Archive for the ‘Flyout’ Category

Flying out to visit a Nimrod

February 4, 2017

Last year had ended rather like it had begun, with a complete lack of flying. Since my last flight in mid-October, I’d had a couple of tries to fly that had sadly been scuppered by weather and the usual Winter cold.

As a result, some 3 and a half months later, I was itching to get back into the cockpit again, but requiring a Club Currency check in order to do so. As ever, Kev was my first choice to conduct this, and we managed to arrange a suitable day to go flying. While considering a possible destination (where possible, I’d much rather a currency check involve some ‘real’ flying, rather than just the usual box-ticking exercise) Kev mentioned that another Club member had also requested to accompany us, as he was in need of a Currency Check too.

Graham is involved in the Nimrod Preservation Group at Coventry, and suggested that we could go there and he would show us around the Nimrod. This quickly expanded into a full-on Club flyout, with three aircraft and 6 people planning to attend. The Arrow also was coming up on a required service, so Kev arranged for it to be hangared at Brize for the week, so that he could work on it in relative comfort rather than trying to find somewhere at Kemble to do it.

So, the plan was finalised; three aircraft would head to Coventry, we would have lunch in the DC6 diner, look around the Nimrod, then fly on to Brize. The Arrow would be dropped off there, and everyone would then return to Kemble in the remaining two aircraft. A planned pub night a couple of days before the flight cemented the plan, with a third pilot also requiring a Currency check before he could fly the Club’s Warrior to Coventry. Jon would meet Kev at Kemble around 9:30, to carry out a Currency Check in G-EDGI. Graham and I would then join Kev in the Arrow so he could carry out Currency Checks for both of us, while JP flew the Cherokee to Coventry, and Jon was joined by Ray in G-EDGI.

Sadly the weather threw a small spanner in the works on the morning of the flight. Sub-zero overnight temperatures meant that all the aircraft had a light coating of ice on the wings, and sadly the wrong type of de-icing fluid had been ordered (a preventative coating rather than a fluid that would clear the ice off the wings). As such, Jon’s Currency Check flight departed around 10:00, while the remaining pilots ensured that the ice was cleared from the Arrow and Cherokee.

Once Jon returned, we all boarded our respective aircraft, and made ready to depart. I was flying the leg to Coventry in the Arrow, with Kev alongside and Graham in the rear. I planned to carry out at least two circuits at Kemble, before departing to Coventry via Chedworth, Moreton in Marsh and Gaydon disused airfields. This was the first flight of the day for the Arrow, but it started first turn of the key, and after some work attempting to clear all the insides of the windows to de-mist them, we taxyed towards Alpha 1 for the power checks. The cold temperatures meant we had to wait quite a long time for the engine to warm up sufficiently, so in the meantime Kev had me go over the pre-departure brief, and we also discussed what the plan would be should there be any engine issues during takeoff or immediately after.

The engine now sufficiently warm, I carried out the power checks (Kev double checking I understood why we exercise the Variable Pitch Propeller during these checks), and then the pre-departure checks before moving up to the hold in readiness to depart. Another aircraft was just turning Base as we were cleared onto the runway to depart, and after a last minute check that everyone was Ok, I lined up and applied power to begin the takeoff roll.

The takeoff roll and rotation were all normal, and I was pleased that my application of rudder during rotation was almost spot on, meaning no wing rocking or yawing as we transitioned from ground roll to flight. Once there was no usable runway remaining, I dabbed the brakes and raised the gear, checking that the greens were extinguished, followed soon after by the ‘in transit’ light going out. We turned Crosswind, then Downwind, levelling off at circuit height and making the ‘Downwind’ radio call.

The before landing checks were completed normally, the gear coming down correctly. At the appropriate point I turned ‘Base’, checking we were within flap limit, before lowering 2 stages of flap and beginning our descent. I overshot the turn to Final by a small amount, but easily got us back on track, making the ‘Final’ call after carrying out the ‘Reds, Blues, Greens, Flaps’ Final checks, and remembering to report ‘Gear Down’ to the FISO also. The approach to the runway was stable, and my first landing in over three months was very smooth. It’s always good to know you can still remember how to land an aircraft after such a long break!

Turning Final on our first circuit

Turning Final on our first circuit

A quick check of the Ts and Ps, and I retracted the flaps, applied full power and made ready for the next circuit. As we turned Crosswind, Kev mentioned that I had used quite a high power setting during the first circuit, meaning we would have had quite a speed differential to any aircraft ahead of us in the circuit. In hindsight, I suspect this was actually a distraction technique, as while I carried out the before landing checks, the gear lock indication lights all failed to illuminate. I spotted this immediately, and told Kev that I would normally leave the circuit at this point, climb to a safer altitude before attempting to diagnose the issue.

He suggested that on this flight I just carry out the basic checks first, and luckily I remembered that a common cause for the gear lights not illuminating is having the panel lights turned on. A quick check of the rotary switch for these lights showed that they had magically become switched on! I turned them off, and was immediately rewarded with three green lights, so we carried on with the circuit.

This distraction had caused me to fly a slightly wider Downwind leg than normal. It wasn’t too bad though, and in reality if I’d encountered a similar issue with the gear during a circuit, I would just have left the circuit and climbed, so this wouldn’t have been a real issue. We turned Base and configured for the descent, again carrying out the final checks on Final, coming in for a second smooth landing of the day. As we accelerated down the runway I double checked that Kev was happy for us to depart to Coventry now. He announced that he was, and I continued the takeoff roll, rotating as normal before climbing away and raising the gear.

This time the gear didn’t retract, so I told Kev we would leave the circuit as planned, get up to a safe height and established on the first leg out of Kemble, before running the checklists to try to resolve the issue. Climbing up to 3500 feet, Kev suggested we level off at 2000 feet and try the obvious checks, and this time a quick check of the circuit breakers showed that one of them had popped out. I reset this, and immediately the gear started to raise, the three green lights going out a few seconds before the ‘in transit’ light also went out.

I continued the climb up to 3500 feet, setting the next course as we reached Chedworth. We signed on with Brize, receiving a Basic Service for this leg. On this leg we had a bit of a discussion as to whether the Semicircular Rule for cruising altitude applied to VFR flight below the Transition Level. I must check up on this, as I always try to fly at these levels where possible.

We had discussed in the run up to this flight whether to request an instrument approach in to Coventry. Checking the NOTAMs before the flight, I found that their ILS was out of action due to work on the airfield. Kev still suggested we at least brief the approach and configure the 430 for the approach, even though we were going to join and land visually. This wasn’t something I had actually done before using the 430, so Kev’s IR kicked in, and he showed me how the approach would be briefed using the approach plates, and then how to configure the 430 to actually carry out the approach. Hopefully I can get my IR(R) renewed in the near future, and start to put some of this into practice on future flights.

We signed off with Brize as we approached Coventry, and I used the OBS feature of the 430 to plot a Northerly approach to the airfield from Gaydon. As we approached Gaydon, I began to descend to 2000 feet to get below the initial shelf of Birmingham’s Controlled Airspace. The Controller at Coventry advised us to expect a Left Base join via Draycote Water, with one ahead of us. As I headed towards the easily visible lake, Kev spotted the aircraft ahead of us, that turned out to be Jon in G-EDGI.

