Strong crosswinds, currency check and diversion to Bembridge

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Another blustery day – but with crosswind today

Although cold, the sun was out today, making it appear by far the best day for flying all week. However, as with the previous weekend, the wind was strong and blustery but had more of a crosswind component. After a few phone calls and swapping around, it was agreed that Dave and I would each fly a short currency check flight with an instructor in the club Arrow, and then I’d fly to Lee on Solent with Dave flying back via Bembridge.

Currency check on the Arrow

Inevitably, events were running a bit late, but we had pre-flighted and were ready to go when Richard, the instructor, was free. He had cancelled his following lesson, because the conditions wouldn’t have been suitable for his student at that stage in his course. Dave flew first – he was only a few days out of club currency completely (which is 30 days for him) – and did a good job in the blustery conditions. With winds around 15 gusting 22, we were bouncing around a fair bit on final approach, especially on short final where the wind rolls over the hangars. Both his landings were good considering the difficult conditions.

Although I was still current for other club aircraft, I wasn’t technically allowed to fly the Arrow solo because I hadn’t done so for 60 days. Club rules insist that flying a variable propellor aircraft requires 60 days currency on that tyep and my other flights didn’t count. So after a quick crew change, Dave and I swapped seats and I repeated the excercise. After an embarrassing omission to raise the gear after takeoff, I was quite happy with my first landing, but on the second landing I was distracted by the previous aircraft taking a long time vacating the runway. The late decision to land meant it was a little firmer than I would have liked, especially on the nosewheel. However, Richard was satisfied and we were cleared to go.

Outbound to the Solent

After changing aircraft, and taking off in the Warrior in the blustery conditions, I really noticed the weather-cock as the wheels left the ground – there was still a strong crosswind. Once aloft though, the visibility was great and we could see for miles. I routed via Frome, keeping East of Hullavington which was active with gliding, then down past Warminster. I descended to below 2000 feet before Stoney Cross, a very much disused airfield marking the edge of the Solent Zone. Turning south to Beaulieu, we switched from Bournemouth to Lee on Solent radio.

After hearing another inbound aircraft, I announced inbound and requested airfield information. Just at that point, there was an all stations call on the radio saying that an aircraft had nosed over on the grass. The fire truck was despatched and radio silence requested. We decided to divert to Bembridge nearby, who confirmed they could accept us (they had been full earlier in the day because of very limited parking off the grass).

Diversion to Bembridge

The crosswind landing practice earlier in the day put me in good position to handle the conditions, which were still strong and blustery. Taking a slightly faster approach with only two stages of flap, I floated a bit longer than normal but made a good gentle touchdown and used most of the runway length to roll to a stop with gentle braking.

Propellor Inn next door to Bembridge Airfield
Propellor Inn, next door to Bembridge Airfield (less than 50 metres from the control point)
Bembridge airport
Parked up on the hardstanding at Bembridge
Strong crosswind evident from the windsock at Bembridge

We walked around to the caravan to pay our landing dues, then into the Propellor Inn for a late lunch of tea and sandwiches. The service was good and friendly, with reasonable choice of food on the menu. With time pressing on, we realised we wouldn’t make it to Lee on Solent that day, and decided to retrace our tracks. Dave flew us back without fuss, and we landed a few minutes before sunset at 16:55, having retraced our roots.

Returning northwest towards Kemble
Returning northwest towards Kemble
View of the Solent (between Isle of Wight and mainland) after departing Bembridge
View of the Solent (between Isle of Wight and mainland) after departing Bembridge

A better performance from SkyDemon

I always use SkyDemon on a dedicated cheap Windows CE Device, and have had few problems with it. I also used the latest SkyDemon app on my (Mark 1, Wi-Fi only) iPad to follow the flight plan, and was pleased to see the program didn’t crash as it had before. The latest release appears to have fixed this problem. I have a separate GNS 1000 GPS receiver which connects via Bluetooth, and found that it didn’t lock on to the signal quickly or keep it locked if not held up to the window. This is disappointing, since these separate units are supposed to be better than the built-in GPS on the 3G iPad.

So today reset my currency for the Arrow (and the Warriors) for a further 60 days, allowing me to just turn up and go next time. It’s a shame we didn’t make it to Lee on Solent, but Bembridge was new to Dave who will revisit during the summer

Time Today: 1:15
Total PIC: 142:55
Total Time: 240:10

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