Cranfield and IMC practice with someone else’s family

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Planning to practice IMC flight

I’d been talking with Andy about some joint IMC practice for quite a while, and have also been aware that I haven’t flown a Lyneham club aircraft since I bought into the TB20 share in July. Since it wasn’t available today, and it looked like a good day to go flying (who knows when the good summer weather might come to a close), we arranged to do exactly that. Cranfield offer an attractive price for instrument approach and landings, so we opted for that as our destination. Andy was also keen that his wife and young daughter came along, as they do on many of his flights. While I wasn’t quite sure how this might work out, I thought it worth giving it a go and agreed.

Switched aircraft – twice

A couple of days before, I had been asked to switch aircraft bookings and fly SNUZ, which had just recently a cylinder replaced and so wasn’t suitable for the circuit practice and training scheduled for others that day. After startup, Andy found the alternator wasn’t charging and we had to abandon that flight. However the club Arrow was still free, so we decided to take that instead. It doesn’t have such a good avionics fit, which limited what we could achieve, but we thought it still worthwhile.

I’ll let you read Andy’s writeup of the outbound leg and general trip report.

Departing Kemble
Departing Kemble, grass thoroughly mown

Lunch Stop at Cranfield

Cranfield airport has changed quite a lot over the years, previously hosting at least two commercial flight training organisations alongside several private flying schools and other businesses. Several of these have closed down and it is now trying to grow its GA activity, specifically encouring visitors through low landing and approach fees. The site does look quite “tired”, but is clean and functional. We had a good lunch at the cafe, which had quite a decent menu – I’m afraid I went for the all day breakfast, but there were other healthier choices. It was fairly busy, so took a few minutes to arrive, but it was worth the wait.

Cranfield Airport Cafe
Cranfield Cafe Pacific and flying schools, photo taken airside
Arrow at Cranfield
Arrow parked up at Cranfield

My turn to fly

I flew the return leg, outbound VFR south to Woburn Town, then under the hood tracking the Westcott NDB inbound and outbound at 4,000 feet overhead Brize. Although technically outside their controlled airspace, I was asked if I could maintain that altitude to co-ordinate with a C-130 taking off below, which I agreed to. Overhead Fairford, I took the hood off and saw the Hercules climbing below, off to my left, and confirmed with Brize that I was clear to descend and change to Kemble.

Woburn Town VRP
Woburn Town
Overhead Brize Norton
Overhead Fairford at 4,000 feet
C-130 Hercules
Herculese C-130 off to our left

Looking in the wrong places

The Arrow certainly performs differently from the TB20, and I found myself looking in the wrong places for the instruments and having to recall the slightly different procedures. Checking the DI aligns with the compass and manually checking the manifold/mixture settings rather than closely watching the engine monitoring system for example. It’s funny how quickly you subconciously adapt to a new aircraft and I actively had to think about the procedures, speeds and configuration of the Arrow I’d flown many times before.

My low point on the radio was mistakenly using the wrong callsign on the ground when calling ready for departure (which the tower controller conveniently overlooked), and my high point was remembering to say “Traffic not sighted” in response to traffic information (a new variation in the offical CAP403 R/T procedures).

I was pleased to say that I managed to maintain the scan reasonably well, and didn’t drift off course or height too much. Focussing on the attitude indicator and using the other instruments for longer term trend confirmation worked quite well. The Arrow seemed much lighter and more affected by turbulence than the heavier TB20, requiring quick anticipation and reaction to VSI changes before these manifested themselves on the altimeter. It was all good practice, but there seemed to be some inconsistency with the ADF which may have meant my track flown wasn’t quite that precise. Hiding the GPS and not having a DME to provide range did mean that my situational awareness was reduced – I didn’t record each waypoint time on the plog, which I should have done.

Andy’s daughter was quite well behaved, but I confess we did use the “crew” intercom button when needing to focus or talk to the controllers at times.

Flight Log
Flight Log – Cranfield to Kemble

After landing, we enjoyed a quick drink and/or ice-cream in the AV8 cafe, admiring the shiny new paintwork on the newly renovated and repainted Control Tower at Kemble.

Kemble Control Tower repainted
Shiny new paintwork on the Kemble Tower

Total today: 0:50
Total PIC: 187:35
Total Time: 290:00

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