Time: 09:40 - 11:00 (HP) & 14:45 - 15:30 (HP) & 15:55 - 17:05 (DV) (GMT)
Aircraft: Ikarus C42 - G-CFHP & Eurostar EV-97 - G-CEDV
Beccles (Bourn and Little Gransden)
The original plan for this Monday flight was to go up to Little Snoring in East Anglia - Colin and Jac were going to see the Sherwood Ranger kit-build microlight. Unfortunately, the demonstrator is still at an exhibition, so there doesn't seem much point. We had talked about going to Beccles on the way, but it may have been a bit tight. However, now the Little Snoring was not necessary, we decided to go to Beccles. It was my request to go there, as my friend Nigel lives really close in Olton Broad, Lowestoft.
It's the usual 4 of us again and the plan was to break the journey about midway - stopping at Bourn on the outbound and Little Gransden on the return. I phoned Beccles airfield on the previous Friday, and they said that they were closed on Mondays, but we were welcome to use the airfield. There would be no fuel or food available - just put the landing fee in the letterbox. We have to plan for a refuel so need to be back to Little Gransden by 5:30.
After a good checkout and full of fuel, we are off on runway 26 - I am flying Colin to Bourn airfield in G-HP and Jac is P1 with Ian in the Eurostar. Near Hannington Mast, we are overtaken Jac. We head past Brimpton, round the outside of Reading and the between White Waltham and Booker. Skirting round the Heathrow zone, we then head for the gap between Luton and Stanstead zones, which takes us over Panshanger (2250'), but below the London TMA (2500') - best get this height right. We pass through the gap to the East of Stevenage and once past, we can gain some height and head for Bourn which we find fairly easily. I join overhead and come round to land on 24. We are told to be careful not to hit the cranes on the left of the threshold - these are easily seen (and avoided) but I'm quite surprised to see the dual carriageway later on the photo that I ignored whilst concentrating. The runway isn't the smoothest and I initially go the wrong way to taxi to the clubhouse. We are made very welcome and have some tea.
For the next leg, Colin flies me in G-DV and Ian flies Jac in G-HP. We take a weird route to the north, then travel just to the south of Lakenheath CMATZ, to keep away from the Cambridge ILS. From Bury St.Edmunds, we head straight for Beccles. Approaching we make calls expecting no answer and prepared to make blind calls - however, we get a reply. We join overhead, land and are met by my friend Nigel. We head for the clubhouse and book-in; it turns out that they needed to fix their truck, so had come in. Being cheeky, I ask if it is possible to get some fuel and am successful. We take the planes over to the pump, stick about 20 litres in and the push them back to the parking. This is a real bonus, as we no longer need to get to Little Gransden before their fuel closes and this takes the stress off for the rest of the afternoon. Nige very kindly takes us off to find some food - not as easy as we thought as the place recommended had finished doing food for the day. We find another pub and eat and drink (soft drinks for us pilots). Very pleasant.
When we get back, I have time to take Nige up for a quick bimble. The parachute jump plane is just starting, but I manage to get airborne before it - we head east. On the radio I inform them that I am by the coast and suitably distant from their meatbombing practices. We head south to go and have a look at the pretty village of Southwold (where the Adnams brewery is located). Nige confidently has a go with the controls. Turning overhead we can see the lighthouse that is oddly in the middle of the town. We fly northwards along the coast and at one point I demonstrate steep banked turns. When we get toward the northern end of Lowestoft, we start to make our way back, passing over where Nigel and his family live.
Unfortunately it seems that the jump plane is back up and about to drop another load of parachutists - best keep out of their way, so we go for another turn round Lowestoft and even head further north towards Great Yarmouth. From here you can see the large wind farm out to sea (possibly doesn't show so well in the photo). Now we can return to Beccles, join overhead and land.
The others have been patiently waiting - sunbathing besides the aircraft. It's been a lovely time, but it's a long way, so we better get going back. We checkover the planes and say our goodbyes. This time it is me flying Jac in G-DV to Little Gransden whilst Colin flies Ian in the C-42. The route is pretty much the reverse of the outbound trip, as Little G is quite near to Bourn. We find it relatively easily, but they have a number of no-fly zones surrounding the airfield. We correlate three patches of wooded area with their circuit diagram and make our approach for a downwind join and land.
We eventually find their new clubhouse that looks a bit like a Swiss log cabin (it's not the building with the C sign on it). We were going to have some tea, but looking at the time, I decided we ought to make tracks. Quick check and then Jac flies Colin in the Eurostar and Ian Flies me in the C-42. Ian chooses a slightly more direct route than the one I originally had planned, by going over Shuttleworth, Leighton Buzzard (AKA lost and buggered) and round Aylesbury. Then down past the east of Benson, Brimpton and home. We land with ten minutes to spare (before the airfield officially closes) so missing the tea was a good decision.
Quite a long flight for us (three and a quarter hours for me as P1) and a thoroughly enjoyable one - thanks guys.
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