As we continued the approach, I started to monitor the ILS indications that we had configured earlier, and saw the localiser needle coming in as expected. I allowed myself to get slightly distracted by this, and ended up too low on the approach, causing Kev to give me a gentle reminder to watch my height. We were now established on Final, so I concentrated my attention out of the cockpit for the rest of the landing. My third landing of the day was again very smooth, and as we rolled out we heard G-EDGI asking to park on the grass near the Nimrod. The grass parking area was too wet to use today, but we were helpfully allowed to park on the hard standing right in front of the Nimrod.

Landing at Coventry

Landing at Coventry

After being marshalled in to place, we shut down and met up with the others, being the last aircraft to arrive. After taking the opportunity to get a few photographs, we walked over to the DC6 diner for lunch. Sadly, they were fully booked, but were able to offer us takeaway food, which we planned to take to the Nimrod to eat there. While waiting for our food to arrive, we had a look around the cockpit of the DC6. In future we must remember to book a table there if we’re planning to visit at the weekend!

Parked up at Coventry

Parked up at Coventry

Once the food arrived, we walked back over to the Nimrod, and set about polishing off the food. Everyone seemed to enjoy it, hopefully next time we can do so in the DC6 itself! Once we’d eaten, Graham gave us a guided tour of the Nimrod, explaining how it would have been operated on a real mission. Typically they would be dispatched over water for several hours, looking for submarines. They had the ability to refuel in flight, and Graham explained how sonar buoys would be dropped, and their results monitored from on the aircraft. It was interesting to see examples of the displays the sonar operators would have been watching, as they looked very familiar from my days at AudioSoft when the company provided software for training Navy sonar operators. Interestingly, two of the windows towards the front of the aircraft could be opened in flight, enabling photographs to be taken. I’ve not sure I’d have been too keen to have stuck my head out when operating just a few hundred feet above water with 2 of the 4 engines turned off!

Familiar looking Sonar traces

Familiar looking Sonar traces

The fleet viewed from the Nimrod cockpit

The fleet viewed from the Nimrod cockpit

The gang with the Nimrod

The gang with the Nimrod

After a very enlightening tour, we made our way back to our aircraft to plan the remainder of the day’s flying. It was decided that I would fly with JP in the Cherokee, as he was keen to attempt an ILS approach into Brize. We all boarded our respective aircraft, and JP was first to be ready to leave. While he set about getting the engine started, I made sure I had all the appropriate plates available for the flight. First was the taxy diagram for Coventry, then the various approach plates for Brize.

We received our taxy clearance, and I helped JP orient himself with where we were on the airfield, and how to make our way to the hold that we’d been cleared to. As we approached the hold, I made sure he was aware that we would be given a departure clearance from ATC, that would need to be copied down and read back. I also made sure I was ready to copy down any clearances, so that I could be as much help as possible on the flight. At the hold, we were issued a departure clearance as expected, then cleared to backtrack. JP was unsure how far to go, so I made a quick calculation of the length of runway from the intersection, and we backtracked far enough to give us plenty of room to depart safely.

Departing Coventry

Departing Coventry

We were cleared to depart, and JP made the last checks before opening up the throttle and we headed down the runway. We rotated with plenty of runway to spare, before climbing to 1400 feet to remain below Birmingham’s controlled airspace. We then turned on to the appropriate heading to depart to the South East, climbing to around 3000 feet once clear of the lowest portion of airspace. Using SkyDemon I gave JP an approximate track to steer to head us towards Burford, while we listened to Brize’s ATIS, with me copying down the details. We then made contact with Brize on their Zone frequency initially to request vectors to the ILS for runway 25.

The Controller asked us to call him back on the Brize Director frequency, and once in communication with him there he gave us a course to steer to approach Brize. I dug out the appropriate plate, going through a quick brief of the approach with JP to give him an idea of what to expect. As we continued on towards Brize, I came to realise how much I’d forgotten about how busy the radio can become once on an approach. I did my best to help JP as much as possible, copying down information the Controller was giving us and occasionally answering radio calls that had come in while JP was busy with other tasks. The Controller confused JP a little by asking him to report ‘cockpit checks complete’, and although we were still quite some way from Brize at this point, I realised that he wanted the before landing checklist to be carried out, and for us to let him know once these were complete.

As we approached Brize’s airspace, the Controller asked if we could accept vectors onto a 6.5nm Final. JP accepted this, and on studying the plate I realised why the Controller had made a point of establishing this with us. 6.5nm is essentially the glideslope intercept distance, so JP would be quite busy at this point, trying to capture the localiser at the same time as monitoring the glideslope to begin the descent.

As we neared the extended centreline, I told JP that we were currently on a 90 degree intercept to the approach path, and would likely be given a turn to intercept the localiser at around 30 degrees before being asked to report established. This turned out to be correct, and as the Controller gave us the turn, JP began to monitor the localiser. I had warned him to make the turn onto runway track as soon as he saw the needle begin to move, knowing how easy it was to overshoot the localiser. Sadly my warnings turned out to be founded, as JP initially flew a little way through the localiser, before turning back to capture it correctly.

The glideslope was now coming in, and while JP concentrated on the approach, I kept a good lookout for other aircraft. We heard both of the other Lyneham Flying Club aircraft on frequency as we switched to Tower, with G-EDGI joining on a Left Base behind us, and the Arrow being asked to extend Downwind. We later learned that they had extended so far that they asked to return via vectors to the ILS also!

JP managed the approach well, and brought us in for a nice landing on Brize’s long runway. Fortunately for us, the Controller knew where we were going, and asked us to vacate left before passing us over to Ground for the taxy to the hangar where Kev was planning to service the Arrow. After we were marshalled into our parking space, we were soon joined by Jon in G-EDGI. As we disembarked, the Arrow taxyed past us, and we walked up to the hangar to help push it back into place.

The Arrow safely parked up at Brize

The Arrow safely parked up at Brize

Some negotiation of seating arrangements took place in order to ensure that the 3 lightest people were in the Cherokee due to its more limited payload. I joined Kev and Jon in G-EDGI, while the others headed back to the Cherokee for the flight back to Kemble. We positioned ourselves at the hold for the power checks, before being cleared to depart. Kev was manning the radio, and requested a direct route from Brize to Kemble at 1400 feet, rather than following the usual VFR departure procedures via either Burford or Fairford.

Preparing to depart Brize in turn

Preparing to depart Brize in turn

We were cleared to depart, and the runway track put us on a direct track straight to Kemble. We climbed to around 1400 feet, and after passing Fairford detoured slightly to the North to avoid overflying South Cerney in case there were any parachuting operations that day. We signed off with Brize, and on contacting Kemble found them to be fairly busy. We were asked to join Overhead, but after some discussion decided to join on the Deadside, as we would be unlikely to be able climb from our current altitude to an appropriate altitude for the Overhead Join.

Deadside Join at Kemble

Deadside Join at Kemble

As we joined Crosswind, we heard JP on frequency requesting a Left Base join. We slotted in to the circuit just ahead of an aircraft that had just taken off, and Jon flew a nice approach and landing on runway 26. The radio was pretty busy, so I hadn’t been able to suggest landing long to avoid inconveniencing anyone behind us. However, Jon requested a backtrack, and as we turned we saw JP in the Cherokee climbing away to go around.

