Multi-leg tour, and a tech aircraft

After what seemed a lot of flying in the month of April, another opportunity presented itself when work insisted I take some leave to attend the Lyneham AGM. Rather than just take a half-day, I decided to book a full day’s leave, and try to arrange a flying trip. Some negotiation with David occurred, and after discounting a trip East due to poor weather forecasts, the plan was hatched for me to fly the Arrow to Cardiff (possibly carrying out an ILS approach), then Dunkeswell and Land’s End, with David flying the return leg to Kemble.

The morning of the flight dawned with excellent weather prospects, and I completed the last minute planning at home, calling Land’s End before leaving home to receive PPR to visit. When I arrived, David was already at the Club, but had some bad news to share. It seemed that the Arrow had developed a problem with the baggage door (the lock was in the ‘locked’ position, but the door was open). As such, it couldn’t be flown and we tried to come up with a backup plan.

One of the Club’s Warriors was available, but that meant David wouldn’t be able to fly a leg. After some quick re-planning, we ended up with much the same plan of going to Cardiff and then Dunkeswell, with an option to visit somewhere else (perhaps Compton Abbas) on the way back. As it happens, the Warrior that was available was none other than the aircraft I flew my first solo in back in October 2007 at RAF Brize Norton, that I had last flown on my first licensed landaway on 12th July 2008!

We headed out and checked out the aircraft. It was fuelled to tabs, and rather than fill up now we decided we would fill up at Dunkeswell for the return. We both settled ourselves onboard, the engine starting relatively easily after a couple of attempts. We had received notification via email that the Tower at Kemble would be unmannned today, so I made a ‘Traffic’ call to taxy to the Delta Apron for our checks. As we carried out the checks, another aircraft came on frequency and received a reply from ‘Kemble Radio’. We notified the A/G operator of our intentions, before taxying to the hold and taking to the runway.

The takeoff was normal, and we turned 90 degrees left to clear noise sensitive areas before turning on track towards Cardiff. We signed on with Bristol, receiving a Basic Service. I discussed with David whether it was worth asking Bristol to coordinate the ILS into Cardiff, but we decided against doing that, and to just ask for it on initial contact with Cardiff.

I was having a little trouble understanding the Bristol Controller, and it soon dawned on me why. It appeared that I had neglected to turn on the noise cancelling features of my headset! I pressed the appropriate button, and the world became a much quieter place again. As we approached the River Severn, I donned David’s foggles, and made the call to Bristol asking to change frequency to Cardiff.

Approaching the River Severn

Approaching the River Severn

The Controller had obviously already arranged a handover for us, and gave us a different frequency to use. We contacted Cardiff on this frequency, and made the request for vectors to the ILS. This was granted, with the Controller asking if we were VFR or IFR. I responded ‘IFR’, which in hindsight probably wasn’t the correct thing to do. By insisting on being IFR, this increased the workload on the Controller in having to keep us separated from other IFR aircraft.

It's what everyone's wearing this Summer...

It’s what everyone’s wearing this Summer…

We were given a number of heading changes, with our height increased initially before being gradually stepped down to an appropriate height. Another training aircraft with an ‘Ascot’ call sign appeared on frequency, and it appeared that we were holding him up from beginning his training detail. I offered to drop down to VFR if it would help the Controller with spacing, but he checked whether we would still want an ILS approach, and on replying ‘Affirm’ he just told us to continue.

After a couple of turns to intercept the localiser, we were cleared to intercept and asked to report when we had done so. I had tuned both Nav radios to the ILS frequency, and the localiser needles on them both started to move. I reported that I had captured the localiser, also noticing that the glideslope needle was still centred (normally the ILS glideslope would be intercepted from below, which would mean the needle should be significantly above centre). We were then cleared to descend with the glideslope, and instructed to switch to the Tower frequency.

David also pointed the lack of glideslope indication to me, as well as spotting that the ‘GS’ flag was active in both of the CDI indicators. Normally this would suggest that it was the ILS itself that was at fault, but David’s greater knowledge of the systems told him that if that were the case the Controller would know about it, and would have informed us. David talked me through setting an appropriate rate of descent (he could see the runway perfectly well remember!) and at about 800 feet he suggested I remove the foggles and continue visually.

At this point my headset cut out again, but the passive noise reduction was still adequate for me to continue to hear the Controller. A Thomson Commercial flight announced he was ‘fully ready’ as we approached Short Final, and was told to hold position. I brought us in for a slightly untidy landing (not quite fully aligned with the runway) and as we rolled out the Thomson aircraft was cleared onto the runway. We were asked to expedite vacating the runway, and did our best to make the first left without holding up the aircraft behind.

