We’d hoped to fly to France for lunch – possibly Cherbourg – but the weather wasn’t up to it, so we decided to go to Dunkeswell instead. Our crew would be Dave, a friend from the Bristol Aero Club, my daughter and her friend. Dave, an experienced Warrior pilot with an IMC, hadn’t flown in an Arrow before, so was keen to understand the differences.
With a quick weight and balance check to ensure we were easily within limits, Dave and I pre-flighted while the girls looked around the airfield and visited the cafe. We boarded the Arrow and took off to the west, first flying overhead Bath to circle above Ellie’s home. Then on down to Frome, Taunton and Dunkeswell. The visibility was good and the flight was progressing well.
Mixup with the altimeter
With Dunkeswell airfield directly ahead, I was lined up for a long final but was advised to join left base. My big mistake was to record the QFE on my notepad but not set it (thinking I had), so I found myself way too low on the approach. Although I slowed down, had completed the pre-landing checks, I was still a little fast. There was quite a strong crosswind which I hadn’t fully compensated for. Ready to go around, I got the approach sorted out in time and landed a little fast but no bounce, and made the turnoff about 2/3rds down the runway.
We taxied around the field and parked up right outside the clubhouse. A landing fee of £10 was a pleasant surprise, and the newly refurbished restaurant served excellent food. On sundays, they normally restrict the menu to the Sunday Roast (great value), but because it wasn’t too busy they allowed the girls to order something off the regular menu.
We went for a walk outside down towards the Church through some country lanes and pleasant fields – making a change from just sitting in our landaway airfield – before returning for a coffee. Parachute jumping was in progress and we saw the canopies appear and drift down – some circling wildly even at quite low heights before coming in to the target landing point.
Power checks were conducted at the north end of the runway, by the red and white barriers, which is not part of the landing runway. Once ready, we were quickly airborne and flew back north to Taunton. Bristol again gave us a Basic Service and we routed to the west of their zone with a transit not above 2000 feet along the coast towards the Severn Bridges.
Returning to Kemble, who offered a direct downwind join, I elected to make a full overhead procedure, keen to make a better effort of landing than at Dunkeswell.
Total Time this flight: 1:50
Total PIC time: 114:15
Total Time: 207:20