Time: 12:55 - 13:50 (GMT)
Aircraft: Eurostar EV-97 - G-CEDV
Cloud Dodging to Sandown
Another trip for the four of us - Jac, Colin, Ian and me. However, the weather prevents us from going on a longer journey to Little Gransden or Rochester. Jac suggests White Waltham and I suggest Sandown, so we decide on both - Sandown first, but not my normal route over the New Forest, but the more direct via Petersfield - the way I normally come back.
I'm late getting to the airfield - sorry everyone.
I'm with Colin in the Eurostar and we take off on 21. Ian follows in a C-42 behind us. We peel off left from the crosswind leg and head off down towards Butser Hill. It seems dead calm, with hands-off flying, but although the visibility is OK, there are a number of isolated rain showers evident all around. As we get towards Colemore Common, we have to descend due to the cloudbase. Then past Petersfield there is a huge rain shower - we go round it to the west. We then pick our way round the clouds past Thorney and over Hayling Island and try to gain some height for Solent crossing. I attempt a few piccies with my phone of the clouds and rainbows. We head towards Ryde to avoid the Bembridge ATZ. We call Sandown Traffic, but are surprised the get a reply for Sandown Radio. It's relatively quiet so we go for a base leg join. As can often happen, it gets all a bit exciting and bumpy as we near the runway. Colin bravely puts it down on 23 - we are directed by a man in a florescent jacket to a parking slot - never had that before and we haven't been to the north side of the runway either. When we get out it proves to be really windy!
Since the attempted closure of Sandown, the new owners have shut off the south side, but the flying school (that is on the north side) managed to get a court injunction to stop them digging up the runway, as he has a covenant giving him use of the runway - a big relief for us as we like Sandown. The cafe has also moved over here and seems amazingly well established and has the same staff. We have the obligatory tea and bacon butties. It starts to pissistantly rain whilst we are inside - we decide that the trip to White Waltham is probably not a good idea. Instead we plan to go back to Popham, but round the coast of the Isle of Wight and the back via the New Forest - so the reverse of my normal route again - not done this way before.
My turn in the left seat and soon we are taking-off on 23 and just carry on south towards St Catherine's - however there is some cloud and rain shower that we have to avoid. We the follow the coast (on the landward side for a change) and skirt below the cloudbase and then cross back to the mainland at Hurst Castle. Over the New Forest there is plenty of cloud and rain - I see a gap that I can see through, so head for that to pass between two major rain dumps. From here the journey is fairly benign and we get back to Popham and join overhead for 23 - still windy and a little bumpy but OK.
A lovely flight despite the unideal conditions - I think we made the right decisions.
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