Daddy daughter mini-flyout to deepest darkest Wales

It had been over a month since I last flew, and I was keen to take advantage of Catrin’s recent enthusiasm for flying, by taking her flying again. This time, we decided that it would be just me and her (for the first time) and leading up to the flight she was very enthusiastic about the whole thing.

On a recent flight, we’d abandoned a plan to fly to Haverfordwest and back via Cardiff due to a noisy gyro in G-BPAF, so we decided to try to actually complete that flight this time. Leading up to the flight, the weather forecast for the weekend was fairly mixed, but things seemed better for Sunday, the day of the flight. As it turned out, conditions on the day really couldn’t have been more perfect!

We had a few issues getting Catrin ready and out of the house, but once we arrived at Kemble she was definitely keen about the flight. She helped out with the pre-flight, and again I explained all the things I was checking as we walked around the aircraft. She had great fun ‘helping’ me test the stall warner, even giving it a second go later just to be sure! All the other Club aircraft were either flying already, or in the process of being prepared by other pilots taking advantage of the good weather conditions.

The Arrow started easily, and we had to briefly wait to allow a Robin to pass in front of us from the hangar near where the Lyneham aircraft are parked. He headed towards the pumps, and we continued on to A1 to carry out the power checks. As usual, there were no issues, and we headed out on to the runway to depart.

All smiles before departure

All smiles before departure

As we climbed out, it was immediately clear just how good the conditions were, as we could easily make out the Severn Bridges on climbout from Kemble! We climbed to 4500 feet, marvelling at the near perfect visibility and almost complete lack of cloud.

Approaching the River Severn

Approaching the River Severn

As we approached the River Severn, we signed on with Cardiff for a Basic Service. The frequency was very busy, and because of this the Controller was becoming understandably annoyed by a number of aircraft that were on frequency and receiving a Service, but weren’t responding to his transmissions in a timely fashion. There was a lot of other traffic in our area, but as we were up at over 4000 feet we tended to be above most of it.

After crossing the Severn, I passed the controls over to Catrin and she did the majority of the rest of the flying. I concentrated on keeping a good lookout for all the other traffic, while Catrin tended to focus on the instruments more due to not being able to see over the instrument panel properly. For future flights we should investigate some means of getting her sitting a little higher so that she can see out of the front of the aircraft better.

Catrin at the controls

Catrin at the controls

I’d planned to route via the BCN VOR, so we tracked that, with Catrin’s height and heading keeping generally very good. I’d entered the general gist of our route into the 430, and was also keeping an occasional eye on SkyDemon to ensure our track was good. For a short period I showed Catrin how the autopilot could fly the aircraft, but we both agreed it was much more fun to be in control, so she took over again after a short while!

We signed off with Cardiff around the Carmarthen area, and began to encouter cloud ahead of us. Initially I climbed to get above it, before realising that we were getting a bit close to Haverfordwest. As a result, we made quite a steep descent, finding a helpful gap in the clouds slightly off to our left to enable us to get down to the appropriate height for an Overhead Join. On calling up Haverfordwest we found they were relatively quiet, and the airfield was soon easily spotted off ahead of us.

The Overhead Join was carried out normally, and as we turned Downwind another aircraft also announced the he was Downwind at the same time. After a brief period of concern, we spotted him behind us, and he announced that he was visual with us and would follow us around the circuit.

The distraction of the other aircraft meant my Downwind track wasn’t very good. To try to avoid holding him up, I flew a tight Base leg, before bringing us in for a nice landing on Haverfordwest’s Runway 21. We vacated the runway as quickly as we could, before taxying into the parking area as two other aircraft were making ready to depart.

Parked up at Haverfordwest

Parked up at Haverfordwest

We headed in to the office to settle our landing fee, before heading into the cafe for lunch. Catrin headed out to run around the grass area outside to burn off a bit of energy while we waited, before returning to polish off her bacon sandwich with gusto! Conditions remained almost perfect, and it was good to see the cafe busy with customers who had not flown in also.

Lunch!

Lunch!

Once we were done, we headed back to the aircraft and gave it a quick ‘transit check’. There were no issues found, so we climbed onboard and set about getting ready to depart. The airfield was relatively quiet, and as I announced I was taxying to the active runway, the A/G operator asked if I was familiar with the airfield. I told him I was, and (hopefully!) headed off the correct way to the hold for the runway in use.

