Friday, 14 May 2010

Flying to the Monaco GP, part 1

For the last few years, myself and another pilot have made our way to Cannes (LFMD) with the ultimate aim of attending the Monaco Grand Prix.  The routes have been varied, and each year we take another passenger or two but to date have always been in four seat single engine piston aircraft.  This year, as last year, we would be making the journey in my Commander.  The passenger would be my father and the simplest way to achieve this, with the Commander being based at Liverpool, my dad near Gloucester and Mark in the London area, would be to make a couple of stops to collect people on the way.

This year we chose not to be there for the practice sessions on Thursday.  At most Grands Prix, these are on the Friday but Thursday practice is just one of the many ways that Monaco is a bit different to the rest.  We chose, therefore, to fly down on Friday and return on Monday.  After work on Thursday afternoon, I drove to the airport and made a simple VFR flight to Gloucester at around 2,000ft.  There is very little in the way of airspace between Liverpool and Gloucester so once out of the Liverpool zone at Chester the routing is a case of telling the GPS I want to go to EGBJ and following the magenta line.  On radio contact with Gloucester I offered to make an SRA approach as they are currently training new controllers but was told that the trainee wasn't around so I made a simple right base join for runway 22.  In order to save some time in the morning, I fuelled up at this point before parking for the night and being collected to spend the night with my parents.

En route to Gloucester

Returning the next morning with the intention of being off blocks at 0900, we ended up moving at about 0920.  After beginning the taxi to the threshold of runway 22, we were asked to wait for a locally based training twin.  This proceeded to take a rather long time for the student to complete checks at the holding point, then longer to receive an IFR clearance, even longer to put up IR screens and ended up delaying us by more than 10 minutes.  Would it really have been such a pain for them to taxi behind us?  Gloucester is normally a slick operation but this was a poor example of sequencing.

We set off in the direction of Fairoaks (EGTF) and again the navigation was little more than a straight magenta line between the two.  With the help of Brize Norton allowing us to cross their zone and a very short dogleg towards the end to avoid the south western point of the Heathrow CTR the flight was uneventful, culminating in a downwind join for Fairoaks' runway 24.  Mark was waiting for us at the aircraft's parking spot and within 10 minutes we were starting the engine again for the IFR next leg into France...

No comments:

Post a Comment