Lydd

David had kindly invited me along to join him again on a flight. We spent a lot of the previous week changing our minds about the destination (Goodwood, Shoreham and Lydd all being possibilities), before eventually settling on Lydd. At about 135nm each way, this was probably the furthest airfield I’d visited, so it was a good means of ‘stretching my legs’ and increasing the distances flown.

It was agreed that David would fly the outbound leg, and I would fly the return. The weather on the day couldn’t have been better, with the exception of a bit of a crosswind for the landing at Lydd. Again I planned the flight using SkyDemon, and downloaded the route to my new GPS, but still checked weather and NOTAMs using more traditional methods as a backup.

I arrived slightly later than I would normally like due to my forgetting to print out the plogs from SkyDemon (not an issue when you’re writing them yourself!) but luckily David was there in plenty of time and we were ready to leave just before the start of our slot. While David went through the early pre-startup checklist I gave Lydd a quick call just to check there was nothing unusual going on.

We taxyed out from the Club just behind the Firefly, and were both offered an intersection departure. For some reason the Firefly pilot rejected this and taxyed the ‘long way’ to the 06 threshold, so we were able to jump the queue and get off ahead of him. After a small amount of confusion over the hold lines on runway 36, we were soon taking off and heading East to J15 of the M4. The weather remained glorious, but there was a noticeable haze layer around the 2500 feet mark.

We’d agreed before the flight that the ‘co-pilot’ would handle all of the tuning of the radios and transponder adjustments, so I ensured all the appropriate Nav aids were set up. We had slight problems hearing the Lyneham Controller as we reached J15, so quickly signed off from him and switched over to Farnborough Radar for the trip down to the coast. This would cut through the stub of the Odiham MATZ and passed close by a number of glider fields, so it made sense to talk to Farnborough.

In this instance they were fairly quiet, and we were soon reaching Petersfield, ready to switch over to Goodwood while transiting their overhead. For some reason Goodwood seemed a little reticent to speak to us, but we informed them we were passing overhead, and turned towards the SFD VOR.

Goodwood

Goodwood

This leg would bring us close to the overhead of Shoreham, so again I had the frequencies all pre-selected ready for David to use. When switching to both Goodwood and Shoreham I’d had to prompt David to sign off and change frequencies. I think this was possibly a good indication of one of the pitfalls of using a relatively ‘automated’ form of pre-flight planning. It’s still necessary to fully plan the flight in advance (rather than just drawing some lines and printing the plog) so you have some idea of who you’re going to need to speak to and when. Something I need to bear in mind in the future as I start to use SkyDemon more and more for the pre-flight planning.

Shoreham seemed relatively busy as we passed by, and we followed the coast around past Brighton. We spotted some traffic out over the sea, and it was difficult to work out which direction he was heading a lot of the time. I can only assume he was doing aeros, as he changed level and heading a number of times as we approached. We headed slightly further out to see and kept a good eye on him as we passed.

Shoreham

Shoreham

After SFD we continued along the coast before setting course towards the LYD VOR (usefully placed to avoid the danger area to the South of Lydd) and made contact with them. The Controller asked us to report at Ryde, but then asked us for a further position report just before we got there, and asked us to report overhead.

There was another aircraft in the Circuit as we approached, which gave us some concern over fitting in. However as we approached the overhead he elected to land, giving us the Circuit to ourselves.

Lydd has a non-standard overhead join, where the descent is made from the Crosswind to Downwind legs, rather than on the Deadside as in a normal join. David slotted us in nicely, but as it was a right hand Circuit, he lost sight of the runway so the Downwind leg was a little ragged. I helped him get aligned (from the right seat I had a better view of the runway) and we continued around the Circuit.

Downwind at Lydd

Downwind at Lydd

As we turned Final and aligned ourselves with the runway, it was clear that there was a lot of low level turbulence. David was working hard on the controls to keep us aligned. As we crossed the threshold the turbulence got worse, and David made the sensible decision to go around once it was clear that he wasn’t going to be able to make an easy landing. As we turned Crosswind for the second time we were asked to extend to allow another arrival in front of us (slightly unusual, as we were already in the Circuit I would have expected us to have right of way).

We ended up a little close to the aircraft now ahead of us, so I suggested to David that we return to the overhead and try again. We did this, and again I helped David take up the correct track on the Downwind leg. We’d discussed landing with just two stages of flap and some extra speed to try to get through the layer of turbulence just over the runway threshold (I’d paid close attention to the other aircraft landing, and could see he encountered the same turbulence). We also discussed landing longer than usual to see if the turbulence was caused by the change in surface at the runway threshold.

