It had been a few weeks since my last flight so I did hour building: Local flight from RAF Henlow to Northampton.
It was a very cold morning yesterday and I got to the airfield and pulled the C150 out the hanger, checked it out, gave it a few primes and tried to start it. Nothing. Another prime, and another attempt or two…. nothing.
Hmmm I didn’t want to flood the engine so I called one of the guys who has been in the group for ages. He came round and worked his manage and a good 6 primes later …. we had life!
Now the next issue is I had never fueled up at RAF Henlow (or anywhere for that matter) so I next had to be taught how to fuel the aircraft.
Now finally it was time to take off and the runway in use was 31. Hmmm, I’ve never used that runway so I then had to work out the procedure for this runway.
So I took of and climbed to 3000ft as the Luton CTA starts at 3500 right above us. Also as it was cold the performance was pretty good.
I then flew past MK making sure not to fly through the instrument approach for Cranfield and then up towards Northampton.
This area is quite strange as people can be on so many different frequencies. You have Henlow, Old Buckenham, Cranfield, Sywell, London Information and Farnborough North all in the same area.
The toll of starting the plane showed it’s head around Northampton and we got the LV light. This plane has a generator rather than an alternator and the plane was already at minimum load, transponder, radio and becon. For this reason I decided to head back to Henlow.
Luckily the flight back was uneventful and I flew back close to Cranfield just incase.
All in all a nice flight and another 1.3 hours in the log book and I am now just short of 85 hours. I wanted to be at 100 before 2018 but being realistic that is just not going to happen.
Today the country is covered in snow so there’s no flying happening today.
Yesterday I went up for a quick flight and did Hour Building: Local flight from RAF Henlow.
The weather conditions were perfect yesterday, still cold air, great visibility and high clouds!
I decided to take this opportunity to do a local flight. The route took me up out of Henlow below the Luton CTA, past Leighton Buzzard (which you can make out in the picture), up past Northampton, across to Alconbury and then back down into Henlow.
It was the same runway in use at Henlow but I am getting more familiar with the procedures etc.
The weather was so still that the plane was happy to just sit where you put it with very little intervention. This allowed me to take in the views a lot more than I normally would and on a day like yesterday they were absolutely breathtaking. It is days like this where you remember how privileged you actually are to be able to fly across this beautiful country of ours.
It has been a while since I have flown from Blackbushe but I have hours left on my account so I need to get down there and burn some hours soon.
In the end another 1.5 hours logged.
I had the plane booked for most of today so I decided to do some hour building: RAF Henlow to Fenland.
I was looking at the map and looking for somewhere new to go that wasn’t a huge distance away. The options came down to Wellesbourne and Fenland. The wind seemed to be a bit better towards the East so I choose Fenland which allowed me to increase my experience on grass fields.
I took off from Henlow and routed towards Cambridge, to the East of Connington and then into Fenland
One thing I have realised is that grass strips can sometimes be a lot more tricky to spot from the air, we was basically onto top of Fenland before we saw it.
The runway in use was 26 so we did a overhead join and descended on the deadside before doing a standard circuit. On final there was an aircraft still on the runway so I did a go around and finally landed and taxied to park.
Fenland is a cool little airfield with good food and just a £5 landing fee so very good value.
We stayed for about a hour, got some food, before departing back for Henlow.
The routing back was the same but in reverse before we joined long final for runway 26L at Henlow and then taxied back to park.
All in all a good day out and another 1.8 hours into the log book. The wind was a little sporty up there but nothing to be concerned about.
I will return to Fenland I think, it’s great value for money!
Not an awful lot to say today.
I needed to get familiar with the procedures and flying at RAF Henlow so I decided to go up and do some circuits today.
Flying on grass is still a bit foreign to me, on the taxi I still feel like I am in a rally car but it is all good fun.
In total I did about 5 circuits. Taxi time at Henlow is quite a lot as the hangers are pretty far away. Every time I have gone to Henlow there has been a different runway in use. Today we was using 26 left with a right hand circuit.
Take off is with 10 degrees of flap and circuit height was 1000ft.
It was very choppy today and got worse as it went on, in the end I decided to land as the wind was getting to a point where it was making the flying very challenging. I think SkyDemon was showing 30-35 knots in the end.
I am still getting use to the procedures and the way things work at Henlow but practice makes perfect and all that so I look forward to flying more.
I also met a guy who was learning at Cranfield the same time I was and he is buying the other share in the aircraft so it will be good to meet up and do some flying together.
I bought a plane! Well that is slightly misleading, I brought 1/15th of a plane so like the wheels or something.
I am now the proud 1/15th owner of a C150E that is based just down the road from me located at RAF Henlow.
I had been looking for a plane locally for a while, I seem to be in an area where there are not that many shares located (or that become available).
It is an old but well equipped plane with manual flaps but more importantly the radio has already been changed for a 8.33 one and the transponder is mode S.
On top of this it has a recent engine overhaul and there is only 700 hours on the engine in total.
The share cost me £1500 (£250 admin fee) and the monthly costs are £60 (membership of the club, insurance, hangarage etc).
