Repeating last week’s flight with another first time passenger!

After last weekend’s successful flight with Mark, Dave had asked if he could come for a flight with me sometime. So I made a booking for this weekend and eagerly watched the weather throughout the week! The route was the same as last week, taking in the Severn Bridges, Hereford and Great Malvern before returning past Gloucester and Stroud.

The planned route

The planned route

The weather forecast was almost exactly the same as it was for last weekend, and conditions turned out to be very similar too. We were due to fly between 11am and 2pm, with the wind gradually increasing through the day, and the cloudbase lowering with perhaps some rain later on.

We arrived at the club in plenty of time, and I left Dave in the ‘Departure Lounge’ while I went out and did the ‘A’ check on Fox Whisky. A quick check of the P2 seat showed that it had at least dried out since I forgot to put the cover back on the aircraft last weekend! My ‘Closing down’ checklist now includes

Cover Aircraft!

in large letters underneath so that I would (hopefully!) not forget in future!

The ‘A’ check was complete in plenty of time, and I’d also completed the required pre flight planning. There was no instructor around to authorise me, so I tried to get hold of Matt, to no avail. I was just coming back in to the club to get the phone numbers of some other instructors when I heard John returning from his sortie in G-VICC. Sorted!

A quick chat with him got the required authorisation, and I got the ATIS and booked out. Walked Dave out to the aircraft and we got settled. Pre flight checks were completed, and I called for start clearance. Once this was given it took me two goes to get the engine started (it was the first flight of the day so I probably didn’t prime it sufficiently, although I doubt this was too re-assuring for Dave!), and we taxyed out to the 18 loop for power checks.

Had to wait a little while for the engine to start up (include a little over aggressive leaning on my part which actually stalled the engine, again, sorry Dave!) before we could do the power checks, and while waiting called or our departure clearance. While we were waiting an unusual (to me!) high winged tailwheel aircraft approached and landed on runway 18. Must find out what that was!

Once power checks were complete we switched to Tower and called ‘ready for departure’ and were given an immediate ‘Clear Take Off’. No hanging about today! Taxyed out to the runway, quick check with Dave to make sure he was Ok and we began rolling. The aircraft was a little skittish on the runway, probably due to me not giving it enough into wind aileron to counter the effects of the wind. Rotated at a slightly higher than normal speed, before lifting off from the runway.

Headed North, switching to Zone and then proceeded out of the Zone towards Malmesbury and our Nav starting point. As we headed there we heard the local Police helicopter calling for a Zone Transit, so were on our best behaviour! The weather was slightly hazy, which meant we couldn’t make out any of the usual Navigation features in the far distance like the River Severn and the Welsh Mountains. Still, things weren’t so bad as to make me concerned, so we pressed on.

On reaching Malmesbury we turned West, and switched over to Filton for a Flight Information Service as we had last week. There was a fair amount of traffic heading in and out of Filton, and we passed through a very light rain shower on our way. Again we ended up North of track, so had to make a significant left turn as we neared the Severn to head for the bridges, with Dave clicking away with his camera through this leg.

We crossed the Severn over the old bridge, and then turned North towards Hereford, informing Filton as we turned. Was surprised to have then ask ‘Report turning at Hereford’ (I wouldn’t have thought they’d particularly want to be speaking to me that far out) so remained on their frequency this time, rather than make an early switch to Gloucester.

Passed by the quarry Mark and myself had noticed during our last flight. Dave enquired as to what it was too, so I made a mental note to try to find out what it was when I got home. It seems to be the National Diving and Activity Centre, sited in an old quarry.

The National Diving and Activity Centre

The National Diving and Activity Centre

As we passed Chepstow on our left, I offered Dave the chance to take control. He seemed a little surprised, but took control for a little while on this leg. Things started to get a little turbulent as we crossed the undulating ground below, and Dave ended up handing back control to me before we reached Hereford. Perhaps I should have given him a little more notice on the ground about this, so that he wasn’t so concerned he might ‘do the wrong thing’. Still, if he wasn’t happy at the controls there was no sense in trying to pressure him.

Managed to spot Hereford correctly this time, and turned to head for Great Malvern. Said goodbye to Filton, and switched to Gloucester Approach for the return leg. Yet again things were pretty turbulent over the ridges near Great Malvern, so we ‘cut the corner’ to avoid the worst of it, heading South back towards home. This leg would take us within a few miles of Gloucester Airport, so paid close attention to the other traffic talking to them on the radio.

