Flying Family Again!

My wife and I hadn’t flown together since just after I got my licence back from the CAA, primarily because she was carrying Catrin until February, and since then we haven’t just been able to leave Catrin at home! However, Luned was returning to work and we had her mother staying with us to look after Catrin during the day, so it seemed the ideal opportunity for us to get back in the air again!

The aircraft was booked for a Friday evening, and the weather turned out to be perfect. Luned met me at Lyneham and we drove across the airfield to the Flying Club. I’d already prepared my (now very familiar) ‘local’ route out the the Severn Bridges, up to Leominster and back via Stroud, so after a quick checkout of the aircraft we were ready to go.

As we were ready to depart, we had to hold for a while due to a Herc in the circuit, but were soon cleared for takeoff. Normal departure, and I pointed out the various landmarks to Luned as this was her first flight from Lyneham.

Talked to Filton as we headed West, enjoying the empty skies. They were only aware of one other aircraft operating to the North, but we weren’t bothered by them. Approached the Bridges, and headed to the North after Luned snapped a few photos.

The skies were empty as we headed up towards Leominster, with nobody on either the Gloucester or Shobdon frequencies, so I did my best to appear as relaxed as possible for Luned, and to show her my best piloting skills after her long absence from the cockpit. As it was, she seemed pretty composed throughout the flight, which bodes well for future flights together at least.

We were a few miles off track as we approached Hereford, but it’d a landmark that’s hard to miss so the error was easy to correct. We approached Leominster and failed to spot Shobdon in the slight haze, before turning back towards the South for the return leg.

Gloucester was still quiet, and we passed to the West of the field without being bothered by R/T or other aircraft in the sky. Headed for the hill near Stroud that enables us to thread the needle between the glider fields at Nympsfield and Aston Down, before switching back to Lyneham Approach as we approached Stroud itself.

This was were things got interesting! They immediately reported traffic off to our left that was probably climbing out from Kemble. We were unable to spot this, and as we approached the Zone the Controller warned us of two Hercs in the circuit. As we were at about 2500 feet, they were well below us, and their camouflage meant we were unable to spot them.

We were told to stay out of the Zone until we had them in sight, before eventually being cleared into the Zone so that we could slot in between them (we still didn’t have visual on them at this point). As I positioned for a Right Base join for the Westerly runway, we were told to orbit in our present position until there was room for us to make our own approach.

We orbited a number of times (bringing back memories of plenty of times we had orbited in a similar position at Brize) with me concentrating on the flying while Luned kept a lookout for the two Hercs (that we’d now spotted due to us being at around the same height as them) and restarting the timer on the transponder as each one landed and rolled in order to ensure that we had sufficient spacing for wake turbulence. There was some slight confusion as I mishear the Controller informing me to ‘continue Approach’ (she actually said ‘continue orbit’) during this time. Perhaps I was starting to suffer from other people’s problems in hearing military controllers!

One of the Hercs eventually broke off to head away from the airfield for an instrument approach, and we were told to continue our approach at our discretion. I informed the Controller we would need 4 minutes spacing, and once sufficient time had elapsed we continued towards the field, informing the Controller again.

As I positioned for Base and then Final, I could hear the Controller still talking to the two Hercs. One was now positioned for his instrument approach, and the other was told to extend their downwind leg to allow the Instrument traffic to complete its approach. Mindful of the two other aircraft now potentially waiting for me, I concentrated on making the approach as accurate as possible, and ended up making a very gentle touchdown right near the numbers, easily managing to make the turnoff at the 18 loop without too much heavy braking. A nice one to impress Luned with at least!

We taxyed back, refuelled and packed the aircraft away for the night. Luned assured me she’d enjoyed the flight, so hopefully this will be the first of many in the coming months, and we can eventually get a seat sorted so that Catrin can join us!

Route and Track

Route and Track

Total flight time today: 1:40
Total flight time to date: 96:25

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