Captain Hawkins – Finally!

I’d been desperately trying to arrange a flight since my licence arrived last week. Saturday was cancelled because of an 800 foot cloud base, and Sunday’s gorgeous looking day was spoiled by 25 gusting 35 winds!

Got fed up with it all, so decided to try for an evening flight. Managed to get out of work on time, and had arranged to take Reg (a poker playing friend who also flies gliders) up for a bit of a tour. Because of the late hour any prospective destinations would be closed, so it was just a ‘local’ flight. I planned to go via Wellesbourne, Sywell, Silverstone, Banbury and Enstone to give Reg a bit of a tour of the area, and to give myself plenty of Nav practice.

Arrived at Brize and met Reg at the gate, before taking him to the club and completing the pre flight paperwork (Reg’s temporary membership form and the tech log from the previous day) before booking out and heading out to the aircraft. It hadn’t flown all day, so I had to do the ‘A’ check after dragging it out of the hangar (and refuelling it because the person who flew it last had left it practically empty!). Reg occupied himself watching a DC-10 doing circuits and a C-130 arrived on the opposite runway!

Was slightly concerned that we might not be able to get off the ground if the circuits continued, but just as we got ready to leave the DC-10 landed for the last time. Got Reg settled in, and got the aircraft started and ready to go. Initially the engine was running rough on one of the mags, but I gave it a higher than normal RPM while it warmed up and the problem had cleared by the time I came to do the power checks. Probably fouled plugs?

At the hold the final checks were completed and we were cleared onto the runway. Last check of compass and DI, and full power was applied and we were off! It was a novelty for Reg to be sitting in the aircraft with the engine, rather than being towed behind it! A relatively normal takeoff followed, and we headed out to Burford.

At Burford, informed ATC of our intentions and climbed up to our cruising altitude on the way to Shipton-under-Wychwood. The airwaves were quiet, and as we neared Wellesbourne we switched to Wellesbourne Information and made the initial call, expecting no response. When we received none, we then made calls to Wellesbourne Traffic, just in case anyone else was in the local area.

Overhead Wellesbourne we made a slow left hand turn to head East towards Northampton and Sywell. The forecast winds were quite strong, but it soon became obvious that they weren’t as strong as all that, so I ended up a few miles South of track. Once we spotted Daventry off to our left (which we should have passed straight over) I corrected back onto track, and pointed us towards Northampton.

Reg had been sitting patiently all this time, so I asked him if he wanted to take over. He looked a little surprised, but given that he was a glider pilot I was pretty sure he would be able to handle it, even if he wasn’t! He had already commented that he wasn’t used to flying in straight lines!

Reg took over and we meandered slightly over to Sywell. I’d tuned the NDB, and pointed out Pitsford Water and Northampton to him. Sywell was directly between them, and after not too long I spotted the buildings to the South of the airfield (amazing how a bit of ‘local’ knowledge makes airfields easier to spot!). We were now talking to Sywell Traffic, and heard another aircraft (a helicopter) calling that he was heading towards Sywell from the East. He was about 500 feet below us, and wouldn’t be overhead Sywell until about 5 minutes after we left, so there was no real conflict.

Overhead Sywell, Reg did another left turn and we headed South West towards Silverstone. It was getting a little hazy by this point, so spotting Silverstone was a little difficult initially. We were heading towards some buildings I’d picked out, but this later turned out to be the outskirts of Milton Keynes! Another reminder that sometimes just sticking to the plan is the best course of action!

Turned slowly right over Silverstone, with Reg and I talking about visits to the British Grand Prix in the past. He’d been lucky to go in the year it was moved to around Easter time, and predictably the heavens opened!

Next turning point was Banbury (put in to avoid Hinton and the aerials to the South, which took us North of Turweston. Banbury soon came up, and we turned towards Enstone.

Enstone is another airfield I’d often had difficulty spotting, and this time we were very close to it before I correctly identified it. While talking to Enstone Traffic we heard another aircraft announcing a PFL onto the airfield, so we turned back towards Brize slightly early rather than turning overhead the field as we had planned. We spotted the other aircraft on his downwind leg as we headed away, and switched back to Brize Zone for the rejoin.

I took control back from Reg (I figured he’d had enough fun for one day!) and headed us back towards Shipton. There were plenty of familiar landmarks visible now, as we could see Little Rissington off in the distance to our right, and Brize itself was soon visible. At Shipton we began our descent and followed the road down to Burford before being switched over to the Tower frequency. Around this point we were rather surprisingly overtaken by a Hercules, perhaps 1000 feet or so above us!

We were cleared to join for runway 26, so I opted for the familiar right base join (conveniently this also involves following another road, this time the A40 as it heads East out of Burford!) and proceeded towards the field. Carried out the landing checks before joining base, and configuring the aircraft for our approach. As we turned final there was initially a small crosswind correction required, but as we got closer to the ground this gradually reduced to the point where the wind was practically straight down the runway.

The final approach to landing was going well, and I entered the round out and aimed to give Reg a nice landing. Sadly I’d flared slightly too high, and the stall warner sounded as we were perhaps a foot or so off the ground, and the touchdown was a little harsher than I would have liked. Still, it was far from my worst landing!

We taxyed back to the hangar and closed down. Reg helped me push the aircraft back into the hangar, and we chatted about the flight on the way back to the club. He said he’d enjoyed it, and my first true experience of being Pilot in Command obviously hadn’t scared him too much!

Right, next victim!

Total flight time today: 1:30
Total flight time to date: 61:55

One Response to “Captain Hawkins – Finally!”

  1. Instrument Refresher (sort of!) « Andy’s Blog Says:

    […] Refresher (sort of!) Had the afternoon off work today, so planned another flight with Reg as it seemed like a good idea! We had planned to go for another local bimble, heading out to the […]

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