Family trip for a nice Birthday Sleap

After a celebratory Father’s Day trip in the Arrow last month, I decided to continue the theme with a flight booked on my Birthday today. In the lead up to the weekend, it looked like we were finally about to get a break in the awful weather we’d had recently, meaning that the flight should go ahead. Sleap had always been on my list of destinations due to good reviews, and the fact that there was a landing voucher in one of the flying magazines for this month sealed the deal.

The TAFs on the morning were some of the shortest I’ve seen in a while (usually a good sign!) and I completed the last bits of planning at home as usual. We left for the airfield a little later than we had planned, but still arrived in good time for me to check the aircraft out while Luned entertained Catrin in the Club office as usual. Again I was trudging out to the aircraft alone carrying the mountains of gear we seem to need (my flight bag, 3 headsets, Catrin’s booster seat and assorted bags and things to keep Catrin fed and watered on the flight)!

All the pre-flight checks were normal, and we all headed out to the aircraft to get settled. Roger was preparing for an instructional flight in the Bulldog as we got settled, and we both started our engines and called for taxy together. There was still some evidence of the recent incident (last information I heard was that the pilot was recovering well) as we taxyed along the grass taxyway past the Tower, before lining up in formation with Roger on the North Apron for power checks.

These were all normal, and I completed mine just ahead of Roger. The Tower cleared us onto the runway to backtrack, and Roger announced (a little cheekily!) that he would follow us on to the runway to take off ahead of us! I think I surprised Roger a little by not backtracking right to the threshold, but he lined up in front of us and departed. I asked for a left turn after departure, and was told about some traffic approaching from that direction, before beginning our own takeoff roll as Roger became airborne and turned right.

We climbed out to the North,  before setting course for our first turning point at Gloucester. I’d decided before the flight that I was going to try to avoid using the GPS too much on this flight, electing to ensure my ‘traditional’ navigation skills could still cope should they ever need to be called on in future. I was helped in this somewhat by the fact that I couldn’t get the suction mount on the GPS to stick on the window!

There was a fair amount of cloud around, but I could easily maintain about 3000 feet, occasionally having to drop down a few hundred feet to drop below the odd patch of lower cloud. Gloucester was easy to spot in the good visbility, and I set course for Worcester as we passed overhead.

We spotted quite a few aircraft as we headed direct to Shrewsbury, this leg being the longest and most featureless of the journey. However there were a few large towns and cities either side of track that we could use to verify our position, as well as a distinctive large wood that we were due to clip the edge of.

Since passing Worcester we had been on frequency with Shawbury, but had heard a number of aircraft attempting to make contact with them and receiving no response. I made a couple of attempts myself as we neared, but also received no response, so switched directly to Sleap as we approached.

Sleap sounded fairly busy, with a number of other aircraft approaching, and some preparing to depart. I followed another aircraft on the deadside as we descended, as an aircraft went around due to two other aircraft departing and failing to clear the runway in time. I was hence keeping a close eye on all these aircraft, and slotted in behind the aircraft that had gone around. As I announced ‘Crosswind’, I noticed one of the aircraft that was heading off to the right turning back towards me at circuit height.

I announced ‘Downwind’ at the appropriate time, and the other aircraft also announced that it was Downwind behind me with me in sight. We were fairly close, and I wasn’t sure if I had cut in front of him in the circuit as I joined. He elected to make an early turn onto Base leg, but unfortunately I was unable to extend my Downwind leg by much due to the noise sensitive area at the start of the Final leg of the circuit.

As a result, the other aircraft was still backtracking along the runway as I approached, and seemed to take a long time doing it, meaning I had no choice other than to go around.

Runway occupied - going around

Runway occupied – going around

I carried out a nice Go Around procedure, moving to the right of the runway as I climbed back into the circuit. This second circuit was much better, but I ended up slightly high on Final, meaning I landed longer than I would have liked. Despite this it was a good landing, and I did my best to backtrack as quickly as possible in order to prevent holding anyone else up, before taxying in to park up in a relatively busy parking area.

Fairly busy parking area

Fairly busy parking area

We headed in to drop off our landing voucher, before heading upstairs for some well-earned lunch. The menu seemed very good, but as usual I offered for the tried and tested sausage and bacon sandwich. This came on some excellent thick bread, and I had a little trouble finishing it. Catrin however managed to polish off a rather large ham sandwich, before tucking in to crisps and finishing it all off with some ice cream! The cafe was pleasingly busy, and we were even sitting near the Red Hawks display team of Bob Grimstead and Matt Hill. We also overheard them being introduced to another pilot who is planning a round the world trip in a Cirrus!



