Time: 15:55 - 16:35 & 17:10 - 18:40
Aircraft: Ikarus C42 - G-CDHR
Exercise: 18 Cross Country, Old Sarum (solo)
Doing my second solo cross country flight today to Old Sarum, near Salisbury. Thought that today was sorted - I had done my prep-work for the PLOG (flight plan) and the weather forecast looked good. However when I checked the NOTAMs (notices to airmen) there are many restrictions today - unfortunately some affect me. The Solent CTA airspace around the Southampton region has been upgraded to class A, so a definite no-go zone; not that I would go in there anyway. Also there is some sort of aviation pageant occurring at Middle Wallop, extending to a 5 mile radius (extent of their MATZ). This leaves only a thin corridor between the two to pass down so the navigation better be spot-on.
However this means I have to change my flight plan - I redo it, but Steve isn't entirely happy with it and advises a more direct path from Popham to the south of the Middle Wallop, so I have yet another go. I was already concerned about time as I have a 3 hour slot and need to get two hours flying time to make up enough solo cross country hours suitable for my license application. I'm worried that this buggering about will make me too late setting off to get it all in and it begins to unsettle me. I keep looking at my watch.
Calm down - it's not the end of the world if I don't achieve it today, so I fuel and prep the aircraft - my own one today which I haven't flown for a long time. I've got my (revised) PLOG that I'm confident should be reasonably right (although the wind is a little unpredictable) and I've got the other paperwork such as circuit patterns and the form I need to get signed. Off I go.
Actually, it all works out OK. I make small corrections in direction and all the timing are correct. It does feel quite low though at 1400', which is only about 900' above the ground. I'm a bit relieved when I get to the railway waypoint and know that I'm past the thin corridor. I call Old Sarum at Alderbury and it appears they have changed runway direction since I phoned them. As I'm approaching they do seem quite busy. However when I get there to join the circuit, there is just a flexwing on the downwind leg so I easily fit in behind. Join and landing go OK.
No landing fee to pay when your on a qualifying flight, but I'm just grateful to be there. I have to go to the tower to get my form signed as to the quality of my landing and airmanship - I get 'Good' for each. Have a bit of a chat with the controller who has to take a handheld radio with him to nip down for a cigarette (with the new stupid laws). I check on the time and we're doing OK which, along with having done the out-landing makes me feel more relaxed and I have a quick cup of tea.
A quick check-over the plane and I'm off again tracking back along the same track until reaching Wonston where I aim for Brimpton airfield, rather than straight for Popham as I need more flying hours. Now clear of Southampton I can also climb to a higher altitude of 2500'. As I approach Brimpton I am carefully looking at their circuit map to ensure that I don't infringe on the Aldermaston exclusion zone, then from overhead I turn and head for Bourne Park airfield. Then back to Popham and I'm spot-on with the plan timings, but still need to accumulate some more time, so I head back up to the north to re-visit Brimpton and have a quick look at Greenham Common and do a few medium bank turns near Hannington. This of course isn't planned, but I know the area well enough now not to get lost. Finally, as the sun hits the horizon I head to Popham and do a good join and landing.
That appears to be that - all the official training done and now I can apply for my license (once John the CFI gets back from holiday). Can't actually consider myself fully done, or take up passengers until the license actually gets to me which seems to be taking about 5 weeks at the moment. At least I will only have to pay for the aircraft now (without tuition fees).
Yes - I'm chuffed. It has taken me a lot longer to get here than I thought, but then some of my training has been rather disjointed. Last year I made the mistake of not flying for the first six months, due to work pressure - big mistake and doesn't appear to have been appreciated. But I also appreciate I still have lots to learn and increase my confidence. Also ought to do my radio telephony exam at some point.
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