David brought us around the rest of the Circuit, and was again fighting with the controls over the runway threshold. This time he managed a tricky landing in the conditions, and we were soon backtracking and taxying to the apron to park up. Coats were required despite to sunny conditions to counteract the windchill caused by the stiff breeze blowing in from the English Channel!

From the outside Lydd’s buildings don’t look up to much, but inside is a whole different story. Their facilities are a whole lot better presented than a lot of GA fields, probably due to their ambitions for commercial flights. We headed in to the cafe and had a well earned lunch, which was sensibly priced and was of good quality. David was impressed with the size of his full breakfast, only to be even more impressed when he was presented with the ‘forgotten’ fried egg on another plate soon after! We were slightly pressed for time too, so were appreciative of the fact that it arrived relatively quickly. However when I checked the return route timings, it showed that the route back was likely to take about 30 minutes less due to us now benefiting from a tailwind.

I was flying the return leg, so had a quick walk around the aircraft to check things over before getting settled in the cockpit. After starting up and taxying to the hold, it wasn’t long before I was making my own mistakes, turning left instead of right to head to the runway threshold (I thought there was another taxiway parallel to the runway, but it turned out we were already on the only taxiway!).

Quick walk-round at (windy) Lydd

Quick walk-round at (windy) Lydd

The wind was still causing slight problems as we took off, but I managed to keep things under control and we were soon climbing out. I had originally planned to climb to 3000 feet, but another aircraft was inbound at that height, so I stopped the climb at 2500 while another aircraft departing behind us stopped at 2000 feet.

Navigation on the reverse route was simplicity in itself, as we were again pretty much following the coastline and also using VORs. We passed overhead Shoreham again and turned at Goodwood. I descended to 2000 feet to ensure we didn’t clip the Solent CTA that had a base of 2500 at one point close to the route, and again spoke to Farnborough to negotiate a Zone transit.

We were initially told to Standby for our squawk, and were then distracted slightly as a Chinook passed left to right just ahead of us, and another aircraft passed right to left slightly further on. This caused me to miss the transmission containing the squawk, and I had to ask the Controller to repeat it sometime later.

As we turned near Basingstoke we were getting a good signal from the LA NDB, so I used that to track direct to Lyneham. Farnborough were very busy (as usual at the weekend) and soon told us to switch frequency to Lyneham. I held off making the initial call for quite a while as we were still some distance away.

We could easily see Lyneham from some 10 miles out, and as we approached Marlborough were initially told to ‘Standby’ by the Lyneham Controller. Careful not to infringe their Controlled Airspace, I began to orbit just as I was given clearance to enter the Zone. I turned back to head towards Lyneham and continued into the Zone.

I made another slight mistake by getting close to the Circuit at Lyneham while still at 1500 feet, but soon got us down to the correct 1000 feet and turned Final. There was a slight crosswind at Lyneham (8 to 10 knots some 20 degrees off the runway) which made the landing a little interesting. I managed to maintain the runway centrline quite nicely though, although the landing itself was perhaps a little harder than I would have liked.

Despite landing slightly long, I still had a long taxy back to the Club via the 18 loop. As we arrived at the bowser both the other Warriors were in the process of refuelling, so I stopped some way back and closed down. There seemed to be an awful lot of people enjoying the sun on the grass too, wish someone had invited us to the party!

Luned and Catrin were watching as we pulled up, and Catrin enjoyed walking around looking at the planes (including the Arrow being rebuilt in the hangar) while David and I refuelled the aircraft and pushed it back into the parking space.

The outbound and return tracks

The outbound and return tracks

On the whole this was yet another very satisfying flight. The weather was almost perfect, and I’d completed my longest single flight too. Not only that, but I have now flown over 150 hours as well. Next target is to get to 100 hours in command (I have about 16:30 or so to do).

I think we both learnt a few lessons on this flight as regards relying on SkyDemon perhaps a little too much during the pre-flight planning stage. Also, I think it might be a good idea for me to perhaps go up with an Instructor and do a few Circuits from the right hand seat. Once it was clear David was struggling slightly, it would have been an extra confidence booster to know that I could have taken over from the right seat to have a try myself.

Total flight time today: 1:25
Total flight time to date: 150:40

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2 Responses to “Lydd”

  1. Lydd « flyerdavid Says:

    […] wrote the flight up in his usual thorough detail, so I won’t duplicate that […]

  2. A day out at the seaside « Andy's Blog Says:

    […] a quick decision was made to head over to Shoreham. I’d flown past there on the way to Lydd with David, and had wanted to go back to sample the […]

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