Another local, some more first time flyers

After a longer break from flying than I would like (a combination of no weekend flying from Lyneham and me suffering from a cough and cold) meant I was champing at the bit to fly again. Sadly, evening flights for me tend to be forced into locals, due to the problem in finding a destination that will be open late enough for me to arrive and depart having left Lyneham around 7pm.

This week had seen the renewal of my 2nd Class medical (the first time I’ve renewed it since it was issued, and a definite weight off my mind!) so I hatched the plan to try to fly again this evening. I’d been speaking with Dave recently (he’d helped me convert Catrin’s cot into a bed the previous weekend) and we’d got on to the subject of flying due to his son Corey recently having joined the Air Cadets. When he joined I’d offered the chance of a flight, and now seemed like the ideal time to do it (not least because Corey’s birthday was coming up soon).

Leading up to the day of the flight (as seems to be fairly normal recently!) the weather wasn’t looking particularly good. The day of the flight dawned with a forecast for sunshine and showers, with the showers tending to die away during the day. As the day wore on the forecast appeared to improve, so I decided we were ‘go’, and arrange to meet Dave and Corey in Lyneham.

The route I chose was a familiar one to me (always a good thing with first time passengers on board) taking us from Lyneham to Worcester, then across to Wellesbourne (sadly not landing) and back via Brize Norton’s overhead (if approved). As usual I’d completed all the planning before arriving at Lyneham, so all I had to do was mark up some Approach Plates (just in case they were needed later) and check the aircraft out. Had a quick chat with Roger as he and a few people were in the Club carrying out preparations for our imminent move, and then went out to check the aircraft.

All was fine, so I gave the passengers a quick brief, booked out and we all headed out. There was another aircraft (a Chipmunk?) just taxying out from in front of the hangar as we approached the aircraft, and we all got settled and ready to go. Corey got the front seat, with Dave squeezing himself into the back, and ending up with all the ‘luggage’!

While getting my GPS ready I managed to drop it down the small gap between my seat and the cabin wall! I’ll have to take care not to do that again, as it was a real struggle to get it back! All pre-flight checks were normal, and we soon had the engine running and taxied out to the 18 loop for power checks. Managed to confuse Corey slightly due to turning away from the runway for power checks (I explained the nature of the air cooled engine and us having to turn into wind to aid cooling) before we lined up at the hold.

I gave them one last chance to back out (only to be told by Corey ‘I don’t like taking off’!), before we were cleared to take off. Headed out to the runway, quick check of the gauges etc., and applied full power ready for the off. I failed to correctly take account of the fact that we were quite close to maximum weight, so the stall warner gave a quick bleat as we rotated and left the runway. Must be aware of this in future and add a bit of a margin to the rotate speed.

The departure went well, and we were soon heading out towards Malmesbury. Pointed out Kemble and Hullavington as we went past, before setting course for Stroud. Around this point we entered one of the few showers that were around, and it got close to the stage where I was close to turning 90 degrees left to get out of it (I could see that the weather to each side was pretty much clear). However around the time I was making this decision we came out of the other side back into much clearer conditions.

As we passed Stroud I set course for Worcester, and pointed out the airfield at Gloucester. Was listening in at this point, but the frequency was silent so I didn’t bother giving them a call as we made our way past just outside their ATZ.

Once clear of Gloucester I gave Corey a quick brief on how to fly straight and level, before handing over the controls. As I’m becoming used to, he made the fairly classic ‘error’ that most novices do, immediately firmly grasping the yoke with both hands, making lots of small corrections to try to keep us on track. I took control back again, and demonstrated to him that the aircraft would actually fly pretty much ‘hands off’, and showing him that all that is really required is a light grip with thumb and forefinger. He took control back, and gradually settled down into making a good go of flying straight and level.

Corey at the controls

Corey at the controls

Around this point (on a regular FREDA check) I noticed that the transponder still had the Lyneham code selected (I should have changed it to 7000 when leaving the Lyneham frequency). I rectified this as soon as I noticed it, but this isn’t the first time I’ve done it so I need to be more careful in future.

I took control back from Corey as we reached Worcester, and set course for Wellesbourne. Once established on course I handed control back, and Corey flew the rest of this leg to Wellesbourne. I asked him to try and spot the airfield, and then told him just to head for where he thought it was. You can see from the track that he made a pretty good job of this, getting us practically to the Wellesbourne overhead with very little prompting from me.