Thomson waiting patiently

Thomson waiting patiently

We taxyed up to a parking space, and David pushed us back a few feet so that we were parked tidily. As we walked in to settle the landing fee, we were met by a group of young children wearing Hi Viz jackets, escorted by an Aeros employee and two other adults. It appeared to be some kind of school trip, and we were asked to head up for a cuppa before coming back to pay our landing fee.

As we headed upstairs, a military C17 carried out a low Go Around. This was obviously the training flight that we had slightly held up on our approach, and perhaps explains why the Controller wasn’t too concerned about getting us out of his way! We had a quick drink, and I phoned Land’s End to inform them we wouldn’t be arriving today after all. Once finished we headed back down to the office and paid the landing fee (a very reasonable £20.14), booked out with ATC before dodging small children drawing lines on charts as we walked back out to the aircraft!

After a quick walk around we got settled and started up the engine. I listened to the ATIS, and made my initial call. The Controller informed us that he had our ATC clearance when we were ready, which I copied down and read back. Then expecting taxy instructions, I was simply told to ‘Report fully ready at Hotel’. After a quick check of the airfield diagram in my kneeboard, we taxyed close to the hold to carry out the power checks, before positioning at the hold and reporting ready.

After checking we were happy to accept an early turn out (due to St. Athan being active), we were cleared onto the runway and then cleared to depart with an early turn out before the chimneys. Cardiff make a point of noting that this hold also includes a stop bar (a row of lights in the tarmac, that light up red if you’re not cleared to cross). Even if the Controller clears you onto the runway, you’re not supposed to cross this row of lights if they’re illuminated. I pointed them out to David as we approached, and almost forgot to check them after the Controller had cleared us onto the runway.

After takeoff, we turned left to leave the Zone at Minehead as per the standard VFR departure, climbing initially to 1500 feet. Around this point my headset dropped out again, and this was the final clue that made me realise that the batteries were probably at the end of their life! I made a mental note to swap them when we reached Dunkeswell, and kept turning the headset on again for the remainder of the flight.

Heading out over the Severn Estuary

Heading out over the Severn Estuary

After being transferred to the Approach frequency, we were given clearance to climb to 3000 feet (a much more comfortable height to cross the Severn Estuary), and continued on towards Minehead. As we reached Minehead, I set course direct to Dunkeswell, and signed off with Cardiff.

We listened in to Dunkeswell for a while, not hearing much on the radio there. With about 10nm to run I announced myself on frequency, receiving the runway in use and QFE setting. I set us up for a Right Base join for 22, initially joining perhaps a little wider than I should have. The remainder of the approach went well, but the landing left a lot to be desired. Although a fairly smooth touchdown, there was no real roundout at all, and we just kind of ‘arrived’ at the runway!

Short Final at Dunkeswell

Short Final at Dunkeswell

We backtracked slightly, and took to the shorter runway to taxy towards the fuel area. A helicopter had landed on the grass off to our right, and I stopped and carried out the after landing checklist before moving off. Once we had cleared the path of the helicopter he then departed behind us, I hadn’t realised he was waiting for us to pass.

I informed the A/G operator we needed fuel, and parked up in front of the pump. Someone came out to refuel us, then David pushed the aircraft back a few feet to give me sufficient clearance to turn round and taxy onto the grass to park. Once parked up I even remembered to change the dying batteries in my headset!

After settling the bill for fuel and landing we headed in to the excellent restaurant for some lunch. It was good to see it relatively busy even mid-week, and we watched a few aircraft come and go as we ate. The Skydive aircaft filled will people before taking off, and we saw them later landing under canopy.

We finished lunch by around 1:30, and it seemed we had plenty of time to fit in a third stop on the way home. A quick check of the Pooleys plate for Compton Abbas using SkyDemon showed that Compton required PPR, so after a bit of a battle getting a working mobile phone signal I gave them a quick call to let them know we were coming.

We walked back out to the aircraft, and after another walkaround (including taking fuel samples) we boarded up and got started. Power checks were carried out in the undershoot, and we took to the runway and departed. We turned left on track, David being a little surprised at how close the glider field at North Hill was. We signed off with Dunkeswell, and received a Basic Service from Yeovilton for the majority of the leg to Compton Abbas.

Departing Dunkeswell

Departing Dunkeswell

The Controller seemed to be working two frequencies, as we could often only hear one side of his conversation. He also lost contact with another aircraft for a while, informing the pilot as such once he came back on frequency to change. At one point he queried whether we were following the A30, and looking back at the track this was probably because we came quite close to the ATZ at Yeovil Westland. I dog-legged around it, then signed off to contact Compton Abbas.

