Gloucester, Brize and The Bridges with Mr. Bridges!

It had been a month or so since my last flight, and I was beginning to get a bit antsy about going out of currency. The weather forecast wasn’t great, so Glen and I hatched a plan for a local landaway at Gloucester. We’d make the two legs a bit protracted so that it wasn’t just a 10 minute hop to the North!

Glen flew the outbound leg, and had planned a route via the Severn bridges. This is one of my regular flights with passengers, as it’s a good ‘familiar’ landmark to fly over with people who don’t fly in light aircraft very often.

Glen initially had a little trouble getting the engine started, but some tips from Keith helped out, and we were soon up and running. All checks normal, and we were soon heading out to the runway and lining up. Take off went normally, and Glen headed us out of the zone towards Malmesbury.

He set course for the first leg to the bridges, and after a few minutes I noticed that the heading we were flying didn’t seem quite right. I left Glen to it for a while, before eventually asking “What’s our planned heading?”. Glenn told me, then checked the DI, which was some 3o or 40 degrees to the right of where we should have been. Glen had done the sensible thing and set the heading bug on the DI for the correct course, and then followed the other heading bug!

This was soon corrected, and we headed out over the bridges. Once over the Severn we turned North, heading towards Cinderford to avoid the bird sanctuary towards the top end of the Severn Estuary.

Glen had to keep climbing and descending to avoid the odd clump of clouds, and in general it was a pretty quiet day in the air. We’d been listening in to Filton, before switching to Gloucester as we got closer.

We were given an overhead join, and asked to report two miles from the field. As we approached we were given traffic information, a Firefly approaching the field from the North. We spotted as we neared the overhead, and Glen executed a nice overhead join. We trundled around the circuit, with me keeping an eye out for the Firefly behind us, before Glen got us nicely down on the runway, and slowed down in plenty of time to make the intersection and get off the active runway.

Neither of us had been to Gloucester before, so I had my airfield plan ready to follow the taxy instructions. These basically amounted to ‘keep turning left, then park next to the Cessna’. We weren’t too sure which side of the Cessna to park, so opted for the far side. It was only as Glen got us nicely parked that I noticed that this put us right in front of the exit from the Fire Station! Probably not a good idea! He moved us round to the other side, and we shut down and headed in for lunch.

Had a nice lunch while I planned the trip back. It had been a while since I did a Zone Transit, so I planned to route out to the East, transit the Brize Zone, then track towards the Membury services (and the large mast there) before heading back into Lyneham.

Fox Whiskey on the Ramp at Gloucester

Fox Whiskey on the Ramp at Gloucester

Took a quick shot of Fox Whiskey on the apron before we got ready for the trip back. Glen helped with the route from our parking space to the runway, and we made a normal departure. I was careful to respect the noise abatement procedure (maintain runway heading until passing the big hill on the left) and then headed for the M5 motorway junction to start the Nav.

We were routing towards the Northleach Roundabout, roughly following the A40. About half way there I told Gloucester we were switching to Brize Radar, and they told us to set a specific squawk for Brize, and contact them on the Brize Zone frequency. So much for me getting some Zone Transit practice, it was all co-ordinated for us!

Talking to Brize again certainly brought back some happy memories of my training, and we headed towards Burford. I was definitely on familiar ground here, and I pointed out Little Rissington to Glen, and the garden centre at Burford that makes it quite easy to spot. We routed through the Zone towards Faringdon, meandering a little as I did a bit of sightseeing rather than concentrating on the route!

As we left Brize Zone, I prepared to tell them I was ‘changing on route’ when they called me with a squawk for Lyneham, and told me to contact them! My practice flight had suddenly become a lot less challenging due to some helpful Controllers contacting the next station for me and pre-coordinating everything! Oh well!

Lyheham wanted to know if we were recovering, but I told them we were going via Membury. Was asked to report back when we were recovering, and we headed towards the mast at Membury. Initially this wasn’t immediately visible due to the slightly hazy conditions, but it soon appeared from the gloom. We spotted the small airfield near the services (on a couple of occasions while heading down the M4 I’d seen light aircraft cross the motorway very low, obviously on Final for an airfield) before turning towards Lyneham.

The recovery was coordinated easily as Lyneham appeared to be quite quiet. There was initially some confusion on my part as we got closer, with me mis-identifying Lyneham in the haze (I was probably heading for Chippenham!). The extra set of eyes in the right seat helped put me straight on this (I guess that’s one mistake each on this flight!) and we joined Left Base for 24 as normal.

The approach was all relatively straightfoward, and we touched down with the stall warner blaring nicely, and easily slowed to make the turnoff at the 18 loop. We taxyed back in, refuelled and put the aircraft to bed. Another successful flight, where to next I wonder?

The Route and Track

The Route and Track

Total flight time today: 0:50
Total flight time to date: 104:40

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One Response to “Gloucester, Brize and The Bridges with Mr. Bridges!”

  1. Club Checkout | Andy's Blog Says:

    […] aircraft again. This was likely to be a slightly strange experience, as I had flown with Glen a number of times before, initially from Lyneham with me as the ‘experienced’ pilot, and him as […]

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