Archive for the ‘Flight’ Category

2019 Summary

December 31, 2019

A (rather depressing) summary of my flying during 2019:

  • 5:00 flying hours (2:50 P1 and 2:10 PUT), 2 trips in the Arrow, and one in G-BPAF, one of the Club’s Warriors.
  • 4 flights (including two currency checks and a return to Lydd).

On the whole, a pretty awful year in flying terms. There were several factors in this, not least being the fact that the Arrow was without a prop for the 2nd half of the year. During this time, the Club regularly found itself down to a single aircraft due to niggling maintenance issues on the two Warrriors. This coupled with busy weekends and badly timed weather or minor illnesses meant that a lot of potential flying days were lost.

Not much to say in terms of goals for next year, just to try and fly a whole lot more!

Total flying hours: 341:10
Hours P1: 258:10

 

Another currency check, after a long break!

September 21, 2019

After my last flight, I’d made a number of attempts to fly to keep within the Club’s 60 day currency rules. I predictably dropped out of currency, and then had to cancel a couple of Currency Check flights due to weather or not feeling fit to fly. I finally managed to find a day when aircraft and Instructor availability, weather and my health all meant that I could actually go flying!

I’d never flown with DJ before, but chatted to him via What’s App in the days leading up to the flight to plan what we needed to do. One helpful part of the timing was that I was now in the second year of my Class Rating, so if this flight could be of an hour or more duration, then it would count as the required training flight for my Class Rating Revalidation by Experience requirements.

The day before the flight some pilots had some issues getting the aircraft started, but when I arrived at Kemble on the morning of our flight I was just in time to see DJ heading off for the flight before mine without any problems. They were running a little late, so I settled myself in the Club to prepare myself for the flight, reading over the Warrior’s checklist again a few times to refresh my memory. Fortunately, DJ and his previous student returned after cutting their flight short, so I wasn’t too late in heading out myself.

We had a quick brief over what we needed to cover, before heading out to the aircraft. I gave AF a quick once over before getting in and getting settled ready for the flight. I completed all the pre-start items from the checklist, then as we had been warned, the starter seemed reluctant to turn the engine over initially. However, keeping the key in the ‘start’ position for a few seconds soon had the starter turning the prop, and the engine started fairly soon after.

Kemble were operating on 08 today, so this meant a taxy along the grass down to the North Apron for checks. Once the checks were completed, I made my first slip of the day, announcing “Checks complete, Hotel site” (Hotel site is where our aircraft are parked!). The FISO picked me up on my error and corrected me, before clearing me initially to the hold, then to line up. I backtracked a little before lining up and commencing the takeoff roll.

Takeoff and climbout were normal, and I set course to the South to head to Lyneham as we’d planned. We climbed up to 3000 feet, but I failed to level out and trim correctly, meaning we ended up are 3200 feet for a while. DJ took control and put the aircraft well out of trim, then gave control back to me to have me re-trim. This time I did a better job, and the altitude stabilised at 3000 feet correctly.

I initially carried out a gentle turn to the left, followed by one to the right, increasing the angle of back towards 30 or 45 degrees at DJ’s prompting. During both of these turns my height keeping was almost spot on, showing how important it is to have the aircraft correctly trimmed for level flight!

As we came out of the turn, DJ pulled the throttle to idle, announcing ‘simulated engine failure’. I was a little slow getting us down to best glide speed, meaning we lost height unnecessarily initially. I was also a little hesitant in choosing a field, including incorrectly verbalising the wind direction (although in my head I knew that we had to turn 180 degrees to face in to wind). DJ gave me some useful advice, that in the absence of an obvious candidate off to the right, I should just pick a field in view to my left, as this would make it easier to maintain sight of the field while positioning to land in it.

The field I had chosen had a line running across it perpendicular to the landing direction, which I initially assumed was just a path. As we got lower it became clear that this was in fact a wall or ditch, so I quickly shifted to a field just to the right of my initial choice. As I lined up for my Final approach, I was (predictably!) high, and when DJ asked what I was going to do I told him I would side-slip, and then carried out this manoeuvre (which allows rapid height loss without much of a gain in airspeed).

DJ allowed be to descend to around 300 feet AGL, before announcing he was happy and telling me to Go Around. I climbed away, correctly remembering to initially retract 1 stage of flap (which generates a lot of drag) before waiting for a positive rate of climb to be indicated and then retracting the remaining flaps in stages. I oriented myself with Kemble, before calling the FISO for airfield information to carry out some circuits.

There were another couple of aircraft joining at around the same time as us, and we spotted one of them off to the right ahead of us. The other had announced on a 5 mile Final, so I made a note to keep an eye out for him as we carried out our Overhead Join and Deadside Descent. We slotted in nicely behind the aircraft ahead of us, and carried on around the circuit, carrying out the before landing checks on the Downwind leg.

I turned Base and Final for the first approach, seeing the aircraft ahead of us clear the runway as we were on Short Final. My speed keeping was generally good, and I brought us in for a slightly firm landing. As I applied power and retracted flaps, I told DJ that it could have been better, and his response was “There was nothing wrong with that, but lets see if you can do better next time!”.

As we climbed away, DJ thought he spotted a drone operating below us to our right, and kept an eye out for it during this circuit. We continued round the circuit, this time extending Downwind slightly to allow the aircraft who had earlier reported a 5 mile Final to land in front of us. He must have been significantly further than 5 miles away for it to have taken him that long to land! Once the runway was clear, the second landing was much better, leading to a slight chirrup from the tyres as I brought us down to a very gentle touchdown. Very satisfying!

