Time: 16:05 - 17:25 (GMT)
Aircraft: Eurostar EV-97 - G-CEDV
Our plane is currently unusable as we are having the cowlings refinished, so today we (Ian and I) have one of the club Eurostars booked. We are planning a day out with Colin and Jac (in their Eurostar) and had originally been considering Holmbeck, but it would be a bit of a crosswind. Despite Ian's joke about us flying "Land o'matic" planes (nosewheel rather than taildragger), we choose to go to Cranfield instead - we have a voucher for here too!
Ian has the outbound leg and once we have fuelled and prepped the plane we set off a way behind G-JT. We go over the west of Reading, round the side of the Benson zone and up to Aylesbury. The visibility isn't good. Through the murk, we can see Milton Keynes as we approach Cranfield and route via the Woburn Town VRP. We are instructed to join downwind and when we are established we are told to follow another plane onto final. This of course gives us the problem of spotting the plane mentioned - along with the worry that if we miss that plane, how far do we keep going whilst looking? Fortunately we spot it, so we can turn base, but they were quite a long way out giving us an extended downwind leg outside the ATZ. The next problem is that when we turn final, we are now looking into the sun which destroys the visibility. But we continue and find the runway straight in front. A gust unsettles the plane near touchdown and perhaps coupled with our lack of recent experience of this plane, he over-flares and momentarily drags the tail skeg on the ground. I guess that's why they have a skeg there. He now regrets his "land o'matic" quip!
We are directed to the parking area and park behind G-JT, which has already arrived. After checking the plane over carefully, we walk over to the control building - at least we attempt to, but initially we cannot find a way to get through the fencing barrier. Eventually we find that the security gate only looks like it is thoroughly bolted and is indeed open. After signing in and meeting the others, we go and find the cafe.
After lunch, we have the return journey, which is my turn. After another checkover of the plane, we warmup and then taxi to runway 21 and takeoff. We then basically carry on, to the south of MK and a minor deviation left to Aylesbury. Again, we are flying into the sun and basically can't see much at all. Heading down to Stokenchurch, we eventually spot the tower next to the motorway. Then down past Henley, Reading and between the Aldermaston and Burghfield restricted areas. On to Popham for an overhead join and reasonable landing on 21.
Bit claggy, which means continuous extreme concentration which can be tiring, but otherwise a nice flight.
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