Weather enforced local

When a post appeared on the Flyer forums announcing a planned fly-in at Bristol airport, this seemed like an excellent chance to get the airfield in my logbook at a reasonable cost. I expressed my interest immediately, and was accepted on the list of attendeed for the fly-in. I booked the aircraft in good time and informed the organiser of the relevant details, and then waited for the day to arrive to see what the weather would bring.

Sadly the weather didn’t co-operate, with the forecast promising very low cloud for the majority of the day. With regret, I cancelled my booking and informed Freedom. Sarah understandably suggested that I might like to consider doing at least some flying that day, so I took another look at the forecast, and it suggested that the weather should improve in the afternoon. I re-booked a slot from 2pm, and completed my planning for the flight in to Bristol at home in readiness for heading to Kemble in the afternoon.

On arriving at Kemble the weather still wasn’t looking great, so I chatted to Sarah and checked the TAFs and METARs for local airfields on my phone. Things gradually started to improve around Kemble, but Bristol’s TAF and METAR still showed that they had significant cloud in their vicinity. As a result I planned a quick ‘local’ flight on an old favourite route (Kemble -> Severn Bridges -> Hereford -> Moreton in Marsh -> Chedworth -> Kemble) and helped get the aircraft out of the hangar.

The skies were brightening considerably as I got settled in the aircraft and started the engine (with a lot less drama than on my previous flight!), and I was cleared to the North Apron for checks. As I completed the checks, another of Freedom’s aircraft came on frequency joining from the North, passing overhead on a Crosswind Join as I made ready to leave the North Apron.

I was initially cleared to the B1 hold, and the FISO then checked whether I would need a full backtrack. As I was solo, I wouldn’t need much of a takeoff roll, so I informed him that I could accept a partial backtrack, and he passed me traffic information for the other aircraft (now on Downwind) and cleared me onto the runway.

After a short backtrack, I turned through 180 degrees to face the correct way, and the FISO passed me the wind information and I began my takeoff roll. The wind was quite strong and straight down the runway, so after what seemed like a very short roll I was airborne and climbing away. The first leg was almost directly on runway track, so I simply continued my climb to the West before changing to Bristol’s frequency once I was clear of the Kemble ATZ.

I climbed to around 2000 feet, meandering slightly to remain clear of cloud. Bristol gave me a Basic Service, and the only other traffic on frequency was a helicopter making a transit to the West of Bristol. There was some debate between the Controller and the pilot as to the best route for him to transit, as they still had low cloud in the area, and the Controller thought a route through the Bristol overhead might be better. She checked with their Tower Controller though, and the transit to the West was eventually agreed upon, as there was still low cloud directly over the airport.

Cloud over Bristol

Cloud over Bristol

The cloudbase became lower and more continuous as I approached the Severn Bridges, and I had to descend to below 1000 feet in order to remain clear. I tracked up the Severn for a short while to get around a bank of cloud before heading back inland to the higher ground towards Monmouth and Hereford. I managed to get up to 3000 feet for a short period, opting to fly through some banks of cloud rather than continually change course or descend. I signed off with Bristol, and began to monitor Gloucester’s Approach frequency.

Low level up the Severn

Low level up the Severn

Approaching Hereford the clouds lowered again, and I spent the rest of the flight around 2000 feet. Turning East from Hereford, I passed close by the mast on the way to Ledbury, and spotted the Malvern Hills and Great Malvern off to my left. Gloucester seemed pretty busy with both VFR and Instrument traffic using on their Approach, and another aircraft announced on frequency that he was inbound from the Worcester area. Given this information I knew our tracks would cross, but he was already approaching Gloucester by the time I crossed the M50 and M5.

Great Malvern

Great Malvern

The disused airfield at Moreton in Marsh was an easy turning point to identify, and I signed on with Brize for the leg back to Kemble. I only got as far as making my initial call giving my registration and asking for Basic Service, when the Controller responded ‘Are you heading back in to Kemble?’. I confirmed I was, and was given a Basic Service and squawk.

Turning at Moreton in Marsh

Turning at Moreton in Marsh

Little Rissington passed by to the left, and as I passed over the disused airfield at Chedworth I signed off with Brize and contacted Kemble. They were relatively quiet, so I informed them I was approaching from the North East and requested to do some circuits in order to fully reset my passenger carrying currency. I managed to confuse my East and West, and incorrectly corrected myself, informing the FISO that I was in fact approaching from the North West! Seems Charlie isn’t the only one to get confused!

Approaching the ATZ three other Freedom aircraft came on frequency, one making ready to depart, another passing to the East and a third planning a landing at Oaksey to allow a solo flight back to Kemble. I was offered a Crosswind Join but decided to carry out a full Overhead Join as usual (I wasn’t in any great rush to get back on the ground!). All three circuits went well, flying a good circuit pattern culminating in a nice gentle landing each time.

I landed deliberately long from the last circuit to minimise taxying time, and taxyed back to the Freedom hangar before closing down. Engrossed in getting my gear tidied away, Sarah had to tap on the window a number of times to get my attention, and she and another pilot pushed the aircraft back in to the hangar. I climbed out, then helped them push the aircraft back out, as Sarah realised that another pilot had booked a flight!

Route flown

Route flown

Profile

Profile

Back in the office I completed the paperwork and paid for the flight, before heading back to my car to drive home.

Despite the disappointment in not being able to make the fly-in as originally planned, I’m glad Sarah suggested I do some flying anyway. It was nice to be up in the air by myself, just generally flying around without any particular ‘mission’ to achieve. Although I generally try 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 future should the weather mean that my plans need to change.

Total flight time today: 1:40
Total flight time to date: 261:20

 

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One Response to “Weather enforced local”

  1. 2015 Summary | Andy's Blog Says:

    […] flights (including a total of 5 currency checks!, 1 solo local and a flight offered as a raffle prize to raise funds for Catrin’s school […]

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