Date: 31/5/2009

Time: 12:10 - 13:15 & 17:05 - 18:50

Aircraft: Ikarus C42 - G-CEAN

Go West

Ian and I had a C-42 booked for a whole day on what turned out to be a lovely Sunday. The conditions were great with light Easterly wind and a few clouds at about 4000'. We decided to go to the west country to make the most of the day.

Soon we had Alpha November brimmed with fuel and checked out; PLOG completed and we're on our way. Ian flew the first leg to Belle Vue, near Barnstaple, whilst I navigated. Our chosen route was to go north of Salisbury Plain, up towards Clench, past Devizes (crop-circle country) and Melksham (keeping away from Keevil). Then past Wells Mast, Bridgewater, and over the ridge north of Taunton (watch for the sink on the lee side). On to Exmoor and its nice to see a terrain with real hills. Past Clatworthy Reservoir/ Wimbleball Lake and on to South Molton - from here you can see Belle Vue easily, because they have conveniently placed a huge mast right next to it.

To be honest there isn't an awful lot here (except the nice view as the name suggests). We have a cup of tea and a nose around the hanger. Soon we are off to Bodmin by an indirect route. My turn in the left seat and we head west to the north coast (Bideford Bay) and go past Clovelly and on to Hartland Point. The good visibility shows Lundy Island quite clearly - the lack of lifejackets means we have to resist the temptation to go and have a look, so we follow the coast south past Bude, Tintagel Head and on to Port Isaac (where the series Doc Martin was filmed). There were no other aircraft around here. We then turned inland south towards St. Austell to have a look at the Eden Project - the domes (or biomes) look like soap bubbles to me. Then northish to Bodmin; it took a few moments to spot this one, as it was a little further away from the town than I anticipated. Landing on 13, this hump-backed runway is a little odd, because as you close on the ground you can no longer see the end of the runway.

Here we meet up with Pete and Gerry, who have already arrived in an Eurostar. We have a good lunch and the obligatory cup of tea. Bodmin is a pleasant friendly airfield with a double-decker portacabin for the control tower and a largish cafe, where you can also get a roast if you get there early enough and/or pre-book. As we have the into-wind journey home still to come, we top up with an extra 20 litres of fuel.

Ian flies the first homebound leg. Our route takes us over Colliford Lake and basically follows the A30 past Launceston and on to Okehampton. This is on the north tip of Dartmoor and we fly past the abrupt end of the impressive hills. Then on past Crediton to Dunkeswell, avoiding the North Hill gliding site. We are obliged to join downwind due to the parachuting. The 05 tarmac runway is reasonably long, so landing on the numbers means a fairly long taxi to the clubhouse and parking area. Whilst drinking yet more tea, we are amused by the parachutists (meat bombers) landing right next to the runway as aircraft continue to take off.

The final leg take us south of Merryfield and Yeovil and over Sutton Bingham Reservoir. Then past Sturminster and pass to the south of Compton Abbas. It feels more familiar now, as we pass Alderbury and Chilbolton and finally back to Popham. 25 litres left in the tank vindicates the top-up at Bodmin.

A lovely flight and a fantastic day, with the added bonus of great weather. Between us, we clocked up a total of 5 and 3/4 hours flying time, but being broken up into manageable chunks meant that we didn't get tired - a true commendation of buddy flying. Many thanks to the club for providing the facility to book an aircraft for the entire day.

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