Time: 10:05 - 11:30 (GMT)
Aircraft: Ikarus C42 - G-CFHP
Another day out for the usual four of us. We had planned to go to Little Gransden today but the wind forecast was strong and gusty and a bad direction for Gransden's runway. However, the wind isn't so gusty to the west of the country, so we decided to go to Gloucestershire instead. Colin and Jac have flown into here before, but Ian and I have only been by car, when all 4 of us did our radio license training and exams. Consequently, Ian and I are flying the outbound leg.
Early start (well, early for me) and we check-over the planes and get them out. Quite lucky to have the two newest C-42's - Jac comes with me in G-HP and Colin with Ian in G-AN. The others choose to go through Lynham, but my route planning is based on a previous plan that avoids Lynham zone and I hurriedly draw the lines on my chart (PLOG already done). We take off on 03 and head north west ish towards Uffington Horse - haven't been to see this favourite landmark for ages. The air is really smooth and we can fly completely hands-off. After a quick look, we continue round the windfarm and then turn west towards Kemble, through the (inactive) Fairford MATZ. As we pass below the clouds, is gets a bit more bumpy, but not bad. At the lakes we turn north between Kemble and South Cerney and change frequency to listen to Gloucesterhires ATIS. As we converge with the dual carriageway, I swing across to get on the right side of it. We are instructed to join overhead and report at 3 miles (which we do). Boy are they busy, using only a single frequency for approach/tower/ground - we're told to report downwind, but there doesn't seem to be any gaps to do this - I make a hurried late-downwind call, but not too sure if it's heard as we get no reply. Someone else has gone a long way downwind, so I go to a similar distance so we have some separation. I eventually get a final call in and told to continue approach - this is not clearance to land. There are aircraft landing both on 36 (including us) and some on 27 - and someone is on final for 27 and we are told to continue for late clearance. The plane lands and then we're cleared to land. Once down I expected to turn right on 27 to go to the parking, but there is another aircraft on final on 27, so we continue past the intersection to the end - this of course takes time, so Ian (who is coming in behind me) has to turn into a low hop and then land after I get off (sorry Ian). We go the long way round the taxiway, but Ian can go down 27, so gets to the parking before us.
I guess that this has been the first proper airport that I have landed at, apart from Le Touquet - it's got an arrivals and everything. We put on our florescent jackets and go in, but are told that we book in/out when leaving. After a bit of a nose around, we go to the cafe for bacon butties and tea - it's weird being familiar with the cafe, when I haven't flown here before. Later, we go to the Transair pilots shop and I invest in a Sennheiser headset - now that the Eurostars have adaptors built in it seemed like a good idea, rather than using the old club ones.
Eventually it's time to go home with Jac flying me in G-HP. They now have a separate tower frequency, so it's a bit less busy on the radio. Being a full ATC, we require permission to taxi, departure, line-up and take-off. We take off on 36 and then turn right to pass southwards between the motorway and the large round GCHQ building (where my step nephew works). We are changed to approach and told to report at Cirencester. This time we are going through Lynham zone, so I prepare the radio calls. I still need more confidence/practice at this, but am getting better. We follow the M4 between junctions 16 and 15 and then leave Lynham's zone and basic service. We meet a few gliders to the north of Rivar Hill, but otherwise an uneventful trip back to Popham.
There are a couple of beautiful SE5A replicas parked up here that we go and have a look at. Apparently they were being filmed having a mock battle, firing squibs etc. I also here that they weren't very considerate to normal circuit traffic.
Another nice day and flight. More airfield and radio experience. Also have now achieved 200 hours flying.
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