Short Final at Kemble

Short Final at Kemble

We taxyed back to parking, hearing the frequency getting busier and busier. At one point the FISO had to stress his request to another aircraft to ‘Standby’. As we made ready to refuel G-EDGI, we thought we saw JP go around again, and when he finally landed and joined us, we found out that there had even been a runway incursion, with another pilot failing to stop at the hold as instructed, and crossing the runway while another aircraft took off over him. Fortunately the runway at Kemble is sufficiently long that the departing aircraft was already well in the air before reaching the crossing point. Once all the aircraft were refuelled and parked up, we headed in to the Club to complete the paperwork and pay our respective bills.

Tracks flown

Tracks flown

Leg 1 profile

Leg 1 profile

Leg 2 profile

Leg 2 profile

Leg 3 profile

Leg 3 profile

It was great to be back in the air again after such a long break, and even more satisfying to have taken part in such a great day’s flying. Although I’d only flown one leg myself, I’d at least reset all of my currencies and also had a thoroughly enjoyable day’s flying, coupled with the interesting tour of the Nimrod at Coventry. The next goal for me is to renew my IR(R), which I’ll hopefully do in the next month or two.

Total flight time today: 1:00
Total flight time to date: 307:25

Isle of Wight mini fly-out

October 13, 2012

Rather uncharacteristically, I had a spur of the moment desire to fly on Friday evening. A quick check of the Club’s booking system showed that the Arrow was free, and David had a Warrior booked for a flight to the Isle of Wight with 3 passengers. I dropped him a quick text and found out he was taking his children and a house guest down to Bembridge, with the plan to walk down to the beach and have some lunch.

After a quick check with Luned and the weather, I booked the Arrow and set about planning the flight to Bembridge. The weather for Saturday looked Ok, with showers around but a nice high cloudbase almost everywhere.

The forecast in the morning seemed to be worse than the night before, but after looking in more detail it still showed that the showers were very localised, and cloudbase was still good. I tried to call Vectis Gliding Club at Bembridge (even though PPR wasn’t strictly necessary), so left a message asking them to call me back. After sorting out the final bits of planning, we made ready to leave for Kemble, and as we left the Gliding Club called back and gave me the relevant information. Catrin seemed very excited that we were flying to ‘An Island!’, and even brought along Jake (from Jake and the Neverland Pirates) along for the ride!

We arrived just as David was walking out to the aircraft. We chatted for a bit and then I headed in to the Club to sort out the paperwork and get the aircraft keys. I took my time over the A check, and also got the Garmin 430 set up with a route for the flight (or so I thought!). A quick trip back to the Club for a toilet stop, and we all headed out to the aircraft.

Catrin and Jake ready for the off

Catrin and Jake ready for the off

The engine seemed a little reticent to start, but I got it going on the second attempt. The 430 had lost the route I’d programmed in (but had at least remembered the custom waypoints I defined) so I reentered the route quickly. We taxyed out to the D site apron for checks as normal, before reporting ready once the pre-departure checks were all done. We were cleared straight onto the runway after the airfield Fire Engine passed by on a bird-clearing mission. As I lined up, the FISO informed me there would be a delay due to a large number of birds on and around the airfield. Lined up on the runway with your back to any oncoming traffic is never a comfortable place to be, and as we sat there I heard Roger in one of the Club’s other Warrior making progress around the circuit.

Just as he turned Final, the FISO informed us of a flock of birds to the South of the field, and gave us ‘clearance’ to depart, suggesting a right turn out to avoid the birds (which we didn’t see as we departed!). Take off and departure were normal (save for forgetting to turn off the fuel pump and landing light once at altitude) and we headed for Lyneham to start the Nav.

Visibility was excellent, with the odd shower dotted around that was easy to spot. The cloudbase was variable from about 2500 to 3500 feet, so I had to climb and descend in order to remain clear. We headed from Lyneham to Newbury (passing through the odd light shower), before turning over the racecourse with a good view of Greenham Common. Catrin and Luned seemed to be well settled in the back, and after announcing she was hungry, Catrin tucked in to some of the food Luned had brought along!

In flight catering!

In flight catering!

At Newbury I contacted Farnborough for a Basic Service and MATZ penetration at Odiham. They were quick to respond, but I had to prompt the Controller as I approached Odiham for my MATZ penetration clearance (not strictly necessary but always a good idea). We were cleared through, as long as we remained clear of their ATZ.

I pointed out the Coast as we approached, and we were soon approaching Portsmouth for the crossing over the Solent. All my instincts were to climb and keep my speed up for the crossing, but the cloud ahead coupled with the need to slow down for the circuit meant I couldn’t really do either! Two other aircraft were approaching Bembridge as I made my calls, and we heard David land and backtrack to parking.

Passing the Spinnaker Tower

Passing the Spinnaker Tower

Crossing the Solent. Glorious weather between the showers

Crossing the Solent. Glorious weather between the showers

Initially I had a slight problem spotting Bembridge (when I’d visited previously there’d always been a large number of aircraft on the ground making it a lot easier!), but eventually spotted it and joined Downwind. Another aircraft landed just as we were turning Final, and also backtracked the runway. I was initially a little concerned that he might not clear the runway in time, but we were still quite a way away when he announced that he was clear.

Turning Final for 30 at Bembridge

Turning Final for 30 at Bembridge

As we were on Short Final I noticed a group of people crossing the undershoot of the runway near the hedge, and as we flew closer it became obvious that it was David and his passengers. I pointed them out to Luned and Catrin, who waved as we flew over. Sadly this must have distracted me slightly, as I flared slightly late causing a fairly firm landing, although I did have the nosewheel raised nicely so the mains took all of the abuse! It must have been bad, as I manged to get a ‘Was that a bit hard?’ comment from Luned! I backtracked and taxyed oer to the parking area as suggested by the guy on the radio, and parked up next to a few other aircraft.

Parked up with a number of visitors

Parked up with a number of visitors

David had forgotten something in the aircraft, so we chatted for a while and headed to the Glider Club to pay the landing fee. David and Co were setting off for a walk to the beach, but as we had Catrin with us we opted just to head to the Propeller Inn next to the field. This turned out to be a pretty good decision, as they had a good selection of food on the menu, as well as lots of model aircraft and photos around the walls and ceiling. Catrin had a strum on a few of the guitars that were lying around, before one of the Staff brought her out some books and cards to keep her occupied.

We took our time with the food, and just as we finished David texted me to let us know they were on their way back. We decided to wait until they arrived, before all walking back to the aircraft. David was ready slightly before us, so we watched him depart before taxying out to the hold ourselves.

David and Co. departing

David and Co. departing

The departure was normal, and we set off for an anti-clockwise tour of the Island. I listened out to Solent, and passed my kneeboard back to Luned so that she could dig out the listening squawk to use, before dialling it in and carrying on around the island. I did consider giving Solent a call and maybe asking for a transit (the airspace to the North West of the island starts at 2000 feet), but instead opted just to duck under at 1500 feet. We got good views of the Island and pointed out the lighthouse at the Needles to Catrin, as well as all the cliffs and beaches. Got a good view of Sandown as we passed (it seemed very quiet) before we tuned back to Bembridge to cross over their approach before heading North back to the mainland.