As we approached Wellesbourne, another aircraft appeared on frequency announcing his approach to the airfield from the South. I took control back from Corey, and made ‘Traffic’ announcements on the Wellesbourne frequency so that the other aircraft knew we were in the vicinity. I kept us at 2000 feet and made a wide clockwise circuit of Wellesbourne, keeping clear of the village itself to avoid annoying the locals.

As we headed South on the Eastern side of the airfield Dave thought he’d spotted the other aircraft lining up for an approach to runway 18 at Wellesbourne. Dave also managed to get a few nice shots of the Vulcan on the ground. Just  a shame we couldn’t land so that they could both experience the delights of the cafe there!

Vulcan at Wellesbourne

Vulcan at Wellesbourne

I again established us on track for Brize, and handed control over to Corey. Just as I was about to contact Brize and ask for a Zone Transit a helicopter arrived on frequency. There then followed a frustrating couple of minutes as the Helicopter called Brize, and Brize responded asking him to ‘Pass your message’. The helicopter would then repeat his initial call, and the process would repeat (I could hear them both, Brize could obviously hear the helicopter but he couldn’t hear them!). I eventually ‘butted in’ to a quiet part to get my call in, and requested the Zone Transit.

Once we’d established my requested routing (straight through the Brize overhead) the Transit was soon approved, and we continued on our way to Brize. Corey flew the majority of this leg, and I pointed out Brize in the distance to him to give him something to aim at. We passed Little Rissington (who’s name escaped me for some reason!) and I took control to fly through Brize Zone.

As we neared Brize, the Controller asked us to stay a mile or so East of the airfield to allow separation from departing traffic. I acknowledge this, and as we passed we were treated to a great view of a departing A330 as it took to the runway before taking off and climbing rapidly into the clouds.

A330 about to depart RAF Brize Norton

A330 about to depart RAF Brize Norton

Once clear of Brize I set course back to Lyneham, and asked Corey if he could spot Fairford (explaining it was probably the longest runway in the UK so he had no real excuse for not being able to find it!). Dave soon spotted it off to our right, but it took several prompts for Corey to eventually see it. Apparently he’d been looking in the relatively small fields below us, rather than looking for a vast expanse of tarmac!

We flew over the Northern edge of Swindon, and I pointed out various landmarks to help Dave orient himself. He soon spotted Corey’s school and their house, managing to get some good photos in the process. We again played ‘spot the airfield’, this time with Lyneham, which was clearly visible from several miles out.

We’d now been cleared for a visual approach, and I made a long straight in to runway 24. Left the descent slightly late, so had to slip off some of the height. Overdid it somewhat so had to add on some power to get back on the correct descent profile. Perhaps I should go up and do a few glide approaches sometime soon so that I can get back into the habit of making approaches at the correct angle?

The remainder of the approach went well, with little turbulence over the hangars on the approach to runway 24. I flared slightly high, and had the stall warner sounding during the roundout (something I had meant to warn my passengers about in advance!) before running out of lift a foot or two above the runway and landing slightly harder than I would have liked.

I taxyed us off the runway and carried out the after landing checks, before giving Corey the chance to taxy us back. Had to initially prompt him to apply more rudder input than he was doing, before having to take over briefly as he applied too much as we made the turn from the 18 loop back onto the apron. However, given that this was his first attempt at taxying he then performed very well in getting us lined up with the taxyway marking as we headed back to parking.

I took control for the last few feet (didn’t want my last action at Lyneham to be running into the fuel bowser or one of the other aircraft!) and we closed down on the wash bay. We all got out of the aircraft (once I’d found my lost pen!) and refuelled before pushing the aircraft back to its parking space and putting the cover on.

A happy customer!

A happy customer!

Despite this being another ‘dreaded’ local flight, this was a really enjoyable one. It’s always nice to introduce new people to the joys of flight in a light aircraft, and Corey seemed to thoroughly enjoy his first flight. Dave also seemed to have had a good time despite being crammed in the back, maybe if we fly again he’ll not be such a ‘good’ father and commandeer the front seat!

The flight's track

The flight's track

So, was this my last flight from Lyneham?

Total flight time today: 1:35
Total flight time to date: 160:35

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