As we climbed away, DJ again spotted the drone, and reported this to the FISO. While not really affecting our flight, I’m pretty sure the drone rules prevent the flying of drones this close to an airfield. The final circuit was routine, and my last landing of the day was again a satisfyingly gentle touchdown!

We taxyed back to the parking area, and refuelled the aircraft before putting it back into its space in readiness for the next flight. On the way back to the Club DJ gave me a debrief, and was very complimentary about my flying. He called particular attention to my good situational awareness and radio work, so it was nice to be given a pat on the back!

Track flown

Track flown

Flight profile

Flight profile

So after a 6 month break, I was finally current again. While it’s sometimes frustrating to get be in the position of needing a Currency Check flight, I generally enjoy the opportunity to fly with an Instructor, and often come away with something new from each of these flights. DJ was a pleasure to fly with, and it was nice to be complimented on my flying! Now I need to try to maintain currency for a bit longer this time!

Total flight time today: 1:00
Total flight time to date: 341:10

Returning to Lydd

April 22, 2019

Apologies for the brevity of this write-up, I hadn’t realised it was still pending, and now several months after the fact I can’t remember a lot about the flight!

A period of good weather meant I could book an aircraft, and with my latest currency check barely a month old I wanted to stretch my legs a bit. I decided to try to return to Lydd. Weather on the day was fairly typical for the UK during a prolonged period of high pressure, looking perfect from the ground but with fairly poor visibility in the air.

Routed from Kemble initially to Lyneham, then via Greenham Common, Goodwood and Eastbourne before joining at Lydd via Rye. There was a fair amount of traffic around, and I spotted two or three aircraft fairly close by on the journey down.

After a nice lunch, albeit slightly slow due to how busy they were, I reversed the route back, deviating slightly to head over Swindon and orbiting my house before returning to Kemble.

Near perfect looking conditions from the ground

Near perfect looking conditions from the ground

Decidedly hazy in the air

Decidedly hazy in the air

Passing Greenham Common

Passing Greenham Common

Parked up at Lydd

Parked up at Lydd

Overhead Swindon, Catrin's school clearly visible

Overhead Swindon, Catrin’s school clearly visible

Descending Deadside at Kemble

Descending Deadside at Kemble

All in all a good day’s flying, but sadly it turned out to be my last for almost 5 months!

Tracks flown

Tracks flown

Outbound profile

Outbound profile

Return profile

Return profile

Total flight time today: 2:50
Total flight time to date: 340:10

Surprise surprise, a currency check!

March 17, 2019

Despite trying to maintain currency over the Winter, yet again I found myself in need of a currency check to start off my year’s flying. I’d had one attempt to fly in mid-January with Catrin spoiled due to some pretty rubbish weather, which meant I went outside of the Club’s 60 day currency rule.

Managed to arrange a flight with Kev to get everything reset, and booked a two hour slot in the Arrow. I did consider bringing Catrin along for the ride, but decided against it given the nature of things we’d have to be doing. Perhaps I’ll show her some stalls and a PFL sometime when I know we can just stop if she’s not really enjoying it.

I spent the evening before the flight familiarising myself with the Arrow’s checklist, making a point of going over the emergency drills so that they were fresh in my mind. I wanted to be as well prepared as possible for the flight the next day, mindful of the kinds of things Kev was likely to throw at me!

The Arrow was booked for a flight before us, but I arrived at Kemble in good time to meet up with Kev. As expected, the aircraft was flying, so Kev and I chatted about what we’d be convering in the upcoming flight. The winds were strong and gusty today, but fortunately almost straight down Kemble’s runway 26, so I wasn’t too concerned about the conditions.

While chatting both our ears perked up as the transceiver in the Club sprang to life with the words ‘gear emergency’. We listened in and realised it was the Arrow coming back without indication that the gear was correctly down and locked.

The pilot landed without issue, and after a brief conversation it was clear that he’d turned the panel lights on, which has the side effect of dimming the gear indicator lights to the point where they’re nearly invisible on a bright day. I’ve had Kev generate this ‘failure’ for me on a number of previous flights, so it would almost certainly have been the first thing I’d have tried! A quick scan of the emergency checklist showed that one of the two emergency drills for a gear failure mentions this, but the other doesn’t.

We filled the Arrow with fuel (to avoid the need to refuel after the flight) and I carried out a quick walkaround while Kev went to get his gear. One of the Club’s Warriors was heading out on a flight, but had real difficulty getting the engine started. Eventually they gave up with a flat battery. Kev joined me in the Arrow, and we began the pre-start procedure.

On powering on the 430 for the call for start (something we’re asked to do at Kemble due to our parking spaces being out of sight of the Tower) it became clear that there was an issue with the database. Kev did some troubleshooting and found that it was reporting a data card error, so the Nav database wasn’t present. As we were only planning a local flight this wasn’t too much of an issue for us, so we elected to continue.

Unusually we were only cleared to A3 initially, Kev telling me that this was because the airliner parking area on the way to A1 was actually quite crowded. I completed the power checks on the D-Site apron to avoid inconveniencing anyone, and then headed up to A3 once ready. We had to wait for an aircraft to land, and then for another to backtrack from the intersection and depart.

Once it was our turn, we were cleared to line up on the runway, and then depart. The aircraft ahead was still climbing out, so I waited a short while before beginning my takeoff roll. Rotation and takeoff were normal, and I dabbed the brakes and raised the gear as we climbed out. We departed to the South towards Lyneham to carry out the initial air-work. There was a fair amount of cloud around, and we tried to climb on top of it. We got as high as about 5500 feet before giving up and getting on with what we had to cover!

