Date: 04/09/2011

Time: 15:15 - 16:00 (14:15 - 15:00 GMT) & 17:00 - 18:25 (16:00 - 17:25 GMT)

Aircraft: Ikarus C42 - G-CDVI


I've had my license for nearly four years and haven't yet got my brother Sid to come up with me. Not because he hasn't wanted to or being scared, but just because he is a very busy lad. This year he isn't doing the zap-cats so I have finally got him to come up with me. Bloody typical that it ends up being my most challenging landing ever (by far).

My plane was booked for 3pm, but it's persistently raining at midday. Nothing has moved all day. It should hopefully clear up by my slot. My intention was to go to Sandown, but when I called they said that the racing (Schneider Trophy) they had scheduled was all canceled and it was likely that the cafe would be shut due to lack of business. That's a shame.

When I get to the airfield, the front has passed through, the rain has stopped. It is clearing up nicely and the cloudbase is lifting. The plane I have booked is just departing. I ask Graeme if there is another one free - G-VI is available. This has two benefits, I can get it out and prepped now (about 2:30) and also there is no-one in it after, so I don't need to race back. We go and get it out, check it over and fuel it. I give Carla (at Sandown) another call but there is no answer, so I have to assume that the cafe is shut, This wouldn't stop us using the airfield, but there doesn't seem much point without any facilities. If the wind is forecast for 210 degrees, that should be OK for Thorney Island's 19 runway - OK, I went there only yesterday, but giving them a call, they are still open and tell me they will keep a burger for us.

We takeoff from 26 and climb out. The visibility isn't too bad and it's only a little bumpy. Thorney said they would probably finish up at 4:30, so I have chosen to head there first and then go round the Isle of Wight for the return journey. We turn to the south east towards Butser Hill - thankfully there is much better cloudbase than yesterday and we can cruise at over 2000'. At Butser we turn south and follow the railway down to Havant and on to an overhead join for runway 19 right hand circuit (as advised). On the downwind leg I can feel there is a fair crosswind, but then turning final, the extent becomes more noticeable. I just cant keep it straight and it is very gusty. I hit the throttle for a go-around just as a wheel bounces on the tarmac. As I turn, the guy on the radio (Daryl) suggests that I could give runway 23 a go - I believe this is much closer to the wind direction. He suggests giving a fly-over for orientation and then land just over the go-cart track, as it isn't very long. I line up final and the approach seems good so he suggest continuing the approach to land. There is a fair amount of Windshear at ground level and I put it down with a little bit of a bump, but not a bad one. There is loads of runway left. Daryl then drives in front of us to lead us to the parking area and blocks off the intersecting roadway to prevent anyone driving into us. Even during taxiing, we can feel the wind pushing the little plane around. We park up on the end of the line facing into the wind as I wouldn't trust it any other way.

We go and sign in and have a burger and tea/coffee. Sid checks the Chimet website and it reports that the wind is 23 gusting 29 knots (see graph at 16:00). The maximum demonstrated crosswind component for the C-42 is 15 knots - no wonder I couldn't keep it straight!. It is significantly more than the 10/12 knots forecast and actually blowing at about 250 degrees.

We have a chat and a smoke etc. The little tank with the rocket launcher on its roof is there again - it still seems weird to see that next to light aircraft. I give VI and checkover and eventually we are on our way. I backtrack and line-up on the other end of runway 23 (can't use the bit in the middle). As a horse and rider come out of a field onto the runway, I turn around early to avoid spooking the horse, but there is plenty of runway, particularly in this wind. We take off and head over to Hayling island. We do a loop round Sid's house, but as it was a right turn (I have less visibility) and given the wind, it wasn't very symmetrical. We then head east past Southsea and the Spinnaker Tower towards Gosport and then turn and cross the Solent near Ryde.

We pass Bembridge and Sandown airfields (where we may have gone to) on our way to St. Catherine's point. Sid has another go with the joystick (you can see the concentration on his face). As we head along south coast towards the needles, there are a number of small banks of clouds. We go over some of the clouds and under next bank. I adjust the throttle for the ascent/descent and Sid adjusts the pitch correctly to maintain airspeed. This part of the journey is quite slow into the wind, making between 50 to 60 knots over the ground. We then round the Needles and drop to 1800' (due to the airspace height restriction) whilst crossing the Solent and pass Hurst Castle. Then over the New Forest and up the west side of the Southampton zone. It's a bit faster here in the same direction of the wind making over 100 knots. Back at Popham, we join overhead for runway 26 and land.

Well, it was a bit more exciting than I had hoped for Sid's first flight. He said that he did enjoy it, but I would have preferred it to be a bit more relaxed!

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