Hour Building: Two Local Flights

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!

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Hour Building: Local Flight

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.
Local flight from Blackbushe
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.

Hour Building: With An unexpected return to Cranfield

Continuing with my effort to get my hours and experience up on Sunday I did some hour building: With an unexpected return to Cranfield.
Cranfield C150

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.

Hour Building: Local flight from Blackbushe

I was down at the airfield today and I did hour building: Local flight from Blackbushe.
Air to Air C150
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!


Hour Building: Blackbushe to Kemble (Cotswold) Airport

After trying since the turn of the year I finally managed hour building: Blackbushe to Kemble (Cotswold) Airport.

en route to kemble

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!

old aircraft at kemble

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.

Another 1.9 hours in the log book 🙂

Here is a short video from the flight.

Hour building: More circuits 

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!


Hour Building: Blackbushe Circuits

After passing my first atpl exams this week I really wanted to go flying so I ended up doing Hour Building: Blackbushe Circuits.
c150 parked

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.

Hour Building: Circuits at Blackbushe

Following on from my checkout last week I decided to do Hour Building: Circuits at Blackbushe.

C150 at Blackbushe

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.

Checkout with Blackbushe Flying Group

Due to the issues at Cranfield and the cost of hiring there I have been looking around for a new place to fly. With this in mind, yesterday I had a checkout with Blackbushe Flying Group.

Cessna 150

I got to the club and met both my instructor and the owner Dan who are both very nice people.
We went out to check out the Cessna 150, which is a very well presented aircraft and coming from a Cessna 152 it was immediately familiar.
This is a French manufactured 150 and unlike the French 172 I flew it has its speed in knots and it has the notched flaps rather than the electric switch.
We took of and went into the local area. There is Farnborough and RAF Odiham who both have airpsace nearby so you have to be careful on your departure. I can see a skydemon subscription being purchased in the near future.
We flew around the local area where the instructor pointed out a few local land marks.
We then did some stalls in clean and landing configuration. There wasn’t really much to report here, both went well.
Next up we did some steep turns, one to the left and one to the right, all good here.
Then things got interesting. The instructor had asked me if I had even been in a spin, to which I replied no as it had been dropped from the PPL syllabus. He then asked me if I would like to, to which I thought, sure why not.
I was a bit apprehensive, but hey in for a penny in for a pound. It is a very weird feeling seeing the ground going round and round with the aircraft heading to the ground and the G forces acting on you. But it was also quite good to see how the instructor stopped the spin. Power to idle, opposite rudder and control column all the way back and before I knew it we were climbing back up as if nothing had happened.
We then headed back to Blackbushe to do some circuits. First up was the standard circuit with just 20 degrees of flaps, then we went and did a flapless approach before we landed.
Back in the club and that was it, no issues and I can hire and fly at will.
Although I am doing my night rating at Cranfield, I hope this will be my new base for pleasure flying / hour building.

Checkout flight at Elstree with MAK Aviation

With the closures at Cranfield over the next few months I needed somewhere to fly in the meantime at weekends, so I decided to have a checkout flight at Elstree with MAK Aviation.
Elstree is a really strange airfield which is surrounded by airspace. Luton to the north, Stansted to the east, London city to the south-east and Heathrow to the South. As you can see, it is really easy to have an infringement in this area. Cranfield is a much better airfield for local flights in my opinion as the nearest airspace is Luton to the south but if you head north then you are clear until Coventry.
On top of this the circuit at Elstree isn’t a proper circuit but more of an oval which is kinda strange and takes some getting use to.
The airfield is drastically busier than Cranfield also with around 100 general aviation aircraft being based there compared to maybe 15 at Cranfield.
The plane we was flying is a French built Cessna 172. This plane is strange for a few reasons, firstly the speed is in Mph with Kts on the inner scale. I never knew any planes had Mph as their main indicator so I found this quite weird. On top of this it also has 40 degrees of flaps, I remember reading about a couple of accidents that was put down to 40 degrees of flaps being selected. On top of this the flaps are electric so you count like 1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, 3 Mississippi to get flaps 3.
For these two reasons extra care must be taken when flying this aircraft.
Anyway, we did a flight and did some basic climbing & descending, handling, practice forced landings, heading & altitude holding. We then came back into the circuit and on the first approach I had to go around due to someone still being on the runway. I then did one touch and go followed by a full stop landing. There wasn’t much to say about it, but it was good to get back in the air after a month.
Over the winter I am looking to complete my night rating. Elstree can’t do night ratings at weekends and Cranfield isn’t open at weekends so I am still undecided where I will actually complete this as it seems I will have to head to the airfield after work which is an inconvenience either way.
I must admit out of the two airfields I think Cranfield is better if you just want to do some local flights for currency.