First exercise was stalls, something that I don’t really practice very often. The first clean stall went well, but I needed two goes at the Base to Final turn, due to raising gear and flaps without correctly checking for a positive rate of climb. Although we were at flying speed, we still had a small rate of descent when I began raising the gear and flaps. If I’d done this in a real landing situation, then I could easily have sunk onto the runway with the gear raised.

Next was the stall in Final Approach configuration, and again although the first attempt was Ok, I needed to second attempt just to nail the procedure correctly (this time I’d started raising flaps before retracting the gear – it’s generally better to raise the gear first as this generates so much drag).

Kev suggested we carry out an orbit over my house, so we headed up towards Swindon, descending to to around 2500 feet on the way. Kev suggested I carry out an ’emergency’ descent, which entails dropping gear and flaps, and spiralling steeply with low airspeed to rapidly lose height. I followed the familiar landmarks to our house, carrying out an orbit and pointing out Catrin’s school to Kev (always very easy to spot from the air).

We headed back towards Kemble for some circuits, Kev asking me not to call them just yet (something which should have given me a clue as to what was about to happen next!). Unsurprisingly, Kev announced ‘simulated engine failure’ and pulled the throttle back to idle.

I established us at best glide speed, and then set about looking for a suitable landing site. Fortunately Kev had chosen a very helpful spot, as I noticed what looked like a disused airfield just ahead of us and to the right (which later turned out to be Blakehill Farm). I turned Downwind in readiness for an approach to this field.

Next step was to carry out the touch drills to simulate attempting to diagnose the reason for the engine failure. I generally do these using a left-to-right flow, starting out which checking the position of the fuel selector, changing mags, checking throttle and mixture, turning on the fuel pump, and selecting alt-air.

Once it was clear attempts to troubleshoot had failed, I made a simulated Mayday call, and then realised that I’d managed to lose site of my landing site. Fortunately I was able to locate it again pretty quickly (it was an enormous airfield shaped field!) and continued the approach. Unusually for me, I’d judged my approach almost perfectly, gradually extending flaps and gear once it became clear I had made the field. At around 500 feet Kev had me Go Around, and we climbed away before heading back towards Kemble.

We signed on with Kemble, and they had a couple of other aircraft operating in the area. One aircraft was just taking off from a touch and go as we joined Overhead and started our Deadside Descent, and another aircraft reported descending as we turned Crosswind. He had us in sight, and we could also still see the aircraft ahead of us, which allowed us to slot in quite nicely.

The first circuit was just a ‘standard’ one, and my first landing of the day was pretty good considering I hadn’t flown since the beginning of December. Kev asked me to fly the second circuit ‘flapless’, so I extended Downwind further than I usually would (and indeed, further than I really needed to given the strong headwind on Final), and again brought us in for a nicely controlled landing.

On climbout from the second circuit, Kev pulled the throttle to idle to practice an EFATO (Engine Failure After Take Off). This is a particularly dangerous portion of the flight to have an engine failure, so it’s important to have the procedure down without having to think about it too much. As you’re climbing away at best rate of climb, it’s vital to immediately lower the nose as soon as there’s a problem, otherwise the airspeed can rapidly decay resulting in a stall.

From then, you have little time to do anything other than pick a field, get the gear down and get the aircraft on the ground as best you can. Kev was happy with my choice of field and response to the initial failure, so we climbed away for our final circuit. We discussed briefly what we should do, and as I don’t often practice flapless approaches I decided to carry out another one of these.

As we neared the end of our Downwind leg, another aircraft called Downwind also, so I changed my mind and instead decided to try to make a landing as short as possible, to see if we could make the first turn off towards our parking area and not cause the aircraft behind to have to Go Around. As we turned Base and Final, another aircraft was on the approach ahead of us, and this time he was landing to a full stop rather than a touch and go.

As a result, when I made my ‘Final, Gear Down’ call, the runway was still occupied. The FISO informed us of this, and I made the quick decision to convert this to a ‘long’ landing, allowing us to roll out to the intersection and clear the runway (assuming the other aircraft had vacated before we had to Go Around ourselves).

We flew along the runway at around 50 feet until the FISO informed us the runway was clear and gave us the ‘Land Your Discretion’ call.  I brought us in to land, and regrettably the final landing was a little firmer than I would have liked. I kept our speed up, asking the FISO if we could continue and vacate onto Charlie to allow the aircraft behind us to continue. This was granted, and in my eagerness to vacate I mistook the old disused taxyway opposite D1 for the Charlie taxyway, and almost missed the turn off!

We trundled around the Charlie taxyway, arriving at the crossing point just as another aircraft landed. We were cleared to cross, and then taxyed back to the parking area. After closing down, we pushed the Arrow back into its parking space and put the cover back on, before heading back to the office for a quick debrief.

Kev was generally complimentary about my flying today, which was nice given the long break between flights. He went over some of the minor points regarding stalls that had caused me slight problems, and I told him I was probably going to dig out my initial flying training book to go over the stall procedures again to get them fresher in my mind for the future.

GPS Log

GPS Log

I’d really enjoyed today’s flight. As ever Kev had given me a thorough workout, although rather miraculously the gear had operated perfectly throughout the entire flight! Hopefully now I can get 2019’s flying going properly, and try to keep current if at all possible.

