Short hop to Turweston to reset currency

Despite me now being in the position of only needing to fly the Arrow every 60 days to maintain currency with Club rules, I’m finding that due to one thing and another I’m not flying as much as I’d like these days. This coupled with the fact that we’re bound to have a patch of bad weather over Winter, I decided to do my best to reset my currency before Christmas if at all possible.

Luckily, the weather seemed favourable for a flight today, and a landing voucher for Turweston meant I could kill two birds with one stone, resetting my currency and adding a new destination to my log book without it costing too much!

I completed the majority of the pre-flight planning the evening before as usual, before using SkyDemon to complete the plog and double checking NOTAMs in the morning. The weather still looked favourable, although the TAFs did warn of periods of poor visibility due to showers, coupled with low cloud. However, the morning dawned bright and clear, as well as having the added bonus of relatively mild overnight temperatures meaning there was unlikely to be an issue with having to de-ice the aircraft before flying! A quick call to Turweston gained me the required permission to visit, and confirmed that they had nothing unusual happening today.

I arrived at Kemble about 45 minutes before my booking slot, and chatted briefly with another pilot in the Club office who was heading down to Compton Abbas. I grabbed a spare headset, completed all the pre-flight paperwork and checked the defect log (the Arrow hadn’t flown for over a week!) before heading out to the aircraft to pre-flight the aircraft and get going.

There were no issues with the pre-flight, and the work carried out recently to lay matting on the grass where the aircraft are parked appears to be just what was needed to prevent the area becoming unusable in periods of wetter weather. Kemble were NOTAMing that the grass surfaces should be treated with caution due to recent wet weather, so the work was completed in the nick of time! Well done those valiant Club Members and aircraft owner Dave who carried out the work!

Pre-flight was all normal (the dipstick a little tight as ever!), but I had to take a few samples from the left fuel drain to get all the remnants of water out of the fuel. I boarded up after a last walk around, and set to programming the 430 with my route after starting the engine. Kemble seemed pretty busy, with a number of aircraft joining while others operated in the circuit. I took my time, allowing the engine to warm up, before calling for airfield information and Taxy instructions, heading out to the D site apron for checks as normal.

I initially had a bit of problem due to condensation on the inside of the windscreen causing problems seeing where I was going into the low sun, but a quick wipe sorted that before I got some good airflow over the screen to keep it clear. Power checks were all normal, and I was initially cleared to hold A3 to wait for a gap to depart. Two aircraft approached the runway close together, with the first taking a little while to clear, meaning the second had to be warned that the runway was still occupied, leading to a late go-around decision.

Once clear, I lined up and departed, opting to turn right to keep away from the other traffic in the left hand circuit. After orienting myself with the location of Aston Down, I intercepted my outbound track using the 430 and SkyDemon (normally I would do this either visually or using the ADF, but the NDB at Kemble is currently out of service). I had planned the flight to track directly to the DTY VOR, before approaching Turweston from the North for a Downwind join into their somewhat wide noise abatement circuit.

I used the VOR as the primary means for intercepting the track to DTY, cross checking against the two GPSs and double checking with the map once I was established on the leg for a short while. I was now talking to Brize for a Basic Service, and the Controller warned me about activity at Little Rissington and Hinton in the Hedges. Part of the reason for choosing the more Northerly route was precisely to avoid these two busy parachuting airfields, so it was good to have my planning decisions confirmed!

Flying over patchy cloud

Flying over patchy cloud

I was gaining the benefit of a good tailwind of 20 or 30 knots on this log, and the GPS track shows 150 knot groundspeed for most of the leg! As a result I was soon flying over Banbury, and signed off with Brize to talk to Turweston for the approach. I slightly overshot the turn to the South to head for Turweston due to the poor visibility directly into the sun. Again I leaned on the two GPS units a little more than I would have like in order to fix my position, and established myself on what I hoped was the correct track to avoid the noise sensitive areas near the airfield.

Another aircraft was landing just as I turned onto the offset Final leg, but he cleared the runway in good time meaning I could land without having to slow or perhaps carry out a Go Around due to an occupied runway. I made quite a good landing on the nice long tarmac runway at Turweston, and parked up on their apron making a nice neat row of 4 Arrows!

3 little Arrows, all in a row!

4 little Arrows, all in a row!

I headed up to the Tower to settle the landing fee (always feeling a bit sheepish for using a free landing voucher!) before heading down to the Cafe to order my usual sausage sandwich for lunch. Made a quick trek to the (somewhat distant!) toilet while my food cooked, and made it back in time to allow me to complete the chart for the return journey before my food arrived.

I took my time eating and drinking, but as I was on my own there wasn’t much point in hanging around for too long, so headed back out to the aircraft to give it a quick transit check before the return journey. The airfield had come alive again, with two aircraft departing and another joining as I got settled in, so I carried out the power checks in my parking space rather than clutter up the ramp while people were trying to leave and arrive.

