Date: 18/12/2011

Time: 11:50 - 12:55 (GMT) and 15:45 - 16:10 (GMT)

Aircraft: Ikarus C42 - G-CFHP

Henstridge and Thruxton

For once, it looks like the weather will actually let us go to our planned destination! Just Jac and I today and the targets are Henstridge and Thruxton. Bit cold this morning and there is the possibility of a bit of rain forecast later, so I blouse out of using the bike and take the car to the airfield instead. When I get there, Jac has just started warming up the plane engine. When she brings it round the front we begin gently brushing off the reasonably thick frost off the wings and body.

It takes a wee while, but we are on our way, with me in the left seat taking off on 26. We head off past Chilbolton, down the gap between Boscombe zone and Southampton airspace. Then heading west there is a patch of heavy smoke coming from a wood near Alderbury - we go to investigate and decide it is probably charcoal making. The visibility is also quite good, but the progress is quite slow punching into a headwind of about 30 knots. For some reason, this area has few significant landmarks or discerning features, but finding Shaftesbury means we can ensure we are out of Compton Abbas ATZ. I make my call from Shaftesbury and I can use the A30 to line myself up for the airfield before I can even see it. I'm doing a straight-in approach and make my "final" a little way out, although it is definitely in the final zone. Another aircraft calls base then final, bit is safely in front of us. There is a significant gusty crosswind which is a bit more than I expected. A quick burst of power required when the airspeed suddenly drops and fortunately I predict the drop in sidewind effect as we touchdown reasonably smoothly. We park up on the grass and a chap in a Rans comes over and suggests he owes me an apology for cutting in front of me. I explain that there is no need as there was no issue and there was plenty of separation.

We sign in and order the obligatory bacon butties and get some tea. We end up talking to Phil (as his name turns out to be) - he flies from a little farm strip near Bridport and invited us to visit - very friendly!

It has been quite leisurely, but we decide we had better make a move. After a quick checkover, we backtrack on 25 with Jac at the helm and take off. We climb in the circuit and then head off north towards Frome, then east round the north edge of the Salisbury Plain danger zone. Past Westbury and Pewsey, then enter the (inactive) Boscombe zone via the stub and join base for 25 (again). Once landed, we are directed to follow taxiway B and you follow the little yellow line right into your allocated parking box.

We go and sign in. We had already been warned that the cafe was shut (bereavement) but the nice lady in the office made us a cup of tea. In fact it was all generally more friendly than I thought it was going to be. We have a chat, then I suddenly realise the time and we ought to get going before it gets dark. A quick checkover and swap of seats and we're off (following the yellow lines again). The guy on the radio recommends backtracking the runway as the grass taxiway is a bit soft. Before I take off, he says I can do a left turn out (was a right circuit) and follow the A303 out. Only a short hop to Popham and with the wind behind us it takes no time at all. Another reasonable landing on 26 and we put the plane to bed.

A nice flight and a couple more letters for the AlphaBet Challenge.


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