The last likely trip for 2016 was an impromptu one to La Touquet in France on the 04 December. Normally conditions from November to February are pretty poor for VFR pilots. However, a long lasting high pressure system brought on beautiful blue skies in the last and first week of November and December albeit it very cold. Sunday proved to be no exception and was probably one of the best weather days of any that I flew in 2016.
We flew south east from Stapleford to Dover and crossed the channel to Cap Griz Nez at 5000ft before starting a cruise descent at Boulogne to La Touquet. The navigation was a joy as the atmosphere was exceptionally stable and therefore, you could fly hands off once in trim because it was so smooth. Given such a beautiful day it was busy, there was lots of GA traffic the entire way and we could hear London Info talking to GA as far as Carlisle.
La Touquet has a GA commuter reputation and unsurprisingly it was very busy, it took 10mins of travel time before we could get a word in edgeways – Take that Stanstead or Luton control! What was interesting is that we were joining from the north and therefore we were told to join “Early Downwind” by the French controller, not exactly a call I had ever heard before. I was tempted to ask how early but I thought lets not rile the French and make an already tired controller start swearing or as they commonly do, walk off and call a strike!
Within 5nm Tower decided to ask us to follow traffic in the circuit instead of “Early downwind” and “positioned us” (which I say in the loosest terms) behind a cirrus on downwind. This involved a 30-degree descending turn whilst ensuring there wasn’t a number 3 or someone behind us. So, a rather interesting circuit join. However, we had the privilege of a lovely sea facing runway and therefore came in on some lovely scenery of the French coast. You can see the landing in the video below.
A 25minute walk into town, a stroll by the beach, a crepe and a bimble around Le Touquet town was picturesque albeit very quiet. Accompanied by much the same conditions on the return with the bonus of a setting sun made for a very memorable end of flying calendar 2016.
This final trip saw me reach 120hours, with 2016 giving me more memories of tipping my 100 hours on a trip to the Isle of Wight; a conversion onto a Piper Arrow; the start of my IMC and night rating and some success with airline cadetships. Twenty-six memorable hours of flying later I have the desire to do much more, here is to an even more memorable 2017.