Isle of Wight mini fly-out

Rather uncharacteristically, I had a spur of the moment desire to fly on Friday evening. A quick check of the Club’s booking system showed that the Arrow was free, and David had a Warrior booked for a flight to the Isle of Wight with 3 passengers. I dropped him a quick text and found out he was taking his children and a house guest down to Bembridge, with the plan to walk down to the beach and have some lunch.

After a quick check with Luned and the weather, I booked the Arrow and set about planning the flight to Bembridge. The weather for Saturday looked Ok, with showers around but a nice high cloudbase almost everywhere.

The forecast in the morning seemed to be worse than the night before, but after looking in more detail it still showed that the showers were very localised, and cloudbase was still good. I tried to call Vectis Gliding Club at Bembridge (even though PPR wasn’t strictly necessary), so left a message asking them to call me back. After sorting out the final bits of planning, we made ready to leave for Kemble, and as we left the Gliding Club called back and gave me the relevant information. Catrin seemed very excited that we were flying to ‘An Island!’, and even brought along Jake (from Jake and the Neverland Pirates) along for the ride!

We arrived just as David was walking out to the aircraft. We chatted for a bit and then I headed in to the Club to sort out the paperwork and get the aircraft keys. I took my time over the A check, and also got the Garmin 430 set up with a route for the flight (or so I thought!). A quick trip back to the Club for a toilet stop, and we all headed out to the aircraft.

Catrin and Jake ready for the off

Catrin and Jake ready for the off

The engine seemed a little reticent to start, but I got it going on the second attempt. The 430 had lost the route I’d programmed in (but had at least remembered the custom waypoints I defined) so I reentered the route quickly. We taxyed out to the D site apron for checks as normal, before reporting ready once the pre-departure checks were all done. We were cleared straight onto the runway after the airfield Fire Engine passed by on a bird-clearing mission. As I lined up, the FISO informed me there would be a delay due to a large number of birds on and around the airfield. Lined up on the runway with your back to any oncoming traffic is never a comfortable place to be, and as we sat there I heard Roger in one of the Club’s other Warrior making progress around the circuit.

Just as he turned Final, the FISO informed us of a flock of birds to the South of the field, and gave us ‘clearance’ to depart, suggesting a right turn out to avoid the birds (which we didn’t see as we departed!). Take off and departure were normal (save for forgetting to turn off the fuel pump and landing light once at altitude) and we headed for Lyneham to start the Nav.

Visibility was excellent, with the odd shower dotted around that was easy to spot. The cloudbase was variable from about 2500 to 3500 feet, so I had to climb and descend in order to remain clear. We headed from Lyneham to Newbury (passing through the odd light shower), before turning over the racecourse with a good view of Greenham Common. Catrin and Luned seemed to be well settled in the back, and after announcing she was hungry, Catrin tucked in to some of the food Luned had brought along!

In flight catering!

In flight catering!

At Newbury I contacted Farnborough for a Basic Service and MATZ penetration at Odiham. They were quick to respond, but I had to prompt the Controller as I approached Odiham for my MATZ penetration clearance (not strictly necessary but always a good idea). We were cleared through, as long as we remained clear of their ATZ.

I pointed out the Coast as we approached, and we were soon approaching Portsmouth for the crossing over the Solent. All my instincts were to climb and keep my speed up for the crossing, but the cloud ahead coupled with the need to slow down for the circuit meant I couldn’t really do either! Two other aircraft were approaching Bembridge as I made my calls, and we heard David land and backtrack to parking.

Passing the Spinnaker Tower

Passing the Spinnaker Tower

Crossing the Solent. Glorious weather between the showers

Crossing the Solent. Glorious weather between the showers

Initially I had a slight problem spotting Bembridge (when I’d visited previously there’d always been a large number of aircraft on the ground making it a lot easier!), but eventually spotted it and joined Downwind. Another aircraft landed just as we were turning Final, and also backtracked the runway. I was initially a little concerned that he might not clear the runway in time, but we were still quite a way away when he announced that he was clear.

Turning Final for 30 at Bembridge

Turning Final for 30 at Bembridge

As we were on Short Final I noticed a group of people crossing the undershoot of the runway near the hedge, and as we flew closer it became obvious that it was David and his passengers. I pointed them out to Luned and Catrin, who waved as we flew over. Sadly this must have distracted me slightly, as I flared slightly late causing a fairly firm landing, although I did have the nosewheel raised nicely so the mains took all of the abuse! It must have been bad, as I manged to get a ‘Was that a bit hard?’ comment from Luned! I backtracked and taxyed oer to the parking area as suggested by the guy on the radio, and parked up next to a few other aircraft.

Parked up with a number of visitors

Parked up with a number of visitors

David had forgotten something in the aircraft, so we chatted for a while and headed to the Glider Club to pay the landing fee. David and Co were setting off for a walk to the beach, but as we had Catrin with us we opted just to head to the Propeller Inn next to the field. This turned out to be a pretty good decision, as they had a good selection of food on the menu, as well as lots of model aircraft and photos around the walls and ceiling. Catrin had a strum on a few of the guitars that were lying around, before one of the Staff brought her out some books and cards to keep her occupied.

