Back in 2012, I had progressed from the PA28 Warrior to an Arrow when with the RAF Lyneham Flying Club. My logbook records about 50 hours flight time in it, and there have been some great trips such as with the family to Alderney for the day. It’s based at Kemble, still with the Lyneham Flying Club.
There has been some discussion with its owner about allowing members of the Bristol Aero Club to fly it, and David was the first to be checked out. He asked me to buddy-fly with him on his first landaway, and this was approved by the owner. Although it’s been some time since I’ve flown as P1, I’ve enjoyed several extended day trips in it with Andy and also flew a turbo Arrow from Gloucester a few months ago.
We picked Land’s End as our destination for the day, based on weather and useful distance. I’d been there before as a passenger in this same aircraft. It’s actually further away than the Channel Islands or France, about 90 minutes airborne/200 miles.
David flew us outbound and I felt I was retracing the same route as for the Scillies a few weeks earlier. The difference was the Autumn weather now had much more cloud around, which we encountered as we flew toward the Bristol Channel. After transiting at low level we climbed on top into the sunshine. We descended down through it over the sea after passing west of Newquay, while under a traffic service.
It can be quite difficult to pick out the airfield which is hidden amongst the grass fields. With a couple of tall masts nearby, you don’t want to get too distracted. ATC approved a visual approach for 25 (I think they may have offered us a choice of runway 20 due to strong winds – the longer one seemed the safest). Lands End now has several RNAV instrument approaches available and we considered flying one, but our GPS database wasn’t in date. ATC explained they effectively close down VFR operations during an instrument approach, which is quite a big deal for their commercial activity to/from the Scillies and hence really benefits from some prior notice.
Fuel is quite attractively priced so we made full use of that facility before parking on the grass and visiting the modern cafe. It was surprising to see how they get the Skybus in and out of the hangar, since the tail is higher than the entrance, tipping it back by raising the nosegear from the tug so that it just clears the roof. The airport is fairly busy with what seems like a continuous stream of small passenger aircraft shuttling to and from the Scillies.
Return flight to Kemble
My flight back to Kemble was uneventful, routing overhead Newquay and up the Severn Estuary. With sunset approaching (this was about 4pm), there was very little other GA traffic around and the radio was quiet. I struggled to assess what the cloud layer was doing, and determine whether best to fly above or below it. Bristol Airport ATIS didn’t match what I was seeing. This meant a fumbled request for a transit clearance from Cardiff, and I was surprised that when asking for VFR not below 4000 feet I got it. Perhaps I should just have asked for IFR in that block, although this means ATC have to allow more space around you and thus is less likely to be granted.
The cloud was down to about 2000 feet as we returned to Kemble, so I made a downwind join rather than overhead and quite a reasonable landing. The airspeed indicator is primarily calibrated in mph, so the speeds seem faster and it’s important to be using the appropriate scale.
The Arrow is much faster than a Warrior – about 130 knots vs 95 – so quite useful for longer trips. I hope to buddy-fly with David or Andy in it again soon.
PIC Time Today: 1:50
Total PIC: 434:30
Total Time: 572:55