Local to reset currency

My last flight pushed me up over the ‘magic’ 100 hour P1 mark, which allows me to authorise my own flights, but more usefully increases my currency requirements to a flight every 60 days. However, due to a combination of a string of colds and some poor weather, I was already 6 weeks into this! I was keen to fly to be able to reset my currency, which should at least allow me to get through the worst of any Winter weather should this be necessary.

David was planning to take his family away to France for the weekend, but the weather was very mixed in the morning. I met up with them in AV8 as David’s daughter looked forlornly at the weather forecasts with David. He eventually took the decision to cancel his flight, so I headed over to the Club’s new offices after helping David put G-VICC to bed and carry all the lifejackets etc. back in.

The Club has a new portacabin at Kemble to act as our base for the foreseeable future, and this was my first visit. Things were moved into there in a little rush due to the recent demise of The Flying Club Kemble (our previous hosts at the airfield) so things are still in a state of flux at the moment. However, it will be nice to have our ‘own’ space again, and hopefully things will begin to pick up again at the Club.

The local TAFs had shown that the cloud base should gradually lift and dissipate in the early afternoon, and as I carried out my leisurely walk around of the Arrow this certainly seemed to be the case. It had been several weeks since I last flew, so I was careful to follow the checklist in order not to forget anything. The rotating beacon wasn’t working, but a glance at the Circuit Breakers showed that its circuit breaker had popped. I reset it and it appeared to work, so continued before settling myself into the aircraft.

My original plan had been to land away at Dunkeswell to see their new catering facilities. However, I’d promised my family I wouldn’t be too long, and the rather unpredictable weather also contributed in me deciding to just go for a quick local flight. I programmed in a route direct to the Severn Bridges and back, before preparing to fly.

This being my first flight from our new parking area I was a little unsure of the taxy route. However, we are just off a concrete taxyway (that currently leads past a 747 that is being broken up!) and I soon found the entrance to the grass taxyway that would lead me to the North Apron in readiness for power checks prior to a departure on runway 08. As I approached the Tower G-ELUE was approaching from the other direction, so I told the Tower I would hold where I was to allow the other aircraft to pass. Apparently he was just about to ask me to do the same, so at least I still have the ability to show some good airmanship!

One of Ultimate High’s Bulldogs followed me on to the North Apron and positioned himself behind me and to the left, and we both carried out our power checks together. All were normal, and once I’d carried out the pre-departure checks I announced I was ready to go. I was cleared to the Hold and asked to report lining up, and once in position had to wait a little while as another aircraft appeared on frequency with a rather rambling message. I was mindful of the previous occasion where I’d been admonished for taking off without clearance, so waited for the FISO’s ‘Take off at your discretion’ before beginning my departure.

The departure was normal, although I again forgot to dab the brakes before raising the landing gear. Carried out the majority of a circuit by turning Crosswind and Downwind before climbing up to 2500 feet or so to head out to the Severn Bridges. I found myself in cloud around 2200 feet or so, so descended again to around 1500 feet to maintain clearance from the cloud. While this was lower than I would generally fly, it still gave plenty of terrain clearance so there was nothing to worry about on that front.

While setting up for cruise I noticed that the EGT gauge wasn’t indicating, so left the mixture near full rich rather than worrying too much about it. At the low level I was flying there wasn’t really any need to lean the engine correctly. However, it was a further item that I would need to mention to Kev (the aircraft’s owner) after the flight.

SkyDemon was warning me about the Restricted Areas around the power stations near the Severn, so I made sure to pass clear of them as I approached the area. I was listening in to Bristol but not talking to them, and heard a number of other aircraft in the surrounding area, so decided not to turn over the bridges themselves (which are an obvious navigation feature and hence are used by a lot of pilots) and headed back towards Kemble.