We took our time with the food, and just as we finished David texted me to let us know they were on their way back. We decided to wait until they arrived, before all walking back to the aircraft. David was ready slightly before us, so we watched him depart before taxying out to the hold ourselves.

David and Co. departing

David and Co. departing

The departure was normal, and we set off for an anti-clockwise tour of the Island. I listened out to Solent, and passed my kneeboard back to Luned so that she could dig out the listening squawk to use, before dialling it in and carrying on around the island. I did consider giving Solent a call and maybe asking for a transit (the airspace to the North West of the island starts at 2000 feet), but instead opted just to duck under at 1500 feet. We got good views of the Island and pointed out the lighthouse at the Needles to Catrin, as well as all the cliffs and beaches. Got a good view of Sandown as we passed (it seemed very quiet) before we tuned back to Bembridge to cross over their approach before heading North back to the mainland.

Passing The Needles

Passing The Needles

I set course for Petersfield, and as we approached made ready to give Farnborough a call for the return journey. I had to wait a little while as the frequency was quite busy, and heard another aircraft report overhead Petersfield at 2300 feet, just as we were overhead at 2500. We all started looking out for the traffic but didn’t spot it, but at least the extra speed of the Arrow meant we were unlikely to be involved in a mid-air from behind.

Catrin seemed to be really enjoying the flight, and the intercom’s isolation functions came in really useful as she sang and chattered away in the back! For a lot of the flight I had to isolate her and Luned, as she’s still finding it very novel that she can hear herself in her headset when she speaks. As a result she tends to speak and sing a lot more loudly than was necessary!

The Nav all went well on the way back as we reversed the route. Luned spotted a glider and tug separating off to our right as they climbed out of Lasham, and we were soon approaching Newbury again. Luned had requested that we overfly Swindon if possible, so I followed the M4 from Newbury, getting a good view of Membury Services and the airfield as we passed. Approaching Swindon I kept to the South of the motorway to keep clear of Redlands and the various glider fields on the Eastern edge of Swindon.

The former Renault building (now a soft play place!) was easy to spot, and we spotted Catrin’s school and our house as I performed an orbit. We heard David in the circuit at Kemble, and I considered asking him to request the bowser so that both of us could be refuelled together rather than having to visit the static fuel pump. However, I decided against it as I thought we were just that bit too far out for this to work.

Catrin's pre-school

Catrin’s pre-school

Photos complete, we headed for Kemble. We’d been listening in and they’d been reporting a wet runway, and it became clear why as we started looking for the field. It was on the other side of a large shower, which meant to had to keep to the South as we approached. We flew very close to Oaksey (something that probably wasn’t a particularly good idea), before finally spotting the field and heading in.

There were two others in the circuit as we descended on the deadside. I spotted one easily turning Final, and the FISO gave me a bit more precise position report enabling me to spot the other on Base as we turned Crosswind and Downwind. The circuit and approach all went well, and we intentionally landed slightly long due to needing to taxy down to the far end of the field and the fuel bowser.

For the first time Catrin stayed with me as we refuelled (she and Luned generally walk up to AV8 while I do it) and she helped me with the bonding strap and various other things. She’d been a real star on the flight and continued to behave very well. As we all got back into the aircraft a helicopter was making ready to depart, and we watched him hover taxy past us. We were cleared onto the runway to backtrack, but as we approached I heard the FISO clearing another aircraft to enter at the start of 26 to depart. I stopped and waited for the frequency to become clear so that I could tell the FISO I was stopping, but he then came on and asked me to stop for the other aircraft to depart.

We watched the helicopter practicing low level manoeuvers on the other side the field, and after the other aircraft departed we backtracked and taxyed back to the parking area. For the first time since the grass had been re-rolled I had to park on one of those spaces, so I kept my speed down and taxyed as carefully as I could. The turn into the parking space was a little tight close to the fence (especially given that I was trying not to turn too tightly to protect the ground) but I got the aircraft nicely parked at the first attempt.

Route flown

Route flown

Outbound profile

Outbound profile

Return profile

Return profile

Luned and Catrin headed back to the Club, leaving me to get all the gear out of the aircraft and put the cover back on. David and family were in AV8 having a drink and some food, but we needed to get Catrin her tea (and the Chef had left AV8) so sadly we weren’t able to join them. After settling the bills and sorting the paperwork in the Club we headed back to the car and to McDonalds for tea for Catrin, giving her a well-deserved treat.

Again this had been a really enjoyable flight. It’s always nice to have the family along, and despite the very late decision to fly and the less than perfect weather the flight went off without too much of a hitch. Despite occasional showers and cloud, we had some stunning views. It was good to be back at Bembridge again, and the setup there now that the Gliding Club are running things seems to work very well. Maybe next year we can take a more leisurely trip and head to the beach!

Total flight time today: 2:25
Total flight time to date: 203:55

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