Date: 8/01/2012

Time: 10:30 - 11:20 (GMT) and 13:40 - 14:45 (GMT)

Aircraft: Ikarus C42 - G-CFHP

Wycombe Air Park (Booker) and Panshanger

For once the weather isn't too bad today. Ian and I are planning to go to Wycombe Air Park - also known as Booker. We have been planning to go here for a while, but it hasn't been possible. Apart from the approaching front, I also need to leave by 3pm to go and pick Jo up from Heathrow, so we start early. Fortunately there is no frost to deal with.

Once we are checked out and ready we are off on 08 with me in the left seat. The visibility isn't too bad and we head up to Hannington and then east to the M4/A329M junction. We then turn north towards Henley - once we get there I make the call to Wycombe. They give me a left base join for 24 - this throws me as the advertised direction for 24 is right hand. It's amazing how a change to what you have planned out in your mind can disturb you. I call again requesting a downwind join as I haven't been here before and will give me more orientation time. I am also seeking confirmation of the direction in case I have heard it wrong - no, I'm given a downwind left join. During the downwind leg, I am instructed to do an orbit. It's been so long since I did the initial research on Wycombe and I have forgotten that it is a full ATC - fortunately Ian is with me to remind me to readback. Orbit complete, I can turn base and then into land. Onto the taxiway, and I'm handed over to the ground frequency (same person) and we follow the lines to the parking area and park in one of the yellow circles on the tarmac.

We go in and sign-in. We then ask where the cafe is - the problem is that they went bust and closed down in December - not opening anytime soon due to legal wranglings. We have some hot chocolate out of the machine, but to be honest I would prefer something more substantial. So Panshanger seems like a good target, being only 20 minutes away.

After checkover, Ian is at the helm and we takeoff on 24 again. We head off 'til we get outside the ATZ and then turn back over Marlow and then north east towards Leavesden - I have a look out for the film studios where Harry Potter was filmed. We do a little deviation round Plaistows airfield, past St. Albans and Hatfield and then find Panshanger We descend deadside and can see how the airfield runs right alongside a housing estate. Round the circuit and land on 29 and find the visitors parking area, hidden away from the resident parking. They are also quite specific about the route you must walk to the clubhouse, past an old rusty hanger - I don't know if they have had "an event" to insist on this rule.

After signing in we go to the nice cafe and have a very welcome bacon buttie each (it's almost the law). We have a bit of a chat and discuss the return flight via White Waltham for another changeover. However, the time is getting on, and we don't think there will be enough time - especially at Waltham with a big taxi length. I elect to fly the whole leg back to Popham.

Back to the plane (via the prescribed route), a quick checkover and we are on the way home. The route is pretty close to the outbound route, but when the sun occasionally comes out, the visibility virtually disappears, so it is a relief to be under the clouds. There are actually quite a few other aircraft around and we have to avoid one who turns underneath us to head towards Denham.

Back at Popham I join overhead and another pilot also calls descending deadside. I head out further 'til I spot them and call as they call they cannot see us. I follow them round and slow it right up as they do their crosswind way upwind of the threshold. Then following them slowly for some separation and land on 26. Scott has the plane after us, so I don't even have to put it away.

A nice flight to start the year. Two new airfields and some Alphabet Challenge points.

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