Another local, another first time passenger

Given the TAF for today, I’d been really expecting to be writing another ‘damn weather’ type post today. The forecast was generally good, but with the wind increasing throughout the day with gusts forecast as well.

As luck would have it, an earlier slot opened up (I was due to fly at 2pm, but the previous booking was cancelled) and when I spoke to Matt he said that given the forecast was only for ‘TEMPO’ gusty conditions, he was happy to authorise me for the flight, particularly given that I wasn’t planning to land away anywhere.

I phoned Mark (a first time passenger) to let him know we’d be going early, and arrived in plenty of time at the club to complete the PLOG for the flight. The flight had also been switched from G-VICC to G-WFFW (a bit of a mouthful!) at late notice, and I hadn’t flown this aircraft as of yet. I used the time to give Mark a bit of a briefing as to what to expect, and to make sure he knew to let me know if he was ever unhappy at any point.

Matt arrived back and announced that conditions were still good, so Mark and I headed out to the aircraft to get away as quickly as possible. The planned route was one I was going to do with Reg when I last cancelled a flight, leaving Lyneham then heading initially to Malmesbury. From there, West to cross the Severn at the bridges, before turning North to Hereford. Then East to Great Malvern, before heading back South past Gloucester to Stroud and a rejoin.

The planned route

The planned route

Got Mark up into the co-pilot’s seat while I did the walkaround so he could start getting himself comfortable and acclimatised. He’d told me on the drive over to the field that he ‘hated flying’ so I was a little nervous at having a potential panicy passenger on my hands for the first time. The walkaround all looked normal, so I got Mark out of the way so I could take my seat, then he joined me again. We had a little trouble getting the door closed, but eventually managed it with a few contortions to get me past Mark!

Once settled in, I began the checks before we could start. Got as far as the ‘Start clearance’ checklist item, and hit a slight snag. As I said earlier, this was my first flight in this particular aircraft, and I couldn’t find the avionics master switch! Lesson for future reference, always get familiar with the cockpit of an aircraft before you fly it for the first time! Between us we eventually found it (blatantly obvious once we knew where it was) and I got clearance to start. Engine start was all normal (it was still warm from the previous flight) and we were soon ready for taxy clearance.

A usual taxy route via the 18 loop to 24, stopping on the loop for the power checks. All normal, so we headed out to the hold for the pre-departure checks and departure clearance.

At the hold, ready to go

At the hold, ready to go

No issues there, so we taxyed out to 24 and were ready to go.

Rolling!

Rolling!

 Departure was normal (the wind was still pretty light) and we headed North to Malmesbury to start the route. From there we headed West towards the Severn, switching to Filton to get Flight Information from them for this leg. As we progressed I thought I spotted the two bridges, and headed towards the Northern one (we’d planned to cross the old bridge). As we got closer I soon spotted the two bridges off to the left. The track we were following would take us close to one of the two power stations on the banks of the Severn, so I corrected and headed directly for the old bridge.

Crossing the Severn at the bridges

Crossing the Severn at the bridges

Once we crossed the Severn, we headed North, passing Chepstow Racecourse on our left. I asked Mark if he’d like to have a try, and he was quite keen so I handed over control to him. Initially he had slight trouble keeping us heading in the correct direction, but he soon got the hang of it once I pointed out the various instruments to use as a cross check.

The leg went normally, and we passed what I thought was Ross on Wye to the right. It soon became obvious that this was in fact Hereford, so I had Mark do a 180 (initially his bank was a little steep, so I had to correct this to bring it back to something more comfortable) and we headed back to Hereford. We’d arrived there some 2 minutes earlier than the plan said, so there was obviously more of a tailwind than had been forecast.

We headed East towards Great Malvern, aiming for the highest point on the ridge as our turning point. I warned Mark that as we got closer to the ridge it might start getting a little turbulent, and that he should hand back control any time he wasn’t happy. As we neared the ridge it did indeed get quite a bit more turbulent, so I told Mark to ‘cut the corner’ rather than flying through the worst of it. Things didn’t really improve, so Mark handed back control to me until we got back to smoother air.

As we cleared the ridge things started to settle down again. I got us back on course and handed control back to Mark. We were now talking to Gloucester as we’d be passing within a couple of miles of the field. We were also getting useful traffic information by listening in on the frequency as other people crossed the area. There was an Arrow heading in from the South (originating at Bembridge) towards us as we passed Gloucester, but we never spotted him.

Passing West abeam Gloucester

Passing West abeam Gloucester

From Gloucester we were aiming to pass over the ridge near Stroud. Again things got a little turbulent, and we were getting close to Lyneham by now anyway so I took control back from Mark. He was definitely getting the hang of things towards the end, perhaps we’ve got another potential pilot on our hands!

From Stroud we headed for Malmesbury, now talking to Lyneham Zone for our rejoin. By the time we reached Malmesbury we had the field in site, so switched to the Tower. Runway in use was still 24, and we were just given instructions to ‘join’. I aimed for a right base join as usual. As we neared the field, for some reason I couldn’t get the picture quite right in my head. I couldn’t see 24, and confused the disused runway with 18, which meant I was actually lining up for a straight in approach to 18. It was obvious from the DI and the compass that I was wrong however, and soon sorted things out to join correctly for 24.

Asked for a wind check, and was told 220, 15 gusting 25. Well, this would be interesting, but I’d landed in similar conditions before now. As I turned final, the crosswind effect was obvious from the amount I had to crab to maintain the centre line, and I decided to keep the speed up slightly and only use two stages of flap during the approach.

Lined up on final. Note the right hand edge of the cowling at the bottom of the picture!

Lined up on final. Note the right hand edge of the cowling at the bottom of the picture!

As we reached the last few hundred feet of the approach, there was a small amount of wind shear present that needed some concentration to deal with. However, once we got close to the runway this cleared, and I was left with a fairly standard crosswind landing. I kicked off the crab as we flared, and made a nice gentle touchdown with the stall warner bleating, albeit slightly to the right of centre line.

The approach and landing had been good enough for us to easily make the turn off for the 18 loop (meaning I’d landed in about 400 metres or so). We taxyed back to the wash bay, and after refuelling took the obligatory photo of Mark with Fox Whisky.

Mark after the flight

Mark after the flight

On the whole it was a very successful flight, despite a few navigational hitches along the way. Hopefully Mark will be back for more!

Total flight time today: 1:30
Total flight time to date: 79:15

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One Response to “Another local, another first time passenger”

  1. Repeating last week’s flight with another first time passenger! « Andy’s Blog Says:

    […] Andy’s Blog Poker, flight and anything else that comes to mind. « Another local, another first time passenger […]

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