I made the decision to head over towards Lyneham for a look, so had SkyDemon do a ‘Direct To’ and followed the GPS. Mindful of the two airfields at Hullavington and Colerne, I made sure to steer a course to keep myself clear of them rather than going direct (which would have put me virtually in the overhead at Hullavington) and was soon passing just to the North of Lyneham. It’s a real shame to see such a facility so deserted, but hopefully we’ll be back there sometime in the future.

Passing a deserted Lyneham

Passing a deserted Lyneham

Luned and Catrin were at a birthday party in Wootton Bassett, so I did consider overflying the town to see if they would spot me. However looking to the North there appeared to be some cloud around Kemble, so I decided against it. I used SkyDemon again to plot a direct course, as well as doing a bit of practice NDB tracking using the beacon at Kemble (despite it being NOTAMed as inoperative, it appeared to be working just fine).

Kemble was clearly visible in the distance, and I made contact with them, being told that they were still using runway 08 and had a number of aircraft in and around the circuit. I initially told them I’d join overhead, but as I got closer it was clear that I would be unlikely to be able to climb up to 2000 feet for an Overhead Join due to the cloud, so instead decided to join downwind.

Approaching from the South, I turned carried out the pre-landing checks before joining the circuit, before turning right to join the Downwind leg. Made a good job of the Downwind leg, nicely following the noise abatement rules before turning left onto Base leg. Began the descent, and turned Final (keeping clear of Kemble village) and reported that I was Final for 08 with the gear down. As I looked at the runway it became clear that the numbers I was looking at in fact said ’26’, and the FISO realised this at the same time, informing me I was lined up for the wrong runway. Whoops indeed. I don’t think I’ve ever done this before, and it shows how a break in flying can affect your thought processes.

I apologised and announced I would clear and reposition, he asked me to report when I was established Downwind again. Beginning a climb to get back up to 1000 feet, I repositioned for a correct Downwind and carried on around the rest of the circuit. Base and Final went well, and at least I hadn’t allowed myself to get flustered by the mistake, as I pulled off possibly my best landing in the Arrow so far, touching down gently on the mains with plenty of control authority to be able to keep the nose wheel off the ground before again gently lowering it.

I could have made the first turn if I’d braked, but I elected to allow the aircraft to slow itself before the FISO told me to take the next turn, and asked if I wanted fuel. Answering ‘Affirm’, I also apologised again for the mixup in my approach. The FISO was very understanding, telling me ‘Don’t worry, we all have a day like that every now and again!’

The flight's track

The flight's track

Flight profile

Flight profile

Refuelled the aircraft, the difference between the two tanks being just a couple of litres, and taxyed the long distance back to our new parking area. If I ever want to fuel the aircraft before flying in future, I think I’ll ask Kemble to send out the bowser, as otherwise this long taxy to and from fuel could easily cost me £20 or so before I even fly!

Once back at the parking area I shut down the engine and started to get ready to leave. Noticed that the Beacon CB had popped again, so reset it and gave it a quick check to show that it was still working. Perhaps there’s some moisture in the circuit that is occasionally causing it to trip?

I replaced the cover (alone for the first time) after getting all my gear out of the aircraft. Realised I still had the fuel tester in my pocket so had to undo the cover again to put it back, before I headed back to the office to fill in the tech log (including the two defects I’d noticed on the flight) before locking up and heading home.

It was good to finally reset my currency after a number of aborted attempts. While this flight was pretty short it was still enjoyable and nice to be back in the air again. I’d had a pretty major issue with my circuit rejoin, which I must take care not to repeat. I think I just reverted to ‘normal’ operation despite being told (and indeed repeating in all my radio calls) that Kemble were on the ‘unusual’ runway 08 today. Something to be aware of for future flights.

Total flight time today: 0:50
Total flight time to date: 171:50

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One Response to “Local to reset currency”

  1. France for Lunch « flyerdavid Says:

    […] we stayed for lunch and came home. Andy managed a short local flight during the afternoon in the club Arrow, and there was other activity by the time we left. In […]

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