Passing The Needles

Passing The Needles

I set course for Petersfield, and as we approached made ready to give Farnborough a call for the return journey. I had to wait a little while as the frequency was quite busy, and heard another aircraft report overhead Petersfield at 2300 feet, just as we were overhead at 2500. We all started looking out for the traffic but didn’t spot it, but at least the extra speed of the Arrow meant we were unlikely to be involved in a mid-air from behind.

Catrin seemed to be really enjoying the flight, and the intercom’s isolation functions came in really useful as she sang and chattered away in the back! For a lot of the flight I had to isolate her and Luned, as she’s still finding it very novel that she can hear herself in her headset when she speaks. As a result she tends to speak and sing a lot more loudly than was necessary!

The Nav all went well on the way back as we reversed the route. Luned spotted a glider and tug separating off to our right as they climbed out of Lasham, and we were soon approaching Newbury again. Luned had requested that we overfly Swindon if possible, so I followed the M4 from Newbury, getting a good view of Membury Services and the airfield as we passed. Approaching Swindon I kept to the South of the motorway to keep clear of Redlands and the various glider fields on the Eastern edge of Swindon.

The former Renault building (now a soft play place!) was easy to spot, and we spotted Catrin’s school and our house as I performed an orbit. We heard David in the circuit at Kemble, and I considered asking him to request the bowser so that both of us could be refuelled together rather than having to visit the static fuel pump. However, I decided against it as I thought we were just that bit too far out for this to work.

Catrin's pre-school

Catrin’s pre-school

Photos complete, we headed for Kemble. We’d been listening in and they’d been reporting a wet runway, and it became clear why as we started looking for the field. It was on the other side of a large shower, which meant to had to keep to the South as we approached. We flew very close to Oaksey (something that probably wasn’t a particularly good idea), before finally spotting the field and heading in.

There were two others in the circuit as we descended on the deadside. I spotted one easily turning Final, and the FISO gave me a bit more precise position report enabling me to spot the other on Base as we turned Crosswind and Downwind. The circuit and approach all went well, and we intentionally landed slightly long due to needing to taxy down to the far end of the field and the fuel bowser.

For the first time Catrin stayed with me as we refuelled (she and Luned generally walk up to AV8 while I do it) and she helped me with the bonding strap and various other things. She’d been a real star on the flight and continued to behave very well. As we all got back into the aircraft a helicopter was making ready to depart, and we watched him hover taxy past us. We were cleared onto the runway to backtrack, but as we approached I heard the FISO clearing another aircraft to enter at the start of 26 to depart. I stopped and waited for the frequency to become clear so that I could tell the FISO I was stopping, but he then came on and asked me to stop for the other aircraft to depart.

We watched the helicopter practicing low level manoeuvers on the other side the field, and after the other aircraft departed we backtracked and taxyed back to the parking area. For the first time since the grass had been re-rolled I had to park on one of those spaces, so I kept my speed down and taxyed as carefully as I could. The turn into the parking space was a little tight close to the fence (especially given that I was trying not to turn too tightly to protect the ground) but I got the aircraft nicely parked at the first attempt.

Route flown

Route flown

Outbound profile

Outbound profile

Return profile

Return profile

Luned and Catrin headed back to the Club, leaving me to get all the gear out of the aircraft and put the cover back on. David and family were in AV8 having a drink and some food, but we needed to get Catrin her tea (and the Chef had left AV8) so sadly we weren’t able to join them. After settling the bills and sorting the paperwork in the Club we headed back to the car and to McDonalds for tea for Catrin, giving her a well-deserved treat.

Again this had been a really enjoyable flight. It’s always nice to have the family along, and despite the very late decision to fly and the less than perfect weather the flight went off without too much of a hitch. Despite occasional showers and cloud, we had some stunning views. It was good to be back at Bembridge again, and the setup there now that the Gliding Club are running things seems to work very well. Maybe next year we can take a more leisurely trip and head to the beach!

Total flight time today: 2:25
Total flight time to date: 203:55

Family day out to Dorset

May 6, 2012

It had been a while since Luned and Catrin had flown with me, so we decided to try to fly on the long Bank Holiday weekend. Sadly I was a bit late making the booking, so could only get a mid afternoon slot in a Warrior, ruling out my usual run somewhere for lunch! We’d dropped in to Compton Abbas by road on our way down South last year, and I’d always planned to get in there in an aircraft. Today seemed like the perfect opportunity as it’s only a short flight from Kemble.

David also had an aircraft booked, so after a bit of negotiation with the flight to come immediately after him, he elected to come along with us. We’d been at Kemble for a couple of hours with a picnic, but sadly the temperature was a bit lower than we’d expected, so we ended up in AV8 with a cup of tea!

Catrin and Benny enjoying their picnic

Catrin and Benny enjoying their picnic

The aircraft arrived back a little early, so I made the most of it and headed out to check it over. All was normal, so I transferred all the usual paraphernalia into G-SNUZ and made ready for Luned and Catrin to join me. Kemble’s Twitter feed had given details earlier of a Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Spitfire and Hurricane due to depart in the afternoon, and I saw them parked outside one of the hangars near our parking space.

BBMF Hurricane and Spitfire

BBMF Hurricane and Spitfire

As the ladies approached the fence, I became aware of the Hurricane returning, and instead of taxying up to the hangar it had left, it came nose on towards our parking area, effectively blocking our aircraft in. We can no longer use the grass in the area to taxy on, as one of the Club’s other aircraft suffered a prop strike on there recently, and we are waiting for it to be levelled. The Spitfire headed off to depart, and we were treated to an impromptu display in the airfield’s overhead.

Spitfire displaying in the overhead

Spitfire displaying in the overhead

I asked the Hurricane pilot how long he was likely to be, and he told me he had some sort of issue with his brakes. Fortunately, he had a number of willing helpers acting as ground crew for him, so they all helped us manhandle the Warriors over the grass onto the hard taxyway beyond the Hurricane, enabling us to depart from there.

Blocked in!

Blocked in!

This had delayed us a little, but we were soon all settled in the aircraft, with me at the front of the ‘queue’ and David behind. I had a little trouble getting the engine started, but it caught on the second attempt and we headed over to the North apron for power checks, with David following us down the grass taxyway. Catrin had brought home ‘Benny the Bear’ from pre-school for the weekend, so was happily showing him all the sights as we taxyed around.

Power checks in formation

Power checks in formation

David managed to complete his power checks before me, and taxyed up to the hold with us following close behind. The FISO had us both enter the runway together, and I followed David as he backtracked before turning back to face in the correct direction. I stayed off to one side to stay out of his propwash, and watched him depart. As he climbed away, I began rolling too and we departed normally.

Lining up in turn

Lining up in turn

We’d neglected to discuss our route before the flight, and David headed off to the West, as we set course for Lyneham. Rather than head into the busier airspace the contains Hullavington, Colerne and passes under Bristol’s Controlled Airspace, I headed via Lyneham before setting course to Frome to bypass the danger areas.

Look down there, Benny!

Look down there, Benny!

As we approached Frome, we spotted an aircraft high and to our right, and as we closed it soon became clear that this was David. We signed off from Bristol to talk to Compton Abbas, and as David was on our right I slotted in behind him. I was unsure whether we were out of sight below his wing, so considered it better to keep him in sight rather than assume he saw us. He heard me sign on with Compton, and informed them that he would follow us in. By this time however we were nicely in (very) loose formation behind him, so informed Compton that we would follow David instead.