Overhead Compton Abbas

Overhead Compton Abbas

SkyDemon’s Pooleys plates handily had a chart showing the noise abatement circuit at Compton, which is pretty wide. While joining Overhead I glanced at this occasionally to orient myself, getting a little confused as to how far out we actually should have been. On Final we initially thought the runway was occupied, but this turned out to be an aircraft using the grass taxyway to the side. There was a brisk crosswind blowing almost straight across the runway, but the grass surface flattered my landing somewhat I think! We parked up at the end of the line of aircraft, heading in for another cuppa and a millionaire slice each!

Again Compton’s restaurant area seemed fairly busy (although it is well renowned so that shouldn’t really have been much of a surprise). We watched a Tiger Moth arrive and depart a few times, and it was soon our turn to make ready to leave and head back to Kemble.

February 18th, 2008

February 18th, 2008

April 30th, 2015 - Not much has changed!

April 30th, 2015 – Not much has changed!

Final walkaround of the day revealed no problems, and again the engine started quite easily. I taxyed down towards the threshold for 26, carrying out the power checks before taking to the runway and departing, mindful of the 45 degree right turn required after takeoff to avoid a noise sensitive area.

The Nav from Compton was fairly straightforward, so David and I spent a fair amount of time chatting and spotting the large number of solar farms that seem to have sprung up recently. On reaching Frome I signed on with Bristol for a Basic Service, turning towards RAF Lyneham for the next turning point. We were assigned a squawk, which I wrote down and David entered into the transponder. A few minutes later the Controller asked us to reset the squawk, and we realised that David had transposed two of the digits while entering it (I’d written it down correctly!).

As we approached Lyneham it was obvious that one of the changes since the RAF had left Lyneham was the erection of a huge solar farm on the airfield too. The good news at least was that the runways still seemed to be intact.

RAF Lyneham Solar Farm!

RAF Lyneham Solar Farm!

Signing off with Bristol, we switch to Kemble, unsure whether to expect a response or not. Again, we received a reply from Kemble Radio with runway in use and QFE. I reported our position and that we would join overhead, but the A/G operator asked that we join Left Base as there was an aircraft waiting to depart for a display practice.

We of course agreed, and I positioned us for the join. I reported Base and then Final, and we saw the other aircraft lining up on the grass. The final landing of the day wasn’t too bad, and we backtracked and cleared the runway as the other aircraft took off from the grass. A helicopter was just making ready to start as we taxyed back to parking, and I lined us up with the fuel bowser in case we needed fuel.

 

 

Skyvan after its display practice

Skyvan after its display practice

David checked the tanks and found them around tabs (which is where they were when we left), so we just pushed the aircraft back to the parking area and covered it up. We walked back into the Club to settle the paperwork. We were just about to leave for a well earned beer when I realised I couldn’t find the aircraft keys.

I knew they weren’t in the aircraft as we had locked the door, and I was pretty sure they were attached to my kneeboard as I walked back to the Club. We headed outside for a look, and fortunately found them on the grass area between my car and the Club offices. That was lucky!

 

Tracks flown

Tracks flown

Leg 1 profile

Leg 1 profile

Leg 2 profile

Leg 2 profile

Leg 3 profile

Leg 3 profile

Leg 4 profile

Leg 4 profile

David and I chatted about the flight in the pub down the road, both agreeing that we’d had a great day. It was a shame we couldn’t complete the flight down to Land’s End as planned, but even so we’d visited three airfields and completed an ILS approach during the day. The weather had been near perfect all day, and the Club’s Warrior had performed almost faultlessly. Hopefully our next flight together will be my much discussed first trip across the Channel!

Total flight time today: 3:05
Total flight time to date: 269:15

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3 Responses to “Multi-leg tour, and a tech aircraft”

  1. Dad’s taxi, and a race! | Andy's Blog Says:

    […] Poker, flight and anything else that comes to mind. « Multi-leg tour, and a tech aircraft […]

  2. At long last, some real flying! | Andy's Blog Says:

    […] next choice was to head down to Land’s End, an airfield we’d planned to visit earlier in the year, but had to change our route due to the Arrow being unavailable that day. Perranporth was pencilled […]

  3. 2015 Summary | Andy's Blog Says:

    […] to deliberately fly in cloud in order to brush up on the rusty IMC skills. I only completed a single approach during the year though, which is a little […]

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