Total flight time today: 1:10
Total flight time to date: 337:20

2018 Summary

December 31, 2018

A summary of my flying during 2018:

While not being particularly good in terms of flying hours, at least I’d managed more than my awful 2017, and got by with a single currency check at the start of the year. Particular highlights were the round Wales tour (a total of 4:10 hours in a single day – almost 25% of the whole year’s flying!) and my first flight ‘solo’ with Catrin. Catrin really seems to have found a renewed interest in flying, so hopefully I can continue to make flights with her next year to try to maintain this!

Sadly, I again didn’t get around to renewing my IMC rating this year, hopefully I can get that sorted in 2019. Other than that, I just need to make more of an effort to fly more regularly if at all possible.

Total flying hours: 336:10
Hours P1: 255:20

 

Bad weather local

December 1, 2018

With Luned and Catrin away for the weekend, it seemed only fair that I treat myself to a day of flying. Sadly, the weather didn’t seem to be playing ball, and leading up to the flight the longer term forecasts weren’t optimistic.

The night before’s 24 hour TAFs were still not promising, but did appear to show a small improvement in the weather during the afternoon. Keen to at least get something done, I planned a couple of flights (including a relatively short local) and decided to make the final decision in the morning. The morning’s weather was pretty poor as expected, but the forecasts still seemed optimistic for some improvement in the afternoon. I modified my booking to start at 12:30 (instead of the usual 10:30) and completed the flight planning before heading up to Kemble at around 11:30 or so.

I arrived at Kemble around lunchtime, and availed myself of a sausage and bacon sandwich from their catering van (AV8 is currently closed due to fairly major roof damaged caused in a recent storm) while waiting for the conditions to improve. I chatted with another pilot in the Club office who had similar plans, and as the weather started to show signs of brightening up in the West, I headed out to the Arrow to perform the A check.

As I completed the check, the skies were becoming noticeably clearer, so I got myself settled and prepared to call for start. It has been my recent practice to call for start using my handheld, but this wasn’t possible on this flight as Kemble have recently moved to an 8.33 frequency, and I seem to have my handheld locked to the wider frequency band! I used the 430 to call for start, asking for a local to the West followed by some circuits on my return.

I was cleared to start, then to A1 for checks. While taxying I noticed that the AI appeared to be ‘hunting’ up and down, something I made a mental note of to mention to Kev after the flight. Conditions were definitely improving as I waited at A1 for the engine to warm up before completing the power checks.

Poor weather out to the South and East

Poor weather out to the South and East

Clearing conditions to the West

Clearing conditions to the West

Once the power checks were complete, I took to the runway to depart to the West. After takeoff I was careful to pay attention to the newly modified Restricted Area around Highgrove House, which used to only apply to Helicopters and Microlights. It now applies to all aircraft, and extends from the surface up to 2000 feet. The conditions initially allowed me to climb to around 2500 feet, so I was sufficiently high for it not to be an issue. I did make a slight detour to remain outside the lateral limits while climbing however.

I continued South and West towards the Severn Bridges, but it soon became clear that conditions really weren’t favourable even for a short local flight. I opted to return to Kemble, contacting the FISO to ask for some circuits. These were approved, and I turned to the South East to remain clear of Highgrove in case I had to descend to remain clear of cloud.

Plenty of cloud around

Plenty of cloud around

I carried out a relatively straightforward Overhead Join as another aircraft performed a Stop and Go on the runway. He took off as I was descending on the Deadside, and the FISO checked I had him in sight as I turned Crosswind. The FISO seemed to assume the other aircraft was remaining in the Circuit, and as I had lost sight of him I asked the FISO for his current position. The FISO’s response was “If I knew that, I would have told you!”, fair enough I suppose!

The other aircraft then reported that they were departing to the South, so I had the circuit to myself again. I carried out 3 nice consistent circuits, all with very smooth landings. Things didn’t all go perfectly though, as I realised that I’d landed with only two stages of flap on the first circuit, and on the second while climbing away realised I hadn’t fully advanced the prop control on Final.

After landing for the final time, I was cleared to backtrack and taxy back to Lyneham’s parking area. As I parked up near the bowser, conditions looked to have improved even further, but at least I’d done enough today to reset all my currencies and give me another couple of months before requiring a currency check.

All done for the day, and conditions look even better!

All done for the day, and conditions look even better!

I refuelled the aircraft and pushed it back into the parking spot before putting the cover back on. I headed back to the office to settle the post flight paperwork as usual, before heading home feeling satisfied, but ultimately a little disappointed.

Today's flying

Today’s flying

There is a good chance that this was my last flight of the year. It has at least meant that I have almost all of January to fit in another flight before running out of currency. Hopefully I can manage this and avoid a currency check to start off my 2019 flying year!

Total flight time today: 0:45
Total flight time to date: 336:10

Daddy daughter mini-flyout to deepest darkest Wales

October 7, 2018

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

Returning to Leicester solo

September 1, 2018

After the aborted flight last weekend, I wanted to take advantage of Catrin’s enthusiasm to fly, so booked the Arrow again for another flight this weekend. Catrin and Luned were both primed to go, but regrettably as the week drew on Catrin started to develop quite a nasty cough. We decided to leave the final decision until the morning of the flight, hoping she could get over the worst of it by then.

The weather also wasn’t really playing ball, with a rather mixed forecast showing rain coming in from the West. Originally I considered Haverfordwest again, but this seemed to be out due to the weather approaching from that direction. I also considered heading back to the Isle of Wight, before finally deciding on returning to Leicester. As usual, I completed the majority of the pre-flight planning on the evening before the flight, leaving me just the last minute actions to be completed in the morning.