Following David into Compton Abbas

Following David into Compton Abbas

As we neared Compton Abbas, it was clear that they were very busy. I could see two or three other aircraft ahead of us as we joined, and there were others reporting in the vicinity as we neared the Overhead. I spotted the airfield quite late, and concentrated on keeping good spacing between myself and the other aircraft as I descended. I was also mindful of Compton’s noise abatement circuit, and did my best to spot the villages that we were supposed to fly outside.

As can be seen from the GPS track, I made a bit of a mess of the circuit, ending up on a very long Final leg, well outside of the ATZ! I’d extended Downwind to leave space behind an aircraft ahead of me, and then mis-identified the village that you’re supposed to avoid on the Base to Final turn. Indeed, I became so concentrated on avoiding this village that I actually blew straight through the Final approach track, meaning I had to turn back to line up with the centreline again.

I managed to get us set up on the correct descent profile, which seemed to put us quite close to some trees just before the airfield. As a result I think I was slightly high as I crossed the airfield boundary, but I made a good landing near the numbers (which David caught on video!). Mindful of not using the brakes to protect the surface, I drifted slightly to the left before getting the speed under control and leaving the runway as early as I could.

We parked up, and walked in for a well earned cup of tea and some cake! David was refuelling his aircraft, and Catrin amused herself looking at all the model aircraft that Compton have for sale. I managed to convince her that I didn’t have any money to buy one, and David soon joined us to eat.

Mindful of our limited time available, we all headed back out to the aircraft after a short while. Catrin was starting to become a little difficult, and I was a little concerned that she was running off and I had to keep chasing after her. Fortunately there weren’t too many aircraft moving at this point, but we had a few words to try to get her to behave!

David left a few minutes before us, and we got some nice photos of him departing as we taxyed down to the threshold. Unsure where to carry out the power checks due to some cones (presumably marking an area of rough ground) I stopped parallel to the main building and carried them out there. There was little wind so there was no real need to point the nose into wind and cause issues with the propwash behind me.

David departing Compton Abbas

David departing Compton Abbas

We watched a flex-wing Microlight make two attempts at landing, before taking to the runway ourselves. I was using the short field takeoff technique, pulling a couple of stages of flap before holding the aircraft against the brakes as I brought the engine up to full power. On releasing the brakes we shot forward, and I soon remembered other people’s comments about how bumpy the runway was at Compton.

We hadn’t really noticed it on the landing roll, but we were launched into the air a number of times (coming back down due to not having enough speed to actually fly!) before we rotated and built up some speed in ground effect. I started to climb away, remembering to make a left turn as we passed the end of the runway to avoid a farm. As we climbed, I brought the flaps up in stages, before setting course North for the trip home.

As we contacted Bristol, we heard David asking them to get the airfield information from Kemble as they were due to close soon. This was helpful in that I could copy down the runway and QFE in readiness for my own arrival. Catrin was being particularly difficult in the back, and at one point I threatened her with a landing in the field so we could ‘leave her to sleep with the cows’! I’m not sure just how much of an effect that had, but we continued on, retracing our steps past Frome and Lyneham.

As we approached Kemble we heard an aircraft heading for the North apron for his checks, as well as Dave’s student calling on the radio making ready to depart (seemingly unaware of the correct procedures to follow on the radio when the airfield was out of hours!). I made a standard Overhead Join, and brought is in for another nice landing, this time deliberately landing long so that I could avoid too long a taxy down to the end of the runway nearest to our parking area.

We parked up, and the next pilot was arriving at the aircraft as we all disembarked, which at least meant I didn’t have to push it back properly into the parking area ready for him. Catrin again was being a little troublesome, but soon settled down on promise of being able to play on the computer in the Club Office!

Tracks flown

Tracks flown

Outbound profile

Outbound profile

Return profile

Return profile

We headed in to sort out all the paperwork, saying our goodbyes to David before heading off to McDonalds for Catrin’s tea!

This flight was a little un-satisfying due to the somewhat rushed nature of it. However it had all gone well, and we’d managed to get up close and personal with a Spitfire and a Hurricane, which isn’t something you can say very often! Compton was as good as I remembered it, and we’ll definitely have to get back there soon for a more leisurely visit!

Total flight time today: 1:45
Total flight time to date: 189:25

Family trip to a new destination

January 14, 2012

After a successful shared flight with David, we planned to try to fly somewhere in a ‘mini-flyout’. Always keen to fly the Arrow and get the family in the air, we selected Panshanger as the destination for today’s flight. This would be my first venture into the crowded airspace around the London TMA.

Leading up to the flight there was still some doubt regarding the weather. Forecasts were suggesting there may be freezing fog in the morning, which could be slow to clear. Luckily Kemble was clearing nicely by the time I arrive around 10:15. David was still waiting for Dave to return to the field from South Cerney in the aircraft David had booked. Dave had already made one attempt earlier in the day, but had to return to South Cerney due to the fog at Kemble.

While we waited David helped me prepare the Arrow for flight, clearing the remnants of ice from the aircraft and pushing it onto the hard taxyway to face into the sun and do the remainder of the aircraft. I gave Luned a quick call to tell her that all was looking good, and she set off from home with Catrin for the 30 minute or so drive down to Kemble.

David was initially aiming to leave before us, and head out for a quick sightseeing trip over the Severn Bridges, but as it happened he was just leaving his parking space as Luned, Catrin and I were walking to the Arrow with all the pre-flight paperwork completed.

Kemble was now getting fairly busy. We taxyed down to the North Apron for power checks, and were behind one other aircraft as we completed them. There were some short delays to allow another aircraft onto the North Apron and landing traffic to vacate before the aircraft ahead departed. I was then cleared to line up, just in time for the frequency to get relatively busy with some taxy directions for other traffic.

Fortunately the circuit was fairly quiet so I wasn’t in any danger of preventing anyone from landing. We were soon rolling and airborne. I remembered to dab the brakes before raising the landing gear, and as we climbed the FISO reminded us that South Cerney was active (our direct track would have taken us very close). I was already aware of this and planning to turn South to miss it, but it’s always nice to have a reminder.

As we cleared from Kemble I switched to Brize for a Basic Service, informing them that we would be routing through the Benson overhead at 3500 feet, and asking if I should stick with them or give Benson a call. Benson’s MATZ stops at around 3200 feet so we wouldn’t be transitting, and Brize recommended that we stay with them.

Visibility wasn’t brilliant despite the fine day, and I was leaning on the GPS somewhat for the Navigation aspects of the flight. We passed by Fairford and Brize, staying North of the Prohibited Area around Harwell. Luned managed to get a fairly good shot as we passed (that also gives a good idea of the visibility we were seeing).

Harwell through the haze

Harwell through the haze

I spotted a motor glider manoeuvring ahead and to the left of us, and we passed fairly close to (although lower than) it as he circled to gain height.

Once overhead Benson I set course to steer just South of the BNN VOR (it’s generally a good idea not to fly overhead unless you absolutely have to, as lots of other pilots might be doing the same). Once clear of the Benson MATZ I informed Brize that we were descending to 2000 feet (in readiness to pass under the Class A airspace of the London TMA with a base of 2500 feet).