The flying rate is £65 per tacho hour and £7 landing fee.
As you can see this will provide me with really cheap flying which is great as I still have a good 70 hours to build before I can start my CPL ME IR course next year (and I plan to keep up my SEP anyways after I am done).
This is really going to help me with my hour building as the current plane I am in is located anything from 2-3 hours from me. With so many hours to build, I need a plane that I can take a half day of from work when the weather is nice and build 2 hours or so without much hassle, which this allows.
I look forward improving my flying and getting more experienced while flying this plane.
So yesterday I had a checkout on a C150 at RAF Henlow.
As you know, I have recently been flying down at Blackbushe which is about a 1.5 hour journey each way with traffic. Driving 3 hours round trip for a plane is a major bummer, so I have been looking for something closer that didn’t cost an arm and a leg.
Not to long ago I saw a share in a C150 based just 15 miles away come up, so naturally I jumped at the chance. Ironically, after months and months of waiting two actually came along, but this one came along first.
Today I had a check out flight with the group instructor and all being well I should hopefully be able to buy a share in the aircraft.
The plane is a C150 but an older one so it has some uniqueness. For instance the flaps are manual on a handbreak type of lever, kind of like in the PA28. The speed is in MPH so that will take some getting used to as well.
All in all its a nice basic aircraft that is cheap enough to fly, which is about all you need when building flight time.
The checkout was simple, we went out into the local area and checked out some of the VRP’s. We did a stall and steep turns and came back for two circuits.
This was the first time I have landed on grass so that was nice.
Henlow has 4 runways and I am used to just one, so that is going to also take some adjustment and getting used to.
The prospect of having a 20-25 minute journey to the airfield as opposed to a 1.5 hour one is really a huge selling point.
Time will tell how it goes but after 6 weeks of no flying, it was great to be back in the air.
Yesterday the forecast looked good so I attempted to do my CPL qualifier but it ended up being Hour Building: Blackbushe to Gamston with Radio Failure.
The route was going to be Blackbushe -> Gamston -> Shobdon -> Blackbushe.
I got to Blackbushe nice and early did all my checks and booked out and set of for Gamston. This was to be the longest flight I had ever done my far and this leg was to be the longest leg.
As the flight was progressing I thought what a nice day it is, winds were calm and sky was clear (until about Leicester).
As I routed up and under the london TMA, to the west of Cranfield, the west of Sywell and to the east of Leicester all was fine.
I was then heading towards Gamston with a service from East Midlands Lars who notified me that my readability was 3 and they were having trouble hearing me. I tried all the usual things, take the plugs out and back in, change the side they are in, use the other transmit button and restart the radio to no avail. Then the worst happened, the radio completely died, nobody could hear me at all. I tried for about 5 mins to raise someone before I realised that it wasn’t coming back so I squawked 7600 (radio failure).
As I wasn’t that far from Gamston I decided to continue routing there. As I was squawking 7600 it turns out that Doncaster had already alerted Gamston that I might be diverting and were also worried that I might possibly infringe their airspace as obviously nobody could raise me. (I was aware of the airspace).
We actually managed to raise Gamston on the telephone also.
I arrived and did all my blind calls as I would normally but I’m sure nobody could hear me and landed and taxied to park.
It’s stange how alone you feel when you are not able to talk to ATC or other aircraft, it’s a bit of a weird feeling tbh.
Gamston were amazing, very helpful and refused to charge me a landing fee. They even tried to contact a radio engineer for me but unfortunately he was away. If anyone is planning a flight in that area please go and visit the good folk at Gamston!
Anyways after a while we fueled the plane again and tested the radio, it worked first time. Weird!
I then decided to head back up with the agreement from the guys at Gamston that if it failed within about 30 mins I would return.
We made it up and all seemed to be going well for 15 mins but then bam, it went again nobody could hear me so it was back to Gamston again.
I got on the ground thinking, I am a long way from home, even further from my car, this could be a very expensive day.
I started talking to another pilot about my predicament and he put me in touch with a guy who lent me an air ground radio. The guy who lent me it is Tony at Skytrain. I offered to leave a deposit etc but he wouldn’t hear of it. What a guy! To trust a stranger with £200-£300 worth of equipment is just an amazing thing these days and I couldn’t be more thankful. This will be going back to him first thing on Tuesday special delivery with a thank you!
Now that I had the radio I tested it and set of again for a third time. By this point it was too late in the day to finish the CPL qualifier so it was straight back to the bush.
I took off and the radio was working again, so I stuck with that, I made it all the way to the airspace of Farnborough North when yes you guessed it, it failed again. At first it was a complete failure so I tried the hand held radio on which Farnborough couldn’t hear me, I guess I was out of range for that.
Then a few mins later it came back to readability 3 which was just enough to get me back. Farnborough were understanding and got the join instructions from Blackbushe and made them aware of what was going on just incase the radio went again.
So all in all a very eventful day and definitely a lot of learning for me.
Even though I never got my CPL qualifier done, I did manage 4.4 hours of flight time, which is the most I have ever done with two very long legs!