The two aircraft backtracked down the runway, and I headed initially to the hold to allow the inbound traffic to land, and the other two aircraft to depart. Once the runway was clear I also backtracked, closely followed by another aircraft. Unsure as to whether he would be able to pass me if I lined up on the runway I elected to use the turning area to the North of the runway to allow him plenty of room to pass. He turned onto the (now disused I think) taxyway to the South, and I lined up and departed.

I did my best to follow the noise abatement procedure which called for a 20 degree turn to the right (but completely forgot to look for the lake I was supposed to fly over!) and continued climbing out to the North West until I intercepted the appropriate VOR radial for the flight back. I overshot it somewhat, but soon got back onto it and headed back to Banbury before calling Brize for a Basic Service again. The Controller again queried my exact routing before warning me of Little Rissington being active.

Passing Little Rissington

Passing Little Rissington

Both I and the Controller were somewhat confused by some IFR traffic that initially announced it was out of Kemble for Gloucester. Obviously on the Controller’s Radar it was clear that he wasn’t heading for Gloucester, as they asked him to confirm his routing, receiving the reply ‘Direct Bovingdon’ (a VOR to the North of London, and nowhere near a track from Kemble to Gloucester!). After a bit of difficulty the Controller managed to glean that the pilot was actually heading for Elstree (an airfield near the Bovingdon VOR!) and not Gloucester as he had initially stated!

I had to descend a couple of times on this leg to remain clear of cloud (it wasn’t immediately obvious in my direction of travel whether it was a small patch of cloud or a large bank I might later have trouble descending through), but the majority of the leg was flown at around 2500 feet. As I approached the Chedworth Disused and made ready to change frequency, the Brize Controller asked me to report Kemble in site. I informed her I would switch early, and I started listening in to Kemble to get a picture for the traffic situation.

Kemble was again quite busy, with an aircraft operating in the circuit and others joining. Again it was quite difficult to spot the airfield due to the fact that I was heading into the sun, but the GPS units helped me confirm that what I thought was the airfield was correct! Approaching from the North meant a somewhat protracted Overhead Join, but the decision to do this rather than try to join on (say) a direct Right Base leg was the correct one I think.

Kemble hard to spot in the low sun

Kemble hard to spot in the low sun

As I reported overhead on the West side of the airfield in readiness to turn back to descend on the deadside (to the North) another aircraft also announced that he was in the Overhead and descending on the deadside. I quickly spotted him over the threshold of the runway (where I was heading to in a rather large orbit) and reported that I had him in sight. He was given information as to my position by the FISO, and was concerned that he couldn’t spot me (I was quite some way behind him and at a similar height) so I again reported my position and that I had him in sight.

I followed him down the deadside descent, turning crosswind at 1000 feet just as another aircraft completed a touch and go meaning there were now three of us all heading around the circuit to land. Luckily (and unusually!) I had got myself slowed down in good time before arriving Overhead, so it was easy for me to maintain good spacing with the aircraft in front. At all times the FISO was really on the ball, keeping everyone up to date as to where we all were.

I followed the aircaft ahead around the circuit, becoming a little concerned that he might not clear the runway in time for me to land (and the FISO indeed asked him to ‘expedite’!). He turned off the runway as I passed through about 200 feet however, so I was able to land slightly long in readiness for the taxy down to refuel. I pulled off what I think was my best landing in the Arrow ever, bang on centreline and with no sideways drift at all, the stall warner just starting to blare as the main gear gently touched, and me keeping the nose up before gently lowering it to the runway as I slowed. Shame I can’t do that more often!

I refuelled the aircraft before heading to the South of the runway for the first time ever to taxy back to our parking area (they were obviously keeping people off the grass wherever possible due to the recent weather). Despite only being asked to report when I was ready to cross at C1, I reported that I was clear at C2 so that the Controller knew I was no longer affecting runway operations. I always feel a little like I’m being told off when this gleans the reply ‘Roger, report ready at C1’ (in other words ‘Fine, but I only asked you to report here‘!). However, I think it’s best for others on the frequency to be able to build up their own picture whenever possible.

Track flown

Track flown

Outbound profile

Outbound profile

Return profile

Return profile

Once back at the parking area, I pushed the aircraft back into its parking space and put the cover back on. I headed into the Club to settle all the paperwork, but had to return to the car because I’d forgotten to take my cheque book into the office! It appeared I was in the nick of time with my return, as the sky now looked like this, and it was started to rain relatively heavily.

A rather threatening sky on my return!

A rather threatening sky on my return!

I’m glad I managed to make this flight before Christmas and get my currency requirements extended for as long as possible over the Winter. I’d also visited a very pleasant new airfield to boot, so on the whole this was a flight that was definitely worth it!

Total flight time today: 1:30
Total flight time to date: 206:55

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