Going nowhere, and sharing the costs.

Ever since I started this blog, I’d also been following Michael Page’s blog detailing his progress through the PPL. He had started at around the same time as me, but for one reason and another I managed to overtake him and get my PPL first. He’s now trying to get his QXC done so that he can wrap up his training, and recently has been struggling to get slots with his school.

So, with an eye on helping someone out and perhaps saving myself some money into the bargain, I offered him the opportunity of flying with me on a cost sharing basis. Obviously he wouldn’t be able to log the hours, but flying is flying, right?

So we arranged to meet up at Brize, and I showed him what is fast becoming my now ‘standard’ local flight route. Brize -> Shipton under Wychwood -> Wellesbourne -> Sywell -> Silverstone -> Banbury -> Enstone -> Shipton Under Wychwood -> Brize. The plane will be flying itself on this route soon!

We’d both planned the route, and due to all 3 of Brize’s aircraft being unavailable due to going for their annuals at the same time, we took Indi’s aircraft. Because of the group agreement in place on this, that meant Indi had to come with us, but she said she’d just sit in the back and take photos! Indi had carried out the ‘A’ check and booked us out, so after a quick pre-flight we were ready to go.

Michael has done the majority of his training from Oxford, so I handled the R/T and the departure from Brize. I tried to keep him informed as to the various special procedures we have (standard squawk, departing the zone via Burford not above 1000 feet) as I was doing them, and we took off and headed out. Climbed up towards Shipton and set the start time for the first leg. It turned out pretty much all of the headings we’d calculated were within a couple of degrees of each other, so that was reassuring if nothing else!

I flew the first leg to Wellesbourne, ending up slightly East of track as we passed Moreton in the Marsh and again at Shipton on Stour, but we were never far from track. Wellesbourne soon hove into view in the slightly hazy distance, and I called them to let them know we were approaching. Received no reply (as expected, it was around 7pm) so made calls to ‘Wellesbourne Traffic’ to let anyone else in the area know our position.

As we made a 270 degree left turn in the Wellesbourne overhead to get onto our next track to Sywell, I handed over control to Michael. He flew the majority of the rest of the flight, and despite not having flown for several weeks obviously hadn’t forgotten what he was doing! We both made the decision to switch tanks at around the same time (he was starting to notice that slight aileron input was necessary to keep up level) and continued on to Sywell.

Again called them and received no reply, so made ‘Traffic’ calls. Heard a couple of microlights departing from Sywell just as we approached. I’d always had trouble finding Sywell until I actually landed there, but Michael spotted it pretty easily. Heading in from the West it’s relatively easy to find, you just aim for the gap between Northampton and Pitsford Water and you are taken pretty much straight overhead.

Next turn was South West towards Silverstone, and we heard someone calling inbound to Sywell in our general vicinity. We both looked but didn’t spot anything, only for the other aircraft to almost immediately call ‘downwind’. Obviously the initial call of ‘2 miles South West of the field’ hadn’t been particularly accurate!

Continued on to Silverstone, before turning West back towards Banbury. Here the visibility was at its worst as we headed directly into the sun, so I decided that once we were back with Brize Zone I’d ask for a Radar Information Service just to give us an extra set of eyes looking for traffic. This leg took us close to Turweston, so we made ‘Traffic’ calls to them as we passed, before switching to Enstone’s frequency as we left the area around Turweston.

Banbury was difficult to spot in the murk, but ‘dead reckoning’ was working well and we could soon see a large town appearing out of the haze, followed as we got closer by the motorway that winds its way around Banbury, helping us to identify that we were in the right place. We heard someone landing at Enstone over the radio, so made another ‘Traffic’ call giving our position at Banbury, and ETA overhead Enstone.

Enstone was another airfield I used to have difficulty spotting, but other landmarks at Barford St. John and Upper Heyford told us we were heading in generally the right direction, and Enstone soon appeared in front of us. I actually find it easier to see the disused crosswind runway than I do the main runway for some reason!

We turned overhead Enstone and headed back towards Shipton. Once clear of Enstone itself we called Brize Zone back and asked for a Radar Information Service. Once we received this the Zone controller then mentioned that we had only booked out for a one hour flight (we’d now been airbourne perhaps an hour and 10 minutes) and mentioned something about D&D! A little early to be considering alerting action perhaps, but a useful reminder in future to check exactly what’s been arranged if I don’t do the booking out myself!

Shipton soon appeared ahead, and I explained the joining procedures to Michael (pretty much the reverse of leaving the zone, be at Burford at 1000 feet QFE before entering the zone). We were a little high so Michael slipped us nicely down to the required altitude and I made the call to Zone (forgetting to include the ‘Field in sight’ part!) letting them know we were ready for rejoin, and we were passed over to the Tower.

Tower asked us to join downwind (slightly unusual, most joins are to the base leg) and Michael took us towards the field. I prompted him to do a wide downwind (no point overflying Carterton and annoying the locals) and I told him that I’d take over as we were ready to turn base for the landing itself.

Turned base and made the ‘Final’ call, receiving our clearance to land. Was a little wayward on the glidescope and turned Final a little early, but once established on Final everything was nicely stabilised. It’s always great to see the huge welcoming runway on return to Brize!

Approach all went well, and I flared and rounded out as we reached the touchdown point, settling gently onto the runway for one of my nicer landings. Received a ‘Nice landing’ from both of the other aircraft occupants, so felt pretty pleased with myself that I hadn’t embarrassed myself on that front! We taxyed back to the club and refueled before pushing the aircraft back onto the tie downs.

On the whole, a very enjoyable flight, and it’s nice to have another flying companion for future flights. Hopefully this will be the first of many flights with Michael, and once he gains his PPL (hopefully soon!) we can fly together to expand our horizons and also keep the costs down. Roll on the next flight!

Total flight time today: 1:30
Total flight time to date: 67:10

2 Responses to “Going nowhere, and sharing the costs.”

  1. Michael’s Flight Training Diary » Blog Archive » Sociable flying Says:

    […] by very big planes and a very big runway. Andy’s so organised that I don’t even have to write the blog up. Thanks, mate. Indeed, hope to fly with you […]

  2. Michael’s Flight Training Diary » Blog Archive » Diverted dual land-away Says:

    […] two and a half months on the ground (with the notable exception of a right-hand seat trip with Andy last month, which I obviously can’t log), and countless cancellations due to the relentless […]

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