I guess the CPL qualifier will have to wait for another day.
As it had been a month since I had flown and due to a pressing need to build hours before next year, I did Hour Building: Two local flights this weekend.
Just a quick update from me. On Saturday I did a local flight just in the local area from Blackbushe with my GF. I had actually just planned to do circuits as the weather wasn’t geat but out of nowhere it cleared up so I decided to head out into the local area. I took the other club C150 for the first time. The one difference with this plane is MPH is the speed on the outer marker with knots on the inner so was just something to make sure I’m paying attention to. I departed Blackbushe and flew up to the north, across to the west in the area towards Swindon, back east towards Popham and then back north and into Blackbushe.
On Sunday I had a new passenger my GF’s friend, who was in a small plane for the first time. I literally just flew around the local area trying to learn the local landmarks etc as I haven’t spent much time in this area as I learned up in Cranfield. Also I didn’t want to stray too far as I didn’t know how she would like flying so I didn’t want to be too far from the airfield incase she wanted to land.
The clouds were also a lot lower so I didn’t stray too far but all in all it was a pleasant flight. My passenger seemed ok with it but almost threw up when I started the landing procedure back at Blackbushe. I hope this was no reflection of my flying skills!
I got another 2.4 much needed hours into the log book this weekend which takes me up to 72.5 total. The 150 I need to have by the time I start my CPL ME IR next year seems a long way away. I will really need to up the frequency I fly, but as I work mid-week and nowhere near the airfield I am restricted to weekends pretty much.
There are still quite a few airfields I still want to visit so hopefully I can visit them over the summer. I also have a week off booked at the end of July to hopefully get my hours up!
It had been almost a month since I had flown due to the weather being a bit rubbish, so just to stay on top of my game on Saturday I did Hour Building: Local flight.
Now this pictures shows a reasonably nice day with some clouds however it is quite misleading. The winds were pretty strong, progress was very slow due to a slow ground speed which was due to flight into a headwind and it was generally “challenging”.
I realised I have not really been into the local area so I decide it would be good to have a flight and get to know my relatively new surroundings. I took of from Blackbushe and departed the circuit before going to Farnborough with a traffic service. Farnborough are really good with a traffic service infact there is only one time I have been denied on due to controller workload which is fair enough.
There was a lot of rudder work as well handling to keep the aircraft in level flight, however on the whole it wasn’t that bad and we proceeded north (very slowly due to the headwind).
After about 30 minutes (and very little progress) I then decided to head back towards Blackbushe as the route I had planned would have taken forever. The winds aloft were definitely stronger than the forecasted winds.
I joined from the dead side and positioned downwind again with very strong winds before turning base, on to final and doing a pretty smooth landing.
I think it’s good to get up in these conditions to make sure your skills are still good as flying in perfect weather every time is nice but unfortunately it isn’t always like that.
Anyways, another hour in the book taking me into the 70’s, I still have 80 to build before next summer! Looking at the weather this week I don’t think there will be any flying this weekend. On top of this I have exams all this week so I need to focus on that for now.
Continuing with my effort to get my hours and experience up on Sunday I did some hour building: With an unexpected return to Cranfield.
Now my day never started with any intention of going to Cranfield, in fact I was routing to Conington as I tried to the last time I flew.
I did my pre flight at Blackbushe which was using runway 07, which I had never used before so that was pretty cool. I took off and started heading towards the north under the London TMA of 2500 with a traffic service from Farnborough until I popped out the other side and changed to Cranfield.
I then routed up the west of Milton Keynes before heading to the south of Sywell when the cloud base dropped and the visibility seemed to get worse. I decided there was no way it was possible for me to fly through that and I knew I didn’t have enough fuel to make it back to Blackbushe so I would have to land. I had two options, Sywell or Cranfield.
As I would only be stopping for fuel then heading back I decided to choose my old stomping ground of Cranfield. I reported at Olney and joined downwind runway 03 before landing.
Now as great of an airfield that Cranfield is, there isn’t much to do there so it made the perfect choice for a refueling stop. One thing that did surprise me is the landing fee is only £7.50. I had never paid it before due to being in based aircrafts but I think that is very reasonable, actually it is the lowest of any airfield that I have ever visited.
The fuel truck promptly arrived and thankfully accepted my fuel card which was nice (it is so useful having fuel cards).
As I didn’t want to risk the weather setting in on the return I promptly departed and headed back to Blackbushe. The weather on the way back was actually perfectly fine so there was no issues there. I joined downwind at Blackbushe and choose to extend downwind for separation as a C150 popped out just under me and rather than do a go around it was easier to extend my leg.
All in all a busy day of flying and I ended up with another 2.2 hours in the log book, I’m up to 69.1 in total now so still a lot of flying to get done.
I am really enjoying spreading my wings and exploring the UK. I think I am going to give up on Conington for now and pick another airfield to try to visit and come back to Conington in the summer.
I am not flying for the next few weeks as I am away a lot with work, so I will focus on the ATPL exams that are coming up.