyond aviators, and Mr Birch was in a perfect position to make this happen. Having flown in operations with the RAF for 22 years, including those in Bosnia and Iraq, he now owns his own IT company, Wiggly Amps Ltd.
His team spent 30 hours setting up a website which receives information direct from the weather station that was understandable to the layman, as well as testing the machine itself.
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He said: “We had it in our office, and we would blow on it and use a watering can on it to make sure everything was working as it should before we put it up. It was tailored toward the aviator but then we realised we had lots of information that was useful for locals too, so we've set up a page specifically.”
For father-of two Mr Sargant, who lives in Ludham, this was just another way of being respectful to the local community, a responsibility he emphasises the pilots who fly at the airfield take seriously.
He said: “In the past we have taken local people up on flights, and it's important people around here can benefit from something that helps us too.”
Mr Sargant added that a localised weather service was especially important around Ludham because the role that the coast plays in making weather vary within small distances, and because the number of sailors in the area.
Mercury Village Life correspondent Christine Wall, who lives near the airfield, thought the service could prove very useful. She said: “To have something you can look at to see the local weather in your area is very welcome, and we've had good relations with the pilots at the airfield.”
Go to: http://www.g-ludm.co.uk/