Sorry I’ve been so long since I managed to post, there’s been a lot on and the blog has been put on the back burner for a while. I’ll do my best to catch up as quickly as possible.
02/11/16 – With some better weather I managed to get out for another navigation exercise with Luke. This time I was to head towards Wickenby airfield, then turn to Spurn Point and onwards to the Humber Bridge, then returning to Gamston (they tend to prefer it if I bring the aircraft back!) The total route was around 99 nautical miles so approximately one hour in total.
It was a nice sunny day and ideal for flying. Wickenby is a small GA (general aviation) airfield to the north east of Lincoln, the city where I live, so I’d be heading back towards where I’d just driven in from. Spurn Point is the part of the East Coast that juts out into the Humber Estuary at the point where it turns into the North Sea. Well it did seem like a good day to visit the seaside!
If you look at a map of Lincolnshire you’ll see it’s dotted with RAF stations, in fact just to the east of Lincoln there’s a line running north to south of them, Scampton, Waddington, Cranwell and Barkston Heath, which form a virtual barrier. Scampton is right on the route to Wickenby so we were going to have to fly over Scampton or make a major diversion around. If you’ve heard of the Red Arrows (and if you’re reading this you almost certainly have) you might know that they are based at Scampton. We’re very lucky in Lincoln that we frequently get to see them perform for free, as they practice in the skies over and around the city. It always gives me a thrill to see them and I was quite excited at the prospect of flying over their base, a place I’d driven past literally hundreds of times.
However RAF Scampton is closed to aircraft flying overhead normally, so I’d have to make a call while in the air and get permission to cross the base. If it wasn’t given then I’d have to find an alternate route. I knew the Red Arrows were on a visit to China so I was pretty confident that I’d be allowed to fly over. So just a few minutes after taking off from Gamston I was on the radio and asking for a MATZ and ATZ penetration over Scampton. A MATZ is a Military Aerodrome Traffic Zone, that is the airspace surrounding a military aerodrome. The ATZ is the central part of the MATZ. If you’re just flying over the edge of the area you can get a MATZ penetration (what the military call a transit) but as I was going right over the airfield itself I needed a ATZ transit as well. After asking I was asked to orbit and standby. I made a couple of lazy circles in the sky and then ATC were back with permission.
It was a real thrill to fly over the home of the Red Arrows. They are a superbly professional bunch, and everyone in Lincolnshire is very proud to have them based in the county. Soon after leaving the MATZ at the other side we were overhead Wickenby and made the gentle turn towards Spurn Point. When we arrived I expected to see the massive wind turbine farm just off the coast. However though the weather inland was very good, the sea had a huge fog bank covering it. It just goes to show how variable the weather can be.
I then headed back up the Humber towards the magnificent Humber Bridge. I’d been there before, and it’s pretty difficult to miss anyway as you can see it for miles! Once overhead we headed back for Gamston. As usual I had an afternoon flight, and it being November, by the time I was en route for Gamston the sun was starting to get low in the sky, and of course I was heading approximately SSW, so pretty much into the setting sun. This always makes visibility very poor, so I had to divert slightly so I wasn’t getting blinded. Despite this I found Gamston easily and we landed as the sun was getting very low indeed.
I was very pleased with my navigation again. I’d managed a 100 mile round trip with just my charts and my aircraft. No GPS or SkyDemon for me while training!
Here’s a link to the CloudAhoy debrief. https://www.cloudahoy.com/debrief/?key=VaVif9JoTgT2iUbLo
CloudAhoy is an app you can run on your phone to track your progress while flying. It’s fascinating to watch the flight back afterwards!
If you want to know more, the podcast, as always, contains an expanded version of the above.