Pilots and passengers of all ages and abilities
Bristol Aero Club tend to organise an informal flyout from Kemble on the last Sunday of the month. Destination is unknown in advance and decided on the day itself. Pilots sign up and passengers are fitted in where possible. After a bad weather cancellation last month, I had my name down to join in. In all, we had three aircraft, five pilots and three passengers. We were able to take along one of our FSDP scholars to experience a longer flight.
Bristol Aero Club has capacity to train disabled pilots, and supports the FSDP (Flight Scholarship for Disabled Pilots) scheme, which provides 20 hours of flight training intensively over three weeks. Stewart had just finished his first week with us, so was starting to learn the ropes.
My suggestion was to head north up to Sherburn-in-Elmet, but a weather front moving in from the west (arriving around 3pm) led to a suggestion for an early start and shorter trip. Lee-on-Solent was selected and everyone planned ahead for 9am arrival. I got there quite early and pre-flighted both aircraft. I flew G-BBXW, a PA28 which has just had a major avionics upgrade, including a GTN650, nice audio panel and the latest ADS-B out transponder. It was useful to be able to explain the operation of the new box to other pilots less familiar with it. The other club PA28 and PS28 sportcruiser joined the fleet.
John flew us there, requesting a VFR transit directly through Bournemouth and then along the southern side of the Solent. We joined directly downwind (right hand circuit for 23) slotting behind another PA28 in the circuit. Glider operations were active, on the south side of the field with left hand circuits. We slowed down and held back to allow enough time for the aircraft ahead to complete it’s touch and go, before landing and rollout out to the end. The PS28 Cruiser landed shortly thereafter, and our other PA28 had to make a go-around due circuit congestion. We all parked up out of the way next the tower.
Good facilities and plans for thriving future ahead
Facilities there are good, with a freshly painted crew briefing room, Wi-Fi and toilet. Only a vending machine onsite for food though. Instead we walked a few minutes along the well marked track to a gate which led directly out to the road and seaside. The “Shack” offers hot food, snacks, teas and coffees which was quite pleasant watching all the waterborne activity. A tug launched gliders above us from time to time. It was good to see the airfield thriving.
Return with or without Southampton airspace transit
Without wanting to delay our return given the impending weather, we walked back and prepared for our return leg. A couple of the pilots planned to request a transit through Solent airspace but I decided to route via Beaulieu and Stoney Cross. They both got their transits with little delay while I sneaked around the south side of the controlled airspace and headed north keeping east of the Danger areas. I kept a listening watch/squawk rather than ask for the sometimes pointless Basic service. The cloudbase was around 3000 feet with a few lower patches, and I decided to remain VFR rather than punching up through the cloud. Brize, who provide a LARS service closer to Kemble, said they were “operating at capacity”, so I doubted I’d be able to get a traffic service if I’d asked.
All three aircraft converged on Kemble at a similar time, and we kept a sharp lookout for so-called “company traffic”. Having departed first, I was quite pleased to also be the first to arrive back despite being in the lower powered aircraft. Standard overhead join and straightforward landing behind another aircraft in the circuit.
Tea and medals in the AV8 made for a good social close to the day’s flying.
Club activity does seem quite high at the moment, not just because of the intensive FSDP training but perhaps also the sight of some better weather. Club solo hire rates went down last month which makes it more accessible.
Pictures of the beach shared with my family didn’t go down well when compared to the rain and cloudy weather at home. Sounds like I’ll be making another trip there in the not too distant future, when the weather is suitably sunny.
PIC time today: 1:00
Total PIC: 384:55
Total Time: 523:20