Disappointment, and a nice surprise!

The plan for today was for me to finally get my solo landaway done. The weather forecast was good, with a weak front moving away to the East, leaving clear skies and good weather behind it.

Luned and I arrived at the airfield in good time, to find the club in slight chaos! There was no fuel available, and the aircraft I was due to fly was virtually empty, and had also been teched because the LV light was on. Luckily, someone was there who could check it out, and although the LV light was on dimly when the engine was at low revs, once it was run up to normal operating power the light went off and the ammeter was showing a good charge. He also agreed to make the short hop over to Enstone to refuel the aircraft, leaving me with full tanks and ready to go.

While he was away I sorted the plan out, and made sure I was happy with the flight I had planned (from Brize to Oxford using Wellesbourne as a turning point). When he returned however, he didn’t have good news. Although the weather on the ground looked perfect, once in the air the visibility was decidedly difficult. He reckoned that it was more like 3 miles or so, something that wasn’t good news to me.

Indy and I ummed and ahhed a little, before deciding I would give it a go, but if at any time I felt unhappy then I would turn around and come back again. I was fairly confident that I could pull the flight off as long as the visibility wasn’t too bad. However, on a previous flight I had problems on a flight to Wellesbourne when I headed back to Brize into the sun in similarly poor visibility. That flight gave me a bit of a scare, and I certainly didn’t want to repeat it.

So, off I went, pre flight checks all done and out to the hold, then onto the runway for a takeoff on 08. Turned crosswind at 500 feet and the visibility was already looking a bit ropey. Persevered and got to Burford at 1000 feet, and things still weren’t looking much better. I told Brize I was on a flight to Oxford via Wellesbourne, and headed for the start point for the Nav, about 10 miles North of Brize, while climbing up to 2000 feet. When I got there, things weren’t looking particularly great ahead of me, so I decided to orbit Shipton to see what things looked like back into the sun. I’m glad I did, because I could barely make out the airfield in the distance, so I decided to abort.

I let Brize Zone know this, and on the way back they told me they’d informed Oxford I was no longer on my way. Made a normal arrival via Burford, joining left base for 08, making a nice landing feeling slightly frustrated.

There was still chance for me to get some more flying in though, as Indy had an IMC lesson planned with Barry. They were intending to head out to somewhere like Cardiff where the weather would hopefully be worse and he could practice an instrument approach there in real IMC. They wanted to do this in Indy’s aircraft, but that was at Oxford. So, the plan was hatched for me to fly over to Oxford with Indy, Barry and Luned, then for them to jump into Echo Alpha while I flew back solo. On the way Indy suggested that perhaps Luned should fly back (I’d been trying to convince Luned that some sort of companion course would be a good idea once we started flying places) and surprisingly she didn’t seem to against the idea!

So, once Indy’s program for the day was complete, we all headed out to Alpha Foxtrot, and I carried out the pre-flight while they all got comfortable. Then made a normal start to the flight, heading out to the hold and then taking off from 08 again. This time things were a little different than normal, as Brize offered me a flight straight through their zone, direct to Oxford. They co-ordinated with Oxford, and we positioned to join for Oxford’s 01 runway on a left base. This threw me slightly, as I had planned for going via Burford, so I had a quick look at the chart to plot a rough course for Oxford. I also took the time to tune in and ident the NDB on the field at Oxford as a bit of a backup.

There are plenty of visual clues on the way to Oxford, so finding it wasn’t too hard. I later found out that Luned was also following our progress by spotting landmarks from the back seat using my old chart! Barry was chattering away in the back to Luned and Indy while I concentrated on getting set up for the approach, but once we got onto short final I asked him (relatively politely!) to keep quiet so I could concentrate on the landing. He obliged and I made a nice approach leading to what I felt was a near perfect landing. I even got a ‘nice landing’ from Barry in the back!

Then it was time for a quick turnaround. I pulled up in front of the pumps so that we could take Alpha Fox back full of fuel, while Indy, Luned and Barry jumped out and (after I gave Luned another prod to take the controls on the way back) they all headed over to Echo Alpha. Once refuelled I headed in to Ops to pay the landing fee and fuel bill, before coming back and doing a quick transit check (including draining the fuel to check it) before getting ready to go.

Indy was ready slightly before me, and I watched them taxy towards the hold as I started the engine and got ready to move off myself. I stopped just behind them to do the power checks as they took off, and then I followed them in fairly short order.

After a drama free takeoff (no problems keeping the centreline on any of my flights today) I said goodbye to Oxford Tower, and contacted Brize Zone to ask for a Burford arrival. Again, they were being helpful and offered a straight in approach to join downwind for 08. I accepted this and headed towards the field (again using the NDB on the field as a backup to my Nav) before realising I hadn’t fully absorbed the circuit direction. I asked for clarification to make sure I was heading for the right downwind, and they prompted me to call ‘field in site’ and I switched to tower.

The rest of the approach was fairly normal, with the slight novelty of following Echo Alpha in, watching them touch down just as I passed the end of the runway on my downwind leg. A normal base and final led to another great landing, obviously being more ‘current’ over the last few days had certainly helped keep my landings up to scratch!

Taxyed back to the flying club to find Echo Alpha parked up, with a grinning Luned sitting in the pilot’s seat! Apparently she’d flown most of the flight, including having control on the takeoff and landing! Not bad going, as it was about 3 or 4 flights into my training before I was trusted to do that 🙂

She seemed to have enjoyed the experience, so I hope that this has convinced her that it would be a good idea for her to be able to take control of the aircraft and land safely should something untoward happen while I’m flying. Indy was very complimentary about her flying on the way back, so hopefully that’ll help too!

So, I’m still waiting to do the solo landaway I had originally planned, but I’d had a great day, and was back in to the swing of flying again. Bring it on!

Total flight time today: Dual 0:20 – Solo – 0:50
Take-offs: 3 – Landings: 3

Total flight time to date: Dual 40:45 – Solo 8:40
Take-offs to date: 107 – Landings to date: 102

One Response to “Disappointment, and a nice surprise!”

  1. Solo, finally! « Andy’s Blog Says:

    […] Andy’s Blog Poker, flight and anything else that comes to mind. « Disappointment, and a nice surprise! […]

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