Another buddy!

A trackback on an early blog post lead me to a PPRUNE post by a newly qualified PPL who said he’d found my blog useful during his training. A little digging showed that he had trained nearby at Kemble, and was keen to meet up with other flyers and try to keep his flying as social as possible.

As I was getting close to the Lyneham currency limit, I had booked a flight to reset this, and a bit of negotiation with David showed that he was available. We arranged to meet up near Lyneham and head out for a flight.

Ideally I wanted to land away, but as has happened so often this year the weather meant that was probably unwise. Temperature and dew point were very close together and forecast to stay that way, and the drive to Lyneham had me driving through several patches of fog. I didn’t want to end up stuck or diverting somewhere, so we agreed on a ‘local’ so that we could run for home if conditions started to worsen.

On arriving at Lyneham, the aircraft I had booked was nowhere to be seen. It turned out to be in the hangar (which would have been great as it would have meant we didn’t need to de-ice) but the fact that the hangar doors were locked meant that I had no access to it! Fortunately another aircraft was available, so I switched my booking over to that. Pushed the aircraft out into the sun with David’s help (slipping on the perilously icy apron!) and headed in to the club to wait for it to deice.

Meanwhile we planned to head down to try and find Henstridge, a relatively local airfield that I’d planned to visit but had to cancel recently due to more bad weather. As David also hadn’t flown over his house yet, we decided we’d go via Bath to see if we could find it. David also had bought a cheap Chinese GPS device from e-bay and had installed SkyDemon on it, so I was keen to see how it performed.

Checking the aircraft showed that not all of the ice was melting, so I used the de-icing fluid available at the Club and gave it some more time. In the meantime David and I chatted about various aspects of our training, and his search for a good base to fly from now he has his PPL.

Once we were happy that the aircraft was safe to fly, I booked out with Air Traffic, and asked to do an SRA on our return. Lyneham’s ATC is relatively short staff at weekends, and they have a ‘no circuits’ rule between 12 and 2 to allow them to schedule lunch breaks. I was told that as long as I returned after 2pm then there shouldn’t be a problem carrying out the SRA.

All pre-flight checks were normal, and we were soon lined up on the runway ready to go. As we lifted from Lyneham, it was like taking off from a very small island. Lyneham sits on top of a 500 feet AMSL hill, and all of the surrounding areas were shrouded in fog, giving the appearance of them being submerged. However just a few miles away the ground was clearly visible, giving a rather surreal flying experience.

We headed over to David’s house, and carried out a couple of orbits. Sadly neither of us had cameras on this flight so we couldn’t take photographs of the the slightly strange scenes! Once happy we then headed towards Henstridge. Her David’s GPS device certainly came in useful, as it was clear as we approached Henstridge that it too was shrouded in fog.

We checked in on their frequency and were told they had barely 100 metres of visibility on the ground. However just a few miles to the East Compton Abbas was still operating in near perfect visibility! Certainly a strange day.

We headed over to Compton Abbas, listening in on their relatively busy circuit. Compton is another airfield on my list to visit (and David has hired aircraft from there since gaining his PPL) but again we decided that discretion was the better part of valour given the conditions.

We headed back to Lyneham, making initial contact with them around 1:55. We were given permission for the SRA, and the Controller started to give us headings to steer. We were approaching the Zone boundary and hadn’t yet been given clearance to enter the Zone, so I queried whether we were clear to enter. He informed me that we were ‘under Radar Control’ as if the one followed the other. I think I need to clarify this point for future reference. I’d rather be given a positive clearance than assume and be told off for busting the Zone!

As we were being vectored North on a base leg, we were asked to climb and told that the Controller was taking us through the extended centreline to allow a Herc to land ahead of us. We were visual and heard the Controller telling the C-130 pilot that were were ‘coordinated 500 feet above’. It certainly looked closer than that as he passed underneath us!

The rest of the SRA went relatively well. I was generally at or close to the altitude checkpoints relayed by the Controller, and I made a smooth but relatively flat landing. I uttered a ‘whoops’, but David said that it seemed fine to him, so maybe I’m just unnecessarily critical sometimes! However I did miss the turn for the 18 loop and had to backtrack to make it.

Given how icy the surface had been prior to the flight I stopped the aircraft well short of the fuel bowser and we pulled it the last few metres. It was still very slippy underfoot, so it was good that there were two of us to manhandle the aircraft up the slight incline to its parking spot!

So I’d made another slightly frustrating local flight, and found someone else who would hopefully share the right seat with me on future flights. David is considering joining the Club too, so we might be seeing more of each other in future!

The route and track

The route and track

Total flight time today: 1:35
Total flight time to date: 138:30

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One Response to “Another buddy!”

  1. To Sywell and (fortunately!) back « Andy’s Blog Says:

    […] count made me vow to start this year the way I plan to go on! I’d been in touch with David Chambers again and we planned another flight together. Aiming to kill two birds with one stone (both landing […]

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