Complex to Wellesbourne

After my trip with Sean to Shoreham, I wanted to get back in the air with the family again. Sadly the flight was always in doubt due to us all suffering from various coughs, colds and bugs in the week or so leading up to the day. I eventually decided that taking Luned and Catrin along probably wasn’t a good idea as Catrin was still suffering from a fairly bad cough and cold, and I didn’t want to risk doing any damage as a result.

Also, in the days leading up to the flight I’d been feeling pretty poor myself. The day before David had gone through the conversion process to be able to fly the Arrow, and had told me that the visibility in the air was pretty awful, despite the weather looking almost perfect from the ground. These two factors made me decide to just make it a relatively local flight, and I decided to head in to Turweston for the first time.

On the morning of the flight the weather was looking good, and I felt well myself too, so I carried out all the required pre-flight planning for the trip. The last thing I did was check Turweston’s web site, only to find that they were hosting the Vintage Aircraft Club fly-in that day! This is the second time this has happened recently, I really must remember to check airfield web sites before I start doing all the pre-flight planning!

So I opted for the safe and tried-and-tested destination of Wellesbourne. The majority of my planning was still valid for this route (NOTAMs and the like) so it was a simple matter of re-planning using SkyDemon before heading up to Kemble.

The weather was looking pretty good, and visibility from ground to air looked good too (although it’s always difficult to know from the ground exactly what conditions will be like in the air). Often clear blue skies seen from the ground can hide the true ‘murk’ caused by a prolonged period of high pressure. As I passed South Cerney they were obviously jumping that day, so this gave me optimism that the flight would go ahead as planned.

On arrival at Kemble I carried out the last few bits of the planning (marking up the chart etc.) and headed out to the aircraft for the ‘A’ check. We’re currently in a temporary parking area due to a prop-strike on one of the Club’s aircraft, and this puts the Arrow in a different area to the other aircraft and the associated storage bins. I opted to just put the aircraft cover in the baggage area rather than trudging all the way back with it. Usually I wouldn’t do this as if the cover is damp it can cause condensation within the cabin. However with the fine weather we’d had recently this wasn’t a factor, and the fact that I was flying solo meant that weight and balance wasn’t a concern either.

Check complete, I completed the tech log and headed back out to the aircraft and got ready to go. There were relatively few movements at Kemble despite the conditions. Kemble were using runway 08 today, which meant a relatively long taxy down the grass to the North apron for power checks. These were carried out without any issues, and I was soon heading out onto the runway to depart.

The take off roll and rotation all went well, and as I climbed out I realised I had neglected to ask for a left turn out (08 is now a right hand circuit at Kemble). I made the call on climbout, and was told there was nothing known to affect this, so I made a 90 degree left turn at 500 feet AGL, and used the NDB to intercept the appropriate outbound course.

As I continued the climb, I set RPM and mixture to climb settings, and took my first look at the actual conditions. They couldn’t have been much better, and I could see clearly in all directions. I continued to climb to close to 4000 feet as I passed the Chedworth disused, and then made the inital call to Brize for a Basic Service.

Brize were incredibly busy, and another aircraft was told they were operating at their limit. I ended up being the 4th aircraft in the queue for a service! I continued for a while, getting a good view of what looked like a Hercules heading in to Brize off to my right. After a few minutes hearing nothing, I made a call to Brize cancelling my request, informing them I would be switching straight to Wellesbourne. The flight time from Chedworth to Wellesbourne was less than 15 minutes, so I probably wouldn’t have been with Brize for long anyway.

On this leg I realised one pitfall of a late destination change. I usually remove the appropriate page from the flight guide and place this inside my kneeboard for easy reference. However, I hadn’t done this today, so I reached back into my flight bag and retrieved the whole AFE flight guide. I didn’t bother trying to remove the appropriate page, just opened the guide at the correct place and left it open on the other front seat to refer to once I reached Wellesbourne.

As is almost usual, I mis-identified Wellesbourne (spotting Gaydon instead) before spotting it properly with some 15nm to run. I began a gentle descent down to 2000 feet, and made the initial call to Wellesbourne. I’d called them before leaving so they already had my details, and they confirmed that they were still using runway 36 with a left hand circuit.

I made a slight left turn so as to keep the airfield on my right, before setting up for an Overhead Join, crossing the threshold of 36 at 2000 feet before beginning a wide descent on the deadside to keep clear of Wellesbourne Village. Turned Crosswind and joined the circuit, this time being at a sensible speed to get down to a more normal 90 knots for the Downwind leg.

