A day out at the seaside

It had been a few weeks since I had last flown, so I was obviously itching to get back in the air. The situation hadn’t been helped by a spell of glorious mid-week weather, that just got me more and more keen to go flying again.

Luned and Catrin were both suffering with colds, so I arranged for Sean to fly with me again. Originally I planned to go down to Headcorn (scene of a number of parachute jumps in the mid-90s), but checking their website the day before showed that they were being used as the base for some 100 female pilots to cross the Channel in celebration of 100 years of women in Aviation. I thought it was probably best to give it a miss!

So, 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 airfield.

The weather the night before was looking a little touch and go, but the morning’s TAFs were promising that the early low cloud would lift towards the afternoon. A morning appointment meant I couldn’t fly until near noon anyway, so chances were that the weather would be suitable by then. I arranged to meet Sean at the airfield and completed all the planning at home as usual.

The route I’d planned was Kemble -> Lyneham -> Greenham Common -> Petersfield -> Shoreham. This was fairly familiar to me as I’d used very similar routes when flying to the Isle of Wight, Goodwood and Lydd in the past.

Kemble had some Class D airspace notified in the latter part of the morning, but this had come and gone by the time we were ready to go. We got settled into the Arrow in the Club’s new parking area (the original parking area is being worked on due to a recent prop-strike) and got ready to go.

A microlight lined up beside us to carry out his power checks before taking to the air from the grass runway. We entered the runway at the intersection, and were soon rolling down 26 and taking to the air. Visibility was pretty poor at this point, and as we climbed to height it was clear that we’d probably be dodging clouds for a lot of the route.

I managed to spot Lyneham through the murk, and set course for Newbury. I had to keep changing height to avoid the worst of the clouds, ending up down at 1500 feet around Newbury before being able to climb again for the remainder of the flight. The visibility appeared to be improving dramatically as we flew, and we soon picked out Newbury and then Greenham Common. Around the clouds though conditions were relatively turbulent, but as the weather improved the turbulence became less of a factor.

We were talking to Farnborough LARS by this point, and the approved the MATZ penetration, warning us as usual to remain clear of the Odiham ATZ and to be aware of gliders operating at Lasham. We identified both airfields as we passed, and continued on to Petersfield. Given the conditions, I was a little surprised not to hear more aircraft on the Farnborough frequency (often it can be difficult to get a word in!) and we only spotted a couple of other aircraft.

Traffic, 4 O'Clock

Traffic, 4 O'Clock

I set course for Shoreham, and signed off with Farnborough. Initially I was unable to receive the ATIS at Shoreham, so switched over to the Approach frequency to check the radio was still working Ok. Once I started to hear transmissions I switched back, and copied down the ATIS.

As we approached, I started to adjust our track in the hope of being offered a Left Base join to their active runway (02 today). We were asked to report at Worthing Pier, so I elected to head for the coast and then track along it.

Approaching Worthing Pier

Approaching Worthing Pier

The NDB was a useful aid in where to look for the airfield, and we soon spotted the field. Initially I was having trouble picking out the hard runway, but as we got closer this soon came into view, and I set us up for the Left Base join we had been given.

Final Approach into Shoreham

Final Approach into Shoreham

The traffic ahead of us cleared the runway just as after we reported Final (we were initially told to Continue Approach, before soon after being Cleared to Land). I brought us in for a nice stable approach, landing perhaps a little long and with a slight drift to the left as we approached the runway. The landing itself was fairly smooth though, and we were asked to backtrack and wait for a couple of taildraggers that were taxying on the grass.

I don’t like hanging around on active runways (full ATC or not!) so made good speed down the runway in order to reach the turn-off point. The Controller came back on saying ‘At that speed you’ll get there ahead of them, continue to Alpha 3’. We reached the hold and it soon became clear why we hadn’t just been cleared direct to parking. A Chipmunk was weaving its way along the taxyway directly towards us. The hold was just before a small loop (Charlie taxyway) that allowed him to pass us before we were cleared on to parking.

Close Encounter with a Chipmunk!

Close Encounter with a Chipmunk!

After informing the Controller we were just here for lunch, we were cleared to park on the (relatively empty) main Apron, and we tried to work out where we were supposed to sign in. It was a slight walk along the front of the terminal building, past the Fire Service and round to the office (although the weather was now much improved and it was actually nice enough not to require a coat!) to pay the (slightly steep) landing fee of £21.50. I guess Shoreham do provide a lot of facilities, but this charge did seem a little high given that Gloucester (a similarly equipped airfield) is more around the £18 pound mark I think.