I backtracked to the threshold of the runway (the hold was a couple of hundred metres in) before departing and turning to the East to head initially towards Pembrey. We’d planned to ask Cardiff for a Zone Transit, so that we could follow the Wales coast around, up to the Severn Bridge. Of course, I had planned an alternative route to the North (via the BCN VOR again) should permission not be granted for this.

We climbed up to 3500 feet, and again Catrin took over at the controls. Pembrey was easy to spot, and as we approached I pointed out the race circuit to the South. I made a call to the A/G operator there just out of courtesy, and carried out an orbit overhead, but sadly the circuit wasn’t in use today so there was nothing to see.

Orbiting over Pembrey

Orbiting over Pembrey

The routing then took us over the City of Swansea, with Catrin back at the controls. We signed on with Cardiff, and requested the transit in our ‘pass your message’ response. The Controller chuckled a little, replying ‘I think I got all that!’ We continued to follow the coast towards Cardiff, hoping to get our clearance in due course.

We were getting very close to the Zone boundary without yet having received clearance to enter. I was making ready to turn away to prevent infringing Controlled Airspace, but luckily the Controller called us back, granting us clearance to fly along the coast at 3000 feet, VFR. We were also asked to notify him of any changes in height or heading should we need to make any adjustments to remain VFR. However, conditions were still such that there was very little in the way of cloud to require us to do this.

Passing Cardiff Airport

Passing Cardiff Airport

As we neared Cardiff, we spotted the circuit at Llandow, the airfield at St. Athan and finally Cardiff Airport itself. As we flew over the docks area, we also spotted the Norwegian Church that Roald Dahl attended in his youth, and luckily I was able to point this out sufficiently well enough for Catrin to spot it too. We spotted both Stadiums in Cardiff also, but at the time were unable to see the Castle. On returning home, Luned looked through the photos we had taken and realised why: it was almost completely hidden by one of the Stadiums as we passed.

The Norwegian Church in Cardiff

The Norwegian Church in Cardiff

As we turned North East to follow the coast, the Controller advised us of other traffic off to our left. Initially we couldn’t spot him, but he advised the Controller that he was visual with us, and we managed to see him a minute or so later. As we cleared the Zone the Controller asked when we were planning to change frequency. A good time seemed to be when we reached the Severn Bridges, so I informed him of this, and received a Basic Service until then.

I handed control back to Catrin again now that we were clear of Controlled Airspace, and she flew us back to Kemble. They were relatively quiet, but I still decided to join Overhead as usual. As we neared, the FISO offered us a Downwind Join, but by this point we were too high to be able to descend in time.  There was another aircraft operating in the circuit, and we slotted in nicely after descending on the Deadside.

Nearly home, Catrin at the controls again

Nearly home, Catrin at the controls again

On the Downwind leg I asked the FISO if I could carry out a couple of circuits (carrying out three takeoffs and landings today would reset my passenger carrying currency for another 90 days). This was approved, and the remainder of the circuit was flown well, culminating in a good landing. We accelerated down the runway to takeoff again, and I raised the gear for the second circuit. Again, this was flown well, leading to a third good landing of the day.

The frequency was now a little busy, and I had to wait a little while to request a backtrack back to our parking area. This was approved, and we held briefly after turning off the runway to allow another aircraft to pass on the Alpha taxyway, heading towards the hold at A1. We taxyed back to the Lyneham parking area, and Catrin helped me refuel the aircraft before pushing it back into the parking area. Then it was just a matter of getting all our gear out, putting the cover back on and heading back into the office to settle the post flight paperwork!

Tracks flown

Tracks flown

Leg 1 profile

Leg 1 profile

Leg 2 profile

Leg 2 profile

This was possibly one of my most enjoyable flights to date. I was a little worried leading up to the flight given that this was my first ‘solo’ flight with Catrin, but in reality it really couldn’t have gone any better. She seems to have developed a real enthusiasm for flying, and seems keen to fly again with me. Conditions today meant the flight was relatively unchallenging, which also helped matters. Hopefully we can make many more flights like this together!

Total flight time today: 2:30
Total flight time to date: 335:25

One Response to “Daddy daughter mini-flyout to deepest darkest Wales”

  1. 2018 Summary | Andy's Blog Says:

    […] 16 flights (including one currency check, 3 locals for currency a flight to fulfill the requirements for Class Rating Renewal, a tour of Wales, one Charity Flight, and my first ever Solo flight with Catrin). […]

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