Didn’t even cost half a penny!

Was supposed to be starting my IMC rating (again!) with Mike today, but sadly he had to cancel due to another commitment he couldn’t get out of. As it was getting close to a month since I’d flown, I thought it’d be a good idea to try to get a flight in that would get me above 60 hours P1, and hence back into the longer 43 day currency bracket at Lyneham.

I contacted Glen to see if he fancied a flight, and we arranged to head up to Halfpenny Green near Wolverhampton for lunch. We arrived at the club very early, me forgetting that there was another booking before me so we couldn’t get going as early as I’d hoped! Oh well.

The first flight returned slightly late, so we headed out to help with the refuelling to try to get things moving. The winds were picking up and were almost directly across the runway, so I had a chat with the Instructor from the first flight to get my auth and reassure him that I was confident in my ability to handle the crosswind. Lyneham have a new ‘crosswind signoff’ that comes into effect at the end of June, and I don’t have mine yet.

All set we booked out and climbed aboard. Start was easy as the aircraft had already flown, and we headed out to the hold after power checks and a quick chat with the Controller to ensure that all runways would be available on our return in case the wind picked up any more. Departure clearance gained, we headed out onto the runway.

The crosswind was obvious as we took to the air, as I had to take up a severe crab angle to maintain the runway centre line on climb out. We headed out of the Zone, easily picking out Malmesbury as the start point for the trip.

Settled in to the short leg to the hill near Stroud, which nicely picks between the two gliding fields at Nympsfield and Aston Down. Glen was coming in handy as a lookout, spotting a glider off to our left and pointing it out to me. He must have thought I had gone blind as I failed to spot it, until I realised it was closer than I thought and stopped looking so far out into the distance!

As we neared Stroud, we switched over to Gloucester to get a service from them, as we’d be passing just outside their ATZ. They sounded quite busy and warned us of a departing aircraft just as we passed West abeam them, but we were up at nearly 3000 feet so there was little chance of any conflict.

The Nav continued relatively normally, me meandering slightly off track on this long leg. However the route has a lot of obvious landmarks along it, so it was easy to fix our position for most of the leg.

We left Gloucester around Worcester, and listened in on Halfpenny Green. They seemed quiet, so I left it until overhead Kidderminster before attempting to contact them. In hindsight this was probably a mistake, as obviously everyone else was taking advantage of the good weather and heading there for lunch! As we were trying to contact them, around 5 other aircraft all appeared on frequency trying to do the same thing!

We got the required details from them, and approached the field for an overhead join. Another aircraft was on a late downwind as we reached the overhead, and I descended on the deadside before joining the Downwind leg. As I was about to call ‘Downwind’, another aircraft came on frequency and seemed to take an age to pass his details. He was approaching from the South and was intending to join Downwind also, so I wanted to get my position report in so that he knew where we were!

Sadly the frequency was tied up, so I was already turning Base before I could get a word in. The runway was clear however, and all the other traffic was behind me joining overhead, so there wasn’t any conflict.

The wind was strong here too, but was straight down the runway so wasn’t really any cause for concern. I made a nice landing and prepared to turn off onto the grass taxyway, but again the frequency became tied up so I couldn’t make the appropriate call. I was eventually told by the Controller to continue to the cross runway, and then head for the Tower. We parked on the hard parking area, then headed into the Cafe for a well earned lunch!

The cafe was also heaving, but luckily a table opened up before our food arrived. We were joined by the pilot of a Sport Cruiser who had just arrived from (I think) Wickenby. We chatted about all things flying while we all had lunch, before preparing to make the return journey.

Predictably, lots of people were also leaving at the same time as us! We held at the exit of the hard parking area to allow a Cessna to cross in front of us, then I was amazed at the speed he taxyed off, reaching the holding point in probably half the time it took us! So much for taxying at a ‘brisk walk’ like I was taught! In the end his haste was pointless, as he ended up queued behind another aircraft at the hold anyway.

We lined up in turn as all three of us carried out the power checks, and then all departed in turn. The Cessna in front of us appeared to be taking a very wide route before turning South, so I elected to follow him rather than risk getting too close by attempting to overtake him. As we headed South, we spotted another aircraft (possibly the same Cessna) on a similar track to us, but much lower and off to the right. His track had him pass under our nose, so initially Glen kept an eye on him, then I did as he moved over to our side.

Glen hasn’t flown for several months, so I gave him a chance at the controls (it seemed only fair!) on the return leg. There was little to report, apart form a student pilot on a solo Nav exercise reporting off to our right heading to Gloucester, at the same height as us. I decided to descend 500 feet or so to keep clear of him, but his estimate for Gloucester was 5 or 10 minutes after we passed so again there wasn’t too much of an issue.

As we approached Stroud, we left Gloucester to switch to Lyneham, and spotted another glider off to our right. He was very low and was probably heading back to Nympsfield. We weren’t sure he was going to make it, but eventually lost him in the ground clutter as we headed away from the field anyway. Lyneham gave us a squawk and identified us, before clearing us into the Zone after we had the field in site (me taking two goes, identifying something else as Lyneham initially! Not a good day for my eyesight!).

We were asked to report Downwind, but I requested a base leg join, and we joined Right Base for runway 24. The wind was now 15 knots gusting to over 20, and significantly off to the right of the runway. This was going to be an interesting approach!

I elected to stick with two stages of flap rather than the usual three, and had to add a chunk of power to counteract the sink generated on Final. My crosswind correction during the round out wasn’t quite positive enough, I got the nose in line but drifted slightly left of centreline. We touched down gently though, so on the whole I was happy with the landing in the difficult conditions. I’d also ‘forgotten’ that I would float a lot further with only two stages of flap, so had to backtrack to the 18 loop.

We taxyed back, put the aircraft to bed, and I headed in to complete the paperwork and do all the boring stuff like pay for the flight!

The Route and Track

The Route and Track

On the whole, the flight had included a few challenges, and was pretty enjoyable for me. It was nice to have Glen along to keep me company, and also reassuring to have another pilot alongside to help out with spotting traffic and the like. Plus, I was now over the ‘magic’ 60 hour P1 figure, meaning my currency requirements only needed a flight every 43 days. Obviously I intend to fly more often than this, but occasionally weather or other commitments make it difficult to fly so it’s nice to have that extra buffer. Next goal is 100 hours P1, and the heady heights of self-authorisation and a 60 day currency requirement!

Total flight time today: 2:05
Total flight time to date: 109:30


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2 Responses to “Didn’t even cost half a penny!”

  1. Above the clouds, with my eyes closed! « Andy’s Blog Says:

    […] Andy’s Blog Poker, flight and anything else that comes to mind. « Didn’t even cost half a penny! […]

  2. Club Checkout | Andy's Blog Says:

    […] 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 a […]

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