Sadly Catrin’s cough hadn’t really improved enough for her to be able to come along on the flight, so I prepared to make the trip solo. After planning the route (via Chedworth, Moreton in Marsh, Banbury and Bruntingthorpe) I contacted Leicester to double check that all was well there. Helpfully they mentioned an air display in the area (which I’d already picked up on when checking NOTAMs) and gave me an idea of the runway in use and their current weather conditions. The NOTAMs had also brought my attention towards the LAA rally, which was taking place this weekend at Sywell. While my route took me in the vicinity of Sywell, I should be far enough away to avoid it being a factor.

On arrival at Kemble I set about checking out the aircraft, not bothering to add any fuel as the total flying time was only around 90 minutes or so, well within the 3 hour range available when the aircraft was filled to its usual ‘tabs’. After double checking the aircraft’s logs and defects, I carried out the A check (dropping Kev a quick message to report the intermittent tail nav light again) before getting ready to depart. The weather was looking generally good at Kemble, with some patchy cloud around but generally very favourable for flying.

Kemble were operating on runway 08 today, and I was offered either the grass Golf taxyway, or a backtrack. Due to the recent good weather there was no reason not to take the grass, so I opted for that route, being told to head to the North apron to carry out the power checks. Another aircraft joined me on the North Apron as I carried out my checks, and once ready I was cleared straight onto the runway to depart. The takeoff roll and departure were all routine, and as I climbed out I dabbed the brakes and raised the gear, making a left turn after departure to head directly to Chedworth.

Stunning flying conditions

Stunning flying conditions

Approaching Chedworth I signed off with Kemble, switching to Brize to receive a Basic Service on the fairly busy frequency. The weather conditions were almost perfect, and I continued on towards Moreton in Marsh and Banbury at 3500 feet. As I approached Banbury the Brize Controller warned me that Hinton were active today with parachuting, but I was turning North East at Banbury which would keep me well clear.

Not long after making the turn, the Brize Controller told me to change frequency, suggesting I switch to Sywell Radio next. Given the LAA rally I decided not to speak to them, instead monitoring East Midlands as I approached their general area. I was keeping a good lookout for gliders due to the proximity of Husbands Bosworth, and as I approached Bruntingthorpe I started to listen in to Leicester’s frequency to build up a picture of traffic in the local area. They were operating on runway 28R, and were relatively quiet other than a helicopter flying circuits.

Passing Bruntingthorpe

Passing Bruntingthorpe

I carried out a routine Overhead Join, lowering the landing gear when descending on the Deadside as usual to assist in the descent and silence the gear warning horn. I was able to follow the position of the helicopter as I continued around the circuit, and brought the Arrow in for a nice gentle landing before taxying off the active runway. The A/G operator helpfully provided parking instructions, and after shutting down I pushed the aircraft back towards the grass, watching the helicopter unloading and loading passengers on what were obviously sightseeing flights.

Joining Overhead at Leicester

Joining Overhead at Leicester

Helicopter pleasure flights

Helicopter pleasure flights

I had lunch and exchanged a few messages with Luned to find that all was well at home. Learning that they were planning to be home all afteroon I amended my route slightly, re-planning for a transit of Brize Controlled Airspace towards Membury, before tracking South of the M4 over Swindon to get some photos of our house and see if they could spot me from the ground. The new route now reversed the outbound route as far as Banbury, before heading to Chipping Norton and Membury then back via Swindon to Kemble.

I updated the printed plog while in the clubhouse at Leicester, entering the new headings and times for the modified legs. Once ready to leave I texted Luned with a rough ETA over Swindon, and headed back to the aircraft. After a quick transit check I got back on board and made ready to leave. Leicester were now operating on runway 22 with a left hand circuit, so after a quick check of the plate to orient myself I started to taxy to the active runway. Power checks were again normal, and I took to the runway and made a routine departure.

As I turned left to head back to the South West, another aircraft was inbound from the same direction. He helpfully passed on his current height, so I made sure to climb above his level as quickly as I could to remove any risk of a conflict. After signing off with Leicester, I again listened in to East Midlands, hearing quite a few aircraft on their way to Sywell. I was again cruising at around 3500 feet, and unusually the conditions were rather turbulent on the leg between Bruntingthorpe and Banbury.

I contacted Brize Zone around Banbury to request the Zone transit, descending to 3000 feet so that I would actually be within their Zone when I passed overhead! Conditions were such that I was hearing a fair amount of French radio chatter on frequency, so Brize obviously share their frequency with somewhere in France! I spotted Enstone off to my left as I passed by, and the Brize Controller cleared me through their Class D airspace, no closer than 1nm to the East of Brize. Unusually I wasn’t given any altitude restriction, but they were obviously very quiet!

Passing East of RAF Brize Norton

Passing East of RAF Brize Norton

As I entered Brize’s airspace I was placed under a Radar Control Service, and then returned to a Basic Service as I left their airspace to the South. I remained with them until approaching Membury, and on signing off the Controller advised me that Redlands were operating with parachuting today. My plan was to remain South of the M4, which would keep me well clear of the airfield. I listened in to Kemble, learning that they were now operating on runway 26.

As I turned at Membury, I started a slow descent down to around 1500 feet to try to get some good photos over Swindon. Down at this level I noticed that I appeared to have a mobile signal, so sent a quick text to Luned telling her I was around 5 minutes away. In the area of Draycott I spotted another aircraft on a reciprocal course off to my left at around the same level. I turned slightly right to keep good separation, and received a wing rock from him, presumably to let me know he’d seen me. I returned the gesture, and set about orienting myself in order to locate our house.

