Compton Abbas is such a nice airfield to fly to. Located in the heart of the Dorset countryside, it commands tremendous views across towards Shaftesbury. The route from Kemble passes over Bath, Frome and Warminster, taking about 30 minutes. Today’s flight was in G-VICC, a Warrior rented from Freedom Aviation at Kemble, organised at short notice and so a solo. It helped to remove some of the rust from lack of recent flying.
The weather was for VFR but with medium strength wind and some dark rain clouds passing through from the West. A careful check of the rain radar indicated that it should be quite feasible to make it there and let the front pass through before returning.
Squeezing through the gap
After a slightly turbulent departure, my route southbound was planned west of Colerne, through the ”Bath Gap” between its ATZ and Bristol Class D airspace. Talking to Bristol Radar and with a Basic Service, I realised I was getting a little hemmed in between controlled airspace and the dark rain clouds encroaching from the east. I asked for, and was immediately granted, transit through their Class D controlled airspace, allowing me either to climb above the Colerne ATZ or Bath itself.
As it happened, I don’t think I actually entered controlled airspace (the Skydemon log suggests I didn’t), but it helped take the pressure off (and I’m sure caused less potential disruption to ATC than an unexpected airspace bust).
Once south of Bath, it was a fairly direct and straightforward route south to Compton as I’ve done before.
Standard overhead join to land
With the relatively poor weather, Compton Abbas wasn’t busy from a flying perspective, but the restaurant was full. Airfields like these benefit from the flying activity but make a substantial proportion of their income from regular non-flying visitors. One of the aircraft parked up was from the adjacent hangar in Kemble, which had set off just a few minutes ahead of me.
As the front passed through and dumped a fair bit of rain, I saw another aircraft land – clearly it wasn’t unflyable – but I felt better about waiting for the clearer skies before heading off. I routed north west towards Weston-super-Mare, flying up the east coast of the Severn Estuary just to the west of Bristol Airspace. There was a fairly strong headwind which slowed down my groundspeed below 80 knots. I kept low so didn’t need a transit, partly to reduce wind drift but mainly because it made the views more interesting. The strong westerly wind blew me back towards Kemble from the Severn Bridges in no time, and another full overhead join led to a good landing.
It’s surprising how quickly some aspects of the routine of flying one type of aircraft can be forgotten. It was useful to repeat the mantra of FREDA checks, including extras such as carb heat and DI realignment which aren’t required on the TB20.
I won’t belabour what was a fairly uneventful trip, other than to say that solo flights like these help remain current, rebuild confidence and avoid the trepidation of getting airborne again.
Total PIC today: 2:00
Total PIC: 219:05
Total Time: 323:10