Brize suggested we freecall Farnborough West, so I switched frequency to them for a Basic Service. I had planned to just go direct to Farnborough North, as we were only in the Farnborough West region for a few minutes. In hindsight I probably should have stuck to my plan, although the handover between the two regions was simple due to North already having our squawk.

As we joined the Farnborough North frequency, we had to wait to make our initial call as David was leaving the frequency to talk to Panshanger. We continued on our route, and were at one point warned of some traffic crossing left to right ahead of us, heading into Elstree. He already had us visual, and I soon spotted him as he passed above us. We eventually left Farnborough as we approached Hatfield, using the disused airfield there as a turning point.

We received a (perfectly correct) short response from Panshanger Radio giving us the runway in use and pressure setting, and I started looking out for the field. In fact it was pretty easy to spot due to its proximity to Welwyn Garden City, and I set about planning the Overhead Join.

I’d spent some time in the days leading up to the flight studying the fairly unusual circuit pattern they use to avoid noise sensitive areas, so was conscious of trying to stick to this as I descended deadside. I didn’t spot any of the highlighted woods that were supposed to be used as reference points, although one of the villages to be avoided had a distinctive shape so I used this to set the distance away from the runway for the Downwind leg.

We were nicely slowed down as I turned Downwind, and the pre-landing checks were completed without any issues. I was pleased that having flown the Warrior last, the checks still flowed nicely in the Arrow and I didn’t find myself announcing ‘gear, down and welded’! The airfield was a little difficult to spot at times on the Downwind leg, and I tried to work out where to turn Base.

I missed the turn by a fair bit, and the GPS log shows that I came very close to entering the Luton CTR by flying too far on the Downwind leg. This led to a rather long Final approach, but we were nicely set up as we approached the field. I brought us down to a very gentle landing on the numbers, and began to work out where to park.

As it happened the Visitor’s parking area was well signposted, so I parked the Arrow neatly next to the other visitors, and we started to disembark. We spotted David walking towards us having settled his landing fee, and we headed in to sort out ours (another landing voucher used!).

One attraction of Panshanger as a destination was the good reputation of its catering facilities, and we weren’t disappointed! The place was very busy, and appeared to be a good mix of locals and people who had flown in. It took us a little while to find somewhere to sit, but Catrin was at least kept entertained by the selection of toys that were available. Luned and I opted for Bacon and Sausage sandwiches respectively, while David (again!) went for something more substantial, going for one of the home-made burgers.

Catrin being kept entertained at Panshanger

Catrin being kept entertained at Panshanger

There was some confusion regarding Catrin’s food. We ordered a burger for her off the children’s menu, and asked for it to be ‘plain’. It was lucky we did, because the Chef came out to see us, to tell us that all their burgers today had chilli in them! We switched her over to fish fingers to be safe, but it was a good example of service going beyond the basics that means we’ll definitely be including this on our list of airfields to return to.

Guess who had ketchup with her lunch?

Guess who had ketchup with her lunch?

Happily fed, we made our way back to the aircraft. We had a quick chat with a pilot based here as to whether we should carry out a full circuit at circuit height, or continue to climb to our cruising height. He informed us that the latter was the option typically chosen.

Catrin helped us make sure that David was ready to go before we were, but we taxyed to the active runway 5 minutes or so after David took off. The circuit was fairly busy as we departed, with aircraft both leaving and departing. However it wasn’t long before we were out on the active runway and departing.

I managed to confuse myself a little (partly due to the difficultly in keeping visual with the runway due to the sun now being quite low) and a few times SkyDemon warned me of potentially infringing Luton’s airspace. This distracted me a little and I ended up making some relatively sharp turns to remain clear. Looking at the logs afterwards shows that in fact this circuit was much neater than the arrival one, so I needn’t have been too concerned.

We’d heard David being warned about an aircraft performing aeros just to the West of the field, and indeed we saw a lot more traffic in general on the return journey. Luned was doing a good job of picking people out, for some reason there appeared to be a lot of flexwing microlights in the air today. Navigation was made even more difficult now due to the fact that we were heading into the sun, and again I found myself using the GPS frequently to ensure we were still on track.

We tracked past and spotted the Bovingdon disused, somewhat surprised at the scale of the runways and that they still looked in good condition for a disused airfield. We continued on the planned route, climbing up to 3500 feet again once we were clear of the ‘shelf’ of the London TMA.

We switched from Farnborough to Brize well before reaching Benson, and as we passed overhead we heard an IFR departure from Benson joining us on frequency and receiving a Traffic Service. The other aircraft was notified about us and reported visual. Once we were clear of Benson I confirmed that the Fairford ATZ was inactive, and descended to 2000 feet in readiness for the rejoin at Kemble. I advised Brize of this, who advised the IFR traffic, who again reported that he was visual. I happened to look behind us at this point, and spotted that we seemed to have a helicopter escort!

Helicopter escort!

Helicopter escort!

As we passed Fairford we switched to Kemble for the rejoin and were given the QFE there. On setting this I realised I was now below rejoin height (2000 feet QFE is more like 2450 feet QNH) and had to climb again to get back to the correct height. I should probably have realised this when descending after Benson, and descended to 2500 feet rather than 2000.

As we approached Kemble and set up for the Overhead Join, and aircraft appeared on frequency reporting a rough running engine. They were down to 400 feet or so, and would be joining directly on a Right Base. As we completed our descent on the Deadside, another aircraft was asked to Go Around for the aircraft with difficulties, and this put us both heading for the same piece of airspace.

I notified the FISO of our position (mainly to ensure the other aircraft knew where we were) and he must have spotted us because he made an early turn Crosswind. We followed a more normal circuit pattern, and slotted behind him on the Downwind leg with plenty of spacing. Around this time we heard David report in the Overhead – we had obviously overtaken him at some point on the previous leg (we later found out that he had been up at 4000 feet, and had seen us go past on his left).

David joining Overhead as we turn Base

David joining Overhead as we turn Base

The aircraft with the rough running engine thankfully landed safely and was able to backtrack under his own power. I lost sight of the aircraft ahead due to the low sun, and ended up going quite wide before turning on Base leg. We became visual with him again as he was on Short Final, so we continued our approach. I brought us in for another very smooth landing, and after a little confusion between myself and the FISO, was eventually cleared to continue down the runway to vacate at Alpha nearer our parking area.

As David was on Final he asked for the Fuel Bowser to be sent to refuel us (they will do this as long as more than one aircraft needs fuel), and we met up in our parking area as the Robin also returned from a flight.

Contented passenger after the flight

Contented passenger after the flight

Luned and Catrin retired to AV8 while David and I refuelled and put the aircraft away. It’s a much more pleasant task (putting covers on etc.) when there are two people to do it! Once all the paperwork was completed, David and I joined them in AV8 for a well earned cuppa!

The tracks flown

The tracks flown

Outbound profile

Outbound profile

Return profile

Return profile

This really was a very pleasant day’s flying. It was great to have the family back in the aircraft with me, and also good to have someone to meet up with at the other end for a chat over a very pleasant lunch. The staff at Panshanger couldn’t have been more welcoming, and the quality of the food means I’ll definitely be adding this to my list of lunchtime destinations!

2012 has started out as an excellent flying year. It’s only the middle of January and I’ve already flown twice, taken the family, done some IMC practice and added two new airfields to the log book! Let’s see if I can keep it up.

