Sunday, 13 December 2009

Sunday trip to Shoreham

The aircraft has just come out of it's annual, so it was time to blow away a few cobwebs and take her flying!  We headed over to the airport with mostly clear blue skies - one of those clear winter days with almost unlimited visibility and lovely cold, dense air to keep the engine happy.

After a very thorough A check we lined up on Liverpool's runway 09 with the sunny South coast in mind.  A right turn out to leave the zone at Oulton Park and an easy climb to 1,500ft didn't take too long, revelling in the smooth air to clean the aircraft up and accelerate to her 140kt cruise.

We routed down the gap between the East Midlands and Birmingham zones, staying at anything between 2,000 and 4,000ft, clear of airspace and playing around - we were VFR, after all!  My passenger was enjoying being able to fly the aircraft rather than sitting in the back of an A to B tube.  All the while we were squawking 0010 and I was listening in to Birmingham in case they needed to contact us for any reason.  Nothing heard, we eventually changed onto Brize Norton, and then Farnborough.  Somewhere abound Brize, the clouds started to build - not the sunny weather that the TAFs has been giving!  The clouds continued to build and lower and since I haven't actually been issued with my IR yet (despite passing the test a couple of weeks ago), down I went to stay beneath them, eventually settling on 1,800ft until we began our descent towards a cloudy, showery Shoreham.  So much for the sunny south coast!

We routed along the south coast after going over Selsey Bill.  No showers to go through, but plenty around including just beyond Shoreham.  It was a simple left base join for EGKA's runway 02 and an easy, smooth landing.  The Commander's landing gear really will make any landing go well, though this one was well executed!

We had a pleasant lunch in Shoreham's wonderful art deco terminal building and then took a drizzly wander to the Transair shop at the end of the road.  Sadly, they didn't have what I wanted but the young out of work A320 FO shop assistant was friendly and we ended up chatting aviation for a little while.  I said as much at the time but I do wish him and all in simlar positions the best of luck in finding jobs in the industry they've ploughed so much money into, only for the light at the end of the tunnel to go dim.

Time had come to depart so we made our way back to the terminal, straight through and out to the Commander.  After a short taxi to the fuel pumps for some fresh juice we made our way to the 02 threshold.  Airborne without using much runway, we departed to the north west and changed back to Farnborough.  Happily cruising at 2,000ft to remain below clouds, they requested we remain at that level to allow jet traffic to pass overhead.  No problem at all, and we were soon clear for a climb up to 4,000ft.  Again, the clouds associated with a front across the country began to gather.

The air was clearer in the other direction - we were still VMC and in sight of the surface, but it was time for a descent in order to remain so.  2,000ft was low enough to stay visual and the night was drawing in.  I hold a night qualification but have never used it P1.  Time for an aviation first for me - P1 night time flight.  In reality, it was a non event, flying wise.  The view of the sunset, however, was wonderful.  My first from the front seat in-flight, and sure not to be the last.

Liverpool were still on 09 so we entered the zone at Chester and were held south of the Mersey to allow 3 commercials in before us - no problem, all it took was 3 orbits to give them time.  With the full benefit of the approach and runway lighting, a night-time landing isn't an issue and Liverpool is H24 with no surcharge for late returns by based aircraft.  Wonderful!

Friday, 27 November 2009

Appalling weather

No flying recently, the weather here in the UK (at least around Manchester and Liverpool) has been atrocious.  High winds, lots of rain etc.

The forecast is for it to abate somewhat and I have my test booked for Tuesday.  Fingers crossed!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

IR test scrubbed

Some topic for a first post, huh?

I've been training for an Instrument Rating for the past year or so, and was due to take the test today at Leeds.  The TAF yesterday evening was giving the wind as 22015G25KT, and that's at the surface.  Today's F214 gives the 5,000ft winds at 40kts.  It would have made holding to test standards interesting!

Looking at the forecast yesterday I decided to scrub the test.  As a friend pointed out, it's not like I'm in a hurry and need to complete this before I can continue my career.  I don't have another date set yet, hopefully it'll be next week, as the rest of this week looks like it's going to be grotty weather.