Time: 12:10 - 13:40 (GMT)
Aircraft: Ikarus C42 - G-CDHR
Round London / Damyns Hall
Today, Ian and I are on an adventure flying counter-clockwise around London. We will be roughly following the M25 and plan to land at Damyns Hall, just north of the QE2 bridge, Dartford. I'm flying the first leg. As we haven't been on a long one for a while, it seems like more of an adventure than usual.
After fuelling and checkout, we are off on 08. We climb to the overhead and then head south-east to Colemore Common. Then on to Liss, Haslemere, Godalming, Dorking and Reigate - the towns making good visual reference points, along with the railway. Then round the M25, keeping just to the right (outside) of it. As per Irv's training videos, we keep below 1400' just in case we drifted south into the area where the Gatwick CTA drops down to 1500' (we didn't). It's a really bright sunny day and there is a lot of thermal activity - not only is it knocking the plane about, but one moment I had 4700rpm on to stop sinking and then less than 3500 to stop climbing. This means I really have to fly the plane, rather than just pointing it in the right direction. Turning towards Dartford at Sevenoaks and then keeping below 1700' under the Alkin holding pattern.
At the QE2 bridge we call Damyns Hall as we cross the Thames - we are told that there is a Stearman doing a display over the airfield, so I suggest that I will wait, but I am told I can continue my approach. Closing visually, the Stearman is all over the airfield and on hearing that they will be finished in three minutes, I decide to postpone the landing and head east whilst waiting. Once they are down we have joined and on final approach I find that the flaps will not stay locked-in on full flap - they just jump out. I ask Ian to hold the lever whilst I do a mild sideslip to correct for the height we didn't lose. We taxi past the Stearman and find a place to park.
We book-in and order the standard tea and bacon butties. It seems the Stearman is doing customer wing-walking sessions! If you have a spare £400, you can book up for the experience of being lashed to the frame on top of the wing. Fantastic! We watch the next flight and the skilled pilot is snaking all over the airfield, going really low in places and even lower for the rest of it. The victim strapped to the wing top wave manically - are they enjoying themselves or just scared witless? I have a little chat with the guy who is up next - he has come all the way from Alaska for this, because it was the only place in the world that he could find where he could do it. Very impressive, but I can't afford it.
After checkout, Ian flys the homebound leg; taking off on 03. We pass between Stapleford and London zones to Chigwell and up to the M25 by Cheshunt. We have a little look at London Colney microlight field and then leave the M25 at Chorleywood, past Beaconsfield and over Marlow. Past White Waltham, round Reading and home to Popham via Brimpton.
A lovely day out!
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