Total flight time today: 2:00
Total flight time to date: 178:55

Flying family and a mini-flyout!

December 10, 2011

In the last few days leading up to this flight there had been a number of options discussed. I’d met up with David at a Flyer Forum meal on the Thursday, and we discussed the option of a shared flight together. In the end we decided on a mini-flyout, with David taking an aircraft (along with Sean), and me taking the Arrow with Luned and Catrin as passengers.

Due to a haircut appointment, I arrived slightly later than normal at Kemble, and set about preparing the aircraft. It was a cold morning and I’d had to defrost my car, but the aircraft were parked in the sun so there was no ice remaining on them. Once all appeared well, I gave Luned a ring and got her to head off from home with Catrin. David had already left to fly via Henstridge with Sean, and had dropped me a text to find out my ETA.

The weather for the day was glorious, the only ‘bad’ thing on all the relevant TAFs was ‘few at 3000 feet’. Once Luned and Catrin arrived, we told Catrin that we weren’t in fact here just to watch the planes (something she loves doing) but were in fact going for a trip in ‘Dad’s new plane’. Catrin was suitably enthusiastic about the prospect, so we all headed out to the Arrow and got ourselves settled in.

I had been a little concerned since starting to fly the Arrow due to the limited space in the rear. However, Catrin seemed happy enough sitting behind me, and there was nobody in the right hand seat, so Luned had plenty of leg-room with the seat pushed forward.

Catrin (and friends) ready to fly

Catrin (and friends) ready to fly

All settled and comfortable, we started up and taxyed out to 26. There were two aircraft carrying out power checks in front us as we approached the hold, so I carried out my checks in turn. Once the other aircraft had departed, I announced ‘Ready for Departure’ and headed out on to the runway. The engine was running nicely in the cool air, and it felt like there was plenty of performance as we began our takeoff roll and became airborne.

For a change, I remembered to dab the brakes before raising the gear, and made a right turn once airborne to keep clear of the noise sensitive area just off the end of the runway. Climbed in stages to FL45, and set course for the BCN VOR.

I’d deliberately planned a very simple route, direct to the BCN VOR, and from there direct to Swansea. Luned helped out spotting a glider off to our right and well below us, and we were soon crossing the Severn into Wales. I’d been listening in to Bristol, but didn’t give them a call due to the shortness of this leg. However, as we crossed the Severn we switched to Cardiff and gave them a call for the remainder of the flight.

Clear skies passing the Severn Bridges

Clear skies passing the Severn Bridges

While on frequency with Cardiff we heard David talking to them on his leg from Henstridge. He was several miles ahead of us, and left the frequency as we passed the VOR. We set course for Swansea (descending to FL40 while doing so), and I tried to identify the various towns laid out below us.

The skies were generally clear, but when we encountered a cloud ahead of us I decided to continue through it rather than trying to detour around. Dropping my focus onto the instruments, we continued through the cloud, experience some bumps as we did so. The cloud carried on for some 5 minutes or so, and I was becoming concerned that it wasn’t quite as small a cloud as I originally thought! Deciding that it wouldn’t be a good idea to be stuck in cloud too long, I announced that I was descending to 3000 feet, and began my descent just as we came through the other side of the cloud.

As we approached Swansea I switched over to them, just in time to head David making his ‘Final’ call before landing. Also a Student was on frequency in the same general area as us, so I announced our position and level to help him realise where we were. Around this time Catrin also fell asleep, which had the possibility of complicating things later when we needed to vacate the aircraft!

The parachute aircraft started its drop as we approached, so we positioned for a long straight in approach (SkyDemon was very helpful in this respect!) and continued our approach. I carried out the pre-landing checks and continued, when we were about 3nm from the airfield another aircraft began backtracking in readiness to depart. Not being familiar with Swansea, I was a little concerned that this would leave the runway occupied as I approached, but before I got within 1 mile the other aircraft had departed, so I could continue the approach.

G-AZWS Final, Contact 1 on the runway

G-AZWS Final, Contact 1 on the runway

The approach ended in one of my best ever landings in the Arrow, with a nice gentle touchdown and plenty of elevator authority to smoothly lower the nosewheel. We received good directions from the A/G operator as to where to park, and I parked us up next to an aircraft from (I think) the British Airways Flying Club, based at High Wycombe. We were even snapped by someone taking photos near the runway, and Sean managed to get hold of a copy.

Snapped while landing!

Snapped while landing - courtesy of Roger Winser

David was refuelling G-VICC, and soon taxyed next to us before parking slightly ahead. We managed to wake Catrin up without too much drama, and we all headed in. David had already paid for his fuel and landing fee, so he took Luned and Catrin into the main building while I went to pay. Had some difficulty finding the Cafe, before eventually joining everyone for a well-earned sausage sandwich and cup of tea.

The Cafe was typical airfield stuff, and the food was fine. David waited a little while for his food because they said the couldn’t find him, and we all chatted as we ate. We also (by complete coincidence) met up with Cloudman (apologies for not remembering his first name!) who we’d met at the Flyer meal on the previous Thursday. He’s currently changing over from learning to fly helicopters to fixed wing aircraft, and was at the airfield with his family.

Once we’d all eaten, we again began the ‘difficult’ job of getting Catrin safely back out to the aircraft and settled in. The parachuting plane was heading in as we crossed the apron, so we had to try to get out of its way before it arrived. David was slightly ahead of us, and got a nice photo of us all crossing the apron.

Flying Family returning to the aircraft

Flying Family returning to the aircraft

Meanwhile, we got ourselves settled in, and watched David departing as I prepared to get the Arrow started and ready to fly.

Catrin waves to David as he departs in G-VICC

Catrin waves to David as he departs in G-VICC

We again joined a queue of aircraft carrying out their power checks, before taking our turn to backtrack and take off. I carried out an abbreviated left hand circuit, with Luned again spotting a motor glider (that had departed just before us) and another aircraft joining downwind below and to our right. We set course back to the BCN VOR, and signed off with Swansea to talk to Cardiff again.

Passing Swansea

Passing Swansea

As we walked from the Cafe David and I had briefly discussed our return route and level. In hindsight we should have paid more attention to this. In the end I opted to fly slightly higher than I’d told him, and he flew lower so it worked out well. While on frequency with Cardiff they did pass our positions to each other, with David reporting level at 2500 feet while I was at 3500 feet.

We overtook them after the VOR (we didn’t spot him, but later found out that Sean had seen us) and continued on towards Kemble.

Around this time another pilot (flying an SR22) came on frequency requesting a Zone Transit of Cardiff airspace. Sadly he was a perfect example of what’s bad about a lot of people’s radio work, with long drawn out responses giving un-necessary information, along with not fully understanding what the Controller was telling him. He tied up the frequency for quite a while, and when I elected to talk to Bristol he was on their frequency too!

As I made the initial call to Bristol Catrin was having a bit of a moment in the back due to her breaking her fingernail playing with the switch on her headset (despite being told repeatedly not to!). As a result she was screaming while I was trying to pass my message, and the response was along the lines of ‘Basic Service, QNH 1015, sounds like you have some excited passengers with you!’. I read back the required items with a resigned ‘Affirm!’ and we continued.

