Back to Halfpenny Green

It had been a long time since I’d taken the family flying, for a number of reasons including my concern over Catrin previously refusing to wear her headset in the aircraft. Thought it was time to address that and see how she coped with flying again. She’s still very interested in aircraft in general, so hopefully she’d co-operate!

Didn’t want to do anything too adventurous, so just planned another quick hop up to Wolverhampton Halfpenny Green for lunch. The weather was bright and clear on the ground, but pretty windy, and the forecast was for these winds to increase during the day. Luckily the wind direction was pretty much in line with the runway at Lyneham, and Halfpenny Green have three runways so there was a good chance one of them would be quite close to the wind direction.

On checking the booking system I noticed that again someone had booked a 1 hour slot immediately before me. Expecting this to overrun, we decided to take both cars to Lyneham, with me going in first and then letting Luned know when to arrive so as to minimise the time hanging around waiting to go.

As luck would have it the 1 hour flight was for a trial lesson, and it turned out that the Instructor hadn’t been aware of the booking so didn’t show! So the aircraft was available to me earlier than expected which is always handy.

I busied myself with all the pre-flight checks (including putting more fuel in as usual) and getting all the planning out of the way before Luned and Catrin arrived. Once they arrived I finished the last minute items (paperwork and booking out) and we headed out to the aircraft.

Catrin has grown quite a bit since she last flew, and on previous flights had been less than happy with the amount of leg room she ended up with behind my seat. Sadly this was now worse, and she kicked up a bit of a fuss as we got her settled into the aircraft. She soon settled down though, and was even very good when told to put on her headset. After a bit of messing about taking ‘her ears’ off and then putting them back on again she eventually stopped playing and wore them.

All settled and ready to go

All settled and ready to go

We were offered an intersection departure but I elected to take the full length (on the first flight of the day you only end up sitting at the intersection waiting for the engine to warm up before you can do power checks) and we were soon ready to go with all the checks complete. The GPS took an awful long time to lock on to the satellites, perhaps it was because it hadn’t been turned on for a few weeks? Must make a note to power up the GPS on the trip into Lyneham to see if this helps in future.

Once airborne it was clear that the clear conditions on the ground again weren’t present in the air. It was noticeably hazy, and the high winds were producing plenty of low level turbulence. Luckily airspace wasn’t a factor on this flight, so I climbed up to 4500 before getting clear of the worst of the turbulence. Luned had previously been a little unhappy in turbulent conditions so I was a bit wary as to how she would cope, but she seemed to be handling it pretty well.

In general the Nav went well. Despite the poor visibility ahead of the aircraft it was easy to see the ground down and slightly ahead, so spotting landmarks and turning points wasn’t too difficult. I did find myself leaning on the GPS a little more than I’d like, but I think as long as I make a point to do the odd flight where I don’t use it at all, then my basic Nav skills should remain intact!

Catrin was initially chatty (spotting the only cloud in the sky!) but soon settled down and fell asleep (we generally time journeys so that they’ll be around the time she would normally have a nap). Luned and I chatted away as we flew along, her spotting what we thought was Adrian’s house as we flew overhead.

Awwww...

Awwww...

Halfpenny Green was easy to spot despite the haze, and I carried out a relatively good overhead join. As we entered the overhead another aircraft was on Final, so I watched him landing to get a feel for the turbulence down at low level (of course not pointing out to Luned him making lots of control inputs to keep aligned with the runway!). I descended on the deadside and then made a relatively poor downwind and base leg due to not correctly allowing for the wind.

Just used 1 stage of flap and a slightly increased airspeed to get through the gusts without too much worry about losing airspeed and made a nice Final approach. The flare was more difficult to judge than usual due to the high deck angle produced by landing with less flap. I made a relatively good landing in the conditions, floating a little (again due to using less flap) and was cleared for a backtrack to exit on taxyway Delta. I should probably make a point of doing some flapless landings to get used to this again.

I had the relevant page from my AFE flight guide in my kneeboard, but couldn’t spot the appropriate taxyway on it anywhere. I knew they had a grass taxyway mid-way down the runway, but couldn’t see the label for this on the plate. After confirming that this was the correct one, I soon saw the marker board and headed over to parking. Later I did find the marking on the plate, it was in very small lettering!

We had a very pleasant lunch, Catrin wolfing down what seemed to us to be a very large ‘childs’ cheese sandwich! She wandered around watching planes and helicopters while we were there, and seemed to have a pretty good time. Once I’d finished eating I braved the howling wind to climb the stairs up to the Control Tower to pay the very reasonable landing fee. I then headed out to check the aircraft over while Catrin had a bit of a run around on the grass.

We were soon settled in and taxying out to the runway. Had to wait at the hold for a short while as two other aircraft landed, before heading out onto the runway at my turn and departing. Was cleared for a right turn out, so turned on track and bade them goodbye.

Again the Nav on the flight back was relatively straightforward, and we were soon passing Gloucester and preparing to head into Lyneham. I asked for a PAR for practice purposes, but was informed that they were too busy so I would have to make a visual approach (there were already a couple of IFR arrivals on the frequency so this was understandable). I could see the airfield from quite a way out, and was cleared into the Zone for a Base leg join for runway 06.

The route and tracks

The route and tracks

There was a lot of variation in the wind direction at low level, and this again made the landing slightly difficult. I ended up slightly crabbed as we touched down after drifting slightly right of the centreline. Conditions certainly weren’t helping me give a good impression to Luned in the back! We taxyed back to the Club and carried out all the post-flight actions without any issue. However, obviously because of the wind putting the cover on by myself was quite tricky, so I made sure to leave my GPS mount in the aircraft so I could have the fun of doing it twice!

Perhaps next time we fly with Catrin we might either try her on a simple child’s booster seat, or maybe sit her in her car seat on the right hand side with Luned in the front. Both should give her a bit more leg room, but we’d have to see how she coped with being in the back by herself if we chose that option (she’s generally in the back of a car alone so this shouldn’t be a problem). It was at least reassuring that she now appeared to accept wearing the headset, so hopefully we can plan a few more flights in the future.

Total flight time today: 2:10
Total flight time to date: 152:50


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2 Responses to “Back to Halfpenny Green”

  1. paulnolan1969 Says:

    Andy, how are you getting your Tracks overlaid on the map? I cna only do it (quite badly) with google earth!

    Paul

    • Andy Hawkins Says:

      There are two ways. I used to use MemoryMap with the CAA charts. More recently, I’ve switched over to the charts produced by SkyDemon.

      You can buy the MemoryMap CAA chart for about 20 quid, that comes with PC desktop software that lets you import GPX files and overlay them.

      Andy

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