First local of the year!

It had been over a month since my last flight with the family to Compton Abbas, and even longer since I had last flown the Arrow, so I was in danger of running out of my 60 day currency limit. Sadly I’d had to cancel my first extended trip away to visit the family up on Anglesey due to the recent poor weather. Mindful of the need to reset currency, I took advantage of a break in the weather for a quick evening ‘local’ flight after work.

The conditions for the flight were pretty good, with a cloudbase in excess of 3500 feet and little wind, so I planned a relatively short trip up towards Wellesbourne and back. This was to be my first flight in the Arrow since its avionics upgrade which saw the installation of a Garmin 430 and new audio panel.

In preparation for my trip to Wales I’d done a lot of reading up on both of these, including some playing with the 430 simulator to familiarise myself with its operation. On recent flights there had been some reported difficulties with the audio panel (with rear seat passengers having difficulty in communicating with others on the intercom) and also issues using the 430 as a Comms radio.

Settled in the cockpit, I entered my planned route into the 430, including a custom waypoint for the disused airfield at Chedworth, then on to Wellesbourne before heading to the DTY VOR before returning via Chedworth again. All was quiet at Kemble as I taxyed down to the North Apron for my power checks. A microlight landed as I neared the North Apron, and I took the opportunity to ask for a Radio Check on the Traffic frequency. The microlight responded helpfully, which at least proved that the 430 was successfully transmitting and receiving.

All checks were normal, so I lined up and took off into the quiet skies. I turned North before Kemble village, and used the CDI on the 430 display to intercept my planned track (currently there is no external CDI fitted, so the 430 cannot be used for GPS approaches). The majority of the nav on this flight was carried out using the 430 for guidance, with frequent checks of my position on the paper chart and also verified with SkyDemon.

Nearing Chedworth I made a call to Brize Radar and received no response. I repeated the call and again received no response. This struck me as unusual, as I’m pretty sure I’ve received a service from Brize in the evenings before. I repeated the call on the second radio, and again received no response so decided to give up and just continue. There was no real need for me to be in contact with anyone at this point.

As I approached Wellesbourne I had a good view of two hot air balloons slowly making their way Southwards towards me. I made sure I gave them plenty of space, and managed to get off a couple of shots of them in the distance. Sadly I had neglected to bring along my camera, so the photos were taken with my phone and as such aren’t particularly good quality.

Balloons!

Balloons!

I switched over to Wellesbourne’s frequency and tried to raise them. Unsurprisingly there was nobody home, so I made ‘traffic’ calls on the frequency in case anyone was operating from there. This turned out to be a good decision, as a helicopter announced its departure a minute or so after I had turned towards DTY. He was behind and below me though, so I didn’t manage to acquire him visually.

I tried using the autopilot to intercept and track to and from the VOR. However, as can be seen from the GPS traces it didn’t do a particularly good job! I must make a note to re-read the manual to ensure I was using it correctly. I soon gave up attempting to use it in ‘Nav’ mode and settled for flying for a while with it just in heading mode.

Back on the Brize frequency heading for Chedworth, I heard another aircraft call them and also receive no response. They were obviously closed for the evening. The 430 continued to operate very nicely for Nav, and I played around with some of the other functions. Sadly it doesn’t have any frequencies in its database because (I presume) of the old US database that is currently installed.

I passed by Chipping Norton and Little Rissington, both familiar landmarks from my PPL training days.

Passing Chipping Norton

Passing Chipping Norton

As I approached Chedworth, I noticed a couple of biplanes manoeuvering on the ground at a grass strip. Further investigation after the flight revealed this to be Rendcomb airfield.

Biplanes at Rendcomb

Biplanes at Rendcomb

Kemble was again quiet as I approached, but I still elected to carry out a full Overhead Join for 08R. As I called ‘Crosswind’ another aircraft announced its intention to taxy, so I made sure to make appropriate calls throughout the circuit to keep him informed of my position. The circuit as a whole was good, but I managed to miss out a couple of items in the pre-landing checks (including turning the fuel pump on) which I must be more careful of in future. Just goes to show how being a little rusty can affect things.

As I turned Final I remembered that Kemble operate using a displaced threshold out of hours, due to the road that crosses the normal threshold. This is usually controlled by traffic lights from the Tower, but obviously this can’t be done when nobody is there! I landed long deliberately anyway, in order to reduce the time taxying up to the Eastern end of the runway so that I could vacate near our parking area. The landing was generally Ok, although a little firmer than I would have liked.

Track flown

Track flown

I taxyed back to our parking area, and put the aircraft to bed after a short but enjoyable flight. It was good to be able to get to grips with the 430 on a short flight without too many distractions, and I’d had a very pleasant flight resetting my currency for a further 60 days. I was also quite impressed that I’d made it almost to the middle of June this year before flying a ‘Local’!

Total flight time today: 1:10
Total flight time to date: 190:35

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3 Responses to “First local of the year!”

  1. First ‘emergency’! « Andy's Blog Says:

    […] Andy's Blog Poker, flight and anything else that comes to mind. « First local of the year! […]

  2. 2012 Summary « Andy's Blog Says:

    […] landaways (only 1 local if you discount the currency check and IMC […]

  3. Weather enforced local | Andy's Blog Says:

    […] to avoid doing too many local flights (discounting training flights, my last local flight was on 12th June 2012!), it’s nice to just get up in the air and fly every now and again. I must remember that in […]

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