Ledbury, Worcester and Wellesbourne again.

Plan for today was for me to do the Ledbury, Worcester and Wellesbourne NavEx again solo. However, it wasn’t to be. From the ground the weather looked great, but there was a distinct haze layer that meant sending me off solo was perhaps not the best of ideas.

So, the plan was that we were going to re-do the route dual again, and get in some PFLs on the way back as I hadn’t done any in a while.

Then Indy sprung a surprise on me. Lynne (the club’s Ops Manager, and a pretty experienced PPL) was going to come along for the ride and sit in the back. I’d had a passenger before on a very early lesson, but he hadn’t done much flying so wasn’t really an ‘experienced’ eye. This would be my first chance to impress (or fail to impress!) someone other than my instructor.

So, off we headed, and when we got up there the visibility was definitely quite poor. We headed out towards the route’s start point (the Northleach Roundabout) and I had trouble even finding that despite it only being 3 or 4 miles from Brize Norton.

Finally spotted it, and set course for Ledbury. This would take us 2 or 3 miles North of Gloucester airfield, so we were talking to them and receiving a Flight Information Service almost as soon as we left Brize. Headed over Cheltenham, and across the M5. At this point we were only 2 or 3 miles from the field, but all we could see were the cluster of buildings around it, not the runway itself.

Carried on, over the Severn, and headed towards the M50 and Ledbury. At around this point we heard another aircraft report he was inbound for Gloucester from Ledbury, at 2500 feet. This was pretty much the same course as we were on, but we were at 2700 feet. Even so, a bit close for comfort so we were keeping a good lookout.

However, the visibility was such that I probably wouldn’t have seen the other aircraft with much more than 500 yards warning, so Indy told me to climb to 3000 feet (a decision that in hindsight I should have made myself). A couple of minutes after we did this, Lynne spotted the other aircraft flying a few hundred feet directly below us. Definitely would have been a close call if we hadn’t climbed.

We’d drifted a little right of track, and Ledbury was spotted about 3 miles off our left wing, so I headed for it so that I could set my time for the second leg towards Worcester. There was a lot of paraglider activity over the hills, and we gave them a wide berth by climbing.

Arrived at Worcester pretty much on schedule, but the vis meant spotting the split in the river a little difficult, so I probably ended up turning earlier than I should have.

Set track for Wellesbourne, and flew on it for a few minutes before I realised we were seeing things that I didn’t recognise from the previous flight. Then Lynne spotted an airfield off our right hand side, which turned out to be the disused field near Pershore. This is the area we were trying to avoid by adding Worcester as a turning point, so I headed North to get back on track, which was basically just as we crossed the road heading East out of Worcester.

As we neared Stratford we spotted another aircraft off our right wing at a slightly lower height, doing much the same speed as we were. We had Stratford in sight, and should have tracked straight over it, but at this point the other aircraft started to turn slightly left, bringing him right in front of our track. I kept a good eye on him, and as he passed under the nose turned slightly right so as to keep him in sight.

By now we had spotted Wellesbourne, so after ensuring the other aircraft was sufficiently far away, we headed for Wellesbourne and the turning point.

Turned as planned, and headed South on the last leg to Brize. We passed the checkpoint at Shipton on Stour and a couple of minutes later Indy pulled power on me, announcing ‘simulated engine failure’. Gulp.

So, first priority is to trim for the glide and pick a field, which I did. I then went through the checks to get the engine started, basically changing fuel tanks, checking mags, fuel pump and carb heat on, and making sure the mixture is rich, and exercising the throttle. This done, and realising the engine wasn’t going to start, you then make a mayday call and brief the passengers (ideally the other way around so that they don’t panic when they hear you making the ‘mayday’ call!). Then it’s just a question of reaching the field.

For the first attempt I was miles high, so we went around and I tried again. This one was also high, but a field beyond my first choice was acceptable so we headed into that. Indy let me go right down to about 200 feet before telling me to go around. We climbed away, making a gentle turn to avoid a village, and Indy cut the engine again, announcing ‘simulated engine failure after takeoff’.

In this instance, there’s not much you can do apart from trim for the best glide ratio, and pick a field in front of you. Guess what? I was too high again…

Must try to practice this a bit more I think.

This done, we headed back to Brize, switched to tower at Burford and then Indy said we would overshoot and then try a bad weather circuit. Got approval for this from the tower and set up on final as normal.

Once down at 200 feet or so, we went around, and entered a bad weather circuit. For this, you make a continuous 180 degree turn onto downwind, keeping tight into the runway so as not to lose sight of it. Then you’re supposed to do the downwind leg at 75 knots so as not to run out of time. However, I’d forgotten this, and continued to bang along downwind at 100 knots as normal! Whoops.

The turn to final is the same, a continuous turn, ideally bringing you into line with the runway for a normal landing.

All in all not a bad flight. Not entirely sure how we ended up so far off track between Worcester and Wellesbourne (and the GPS logging failed for some reason) but at least it was recognised and we got back on track.

Plan for tomorrow is to fly the route again solo if at all possible, or perhaps to get my wife into an aircraft with me for the first time!

Total flight time today: Dual 1:50 – Solo – 0:00
Take-offs: 1 – Landings: 1

Total flight time to date: Dual 29:40 – Solo 6:30
Take-offs to date: 88 – Landings to date: 83

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One Response to “Ledbury, Worcester and Wellesbourne again.”

  1. A Jolly to Shobdon « Andy’s Blog Says:

    […] announced that she was impressed with the improvement in my flying since her last flight with me, which was nice to hear! We chatted over a cup of tea over the adventure of the day, and I was […]

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