In hindsight I probably shouldn’t have bothered talking to Bristol, as I had barely completed the initial call before we were approaching Kemble (150mph indicated with a 20 knot tailwind meant we were moving pretty rapidly!). I signed off and contacted Kemble, before setting myself up for an Overhead Join for 26. For some reason it took a lot of thinking to get myself oriented correctly (perhaps I was just overly conscious of having joined for the wrong runway recently) but we made our Deadside descent and turned Downwind just as David reported in the overhead.

The rest of the circuit was uneventful, and I pointed out the noise sensitive areas to Luned as we completed the circuit. Went through the runway centreline a little as I turned Final, but this was easily rectified and I again brought us down to a nice gentle touchdown. Perhaps I’m finally getting the hang of this landing lark!

I refuelled the aircraft while Luned and Catrin watched a helicopter departing, and we taxyed back just after David, and with the other two Warriors in the Lyneham Club fleet landing just after us. Once back in the parking area David helpfully marshalled me in, and I dispatched Luned and Catrin to AV8 while I tidied up the aircraft and put the cover back in.

Tracks flown

Tracks flown

Outbound profile

Outbound profile

Return profile

Return profile

Once this was done, I headed back to the office to settle up for the flight, before joining everyone in AV8 for some well-earned tea and medals. This will almost certainly be my last flight of the year, and it was a very eventful one despite being generally routine. I’d added a new airfield to the logbook as well as taking part in a mini flyout and giving Luned and Catrin their first taste of the Arrow. Hopefully we can do more of the same in the coming year.

Total flight time today: 1:55
Total flight time to date: 175:20

Haverfordwest in (very loose!) formation, and a personal milestone

October 1, 2011

Eager to take advantage of some unseasonably glorious weather, I had another flight booked in the Arrow for this weekend. Ideally I wanted to take Luned and Catrin with me, but Catrin was suffering with a fairly bad cold so in the end I decided that wouldn’t be such a good idea.

I saw David was planning to fly that day too, so after a bit of negotiation I stole one of his passengers (Sean), and we agreed to head off to the same destination together. My first flyout! Sadly David couldn’t fly as early as I usually did, so this was just to be a quick visit rather than the usual trip out to lunch. After a bit of deliberation, we decided to head out to Haverfordwest, a new airfield for both of us, and conveniently one for which we held a free landing voucher!

While most of the UK was bathed in sunshine, there was a front over the Irish Sea that was heading in towards Wales then back out for much of the week leading up to the flight. A call to Haverfordwest in the morning initially gave some doubt as to the destination, when the guy on the phone announced they were ‘overcast’. However, he soon added ‘at about 4000 feet’! That’s probably plenty high enough!

With the decision to go made, I headed over to Kemble relatively early, and took my time getting the aircraft ready to go. I was sitting in the sunshine eating my lunch as Sean landed from his lesson and taxyed back. David soon arrived and we discussed the flight as he ate his lunch in the temporary Club office.

The plan was for us both to leave at around the same time, with David taking off first. The Arrow cruises slightly quicker than a Warrior, so it made sense to give him a bit of a head start! Sadly David was delayed somewhat by having to put oil in the aircraft, so in the end I left slightly before him. We were just leaving the apron after completing power checks as he arrived to do his.

The departure on 08 was normal, I turned before reaching Kemble Village to avoid annoying the neighbours, and maintained circuit height on a downwind leg until clear of the circuit, before climbing up to our cruising altitude. I’d planned on doing some practice hood work on the outbound leg, so climbed up to 4500 feet before identifying and setting course for the BCN VOR (pretty much a direct track to Haverfordwest).

However, the view was so good that this never even crossed my mind. I took the opportunity to experiment with the auto pilot a little (having thoroughly read the manual the preceding week) and it did a passable job at maintaining our track to the VOR as we talked to Bristol and then Cardiff on the way over. It had a bit of a wobble at one point, so I flew most of the leg from the VOR by hand. However, it’s useful to know that I have it available in this aircraft should I ever need a bit of help. Had a bit of trouble getting the DME to work correctly, so might need to raise this with the owner or Roger to make sure I’m not doing anything wrong.

As we approached Haverfordwest I tried to use the chart and some ‘real’ nav to find the field (rather than lean on the GPS too much) and we were soon approaching the field. Their Flying Club were manning the radio today, but we got a good service from them as we approached. I set us up for an Overhead Join for runway 21, doing my best to avoid the local villages as I flew Downwind.

Overhead Haverfordwest

Overhead Haverfordwest

All pre-landing checks were completed normally, and we were soon established nicely on Final. As we got down to 200 feet or so, it was clear that there were a large number of birds on the runway. I initially considered a low flypast followed by a Go Around (in the hope of clearing them off) but I decided instead to land long, which had the benefit of scaring them off as I approached. I brought us down for a slightly firm landing, then taxyed to park. The parking area was quite full, so I elected to park on the disused runway instead.

We walked in to sort the free landing (not in the Tower, but in the Flying Club office!) and then headed in to the Cafe for a cup of tea and a bun (replacing the first one as it was slightly furry!). David arrived some 10 or 15 minutes behind us, and we chatted in the sun as we finished our drinks. I was keen not to be too late back, so Sean and I left David and his passenger to their drinks and headed back.

David's mount for the day

David's mount for the day

Our departure was normal, and we heard an inbound aircraft on frequency as we were climbing out. We soon got a good view of a very swish looking aircraft, moving at a rate of knots as it passed by us. Sean identified it (my aircraft identification skills are virtually non-existant!).

Traffic, 10 O'Clock

Traffic, 10 O'Clock

We retraced the route on the way back, with Sean doing a lot of the flying. We were again tracking the VOR which made the navigation easier! It was obvious how much more flying Sean had done since our last flight together, as his flying was much smoother and he was much more relaxed at the controls.

We talked to Cardiff again on the way back, but Bristol didn’t want to work us so as we crossed the Bristol Channel we switched straight to Kemble to monitor them as we approached. They were relatively quiet, so I joined Overhead as usual and set up for landing.

Approaching Kemble

Approaching Kemble

We were followed down the Downwind leg by one of Ultimate High’s Bulldogs, and I tried not to get too distracted by it as I continued down Final. I tried to land a little long so as not to delay him, but as I touched down he announced he was going around. We taxyed to the pumps to refuel, before heading back to parking. As it was relatively late we headed in to the Club’s office to sort out the paperwork (before they locked up) before returning to the aircraft to put the cover back on.

Home sweet home

Home sweet home

Despite having to change plans and not getting my usual lunch out, this was an enjoyable flight. For the first time I’d flown to a destination as a group, and Haverfordwest was a new addition to my log book (although I’ll have to try to get back there sometime to sample the food in the cafe!). Perhaps in the future I’ll have to try to get more involved in more organised flyouts.

Outbound and return tracks

Outbound and return tracks

Outbound profile

Outbound profile

Return profile

Return profile

This flight also saw me pass the ‘magic’ 100 hours P1 mark. This has the (slight) benefit of me no longer needing authorisation from an Instructor for my flights. A more useful benefit is that my Club currency limits mean I now only have to fly every 60 days (rather than 43) before requiring a checkout with an Instructor. This could come in useful over the Winter if I’m prevented from flying due to weather or other commitments.

Total flight time today: 2:35
Total flight time to date: 171:00