Yesterday I ticked of a big part of my training as I completed the CPL cross country qualifier.
The CPL cross country qualifier requires you fly at least 300nm with full stop landings at two aerodromes.
As this would be a full day of flying I had to set of nice and early so I decided I needed to be airborne by no later than 9.30am.
I had decided my route would be Blackbushe -> Shobdon -> Gamston -> Blackbushe. This is 305 NM as the crow flies but in reality it was quite a bit more with the dog legs etc.
Blackbushe -> Shobdon
Ice Ice Baby. As it was an early start the plane was iced over, luckily there was some de-icing fluid available so after 30 mins or so I was ready to go.
The winds were easterly today so after fuelling up I took of from runway 07 before climbing into the overhead and departing to the north-west. I switched to Farnborough who then suggested I switched to Oxford (really I should have went straight to Brize) and not long after I switched to Brize.
The weather wasn’t amazing with some haze but it was good enough.
As I approached Brize I asked for a zone transit. I had never done this before but turns out it’s really straight forward. They cleared me across at 2000 ft and I continued to flow north past Gloucester and towards the west.
I tried to tell Brize that I was going to Shobdon but I think it went past 12 and they had given up for the day.
Anyways I then routed in towards Shobdon before joining downwind on runway 08.
Shobdon is a great airfield with very welcoming staff and people. The area it is set in is also beautiful and I would have no hesitation in recommending that people visit.
Time taken 1.6 hours.
Shobdon to Gamston
After fueling up and grabbing a little food we then departed for Gamston. It seems that we choose rush hour as from start up to take of was 17 mins.
There is a lot of high ground around Shobdon so I departed and just tried to get as much height as I could as fast as possible.
I then departed towards the north-east before switching to East Midlands Lars. It was a little rocky on this leg but nothing to bad, by now the little cloud had gone but it was still a bit hazy.
East Midlands only seem to offer a basic service if you are not entering controlled airspace so as I was planning to stay under their CTA that is all I got.
I made sure to keep a good look out even more so than usual due to the haze.
Gamston is under the Doncaster CTA so you have to make sure you are under 2000ft when approaching.
I ended up doing a straight in approach and joined on long finals on runway 03.
The guys at Gamston are always friendly and they helped me on my last attempt at the cross country qualifier when the radio failed. Thankfully the plane now had a new Trig unit so I didn’t have these problems.
Time taken 1.8 hours.
Gamston to Blackbushe
Time was getting on I got away from Gamston at 3pm. Sunset at Blackbushe was 17:36 and while I have a night rating I was trying to get back before the sun went down.
The good thing about this leg is that it is basically a straight line south back to Blackbushe. I flew down past Leicester, Northampton, Milton Keynes before heading under the London TMA.
I spoke to East Midlands Lars and Sywell before switching to Farnborough and getting a traffic service because it was pretty hazy still down south.
I did a standard overhead join but there was someone in a Bonanza who to be honest I had NO idea what sort of join they was doing. They seemed to cross the runway they wanted to land on, basically flew right at me, before doing a 180 and then joining the downwind. Then rather than exiting the runway they decided to taxi to the end meaning I (and the guy behind me) had to go around and do it all again. Not what you want after a 2 hour leg but these things happen.
Finally I came back into land and that was the CPL cross country qualifier all done!
Leg time was 2 hours.
That was a long day of flying, I don’t think 5.4 hours in a C150 does any good for your back but I am glad it is all done 🙂
The winds were showing anywhere from 20-30kts but it didn’t feel that bad at all.
I also managed to get 1.3 hours done the day before yesterday so 6.7 hours done in 2 days is not bad at all.
I did think about flying again today but I should really do some ATPL study! The weather next week is looking pretty shocking so that’s not looking promising.
On another note my time flying at Blackbushe is most likely done. It is a nice airfield but just too far away and I now have a share in a C150 at Henlow which is just down the road from me.
The weather this weekend has been pretty good so I managed to go flying both Friday and yesterday and managed to do some Hour Building: Local flights from Blackbushe.
There is not much to say about these at all. My main goal was to build time and just brush up on my general handling. I was down at Blackbushe using up some of the hours I had left there and managed to fly 2.7 hours over the two days which aint bad at all.
Oh yeah, the plane not only has a new radio but it now also has two USB ports for charging things. Seems it’s getting all it’s upgrades as I’m winding down my flying there!
The issue when I go to Blackbushe is that I spend more time driving down there and back (2-3 hours depending on traffic) than I do in the air.
I am not sure what to do with the remaining 3.3 hours down there I may use them to attempt a CPL qualifier to Shobdon and then Gamston. However I have now been informed that the Shareoplane at Henlow is back so obviously it is easier to get to.
I need to fly a lot more regularly as even after this weekend I still have 61 hours left to build which may not sound that much but can be difficult when you are mainly flying at weekends. I think I am going to have to book some half days at work and go fly at Henlow which aint too far away and I should be able to do at least 1.5-2 hours on those days which should help reduce the hours quite quickly.
It also felt good to get up just on my own and enjoy some true solo flight. It looks like the weather is a bit crap early next week but might improve towards the weekend, lets see.
Jeez feels like forever since I have flown, so I was happy yesterday to do Hour Building: local flight from Blackbushe.
I haven’t flown since the start of December which was starting to feel like ages now.
Blackbushe is a nice airport but quite frankly a pain in the butt to get to from Luton. Most of the time I spend more time in traffic than I do in the air once I get there.
I still had 7.6 (now 6) prepaid hours in the Cesnna down there that I need to burn off so I took a half day today and just flew around the local area before coming back and doing 3 circuits for currency.
I got there to find the plane finally has a new radio which is the same Trig TY96 as in the other C150 I fly which is a great little unit and very easy to use. Blackbushe are going to 8.33khz at the end of the month so this really is just in time.
The day was surprisingly beautiful, the winds were calm and the vis was pretty good. There’s not much to say about the actual flight as I didn’t go anywhere special.
The shareoplane that I have locally is still on it’s annual so if the weather holds up I am going to try and burn of some more (or all) of the hours I have left this month. As things stand Monday looks alright but as we all know these things forecasts change often.
While I still have hours here I need to get back over to Kemble which is one of my favourite airports.
1.6 hours done, 63.8 to go!
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.