I flew two or three orbits over our house, getting a few photos while I did. I later learned that Luned and Catrin were out the front of the house taking photos from the ground also. Sadly none of them came out particularly well! I set about finding Kemble, before signing on with them in readiness for rejoining. They seemed relatively busy, and I was surprised to hear G-AYJP on frequency, a Cherokee I flew a couple of times during my PPL training at Brize!

Orbiting over our house, just off the wingtip

Orbiting over our house, just off the wingtip

I made sure to keep clear of Oaksey park as I approached, before making a standard Overhead Join back at Kemble. The circuit was relatively routine, but sadly the second landing of the day was a little flat, providing a slightly disappointing end to the day. The FISO cleared me to backtrack, and I taxyed back to the parking area before shutting down and refuelling the aircraft. After pushing it back to the parking space, I put the cover back on and headed back into the office to finalise the paperwork.

Tracks flown

Tracks flown

Leg 1 profile

Leg 1 profile

Leg 2 profile

Leg 2 profile

It was good to be back in the air so soon after last weekend’s disappointing flight. Sadly Luned and Catrin weren’t able to join me today, but I’d had a good flight in some almost perfect conditions. This flight has also happily taken be beyond my total hours for last year, so with a bit of luck I’ll be able to get in several more flights before the end of the year and get a more respectable total this time!

Total flight time today: 2:05
Total flight time to date: 332:55

A weather and aircraft enforced local

August 27, 2018

A Bank Holiday weekend seemed like the perfect opportunity to fly, but sadly leaving it late to arrange meant that the Arrow was unavailable all weekend. Fortunately, Alpha Foxtrot (the Warrior in which I flew my first solo and carried out a lot of my PPL training) was available, so I booked it for the Monday and arranged for the family to fly with me.

It seemed like the fine Summer weather we’d been experiencing was coming to an end however, and as the day of the flight approached it became less and less likely that I’d be able to complete the flight I’d planned. Initially, we planned to head over to Haverfordwest for lunch, returning (if possible) via a transit of Cardiff’s Controlled Airspace so that Catrin could see some of her favourite places in Cardiff from the air.

Catrin seemed genuinely excited about this flight, and I spent quite a lot of time on the day before showing her how I go about planning a flight. She entered the route into Sky Demon, and I explained to her how I chose waypoints for the route rather than just flying direct. We planned two versions of the return route, the first following the Welsh Coast going via Cardiff’s Zone, and the second turning inland to the North, and routing back via the BCN VOR to avoid Controlled Airspace. Finally I showed her how the AIS web site is used to obtain a NOTAM brief, and we read through the various entries so that she could understand the kinds of things that might cause the route to have to be changed.

Unfortunately the long range forecasts proved to be correct, and the forecast of potential rain and low cloud out near the West Coast of Wales meant that the original plan had to be rethought. The forecast did suggest that we would be able to complete the short hop to Cardiff though, so I made a last minute change of destination and completed the flight planning on the morning of the flight as usual.

We arrived at Kemble in good time, and left Luned in the office completing temporary membership forms, while Catrin and I headed out to the aircraft to prepare it for the flight. Catrin helped me get the cover off, and then we moved the aircraft over to the bowser to put in some extra fuel (so that we could hopefully avoid having to refuel on our return). Once this was done, she helped me with the cockpit switches as I carried out the start of the ‘A’ check and then followed me around the aircraft as I showed her all the various checks that need to be carried out before the flight could be made.

Once we were happy, we collected Luned from the office, and moved all of our gear into the aircraft. Luned took the back seat for the outbound leg, and Catrin joined me up front. Once we were all ready, I set about getting the engine started, and sadly things started to go downhill from there.

I turned the Master switch on as usual, and as the gyros started to wind up, one of them (presumably the Turn Coordinator, as this is the only one that is electrically driven) started to give out a horrific high-pitched whining noise. Initially I was concerned how Catrin would cope with this, as she’s not a big fan of loud noises generally. However, apart from remarking how loud it was, she seemed unaffected. Sadly the same couldn’t be said for Luned in the back, as the whining seemed to be at just the right frequency to seriously irritate her.

I carried on with the preparations in the hope that the gyro would settle down. We taxyed to Alpha 1 and carried out the power checks, and once the engine was developing power the noise did indeed abate. I carried out the pre-takeoff checks, and double checked with Luned and Catrin that we were Ok to go. Sadly the gyro had given Luned a splitting headache, so I didn’t think it was fair to carry out the flight as planned (particularly as we were likely to go through the same process at Cardiff when we got ready to return from there).

Luned agreed that we would be Ok to carry on, but I had already pretty much decided that we wouldn’t be heading to Cardiff. We took to the runway, and once cleared we started the takeoff roll. I was mindful of the differences between the Warrior and the Arrow, taking care to remember that the Airspeed Indicator was marked in knots and not mph. We rotated and took off, and I set course for the first leg to the Severn Bridges. We climbed to 2500 feet, which kept us just below the cloudbase above us. Despite the low cloud, visibility was actually very good, and it was soon easy to spot the Severn Bridges in the distance.

I double checked that Luned was Ok, but it was clear that she was still suffering with the headache, so I told her we would just go to the Severn Bridges and back, and then informed Kemble’s FISO of the change in our plans. Catrin seemed a little disappointed, but also understood the reasons for having to change our plans. I pointed out Filton off to our left, before showing her the Severn Bridges ahead of us (which she had difficulty seeing because she’s still not quite tall enough to see over the coaming!).

