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.
I was down at the airfield today and I did hour building: Local flight from Blackbushe.
This is just a quick post so I have a record of the flight for the blog. I never planned to do a local flight, I was actually en route to Conington but I flew into an area of mist and I decided to turn back as the TAF for Luton further on my route showed a possibility of 4km vis in mist and I most certainly did not want to get caught in that. I could have probably pressed on but I guess it is better to be safe rather than sorry.
I mean this wasn’t ideal for me but I still managed to get another 0.9 hours in my log book so it wasn’t a wasted trip.
I was actually routing with a guy that I had been talking to on Instagram so it’s a shame that we had to turn around but I am sure we will get this flight completed in the coming weeks. I was quite excited to be flying that way due to the fact that this is my “old stomping ground” being the area that I learned in but had not actually landed at many of the airfields due to them being so close.
We managed to do some “air to air” on the way back to Blackbushe that you can see in the picture. The weather did clear up not to long after but I only had a four hour slot in the plane so there wasn’t enough time to then get back up and head to Conington.
Anyways, the hours are slowly creeping up and I now have 66.9 hours total. Still a long way from the CPL requirement but I still have a summer of flight in front of me.
I did see that Blackbushe are having an airshow on the 1st July so I think I will look into that and get tickets due to the fact I have never actually been to one.
On top of that I met the editor of Pilot magazine when I was in the cafe, he was with the assistant editor I met the other week. Both are absolutley lovely people by the way 🙂 You just never know who you might see in that Cafe!
After trying since the turn of the year I finally managed hour building: Blackbushe to Kemble (Cotswold) Airport.
So earlier this week it looked like we would have a perfect weekend weather wise, however after being disappointed 90% of the time i have tried to fly this year I was apprehensive.
However, when I woke up the skies were clear so I decided to take advantage. I had a three hour slot in the plane and decided to go to Kemble and back. It wouldn’t leave much time on the ground but you got to take these opportunities when you can.
After checking out the plane I knew time would be limited so I got airborne and set off. There was some haze en route but apart from that it really was a great day to fly.
I talked to Farnborough and Brize Radar en route. This was my first experience of talking to Farnborough and you have to be quick to get your message in! I think it took a good 5 minutes before I was able to get my message across. There was a lot of people inadvertently talking over each other and the controller defiantly had their work out.
At Kemble they asked for a standard overhead join which I had not done since my PPL but it went perfectly with no issues. I must say just the simple circuit direction on Skydemon made this process so much easier.
Kemble is a really cool airport with lots of old jets around ready for scrapping. Also the landing fee is only £8 which is pretty good especially when you consider it costs £30 to land at Shoreham!
With such a small time window there was just enough time to eat before getting back in the air for the return leg to Blackbushe.
It was uneventful and I spoke to London Centre before switching to Farnborough and back to Blackbushe.
All in all was a great day and I was grateful to get my first land away done since my cross-country qualifier almost a year ago! I look forward to exploring the UK some more this year while building my hours.
I was starting to think this weather was never going to change but thankfully this week I did Hour Building: More Circuits.
The weather so far in 2017 has been shocking every time I have tried to fly. I had 5 weeks of successive cancellations so I was very happy when I spotted a gap in the weather this morning. I called Blackbushe and was told that the clouds are at 2000ft, excellent I thought, lets get some circuits in!
By the time I got to the airfield they were at 1500ft, not excellent but still above circuit height, however I needed to get going. I did the check out, thankfully the plane was fueled as there was a queue of people waiting to fill up.
I went up and did 5 circuits, the first one wasn’t my best as I was getting rid of the “ring rust” but it all improved quickly after that one.
On the last circuit however the wind changed pretty big, it was a real battle on final and required a lot of maneuvering to get the plane back down on the ground. I saw the guy after me cancelled his flight due to wind and to be fair, I don’t blame him.
It looks like maybe spring is arriving and I can do some more interesting flights and visit some airfields in the near future.
Well that was a fun break, back to preparing for my next set of exams as my revision week is next month!
There’s not really much to say here as I really wanted to do a Nav. However, the weather was a bit marginal (and I may have put too much fuel in so my passenger couldn’t come, whoops!).
I went up and did 6 touch and go’s to work on my handling etc. I must admit after 2-3 circuits they get very repetitive, however I really love flying this plane and considering that it is older than I am (the plane is 40), it flies really well.
Anyways I came back down and checked out Blackbushe Cafe for the first time and the food is spot on, so I will be checking that out more often!
Hopefully as the weather picks up and gets better I will have something more exciting to write about!
The only issue with the C150 is the max all up weight isn’t that great and you have to take less fuel if you have a passenger, therefore limiting your range.
The real reason for doing circuits was I was at my revision week in Bristol all week and I didn’t have any time to plan a route. The other issue I was suffering from was that I never had the 3 take off’s and landing’s in the last 90 days I require to carry passengers, so I needed to get that done also.
I am still getting used to the procedures at Blackbushe and something that differs from Cranfield is that you have to book out with the tower before your flight. There are also radio differences between an information service and a full ATC service which is what you get at Cranfield.
I got this done then went out to the plane, did the check out and taxied to runway 25 and did 3 quick touch and go’s before coming back down.
Now that I had that done, my girlfriend could come up and join the fun. Well, I say fun, it’s fun for me but as she hadn’t been up in a while and is not the best flyer as it is, she was apprehensive.
We set of again and did another 3 touch and go’s before coming back down. We timed it perfectly as the next guy was ready to go, and benefit from the de icing job I had done for him 🙂
Top tip, the second flight of the day is better than the first especially during winter!
Next time I hope to do a navigation flight and get familiar with the local area as I haven’t really ventured out as of yet.
I also need to get a skydemon subscription as well for travelling further afield.