Flying family – another generation this time!

Mum was over visiting from Northern Ireland this week, so I thought it wouldn’t be right if we didn’t get up in the air at some point! All 3 Brize aircraft are still away on annuals at the moment, but luckily Indi came to the rescue, offering up Echo Alpha on the condition that she had to be in the aircraft with us (due to the group agreement they have).

So Friday dawned, and the weather wasn’t looking great, and then the chances of flying looked even less likely when Indi phoned to say she was having car trouble! However, a backup plan was hatched, Indi would get the train down and we would go and collect her from the station. A chat with the lady in the Met Office at Brize also gave a glimmer of hope, she was forecasting that the cloud would start to lift within an hour or two, and conditions should be better by then.

So at around 2pm I headed out to check Echo Alpha over, leaving Indi to bring Luned and Mum out to the aircraft after a quarter of an hour or so. We all boarded (Mum in front!) and I explained the seat belts and door operation to her. Pre flight was all normal, and we were given taxy clearance. I explained to mum that some of the things I was doing (like weaving all over the taxi-way and reving the engine up against the brakes!) were all normal and part of the pre flight checks. Finally gave an emergency brief before we were cleared to take off.

We were on 08 today (relatively unusual) and after takeoff we headed up to Burford on the normal standard departure. From there we climbed to Shipton under Wychwood, before heading off to Sywell via Enstone and Banbury. The flight was all relatively normal, and Mum seemed to be Ok with what was going on. I pointed out various landmarks to her as we passed them, although sh was seated a little low so couldn’t see much in front of her!

Sywell were using runway 03R today, as they had practice sessions on for a helicopter competition. This meant that the FISO was being kept plenty busy giving taxy instructions to the helicopters operating on the airfield, as well has handling inbound flights. We joined overhead, with someone else descending on the deadside just as we came overhead. By the time I had positioned to start descending myself he had called downwind, so there was plenty of spacing between us.

Mum later said she wasn’t completely prepared for the view as a turned overhead and began to descend. She’s used to flying EasyJet and the like, but all you get is a glimpse of the ground to the side through a little portal, as opposed to the panoramic view out of the front seat of a light aircraft.

We continued around the circuit, and I think I cut the corner of the turn to base a little early, as we ended up slightly high on final. I descended a little steeper than I normally would which meant I was probably carrying a little more airspeed than necessary as we crossed the threshold, but managed to bleed this off without too much drama before making a relatively gentle touchdown. Had to use the brakes to slow us down, and then taxyed (avoiding the helicopters everywhere!) to park and go for a cup of tea!

Mum seemed relatively calm afterwards, so obviously the flight hadn’t been too traumatic for her!

We planned the route home via Silverstone (a very familiar route for me now!) and spoke to Turweston on the way as we passed to the North of the field. Went direct from Banbury to Shipton (which meant a bit of in flight ‘diversion’ calculation as I’d planned to go via Enstone) before being cleared into the Zone by the controllers at Brize.

There was a heavy in the circuit as we approached, so as we joined (unusually joining ‘midpoint deadside’) we then had to orbit as we positioned ourselves on left base. We orbited a number of times as the heavy completed a couple of circuits, before the Tower controller asked him to extend his next circuit to allow us to land. We continued our approach (towards the nice long runway at Brize!) and made a relatively gentle touchdown, albeit with a small amount of crab that I failed to kick off correctly.

Indi’s next flights were from Enstone over the weekend, so we kicked Luned and Mum out (metaphorically!) and headed straight off to Enstone to reposition Echo Alpha. Indi did most of the flying on this leg, showing me a few more ‘advanced’ flying techniques that might come in useful on future flights. Landed at Enstone without incident, then sat chatting outside OSF as we waited for Luned to arrive after her drive from Brize to Enstone. From there, where else could we go but to a local pub for tea!

What a great day.

Total flight time today: 2:10
Total flight time to date: 69:20

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