As we passed abeam Gloucester, another aircraft arrived on frequency inbound to Gloucester from Filton. This was the direction we were heading in, so the controller gave us both traffic information about each other, and we both kept a good lookout. A few minutes later I spotted another aircraft passing a mile or so away down our right hand side, a few hundred feet below us.

We were soon approaching Stroud, so we signed off from Gloucester to talk to Lyneham Zone again for the rejoin. We passed between Aston Down and Nympsfield, keeping a good lookout and spotting a glider circling below us to our left, possibly heading back in to Aston Down. Later while passing Kemble the controller gave us information of some crossing traffic ahead, which we spotted soon after. I probably shouldn’t rely on traffic information being given while on a Flight Information Service, but it’s always good to have an extra set of eyes on the ground.

The Zone frequency was quite busy as we approached, with one aircraft transitting and a Hercules on its approach to land. Managed to get a little confused on the way in (thinking that Tetbury was actually Malmesbury) but some help from the position of Kemble and the ADF needle convinced me that we weren’t at Malmesbury, and we soon spotted it (and the Dyson factory) up ahead. Informed the Zone controller that we were overhead Malmesbury with the field in site, and he cleared us into the Zone, not above 1000 feet on the Lyneham QFE. He also informed us of the Hercules on long final, which I soon spotted. Once we heard him on the ground, I started the clock on the transponder to ensure we were well clear of him in terms of Wake Turbulence (but then promptly forgot to check it again!).

After switching to the Tower frequency, we were cleared to join for runway 24. We joined Right Base, and a quick wind check was met with the response ‘South Westerly, 15 knots’. A bit of mental arithmetic later I worked out this was about 15 degrees off the runway, so a crosswind component of just 6 knots or so. Nothing too dramatic! Called ‘Right Base’ and was given immediate ‘Clear to Land’.

I acknowledged this with ‘Clear to land, gear down, G-FW’. This was met with a ‘Say again’ from the Controller, and I repeated my transmission. He then responded ‘Roger, we understand you have fixed gear?’ (in other words ‘So why are you telling me it’s down?’). I’d made the call because we’re supposed to call ‘Final, gear down’ (according to the Club’s Flying Order Book) to save the Controller then having to ask us if we have our gear down (as the majority of their traffic will have retractable gear). Oh well, just trying to be helpful!

The runway lights were on today, perhaps because of the Herc that had just landed before us and the poor visibility. Makes for quite a nice photograph!

Continuing down Final with the lights on!

Continuing down Final with the lights on!

Things got a bit turbulent as we continued down Final, and we heard G-VICC coming on frequency for a Right Base join behind us. As I was having to work a fair bit at the controls to keep the centreline, I left 2 stages of flap in, and politely (hopefully!) told Dave ‘I need to concentrate now if that’s Ok’. As usual, the turbulence eased somewhat as we approached the ground, and the crosswind effect also seemed a lot less down at this height. Made one of my better landings (nice and gentle touchdown with the stall warner sounding) and braked gently so that we could make the 18 loop turnoff.

Asked the Controller ‘G-CC, request taxy to the wash bay’ and received no response. I then realised that I wasn’t in G-VICC (whoops) so repeated the message with the correct call sign. I wonder what the pilot of G-VICC behind me thought when he heard himself asking for taxy instructions while he was still barely on final! Confusion sorted, we taxyed back, and had to carefully make our way to the bowser to refuel, as there was someone in the Firefly quite near the bowser about to start. G-VICC was also about to go out, so the whole fleet was in action today!

The Lyneham Fleet all waiting to fly!

The Lyneham Fleet all waiting to fly!

As we refuelled the next pilot for Fox Whisky arrived, so that at least saved us having to push the aircraft back to its parking space and put the cover on! We were soon also joined by G-VICC, leading to a bit of a traffic jam near the bowser!

So, another successful flight with a first time passenger. Dave said he’d enjoyed the flight, and he seemed to take quite an interest during the flight, asking questions regarding pressure settings and some of the other R/T he heard. He seems keen to come for another flight sometime soon, so hopefully next time we can actually go somewhere (ideally with his good lady too!) rather than just burning holes in the sky for no good reason!

Total flight time today: 1:25
Total flight time to date: 80:40

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