I told her that we’d make sure we got into Wales, and had her look out of the window down and to her right to let me know when we crossed the Severn into Wales. As we crossed the river, she could see the Welsh side ahead of us, and when she told me we’d crossed the Severn I turned us around and started heading back to Kemble. I made contact with the FISO informing him that we were on our way back, and he asked whether we’d changed our plans due to the weather. I told him the actual reason, and as we headed back towards Kemble I double checked whether they were still planning to close for lunch as per the NOTAMs that had been posted.

He told me they were just waiting for one inbound aircraft to land, and then would be closing for lunch. The airfield was then closed to visiting aircraft, but was still available to based aircraft as long as they had completed the required indemnity forms (which I always do at the start of each year, as it allows me to make flights out of hours). As we joined Overhead, the FISO announced that they were now closing, issuing all aircraft on frequency with the current QFE and QNH, and providing a wind check.

I’d spoken to Catrin leading up to the flight to see if she wanted to carry out some more radio calls. She’d seemed a little reticent, but as we descended on the Deadside (after the appropriate call to Kemble Traffic) she seemed to have developed a little more courage, so I told her what she needed to say to make the ‘Crosswind’ call. She had a few practices, and once we’d completed the Deadside descent and were established on the Crosswind leg, I gave her the nod and she made a perfect ‘Kemble Traffic, G-AF Crosswind’ call!

Armed with a new-found confidence, she agreed to make the remainder of the calls for the circuit, and she managed the Downwind and Final calls without any problem. I got us nicely aligned for 26, and reminded myself of the slightly different technique needed when landing a Warrior. I brought us in for a nice gentle landing, and we backtracked and joined the Alpha taxyway to taxy back to the parking area.

Catrin helped me push the aircraft back and put the cover back on, and we all headed in to the office to complete the paperwork (including logging the noise gyro as a defect in the aircaft’s log!). Once this was done, I decided that it only fitting that we head to AV8 for my usual flying lunch of a sausage sandwich! On the way there we popped in to the Ops Office to see if I needed to notify them of the ‘out of hours’ movement, before getting permission to visit the Tower proper, where the FISO told Catrin that her radio calls had been better than mine!

The flight as flown

The flight as flown

Sadly today’s flying hadn’t gone to plan at all. We’d already made a last minute change of plans to fly to Cardiff, and sadly the issue with the aircraft had meant that we weren’t even able to manage the re-planned flight! Happily however, Catrin had been an absolute star, and seems to have (perhaps temporarily!) developed a new found enthusiasm for flying. Long may it continue!

Total flight time today: 0:55
Total flight time to date: 330:50

Weather enforced local

July 28, 2018

After a prolonged period of excellent weather in the UK, I managed to find a weekend where I was free to try to do a bit of flying. I should have expected that this would be the first time in about 8 weeks that the UK had inclement weather forecast!

I’d initially intended to try to extend my range a little, perhaps visiting an airfield that I hadn’t been to before. Sadly the weather forecasts put paid to that, with strong winds and periods of low cloud and rain forecast for the day of the flight. The forecast did suggest that I would be able to get some flying in, so I planned one of my old local routes, and headed to Kemble early to try to wait out a suitable break in the weather.

The conditions were actually fairly good as I checked out the aircraft, so I was hopeful I would be able to at least get some flying done. Once the check was complete, I climbed onboard the Arrow, closed the door, and the heavens predictably opened! This coupled with some strong winds (Kemble’s web page was reporting 30 or 35 knots!) showed I wasn’t likely to be taking off anytime soon!

No flying just yet!

No flying just yet!

I used the Rain Alarm app on my phone to check the weather radar images, and saw that the storm looked like it would pass through relatively quickly. I took my time getting all my gear ready, all the while keeping an eye out of the window at the current weather conditions. By the time I had everything ready, the rain was easing off, and the sky to the West was becoming noticeably lighter. There were also clear skies to the North, so I was confident that I could take off and at least be able to get back in to Kemble if conditions didn’t appear suitable.

I called the FISO to get the airfield information and request startup. I think I took them a little by surprise, as it took longer than usual for them to get back to me! They were operating from Runway 26, and I was given pressure settings and asked to report when ready for taxy. The engine started easily, and after calling for taxy I was cleared to A1. After carrying out the brake check and taxy checks, I asked the FISO for a wind check (my main concern from the forecast now was the potential for strong winds), and found that though the wind was around 20 knots now, it was only some 20 degrees off the runway.

The skies continued to brighten to the West, but as I turned into wind near A1 for the power checks, the skies to the south were still very black, and there was even the occasional flicker of lightning several miles distant. Power checks were normal, and unsurprisingly as I announced ‘ready’ at the hold, I was immediately cleared to depart. I lined up on 26, took a final look at the improving conditions directly ahead, and announce I was taking off.

Clearing conditions during power checks

Clearing conditions during power checks

There was a good crosswind from the left, so I applied appropriate corrections during the takeoff roll, before rotating at 80 mph. I was slightly surprised at how little crab I needed to put in to maintain the runway centreline on climbout, but returned my focus to the departure, raising the gear and doglegging slightly left to clear local villages. I continued to climb away, and as I got higher I could see that weather conditions were actually almost perfect. There were certainly a few clouds around, but they were well spread, and the visibility was phenomenal. I could easily make out the River Severn not long after takeoff from Kemble!

Near-perfect flying conditions

Near-perfect flying conditions

I continued the climb up to around 4000 feet, signing off with Kemble. As Bristol are no longer part of the LARS scheme, there wasn’t really anybody to talk to, so I tuned into Gloucester Approach to listen in. I planned to contact them for a Basic Service once I turned North towards Hereford, ideally staying with them for most of the remainder of the flight if they were agreeable. They were a lot busier than Kemble had been, so speaking to them later would definitely be a good idea.

