Saturday, 13 February 2010

Back to Shoreham, IFR

First up, an apology.  I forgot my camera so you'll have to make do with the limited capabilites of my iPhone.  Sorry!

Today was a day to go flying.  It was nice down low and this flight would have easily been possible VFR, but holding a new IR I need some experience.  Shoreham was a run I'd done a couple of times during my training so thought I'd give it a go myself.  There was the added bonus of an offer of lunch being bought for me at the other end, and if you don't think too hard, that seems like a good deal.

The flight plan was put in at home using the fantastic (and free!) EuroFPL.  The route was filed as NANTI L10 HON N615 MID which is basically a straight line to Shoreham.  I'm told that one is not very often allowed to fly the filed route in UK/European airspace and this is exactly what happened.  We were given a non-standard departure from runway 09, turning right to heading 180 and onto Scottish Control from there.  Yes, as of a couple of weeks ago, aircraft heading south from Liverpool talk to Scottish Control.

After being held for about 15 minutes for a string of Ryanair, Easyjet and Flybe departures and arrivals, we were sent on our way.  The route we actually flew consisted of a lot of headings and a continuous climb up to FL90 for the cruise, being cleared in stages but each time well before we'd reached the previously assigned level.  The air up there was wonderfully smooth, enough that my passenger for the day dozed off in the cosy cockpit!

Dozing at FL90

With the autopilot on heading mode, there wasn't too much to do besides monitor the flight and aircraft and make sure all was going to plan.  We were at one point given "direct HON" to take us to the Honiley VOR, which had me thinking we might end up back on our filed route.  This was just prior to a handover to a new sector and as soon as that was complete we were put back on a heading.

Bonus points for anyone able to work out the TAS from the above image

Once we were handed over to London Control, things got busy.  I was about to request a descent when we were given one - excellent!  This continued until we were handed over to Farnborough Radar, with the descent continuing in stages until we were below the cloud and with 10nm to run I requested a change to Southend Approach, which was approved with the change of squawk to 7000.  As we were now below cloud and in VMC, I though there little point in doing the full NDB/DME procedure and requested a visual approach.  This is an IFR thing and basically means that you'd like to do a normal VFR join and circuit but to still remain on your IFR flight plan.  We therefore joined along the coast for left base for runway 02, reporting at Worthing pier.  With a friendly "Welcome to Shoreham" after 1:15 of flying and taxi instructions from the tower after landing, it was time for lunch.

With that ordered in Shoreham's lovely art deco terminal building, I got on with filing the flight plan for the return trip.  I had prepared this earlier in the EuroFPL interface, but had left the filing so that I could choose a suitable time.  At something like 1:30, I chose to file the return plan for 3:00.  As is usual (and guaranteed!) with EuroFPL, I received the ACK message within a minute.  Lunch and chatting were pleasant and 3:00 was getting awfully close.  I used another free and quick part of EuroFPL and submitted a 30 minute DLA (delay) message.  Again this worked perfectly and when I called Shoreham tower for start, they knew what was going on.

The filed route for the return was MID N615 WOD A47 LIC Y53 NANTI, not too dissimilar from the flight down.  This was accepted but our clearance was to make a left turnout from runway 02 and head for GWC before calling London Control for entry into CAS.  This was given by climb on track to GWC, and once entered, we were given right turns to head us in the direction we wanted to go.  At one point, we were given "direct CPT, direct HON" which again seemed a lot like getting us on our planned router, but again was changed before it amounted to much.

Broken cloud over Oxford

Somewhere around Stoke on Trent, I requested a descent, with the little experience I have showing me that Control would have been happy to hand me over to Liverpool at FL90 needing to get down to 2000' or so to intercept the ILS.  I was given a descent to FL60 and handed over.  I hadn't requested this quite soon enough, so was vectored around a big S in the sky to get down to the levels required to got on the ILS for Liverpool's 09.  Despite being in VMC below about 3000', I did the full ILS whilst trying to stop myself from looking up.  It was better than last time though the winds were rather less challenging today!  A simple hour and a half of flying, proving that IFR is a wonderful way to go.

I have a small GPS logger which I take on all my flights so they can be reviewed in Google Earth later on.  This was very useful during my IR training but I continue to use it.  Perhaps I will post the results here.