Anyone got half a penny?

After the disappointment of not flying yesterday, I was determined to fly today, and the weather proved almost perfect for flying. I wanted to try to expand my horizons a little, so picked Halfpenny Green as a potential target for today’s flight. The only spanner in the works was a gliding competition based at Aston Down, ruling out my ‘normal’ route out to the North. In the end I decided to take the coward’s way out and head out to the Old Severn Bridge, before heading North to Wolverhampton.

Arrived early at the club to complete the plan, after having picked up an authorisation on the way in from Matt. Plan complete I then just had to wait for the aircraft to return. Dave returned just before my slot time of 12, and refuelled the aircraft. While he was doing this I got the latest ATIS, booked out and was ready to be under way (after the usual ‘transit’ pre flight check) by 12:15 or so. Had a slight delay as I realised I was sharing the cockpit with a wasp. Figured it was best to get rid of him before taking to the air (and anyway, I had only booked out with 1 POB!).

Called for start clearance as usual, got the engine started relatively easily and taxyed out to the hold. Power checks completed Ok, announce ‘ready for departure’, switched to Tower and was immediately given clearance to line up and take off.

On the way out of the Zone while talking to the Approach Controller I heard Fox Whisky on the way back in, but never saw him. He was approaching from the North, but that could have been almost anywhere really, so it wasn’t too much of a drama. On reaching Malmesbury, set course for the Old Severn Bridge, and settled down for the flight.

I’d made a conscious decision today to set the screen of my PDA to dim itself automatically after a few minutes of idle time, in an attempt to stop me ‘cheating’ and using it as a crutch for the Nav. Although spotting the Old Severn Bridges was easy given today’s fantastic visibility, this also worked well on my trip to the North from there.

I monitored Filton and Gloucester on the way up, but didn’t really feel the need to speak to them. Spotted a number of aircraft around the Filton and Severn Bridge area, but none was a collision risk. Had a look out for Ledbury Airfield as I passed to the West of it, and managed to make out the farm strip as I passed (often quite a feat!). Finally used Kidderminster to make a course correction just to the South of it, and a look at the GPS track shows that this couldn’t really have gone better!

Switched over to the Halfpenny Green frequency as I approached, and made a minor error on initial contact calling him ‘Halfpenny Green Radio’ rather than ‘Halfpenny Green Information’ (I knew he was a FISO, but for some reason that information got lost between brain and mouth!). This was soon corrected, and I started looking for the airfield.

It should have been easy to spot, having three large runways, but initially I had some trouble finding it. The reason for this was soon apparent, I was looking too far ahead! With the airfield sighted, I joined overhead as another aircraft was on final. A decent deadside descent and circuit culminated in a relatively good landing, and I turned off onto the grass taxyway. After a bit of negotiation with the FISO I made my way to parking, and watched the Police helicopter taking off before I headed in to the Cafe for a well earned Bacon Sandwich!

The Police Helicopter preparing to depart

The Police Helicopter preparing to depart

Did my best to spread the aviation gospel to a young lad of about 5 or 6 I got talking to in the Cafe, and sorted out the route for the way back. Initially I had planned to start the Nav at Kinver (and set up the PDA to reflect this) but changed my mind and planned direct from Halfpenny Green down to the Old Bridge. In hindsight perhaps this was a mistake, as the Nav back was never really on track.

Got a quick shot of the aircraft lined up in the parking area, before making a standard departure, setting course from the downwind leg.

G-VICC in the parking area

G-VICC in the parking area

Ended up significantly right of course, before spotting the Tower to the West of Ledbury Airfield. This was a fairly obvious landmark, so I used this to make a course correction and got nicely back on track. Got a quick shot of what I think was Cinderford, where a poker playing friend lives.

Cinderford, home of Tom?

Cinderford, home of Tom?

The Bridges were now an easy landmark to follow, so turned over them before continuing to Lyneham. Here I was following the GPS more than I would liked (a quick glance every couple of minutes to make course corrections) and the GPS track shows me significantly right of course.

Initially had some trouble raising Lyneham Approach, and then found it a little difficult to understand the Controller (apparently a common complaint with civilian aircraft talking to military Controllers, but something I generally have no trouble with). There was another light aircraft ahead of me in the circuit as I joined, but he was well established on Final while I was making my approach for a Right Base join.

Join went normally, perhaps a little further out than necessary that meant I had to use a fair amount of power on Final to avoid getting too low. Had a bit of a floaty touchdown, but with some slightly firm braking easily managed to make the turn off for the 18 loop. Taxyed back to the Flying Club, and Dave (the aircraft’s owner) was already out and refuelling before I had packed up my kit! Saved me a job I guess!

The Route and Track

The Route and Track

On the whole a pretty successful flight. It was good to get a bit more confidence back in my Nav skills without using the GPS as a crutch (at least on the outbound leg!). Looking back on the tracks, I wonder if I had the DI misaligned for the majority of the return leg? I was doing FREDA checks periodically, but perhaps I missed it? However, I did pass a fairly major milestone, logging my 100th hour as a pilot!

Total flight time today: 2:25
Total flight time to date: 100:20

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2 Responses to “Anyone got half a penny?”

  1. leiafee Says:

    That’s one of the Cambrian club Tommyhawks parked at the top of the pic there, Sierra Lima. I’ve flown that 🙂

  2. Andy Hawkins Says:

    Small world eh? 🙂

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