Since joining the meetup group “Flyouts from London” in winter last year there have been a select amount of days where the weather has been favourable for a large number of general aviation aircraft to fly to one place. The first was Duxford on a cold clear winter day in February 2016 and the other was yesterday (02/04/2016) for a trip to the Isle of Wight. It was the first day of the year the temperature hit 15 degrees C and there were few clouds in the sky.
The fly out to the Isle of Wight was the first successful fly out of the year and also the largest – 6 general aviation aircraft from all the local airfields inside and close to the M25 belt: Elstree, Stapleford, Red Hill, Headcorn and Blackbushe. The majority landed at Bembridge (EGHJ) and one at Sandown (EGHN).
My route took me down to the coast via Brighton overhead Shoreham then paralleling the coast to Selsey to then cross over to Bembridge. All of which took me approximately an hour each way. The trip was an important landmark trip for me, as it marked the passing of 100-flying hours total.
The outbound trip was fantastically smooth, and surprisingly quiet on all frequencies. The challenge was the Bembridge final approach onto runway 12 left. Although, a very long runway (830m), it is down sloping and the final approach is tight with noise abatement on Brading village. With no published circuit height, my first circuit was done at 1200ft QFE and even side slipping on final on three stages of flap meant I had to go round. My second was done at 800ft QFE and even this ended up me landing a half way down the runway. My takeaway here was to extend the downwind to allow sufficient noise abatement spacing.
A cab across to Sandown, walk by the beach and Sandown pier with a fish and chips in hand for lunch; what more could you want for the first sunny day of 2016? We had a total of 15 people from 6 aircraft meeting up for lunch at a restaurant on the sea front where I wasn’t the only one who had a guilty admission of a go round into Bembridge airport.
The return trip was the hardest challenge for the day and some of the most challenging flying I have undertaken. Conditions had drastically deteriorated to thick haze and small showers with low level cloud to the east of my return route. Although, conditions were still visual I barely had 7000m visibility and cloud not much higher than 2200ft. I was highly grateful to have a traffic service from Farnborough radar and a GPS receiver for Sky Demon as I gave up my plogged route past Shoreham to opt for a short cut round Gatwick’s CTA to Tonbridge wells and Sevenoaks to then skirt round the London City’s CTA straight into Stapleford for a bad weather circuit. Ultimately, if I didn’t have the GPS, I would have diverted to Shoreham or Goodwood.
Overall, a brilliant day, great fly out and learning experience all round. A great way to tip me over the 100-hour mark.