Time: 14:15 - 16:15
Aircraft: Ikarus C42 - G-CDRO
This is one of the flights I have been looking forward to for as long as I have started training. I don't yet feel brave enough to land on the Isle of Wight (also known as the Pile of Sh1te) and I'm not too sure that I will have time to do so anyway, so the plan is to fly around it.
My PLOG plan is already pre-prepared and once I have checked the plane out, I'm off. The idea is to keep relatively low before Ropley, in case I do veer too far south towards the Southampton zone - this way, even if I do stray into it, I will be safely below it. An airspace bust this early on would be embarrassing. Despite initially climbing slightly too high and then dropping down, it all goes well, and I find Ropley station exactly where I expected it. Now I can safely climb on the way towards Butser Hill. The visibility isn't perfect, but is OK and there are scattered clouds; some of which look quite dramatic.
After Petersfield, I turn due south to go past Rowlands Castle, Havant, Emsworth and then over Hayling Island. My Parents and also my brother and his family all live on the Island, so I am obviously interested to see what I can see of their houses and also the sailing club (Mengham Rhythe Sailing Club) that we are members of. However, confidence keeps me up at a safe altitude and I head out over the Solent, gaining height towards Bembridge/Brading Harbour. From up here the boats and shipping look like toys on the very blue water. Safely over, I turn east, to pass between Newport and Cowes - no point trying to go around Cowes as it is too built up. At the river Medina (that splits the island down from Cowes to Newport) I have to descend to below 2000' to go below Southampton airspace. From up here, you can see the surprising amount of relief the island has with a ridge running west to east.
The views around the Needles (the west-most point) are fantastic and I venture out over the sea around them. Then turning round them and back along the south facing coastline down towards St. Catherine's point at the southmost tip of the island. However, due to the clouds, I head back towards Bembridge before reaching it. Back across the Solent and a nice view of Southsea and also the Spinnaker Tower near Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. Reaching Hayling, I go along the coast (descending) and into Chichester Harbour entrance - a yellow biplane is doing aerobatics in he middle of the harbour, so I give it a wide berth. I turn inland up Mengham Rhythe, past the sailing club and Tournerbury Farm, then north up the centre of the island. Then basically backtracking along the same route to Popham. Fantastic!
Bit of a coincidence - later that evening I phone my family and apparently my brother (Sid) and my Dad had been doing some maintenance on Dads boat and were sat on it waiting for the tide. They were watching the yellow biplane and then saw a white one coming directly up the creek and one of them commented "I wonder if that I David?". The time was spot-on, so we can only deduce that it was! Spooky huh?
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