Our last day, and we were keen to get home in good time. The forecast wasn’t brilliant, mainly some concerns about visibility than anything else. However we could all make use of our IR(R) ratings in the UK if we needed to. We’d also gain an hour by moving our clocks back when crossing back into the British timezone. After a leisurely breakfast, another Uber got us out to the flying club in good time. Our passports were again inspected at the club by the Netherlands Border Police, before we pre-flighted and taxied around the main terminal to refuel. These are self-service pumps that take normal credit cards.
As you can see from the video, when taxing across the main apron to the hold before departure, we were helpfully warned about the 737 that turned in front of us, with ATC orchestrating best use of the taxiways.
Rotterdam to Lydd
John flew us all the way to Lydd (1h45 flight time), initially having to keep low (about 1000 feet) while exiting the Rotterdam area. Thereafter it was easy to gain permission to fly through Belgian controlled airspace, just offshore. We were almost the only aircraft on frequency at that time. After a brief time with French ATC, we were once again talking with London Information and then Lydd. Neither John nor Russ had been there before, so were careful to have read up on the various noise abatement and danger areas to avoid. We followed another aircraft in the circuit making it fairly easy to understand the positioning prior to a crosswind landing.
Shortened video of the flight below, especially of the departure and arrival segments.
Lydd airport cafe was quite busy with their Sunday lunch crowd, who seem quite independent of any aviation activity. We sat outside in the terrace watching the variety of activity, pleased to be back again in our home country.
Lydd to Stapleford
Russ flew us a short leg up to Stapleford in what was now becoming very poor visibility at times, requiring the use of his IR(R). He requested and got a full traffic service (from Southend Radar I think) despite being relatively low (approx 2,500 feet). Once clear of cloud north of the Thames, we could position for a VFR arrival at Stapleford. It’s quite a busy airfield with lots of training, and there were several aircraft in the circuit (which is quite a wide pattern). There are two parallel grass runways to choose from. The flying school there looks to be very active, with many club trips as well as training courses. The cafe is modern and fresh.
Stapleford to Gloucester
The last leg was mine, back to base. I would prefer to have climbed higher earlier, but the London TMA limits GA traffic to below 2,500 feet in what can be quite a congested environment. We passed north of Elstree and climbed once west of the zone. Visibility had improved and I resisted the temptation to fly an instrument approach, making it a straightforward hop of just over an hour.
We were treated to a Spitfire making a run and break down the runway after we refuelled.
Total flight time today: 3h40 (of which I flew 1h5)
Total 5 day tour flight time: 20h20 (of which I flew 6h45 in 6 flights)