As I continued West, I spotted the WOMAD festival in the distance to my left, hopefully they weren’t being too inconvenienced by the changeable weather conditions! For me conditions really couldn’t have been much better, and I was pleasantly surprised given the relatively poor weather that had been forecast.

WOMAD

WOMAD

As I approached the River Severn, I turned to the North early to try to get a good photo of the two bridges crossing the river. Once established on the leg, I contacted Gloucester for a Basic Service, and was initially asked to report West Abeam the field. In order to do this, I dialled in a ‘direct to’ Gloucester, and used the OBS feature to display a 090 course to the airfield. This gave me an East – West line on the display of the 430, and I knew that as I approached this I would be due West of the field.

Turning at the River Severn

Turning at the River Severn

The Controller at Gloucester was dealing with a fair amount of traffic, but none of it was in my area. I reported West Abeam as requested, and continued on towards Hereford, my next turning point. The Controller asked me to report at Ledbury, and a quick check of the chart showed that this was on my Eastbound leg from Hereford to Tewkesbury and eventually the disused airfield at Moreton-in-Marsh. Conditions on this leg weren’t ideal, as I started to be buffeted by some fairly severe turbulence.

There was a fairly significant bank of cloud ahead as I approached Hereford, and as my IMC rating isn’t currently valid, I had to descend to remain clear of it. I was still up at over 2000 feet, and once clear of the cloud I was quickly able to climb again to around 3500 feet for the leg to the East. I was now benefitting from an almost direct tailwind, and the 430’s ground speed reading was a pretty impressive 157 knots!

Impressive goundspeed!

Impressive goundspeed!

After passing Ledbury, the Controller at Gloucester asked me to report North abeam the airfield, so I again used the 430 to plot a line to let me know when to contact him again. The turbulence lessened on this leg, and after passing North of Gloucester I was next asked to report at Moreton. I had considered contacting Brize once in this area, but I would only have been with them for around 10 minutes so there really didn’t seem much point.

Passing North Abeam Gloucester

Passing North Abeam Gloucester

There was a big black cloud ahead as I neared Moreton-in-Marsh, so I turned slightly early to keep well clear of it. This did however give me the opportunity to get a good photo of the disused airfield. I informed the Controller where I was, and that I was now routing back to Kemble. I was asked to report changing frequency, and headed South West, spotting Little Rissington off to my left.

Turning at Moreton-in-Marsh

Turning at Moreton-in-Marsh

I made a quick calculation as to when I would need to begin my descent into Kemble from this height, and as I approached the disused airfield at Chedworth I signed off with Gloucester, thanking him for giving me a service. I signed on with Kemble, finding they were relatively quiet so I asked to carry out some circuits. This was approved, and as I approached I was the only aircraft on frequency so I decided to join directly onto a Right Base leg for runway 26.

Positioning for the join, I carried out the before landing checks, and asked the FISO for a wind check just to double check it was sensible to carry out some circuits! The wind was still fairly strong, but was just 20 degrees or so off the runway, so I was happy to continue. The join on Right Base went well, and conditions started to get quite tricky as I descended towards the runway. As I approached the threshold, I was having to made significant control inputs to keep the wings level. I continued down Final, managing to keep on the centreline nicely, and began to transition as I neared the runway.

The crosswind from the left could be clearly felt, but I was pleased with how I managed to maintain the runway centreline and kick off the crab to get aligned for touchdown. The touchdown itself was a little firm, but given the conditions I was pleased with the approach and landing. I retracted the flaps, applied full power, and climbed away for a second circuit.

The first circuit was routine, and I was careful to be aware of the tailwind on Base and hence make the turn to Final earlier to compensate for this. Conditions on Final were much the same, and again I was active on the controls to maintain the runway centreline with wings level. The second landing of the day was almost perfect, and I was particularly pleased given the conditions.

I again retracted the flaps and applied power, taking off for my final circuit of the day (helpfully fully resetting my passenger carrying currency). This circuit was much the same as the others, but the wind had picked up a little, the FISO reporting 220 at 15 knots (a 13 knot crosswind on Kemble’s runway 26). Again I managed this pretty well, but the final landing of the day was again a little firm. I requested a backtrack, and this was approved and I was instructed to taxy back to parking via the Alpha taxyway.

I approached the parking area, carried out the before shutdown checks, and pulled the aircraft up to the browser in readiness for refuelling. I refuelled the aircraft (putting 22 litres in one tank and 19 in the other – nice fuel management for a change!) before pushing it back to the parking area. Predictably, the wind had picked up again, making replacing the aircraft cover a little challenging. This was made worse when I realised that half of my paperwork had disappeared from my kneeboard, but fortunately a quick sprint across the grass found it pinned up against the fence!

Paperwork rescued and aircraft covered, I headed back in to the office to settle up for the flight, before heading to the pub for a well earned sausage sandwich and a beer!

Track flown

Track flown

Flight profile

Flight profile

Despite my initial disappointment at having my plans spoiled by the weather, in actual fact this had turned out to be a really enjoyable flight. Apart from a few areas of cloud, the conditions in the air were as perfect as I’d ever seen them. I was particularly pleased at my handling of the challenging conditions back at Kemble while flying circuits, so I’m glad I’d perservered with the flight despite the disappointing forecast.

Total flight time today: 1:20
Total flight time to date: 329:55