We headed in to the Terminal, and took the obligatory photograph of the Arrivals board showing our arrival, before heading in for lunch. As is almost customary, I had a Sausage and Bacon sandwich and we whiled away the time watching various movements out on the airfield.

Fame at last!

Fame at last!

Suitably fed, I modified the plan slightly to route along the coast before flying through the Goodwood overhead and heading North back to Newbury. Apart from a helicopter practising auto-rotations, there was little activity on the field, and we were cleared direct to the hold point for the runway. As I completed power checks and took to the runway, a Super Decathlon carried out its checks behind us.

Super Decathlon carrying out Power Checks

Super Decathlon carrying out Power Checks

I chose to make a rolling takeoff, and as we rotated commented to Sean about the relatively high ground ahead of us. It looked worse than it was though, and we turned left to head back long before we came near it, and we had plenty of height to spare by then anyway. A couple of other aircraft were inbound and reporting at Worthing Pier as we departed, so I stayed inland until we were visual with the second of them, before turning back to route along the coast.

I used the VOR at Goodwood to intercept the appropriate track back to Petersfield (I had noted the required radial when re-planning after lunch) and we had to wait a little to get off the Shoreham frequency and switch to Goodwood. I informed the FISO that we would be routing overhead (confusing her slightly by including ‘with request’ in my initial call, although I wasn’t actually requesting anything!), and set course to pass slightly to the left of the field to allow Sean to get some photos.

There were a couple of aircraft in the circuit as we passed, and the Motor Racing Circuit was in use also. The cloud had lifted a lot more, and we were up at 3000 feet now so well clear of any confliction. As is usual for me, I opted to play it safe and make the call to them despite it not being strictly necessary.

Passing Goodwood's airborne and ground-based Circuit Traffic!

Passing Goodwood's airborne and ground-based Circuit Traffic!

I put us back on course for Petersfield as we cleared to the North, and switched over to the Farnborough frequency to ask for the MATZ penetration again. We were again warned about gliders at Lasham, and spotted a couple circling in the overhead there.

Passing Lasham

Passing Lasham

Sean and I chatted for a while as we continued, with me being a little concerned that I couldn’t hear the radio while we were talking (for some reason the intercom seemed very loud today, despite me turning the volume down a couple of times). This concern proved to be well-founded, as the Controller at Farnborough had tried to reach us a couple of times to get us to change frequency. Must take care in future to either hold short conversations, or ensure that the radio can be heard above our chatter!

As we approached Greenham Common I tuned the radio to Kemble’s frequency, despite having no intention of calling them until we approached Lyneham. This turned out to be a good thing to do, as one of Ultimate High’s aircraft was planning to display in the Kemble overhead for 20 minutes around the time we would be arriving.

We decided to take a bit of a detour, and I headed North of the route to take a look at the disused airfield at Welford. I pass the turnoff for this on the M4 on my way to work each day, and had meant to take a look from the air as it’s obviously not just a ‘Works Depot’ as the motorway signs indicate!

Welford

Welford

From there I had Sean fly us along the M4 to Membury to take a look at the airfield that’s near the Services, and got a good look at their long (but seemingly very narrow) hard runway.

Membury

Membury

From there we routed towards Swindon, as I’d received a text from Luned over lunch telling me that they were planning to go to Lydiard Park for the afternoon. Given that we were in no rush and it was a nice day, I decided to fly over there to see if they could spot us from the ground. We followed the M4 to J16 and I used my knowledge of the roads in Swindon to pick out the park (very obvious given the large house that’s in it!) and we carried out an orbit over it. Luned later informed me that everyone had spotted me flying over, so it was a worthwhile diversion!

Lydiard Park and House

Lydiard Park and House

As we had been flying towards Swindon we heard the Ultimate High aircraft cancel the display, so we continued on to Kemble. The airfield was quiet as we approached, and as usual I carried out a full Overhead Join rather than asking for a ‘quicker’ join either Downwind or on Left Base. As I approached the Overhead a helicopter was transitting the ATZ from North to South at about 1600 feet, and I allowed my height to climb a little as I kept a lookout for him.

