A longer trip
With the weather being much better today than yesterday, I hoped to make the most of it. I was fortunate to be allowed another afternoon away from the family, and with summer time having come into force the previous week, sunset was now almost 8pm. With the 130knot cruising speed of the Arrow, this meant that an afternoon’s flight puts many more destinations within reach.
The plan was to make a flight to Perranporth in Cornwall and back. It’s just to the west of Newquay. This is now the only hard tarmac GA airfield left in the area, although Newquay is said to be much more GA friendly these days. Plymouth airport closed at the end of 2011.
Having completed the preflight planning earlier in the morning, I called the airfield for prior permission and learnt there would be some parachute dropping during the day. I was also able to get authorisation beforehand from Mike. This would make the preparations much shorter and predictable when I got to Kemble. After the pre-flight, I chatted to Roger – our club deputy CFI – who had been organising the other aircraft in preparation for next week’s Cotswold Flying Scholarship program which the club are participating in. He had already been flying earlier in the day and warned me that it was busy with poor visibility, recommending I fly as high as possible – say 4000 or 6000 feet. Returning to complete the pre-flight, I made sure I didn’t skip anything – I’ve heard of this affecting experienced pilots who then depart with the towbar attached or similar.
Off to the south west
Departure was fairly straightforward and again I retracted the gear, and sped off to the South West. Bristol provided a Basic Service. I flew through the “Bath Gap” between Colerne and Bristol airspace, with one traffic advisory of an aircraft heading towards me at 12 o’clock. I saw him just as he passed by on my left at a very similar height. Climbing back up to 4000 feet over Radstock, I headed towards the south west. The quadrantal rule which separates traffic going in different directions doesn’t work in areas of constricted airspace, so you have to keep a sharp lookout. Now that I was free of controlled airspace. being able to fly higher also reduced the risk of meeting other GA traffic.
The Wells mast is a predominant feature, but even at this height it seemed like I might almost touch it. Switching to Exeter, it was clear that Dunkeswell was extremely busy. Gliders were also out in force, taking advantage of the excellent thermal weather conditions. My own route took me well clear of both, passing south of the Chatsworth reservoir and giving me a good view of the M5 and later A30 which make cross referencing the GPS with visual references fairly easy. At Launceston, Exeter suggested I freecall Newquay which I did. All three LARS services had given me a discrete squawk code while under their watch which was good to know.
Visibility was a bit murky, but better at this higher altitude. Surprisingly, the sun wasn’t a major factor because it was higher up in the sky than during winter months. Views of the coastline were excellent, especially as I reached Cornwall.
Approach from the sea
My planned route took me south of Bodmin down to St Mawes on the south Cornish coast. I then turned west to pass just south of Newquay, still at 4000 feet and was told to reporting changing to Perranporth when I had the airfield in sight. It’s a little further to the west than I envisaged, and took a little longer to pick out that I had expected.
When I had phoned earlier, they had recommended a downwind join for 05LH which puts the downwind leg out to sea. No overhead joins are allowed during parachute dropping days for obvious reasons. On initial contact, this was again confirmed. I slowed down and descended gently into the downwind leg, dropping the undercarriage and lowering flaps. With the downwind checks completed, I turned onto base leg with the cliffs directly below me. Remembering the red/green/blue check when turning final and lined up for approach.
With about 10 knots of wind slightly off to the north, some cross control inputs were needed to compensate. I kept to the centreline and left the power on for a reasonable landing. Once again, I didn’t pull back enough on the yoke to hold the nose off as much as I would have liked.
After asking, air/ground suggested I backtrack and guided me to the grass apron for parking. It had taken 1:30 from startup to shutdown for a trip from Gloucestershire to Cornwall.
A welcome break
There aren’t a huge range of facilities onsite, but the welcome was friendly and the cafe was busy. A mug of tea for 70p was very welcome. After booking in, I asked for fuel and was told to taxi to the pumps. Prompt attention meant I was quickly refuelled and reparked out of the way. Settled up and booked out. The airfield would be open till at least 1730, but I wanted to be on my way, and took off around 1700.
There were several other aircraft there including motor gliders, parachuting operations and 3-axis microlights.
There’s something about early evening flights in the summer which I really like. The airwaves are quieter, the evening light brings out the best of the views, and the air is typically calm. There was a good view of Newquay airport as I passed well clear to the north.
Again climbing up to 4000 feet (which should really have been higher for the quadrantial rule), I received a Basic service from Newquay. They warned me of a close contact of unknown height off my 3 o’clock, but I couldn’t see anything. After turning north to follow the coastline, they reported it had left my vicinity.
I tracked along the coast, turning north at Bude and overflew Woolacombe where I had spent several weekends camping many years ago. Newquay informed me I had reached the edge of their coverage and suggested I freecall London Information. Instead, I confirmed the frequency for Cardiff Radar and told them I’d use them instead – London cover such a wide area that I’ve found it’s better to use more local LARS stations if at all possible.
A helpful transit
Cardiff were extremely helpful, giving me a squawk code and co-ordinating a transit with Bristol as I approached Minehead. I was able to maintain 4000 feet throughout, flying from Minehead towards Weston, but turning north at Bristol’s request to route just past Flatholm island and then up towards the Severn bridges. There were great views of Avonmouth and Filton. Once clear of Bristol airspace, they asked me to report when leaving the frequency.
After hours arrival
Once Kemble was in sight, I did so and self-announced my arrival. With no-one else on frequency, I elected to make a full overhead join and planned to land on 08RH. It would have been possible to make a straight in approach, but I thought I’d play it safe. The windsock showed the wind very much from the North, and it slightly favoured 08. After descending into the circuit, I wasn’t entirely sure if the wind direction had changed to favour 26 so I made an extra circuit (self annoucing my intentions) to be completely sure.
After landing, another aircraft self-announced their approach and I was able to confirm the favoured runway and QFE for them. Taxiing back to parking, I called runway vacated and parked up. It was a very pleasant evening to be putting the aircraft away. The box for the cover had been moved much closer, which made life easier.
Another successful trip
Checks complete, paperwork done, it was time to head home. The cruising speed of the Arrow really puts a much wider range of places in reach than with the Warrior, and the aircraft really flys well. The new engine purrs sweetly, and despite my doubts about some of the avionics for IFR purposes, it’s an excellent VFR machine and a great privilege to be allowed to use it.
Total Time today: 3:15
Total Time: 187:35 (PIC 94:30)