Time: 16:50 - 18:00 (GMT)
Aircraft: Ikarus C42 - G-CDVI
Once again, Colin and I were supposed to be going on our big adventure to France today, but the weather wasn't playing ball - plenty of rain this morning and persistent low cloud. We had to postpone it again. Still, late afternoon it eventually brightened up and as I haven't flown for a while, I decided to go for a quick one, before going down to Bath for Jo's housewarming.
I'm in luck and due to a student no-show, I can use Steve's plane to save getting one out. I check it out and fuel it. Soon I'm off on runway 03. I head to the north to get the feel of it - G-VI is my least favourite aircraft. I'm not sure what it is about it, trim or stiff rudders, but I often find myself flying out of balance. After a turn to the west, I pull a PFL on myself. There's a good field but it's quite close to the power lines - not a problem to turn before them into the field, just need to be aware of them. PFL goes well.
I then head off to the west and the weather has now the gaps in the clouds are huge now - I think I will se if I can get above them. There is an unrestricted (altitude) triangle to the north of Andover, between the FL65 airway over Popham, the FL105 to the north, and the Salisbury Plain danger area, which I circle around in. There is also Boscombe CMATZ, but I'm soon well above that. I keep a good eye on the engine temperature and pressures. I pass the cloud level at around 6000' - 7000' and soon get the view above them. I throttle back a bit - it's nowhere near too hot, but I just want to be kind to the engine - still getting 400'/min. It takes a wee while, but soon I'm up to 10,000'; to go higher legally I would need a transponder (which I don't), so I level out here. Also, they recommend oxygen above this altitude.
What a view, up above the cotton wool clouds. Plenty of sight of the ground to stay legal VFR. I've just got a new camera, so this is an ideal chance to try it out - keeping a good lookout too! Great. However, can't go too far, so I begin my descent - this time I have to keep an eye on the temperature to ensure it doesn't get to cold. As the oil temperature drops, I need to add some throttle to stop it getting towards 50 deg C where you risk carb-icing - last thing I need. When I am below the airway, I can head back to Popham. Joining overhead I extend a bit whilst descending deadside to give plenty of clearance to an aircraft that has just taken off. Nice full stop landing. I line up for a circuit and have another good approach. Then I make the mistake where I decide to turn it into a low hop (for practice) and it goes a bit wonky, so I hit the throttle and go-around. Next one is great, so I call it a day.
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