As a result I had to lose more height than usual in my Deadside descent, and my airspeed was still quite high as I levelled out at circuit height. The speed came down to more normal Circuit speed quickly, and I carried out the pre-landing checklist on the Downwind leg. The rest of the circuit went normally, and I landed long to avoid having to spend too much time taxying at slow speed along the runway.

We taxyed for fuel, and had some problems refuelling due to issues with the fuel card. The delay was useful though, as it gave us an excellent view of a P-40 Kittyhawk as it taxyed along the grass towards us, before treating us to an impromptu display in the overhead.

P40 Kittyhawk taxying by

P40 Kittyhawk taxying by

Impromptu display

Impromptu display

A PA-46 Malibu also taxyed past us after getting a little lost on completion of his power checks!

Piper Malibu - The runway is behind you!

Piper Malibu - The runway is behind you!

Once refuelled (with the help of a member of the Fire Service!) we taxyed back to the parking area and put the aircraft to bed for the day, in glorious sunshine! As a final treat, we saw them preparing to take a Nimrod by road up to Cosford (its final resting place).

Nimrod on its way to Cosford

Nimrod on its way to Cosford

I was really glad that I’d decided to go ahead with this flight, despite the weather forecasts in the morning being far from ideal. Although we were down at 1500 feet for a while on the outbound leg, the conditions improved dramatically as promised, and led to a very enjoyable flight. Shoreham was a good place to visit, although the high landing fee might mean I don’t return very often. I do have friends in the area though, so it would be a good airfield to use when going to visit them.

As ever, Sean was good company and it’s always useful to have someone knowledgeable in the right seat to be able to take control for a while or assist in the navigation etc. I’d also managed to keep up the trend of visiting new airfields in 2012, this being my third new destination this year already! Hopefully this can continue, and I might even get to use my Northern Chart!

Tracks flown

Tracks flown

Outbound profile

Outbound profile

Return profile

Return profile

Total flight time today: 2:15
Total flight time to date: 183:00

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6 Responses to “A day out at the seaside”

  1. flyerdavid Says:

    Another great writeup, and some good piccies too.

    Re the landing fee: “the (slightly steep) landing fee of £21.50. I guess Shoreham do provide a lot of facilities, but this charge did seem a little high given that Gloucester (a similarly equipped airfield) is more around the £18 pound mark I think.”

    Gloucester’s landing fee for a single is £19.99 discounted to £13.99 if refuelling with more than 50 litres AVGAS. There are vairous reduced charges for lighter aircraft, training, residents etc.
    http://www.gloucestershireairport.co.uk/ScaleOfCharges.pdf

    Don’t you think the extra £1.51 was worth it just to see your flight on the arrivals board? I don’t think any other airfield has that facility today.

  2. Andy Hawkins Says:

    I still think Gloucester’s (and for that matter Kemble’s too) is steep as well. I can’t help but wonder how many more visitors they’d get if they dropped them more around the £15 mark.

    Yes, all three airfields (perhaps less so Kemble) have excellent facilities, but given the choice of a £10-£15 landing fee over one nearer £20, I’ll tend to choose the former, despite it only being an extra fiver or so.

    The Arrivals board is pretty cool though 🙂

    Can’t take too much credit for the photos, Sean was designated cameraman on this flight!

  3. Liam Sandie Says:

    Another great wright up Andy. I have passed my IMC skills test today and know you have yours too.

    Are you not tempted to utilise it more on your trips such as this or have you found that its a “tool to keep in the toolbox until absolutely necessary to use”?

    Just curious.

    Safe flying

    🙂

    Liam

  4. liamsandie Says:

    “write up” even! Well done windows..

  5. Andy Hawkins Says:

    Congratulations on getting the IMC rating.

    I certainly always planned that it would be a rating I would use, but since leaving Lyneham I’m afraid I’m not really current enough to be confident in planning a flight deliberately in IMC. Also, the Arrow’s instrument fit isn’t great, the ADF and DME aren’t particularly reliable just yet.

    I plan on trying to do a few ‘buddy’ flights with David to get more IMC current, and I also have to consider my renewal which is due around July. The difficulty is that with Kemble having no approaches, I can’t just ‘do an approach’ when returning like I used to do at Lyneham.

    Andy

  6. Complex to Wellesbourne « Andy's Blog Says:

    […] Andy's Blog Poker, flight and anything else that comes to mind. « A day out at the seaside […]

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