A break in the poor January flying weather
January’s weather has been very poor for flying, with Cotswold Airport (which we still call Kemble among ourselves) NOTAM’d closed during the snow and ice on the runway and taxiways. Warmer weather and heavy rain washed this away overnight, leaving what seemed like good conditions for Sunday morning. The only concern was strong winds, but at least these were blowing down the runway.
Andy, who had been trying to fly for several weeks, was only available during the morning, so I arranged a landaway with another club member – Dave – thinking of heading down to the South Coast. After looking at the weather, we decided instead to hop across to Gloucester and back, which turned out to be the right choice. Andy had also decided to fly there, and we departed shortly after us.
A short hop to Gloucester
I flew the club Warrior G-VICC in what was a very short flight (about 15 miles). The engine took a while to warm up prior to run-up, but it seems this doesn’t affect the tacho – encouraging pilots to wait for the engine to be properly heated before takeoff without too much concern about hourly charges. Kemble seemed very pleased to be open again, but it was too windy for the microlights. We heard a student pilot (who sounded very competent on the radio) depart before us.
I remembered to listen to the ATIS before contacting Gloucester, but forgot to mention the information letter on first call. They helpfully told me the runway and pressure settings without fuss. We also had the noise abatement chart in front of us. The strong wind made for an interesting circuit pattern and long/slow approach, but with only 2 stages of flaps and despite a higher than normal approach speed we touched down very gently.
Rather than backtracking because of another aircraft about to depart (which with hindsight might have been a better option), I continued on to the end of the runway and took the longer route back to parking. They must have realised I’m not a frequent visitor – a marshall helpfully directed us to our parking bay and showed us the entrance to the main office, where a receptionist walked us through to the desk. I signed up for a landing card (5th landing free) and we waited for Andy to arrive about 10 minutes behind us. We couldn’t upload fuel and qualify for the discounted landing fee, but the service we received really was top notch.
Lunch at the Aviator
Lunch was a sandwich in the Aviator cafe, where we chatted about the better facilities at Gloucester which had remained open during the recent bad weather. There still seemed to be very few aircraft flying today, although a little busier than Kemble.
Our return trip seemed to take only a few minutes, and was again a slow final approach due to the strong headwind. After tidying up, helping Andy park his aircraft and move the club Bulldog to its proper parking slot, we met up with a few members of the Bristol Aero Club. I showed them around our clubhouse while they waited for a weather front to go through, and they then made plans for their own short flight today.
So my club flying currency is reset for another 60 days, but I’m now out of currency for the Arrow and will need a check flight with an instructor before flying solo again. Not urgent, but hopefully sometime in the next month or two.
Total PIC: 141:55
Total Time: 239:10