For a change, Wellesbourne were pretty quiet! Usually every aircraft in the South of England appears to descend on Wellesbourne just as I arrive in the overhead, but today there were only two other aircraft nearby, one landing just as I reached the overhead and another on the Downwind leg. As a result I was alone in the circuit by the time I called Downwind, and concentrated on the pre-landing checks.

I followed the noise abatement circuit as best I could, before setting up for a stable approach. The runway was clear as I turned Final, and I brought the Arrow in for a fairly nice landing, perhaps a little more firm than I would like, but certainly not one of my worst! I taxyed over towards the Tower and parked opposite, before walking in to pay the landing fee.

Although there were plenty of people about, the queue in the cafe was pretty short given the excellent conditions, and I settled in to wait for my usual sausage and bacon sandwich. I was in no rush today really, as I knew that I only had a relatively short flight back, so I took my time and enjoyed the view out of the window.

Parked in the sun at Wellesbourne

Parked in the sun at Wellesbourne

Once finished, I headed back out to the aircraft and carried out a quick check to ensure nothing was amiss, before boarding and getting ready for the return flight. While taxying out to the hold the GPS fell off the windscreen, and the mount is now broken so I may have to try to source another one. Typical!

Apart from a couple of helicopters arriving as I taxyed out, the frequency was quiet and I was soon ready at the hold. I took to the runway and departed, continuing my climb in the circuit up to 2500 feet for the trip back. Visibility into sun wasn’t quite as good as it had been on the outbound leg, but the conditions were perfectly adequate. In some respects I regretted my decision not to go very far on this flight, but it’s often best to take the safe and conservative option when it comes to these things.

Slightly hazy, but nice conditions for flying

Slightly hazy, but nice conditions for flying

Managed to talk to Brize this time, though the Controller spent most of the time while I was on frequency issuing traffic alerts to another aircraft receiving a Traffic Service. I was soon approaching Chedworth again, and signed off with Brize to talk to Kemble again.

Kemble had no traffic to report as I changed to them, and I considered making a more direct join from my position to the North of the field. However, the flight was short enough as it was, so I elected to carry out another Overhead Join, this requiring me to carry out almost a complete orbit of Kemble from the Overhead.

In the Overhead at Kemble

In the Overhead at Kemble

The frequency became a little busier as I approached, with another pilot making a somewhat rambling initial call just as I reached the Overhead. As a result I could only make the call once I was actually descending on the deadside. I managed to get the Downwind call in without a problem, and again carried out the pre-landing checks.

The approach was nice and stable, but again just as I turned Base another aircraft using the callsign ‘Viper 1’ appeared on frequency for its initial call. I had to break in to call ‘Final’ as a result of this, but the Controller caught it and gave me the appropriate ‘Land at your discretion’ and I continued my approach. Again the landing was a little firmer than I would have liked, and as I slowed and prepared to make my turn off the runway I was a little distracted by the traffic on the ground!

I made the usual ‘request taxy to fuel’ call, and the response from the Controller seemed to indicate that he was a little distracted too! The response was along the lines of ‘errr, that’s approved’ and as I turned off the runway I managed to get a pretty good shot of the reason for everyone’s distraction!

Traffic, 12 O'Clock, passing right to left

Traffic, 12 O'Clock, passing right to left

A Hunter had been due to make its first flight after some work the previous day, but there had been a hold up with some parts. As a result, she was making the first flight today, and I managed to land at a perfect time to get a grandstand view. I taxyed quickly to the fuel bowser, shut down and managed to get a few shots of the Hunter on her take off roll. Apparently for about £3500 or so anyone can take a flight in her. Have to hope Mr. Camelot is nice to me sometime soon!

The Hunter rotating from 08

The Hunter rotating from 08

The excitement over, I refuelled the Arrow before taxying back to parking. Was met nose-on by one of the Club’s Warriors taxying from the parking area past the Tower, so I turned left before the narrow part of the taxyway to allow him past. This has happened a couple of times now (where the FISO has cleared two aircraft to pass in opposite directions down this one aircraft wide taxyway). I must check whether they really should be doing this!

Back at the parking area, I put the aircraft to bed in the sunshine, before heading back to the Club to complete the paperwork. Luned and Catrin were visiting some friends, so I decided to head over there with them and to buy myself a well earned beer on the way!

Tracks flown

Tracks flown

Outbound profile

Outbound profile

Return profile

Return profile

I’m really glad I elected to take this flight. I’d been feeling a little low because of all the niggling little germs I’d been suffering with, but this was the perfect antidote for that. Despite only making a short flight, I’d been up in the air enjoying almost perfect flying conditions, and had seen another pretty interesting aircraft on my return too. I wonder what Kemble will have lined up to entertain me after my next flight!

Total flight time today: 1:20
Total flight time to date: 184:20

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