Same route, different passengers!

Trying to keep up the rate at which I’m flying, I had an aircraft booked today. Had arranged with Ben and Danni to take them for a bit of a tour, so they arrived at our place in good time, had a quick cuddle with Catrin and we headed off to Lyneham.

At the club I completed the planning for the flight, which didn’t take long as I’ve flown this route so often recently, it’s a simple matter of copying an old plog and then just calculating headings based on the day’s wind forecast. The weather was almost perfect, so we sat in the club’s departure lounge waiting for the aircraft to return from its previous flight.

While giving them the required pre-flight briefing, I learned that Ben isn’t a good passenger, and Danni has a tendency for feeling sick in aircraft! Joy :). I had a good supply of sick bags with me, but gave Danni as many tips as I could to try to avoid the onset of any sickness during the flight.

Once the aircraft returned I completed the required paperwork, booked out with ATC and made sure I had an authorisation from one of the club Instructors before we headed out and got settled in the aircraft. Got Ben and Danni comfortable, made sure they knew how the belts and door worked, and called for start clearance.

After the plug fouling problems on a recent flight, I was taxying with the engine leaned aggressively (after a tip from the kind folks on the ukga forums) to try to prevent this happening again. However the engine was nicely warmed from the previous flight, so there was no waiting around before the power checks.

Power checks completed and departure clearance obtained, I called ‘Ready for Departure’ and was cleared out onto the runway. As I was rolling into position was given takeoff clearance, so after a quick check with the passengers that all was well, I increased power to full, checked the RPMs and began the takeoff roll.

No crosswind to speak of today, so a nice gentle take off (perhaps a little early as the stall warner bleated briefly) and we were climbing on the runway heading. Turned to the North West at 500 feet and switched to the Approach frequency, receiving Basic Service from them until we cleared the zone.

Once overhead Malmesbury we headed to the West, and switched to the Filton Approach frequency, as we had hoped to fly through the Filton overhead for a glimpse of their Concorde. At this point had the flight’s main glitch, as I neglected to switch the transponder from the Lyneham squawk back to the ‘VFR’ squawk of 7000. Usually the controller will remind you to do this as you leave the frequency, although that’s no excuse – I should have remembered myself. What was worse was that I only noticed my mistake as we turned South from Leominster some 40 minutes or so later!

Unfortunately there was no response from Filton, so heading through their overhead didn’t seem sensible and we headed straight for the Severn Bridges. On this leg I gave Danni a quick brief on how the aileron and elevator controls worked, and a quick introduction to flying straight and level, in preparation for her taking the controls later in the flight. Another aircraft appeared on frequency trying to raise Filton Approach several times, and I eventually made a call to him indicating that I also had received no response. Aside from that, all was quiet and there wasn’t much traffic to be seen on the journey West.

As we reached the Severn Bridges and crossed the Bristol Channel, I turned to the North, pointing out Chepstow Racecourse and other ‘interesting’ landmarks on the route, before handing control to Danni. Initially she found maintaining straight and level flight somewhat difficult, and a number of times I had to exert pressure on the controls as the nose came up and speed began to decay.

Danni at the controls

Danni at the controls

A quick check with Ben on the back seat showed that he wasn’t particularly enjoying it, but like a true gentleman he stayed quiet and allowed Danni to continue. We meandered slightly from track, but Danni started to get the hang of things and we approached Leominster.

Ben relaxing on the back seat

Ben relaxing on the back seat

We were now listening out on the Shobdon frequency (Leominster is only a few miles to the East of the field) and the frequency was quite busy with traffic arriving and departing. We kept a good lookout but didn’t see any other aircraft in our vicinity. I offered for Danni to make the turn to the South at Leominster, but she declined.

I made the turn to the South at Leominster, and we headed into the sun for Gloucester. It was at this point that I switched to Gloucester’s frequency and reset the timer on the transponder and noticed the incorrect squawk set. This was quickly rectified, but was quite poor form as it would likely have been causing some concern for the controllers at Lyneham. Nothing was said on our return though.

Heading into the sun caused a few problems for Danni. I’d neglected to mention to them how warm it can get in the cockpit, and there isn’t much you can do to cool it down once it starts to warm up. That combined with the relatively thick top Danni was wearing meant she started to overheat a little, and felt a little unwell. I did my best to maintain as gentle progress as possible, but there was the inevitable light turbulence on such a warm day, so there wasn’t much I could do. She eventually found one of the cold air vents down near the floor, and having her hand in front of this did cool her down and she started to feel better. Must remember to point those out in future, and also to recommend lighter clothing on a warm day.

We were talking to Gloucester Approach now (our route took us about 5 miles to the West of the airfield) and were maintaining a good lookout for other traffic. As we passed Gloucester I heard them reporting lots of glider activity to the South, and after a bit of prompting from the Controller realised that this report was aimed at me! Somehow I hadn’t registered the aircraft’s callsign at the start of the report, so neglected to answer.

Once South of Stroud, our route had us threading the needle through two glider fields (Nympsfield and Aston Down) and Hullavington was also active. Again we kept a good lookout, but apart from a single glider off to our left (looked to be heading into Aston Down) we didn’t see any of the others that we had been warned about.

Talking to Lyneham Approach now, we were again warned about Hullavington, and given clearance into the Zone. Was offered runway 18, but after requesting a wind check (pretty much mid way between 180 and 260, so nothing really to favour either runway) I opted to stick with runway 26 as I’m familiar with its approach and the route back to the Club once on the ground. The crosswind was only 5 or 6 knots anyway, so was unlikely to affect the landing too much.

Our right base join actually became more of a ‘late downwind’ join, but the approach went well and I briefed Ben and Danni on what to expect during the approach. Pre landing checks complete, we turned base, throttled back and dropped two stages of flap. The turn to final showed I was a little high (as usual!) but not excessively so. The third stage of flap and a significant power reduction soon got us down on a more normal glideslope.

Crossing the road before the displaced threshold I brought the speed back a little, before countering the crosswind and flaring for a nice gentle touchdown. Light braking was required to make the turn for the 18 loop, which I made just as another aircraft appeared on frequency meaning I had to make the turn before getting permission. We did receive the permission before leaving the runway though, and headed to the hold for the after landing checks.

The route (blue) and track (red)

The route (blue) and track (red)

Taxyed back to the club, and took the obligatory passenger photos before putting the aircraft away, and heading back to the club. Once all the paperwork was complete, we headed back to my local for lunch and a well earned pint or two (this is becoming something of a habit!).

Ben and Danni after the flight

Ben and Danni after the flight

All in all a pretty successful flight, despite Danni feeling uncomfortable for a while. Must make more of an effort to land somewhere else soon though!

Total flight time today: 1:30
Total flight time to date: 88:40

One Response to “Same route, different passengers!”

  1. Back to Wellesbourne « Andy’s Blog Says:

    […] as one of my passengers on my first landaway after getting my PPL, and his wife had accompanied us on a trip more recently. However, Ben had always been keen to take his young son up for a flight too. […]

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