Suitably fed and a toilet break completed, we headed back out to the aircraft. Catrin ‘helped’ us find it by looking for the one with a ‘Z’ on it, and I got Catrin and Luned settled before carrying out a quick walkaround in readiness to leave. Once happy, I jumped in myself, and we prepared for the off.

We headed onto the inactive runway for power checks, before taking to the active runway to backtrack after another aircraft had landed and passed the intersection to the runway we were on. He cleared the runway as we line up, and after a quick check of the Ts and Ps I applied full power and began the takeoff roll. Once airborne we headed to the South to Shrewsbury for the start point of the return journey.

I again tried to reach Shawbury and received no response, so after a while just tuned in Gloucester’s frequency in readiness for talking to them as we approached Worcester. It was soon demonstrated to me that this was the furthest North I’d travelled in a light aircraft, as I heard a couple of Scouse accents on the radio trying to reach Shawbury!

The leg to Worcester was again quiet, but Catrin entertained us from the back with some very pleasant renditions of ‘Happy Birthday’ and the theme tune to ‘Team Umizoomi‘! Unfortunately we weren’t in the Arrow with it’s Garmin audio panel, so when I needed to talk or listen to ATC we had to disconnect her microphone. She seemed to be having great fun hearing her own voice in her headset though!

As we approached Worcester I made contact with Gloucester, informing them of our position and route through their overhead. There were a couple of gliders in close proximity to us, one circling to our left and another initially appearing to be heading straight towards us from the right, before turning to his left and passing well behind.

The ADF was useful in verifying our track, but this leg always had the M5 clearly visible off to our left as a good aid to navigation. We passed through the overhead at Gloucester and set course back to Kemble. Once clear of Gloucester’s ATZ I made contact with Kemble, to find them relatively quiet apart from one of Ultimate High’s aircraft rejoining to land.

Kemble were still on 08R, and making an Overhead Join from our position would have meant flying past the airfield before returning to descend on the deadside. After confirming they were unaware of any other traffic, I elected to join Crosswind, meaning I simply had to descend to circuit height and head direct to the threshold of 27. I made a fairly good job of the circuit, bringing us in to a nice landing on 08, easily being able to make the turn off to taxy for fuel.

I had to hold briefly to allow another Ultimate High aircraft to pass, and heard on the radio a Spitfire calling for start. I took us to the pumps (parking behind another Ultimate High aircraft!) and we all piled out as quickly as possible to see the Spitfire taxy past us, Catrin waving cheerily and receiving a nice wave back from the pilot! We watched him depart, before Catrin and Luned walked back to AV8 while I waited for the Ultimate High Extra to complete refuelling.

Tracks flown

Tracks flown

Outbound profile

Outbound profile

Return profile

Return profile

Once refuelled, I taxyed back to the parking area, to find out that unfortunately Luned had the keys to her car, so I would have to leave all our gear in the Club and walk over to AV8! I reversed the procedure I’d carried out earlier in the day, packing up all our gear and getting it out of the aircraft before putting the cover back on and walking in to the office to complete all the post-flight paperwork. After a walk down to AV8 I learned that Graham was sadly stuck in New York and hence unavailable to carry out my IMC Renewal tomorrow as planned, so I treated myself to a well earned beer while Luned walked back to get the car!

Today had been a thoroughly enjoyable flight, adding another new airfield to my logbook and all the family (hopefully!) enjoying the trip. I was on the top fold of the chart for a lot of this flight for the first time, an indication that I should probably do my best to get up to Caernarfon in the near future. It was only another 30 or so minutes of flying time! Fingers crossed this break in the weather won’t be too short lived.

Total flight time today: 2:25
Total flight time to date: 196:15

One Response to “Family trip for a nice Birthday Sleap”

  1. Another family flyout for a bit of a Sleap | Andy's Blog Says:

    […] I started looking at destinations in the opposite direction, to the North West, and initially considered either Shobdon or Halfpenny Green. More digging showed an event planned at Halfpenny Green, and Shobdon seemed a little bit close to Kemble, so I eventually settled on a return to Sleap. […]

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

<span>%d</span> bloggers like this: