Back to Wellesbourne

It had been a while since I’d been flying with the family, so I thought I’d better rectify that! With the Club’s recent move to Kemble, this was to be my first flight from there.

Things soon became more complicated, as it turned out that the Great Vintage Flying Weekend was being held that day, and something like 60 aircraft were expected to be flying in to Kemble. Add in a bit of Class D airspace and a temporary airway, and things were stacking up a little!

Undaunted I eventually decided to go for it, and arrived very early at Kemble to familiarise myself with the procedures there. I also wanted to put more fuel in the aircraft before departing, and at Kemble this involves a taxy down to the pumps. I elected to taxy down there, add fuel and then taxy back to parking before Luned and Catrin arrived. Probably cost me about 15 quid to do it! In future I’ll probably taxy down there, and then Luned and Catrin can walk the relatively short distance to join me after I’ve fuelled up.

Ready for the off, Catrin with her 'ears' on

Ready for the off, Catrin with her 'ears' on

All settled in the aircraft, I learned that Kemble were currently using 08 with a right hand circuit. Taxyed down to the North Apron for power checks, and once these were completed another aircraft approached from the direction of the pumps, one from the grass runway and a weightshift microlight landed! It took the FISO a little while to sort us all out, and I was eventually sitting at the hold waiting for a couple of aircraft to land.

While sitting there I applied carb heat again as it had been a while since the power checks were completed. The FISO asked if I could expedite a departure without backtracking due to a couple of aircraft in the circuit, and I agreed. I took to the runway, and departed.

Shortly into the climbout I realised I’d left the carb heat on (doh, bad slip there), and I removed it. Turned slightly left to miss Kemble Village, and then set course for Wellesbourne. It took me quite a while to get in my ‘switching frequency’ call due to the volume of traffic, but I eventually changed to Brize and arranged a Basic Service with them.

Wellesbourne is a short and relatively familiar flight for me, so the flight there was uneventful save from a few warnings of traffic from Brize. In total three aircraft passed close enough that I could get a good look at them, with one of them being at a similar height and heading from Wellesbourne to Kemble!

As I approached Wellesbourne there were a couple of aircraft in the circuit, with another couple joining with me. The traffic eased somewhat as one of the aircraft doing circuits decided to land. I approached the airfield and made my usual wide deadside descend avoiding Wellesbourne Village. Turned crosswind and then downwind relatively close behind the aircraft ahead of me, so I dropped a stage of flap and slowed us down slightly.

I then spotted another aircraft coming from behind me and to the right. I’m not sure if he was joining downwind, or had just completed a touch and go and was continuing his circuit. I announced that I was visual with an aircraft just outside me to ensure he was aware of where I was.

Mindful of the aircraft behind me, I resumed more ‘normal’ circuit speed (I had sufficient spacing from the aircraft in front too) and continued around the circuit. Due to the distraction of the aircraft behind me, I didn’t carry out the pre-landing checks until I was on Base. As I turned Final, it was clear that the distraction had also caused another problem, I’d neglected to deploy the flaps and begin descending on the Base leg.

I was now way too high on Final, so I told Luned in advance that things may get a little uncomfortable, and began to sideslip to lose height. I thought I’d done this pretty well, removing the sideslip to continue the normal approach, but I obviously misjudged it and was still high on short final. As we crossed the runway threshold I was still high and a little fast, so I made the sensible decision to go around.

A little high on Final!

A little high on Final!

A normal circuit (including Wellesbourne’s noise abatement turn) ensued, and I got myself settled down well enough to make a decent landing. The FISO told me where to park, and after querying with her whether I should park where I was, she told me “There’s another space a little further down, can’t have you walking too far can we?”. Not bad service!

Catrin had slept through all the ‘drama’, and as she would usually sleep for an hour or so around this time, I walked to the Tower to pay the landing fee, leaving her and Luned in the aircraft for the time being. Typically for Wellesbourne, things had quietened down a lot so I tried to talk to the FISO to see if she thought I’d cut up the other aircraft that was already in the circuit or whether he was joining downwind. Didn’t really get a satisfactory answer as things started to pick up again on the radio, so I had to leave.

Gave Catrin a few more minutes sleep then removed her headset, which had the desired effect of waking her up! She waved to all the passing planes as we walked to the cafe, and we all had a nice lunch (as usual!). Catrin wandered around watching the planes and helicopters, before we decided it was time to go.

We headed back to the aircraft, and I persuaded Luned to sit up front with me so that she could have a go at the controls. She’d done a few hours training from the right seat with Dave at Lyneham 6 months or so ago, but hadn’t flown since then. I was keen to get her to fly semi-regularly to maintain the skills she’d attained, and I was also interested to see how well she flew!

As we readied ourselves to depart, another aircraft was having some problems with his radio being stuck on transmit. We were all treated to every little step he took in trying to diagnose the problem. It caused the FISO some issues as her transmissions were obviously being stepped upon by the other aircraft, and a few arriving aircraft had some problems hearing her.

Thankfully for us the pilot with the stuck mic decided to return to parking to fix the problem, so when it became our turn to take off the frequency had cleared. Made a normal departure (including another go at the noise abatement!) and set course back to Kemble.

Luned took over the controls for a little while, but she was having problems seeing the horizon. It was a little hazy, and she was wearing sunglasses – being a spectacle wearer she didn’t have the option of just taking them off, and her normal glasses were in her bag on the back seat. We also ran into a bit of turbulence, which meant that she wasn’t really comfortable being in control, so I took control back from her.

In future we’ll have to make sure she has everything she needs to hand, and she’ll also have to persevere a little better in less than ideal conditions. The idea of her taking the training was that she should be able to take control of the aircraft and make a safe landing should anything happen to me. While she obviously doesn’t quite need the full capabilities of a PPL, I think it’d be sensible if she could handle more marginal conditions. Perhaps a bit more time with Dave is in order?

There were lots of gliders in the air today (there were a number of competitions on at local airfields) and one aircraft on frequency kept breaking in to tell us how many he could see. I think he got as high as 8 gliders circling over the Didcot power station!

We were talking to Brize, but they didn’t have much for us apart from a handoff back to Kemble as we neared Northleach. Once back on frequency with Kemble we were again warned of all the glider traffic, and I elected to make an overhead join (they were now back on 27 with a left hand circuit).

As I approached the field I had another look over the Flight Guide entry for Kemble to familiarise myself with their noise sensitive areas. This got me slightly low, so I had to climb again as I approached the overhead.

Positioned myself for the Overhead Join (which actually took almost a complete circuit of the overhead!) and tried to determine where to put the Downwind leg to avoid the nearby villages. In the end I think I was a lot wider than I needed to be, so I’ll have to look at this in readiness for the next flight.

Visitors to G-VFWE

Visitors to G-VFWE

As I turned base, another aircraft reported that he was on a Right Base for the same runway, but had me visual. I strained to see him (in theory this put us on a reciprocal track on a direct collision course!), and the FISO confirmed with him that he was to be Number 2 to land.

The descent was carried out much better this time, and I brought us down on Final nicely aligned and at a good height. As I got down low and started to roundout and flare, the wind changed significantly blowing me off the centreline somewhat. While correcting this I think I was flaring slightly high, and I ran out of energy a little higher than I would have liked, leading to a fairly firm touchdown!

I requested a taxy to Fuel so that I could refuel the aircraft, and Luned and Catrin jumped out and walked back while I carried out the dull bits of flying! Taxyed back to parking, and had to taxy the long way around due to all the visiting aircraft parked to the East of the Tower.

On the whole, a very pleasant flight again. The weather was almost ideal (apart for some slight turbulence), and despite a few hiccups along the way I managed to overcome them and make the correct decisions when they were necessary.

Flight Track

Flight Track

Outbound Leg

Outbound Leg

Return Leg

Return Leg

This was my first flight from Kemble, and I’d had no problems with the change in procedures for operating from there. We’ll just have to see how many further flights I make from here before the Club finds a more permanent home.

Total flight time today: 1:45
Total flight time to date: 162:20

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