Even worse than a local – circuits!

Thanks to poor weather and a seemingly never ending Winter cold, I was again getting close to the 43 day currency limit for Lyneham. I’d had a couple of aborted attempts to fly in the intervening period cancelled due to weather, and the forecast for today looked distinctly grim too, showing an overcast of around 1500 feet.

So, there was nothing for it but to get in and bash the circuit for a while to reset currency.

When I phoned Dave for an auth for the flight, he offered me the chance to fly in to South Cerney where he was working at the parachuting centre there. Due to the cloud base they obviously couldn’t drop, so he invited me over for a cup of tea! Sadly with such a low cloud base I really didn’t want to head too far from base just in case I ended up stuck somewhere, so declined. Hopefully I can take him up on his offer again.

The ATIS was giving the cloud base as overcast around 1300 feet, so I booked out for some circuits after carrying out the ‘A’ check. I only had a limited time available because Air Traffic are relatively short staffed over the weekend, so have a ‘circuit ban’ between 1200 and 1400 to allow for lunch breaks. I was calling for start around 1100, but this gave me plenty of time to get in a few circuits and head back.

Lyneham were using 06 today, and I was given the option of using the disused runway for an intersection departure. This is generally worth doing as it saves the long taxy down to the threshold of 06, so I accepted. However today there was probably little benefit as it just meant I ended up sitting waiting for the engine to warm up due to this being the first flight of the day with relatively low outside temperatures.

All checks complete, I was soon cleared to backtrack and then take off. As soon as I lifted it was clear that the visibility was far from the 11k quoted in the ATIS. I certainly would have had to rethink my plans if I were heading away from the airfield!

In all I carried out 5 circuits. All went relatively smoothly, and I was pleased that my first landing of the day was a ‘greaser’, albeit landing a little long. This was the case with all of the landings today, but when using 06 at Lyneham landing on the numbers is generally counter-productive, as you just end up taxying down the full length of the runway once you’re down. However I should make more of an effort in future to get my landings ‘on spot’.

As I was downwind on the 4th circuit, the Controller informed me of ¬†‘Radar Traffic – Cessna 172 at 8 miles for a low approach’. As I climbed away on from the touch and go I was about to offer to orbit on the Downwind leg to allow the Cessna to pass through, but the Controller asked me to ‘Extend upwind, by a couple of miles’. I used the clock on the Transponder to time about 90 seconds or so before turning Crosswind and informing the Controller I was doing so.

I was nearing the end of the Downwind leg without any update to the other aircraft’s position, so just before the point I would normally turn Base I asked for a position report. The Controller informed me that the other aircraft was passing through the Overhead, and then a few seconds later added that I was clear to make my turn (which I was about to do anyway). I was a little dubious as to how wise it was to be flying in cloud today, as the zero degree level was only around 1500 feet or so. I must read up some more on airframe icing to see if I’m being overly cautious here. I’d discounted the possibility of going somewhere ‘on top’ (the cloud tops were forecast to be relatively low so this should have been possible) due to the worry of spending much time in cloud at freezing temperatures.

Turned Base and made more of an effort to pick a landing spot on this last landing, but again landed a fair way past it! Still, all 5 landings today were good, with gentle touchdowns and good position across the runway (although in fairness the crosswind was never more than about 20 degrees off the runway heading).

Taxyed back via the disused runway again, closed down and prepared to refuel. As luck would have it, another pilot arrived at that moment to fly in another aircraft, and I persuaded him to take the one I had used (it would save him doing an ‘A’ check on the other aircraft, and also save me putting the cover back on!). He accepted and we refueled the aircraft together, before pushing it back into the parking space ready for him to use.

So, both by 43 day Lyneham currency and my 90 day passenger currency (I have to make 3 takeoffs and landings in the previous 90 days in order to be able to carry passengers) are reset now, so at least I achieved something with this flight. Hopefully the weather will start to improve and I can get some real flying in!



Total flight time today: 0:45
Total flight time to date: 141:35

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