01/03/2017 – After the lack of flying during January and February, only 1 hour solo in total over both months, March started with my Dual Cross Country. This is a practice for the Qualifying Cross Country, a flight you have to take solo before you can take your skills test. The route was to fly from Gamston to Peterborough Conington to Humberside Airport, then finally the short stretch from Humberside back to Gamston. For this practice run I’d be going with Leigh as Luke was unavailable.
The first leg would be from Gamston to Belvoir Castle, then turn towards Bourne, then direct to Peterborough. After taking off from Gamston we were immediately into some fairly turbulent air, however after five minutes it smoothed out, and from then on we had a very confutable flight, with just a small amount of rain. Visibility was good, though Belvoir Castle is surrounded by trees and not easy to see, and I made all the turning points on time. After Bourne we received a MATZ penetration over RAF Wittering so could head straight to Conington.
As we got close to Peterborough I had great difficulty spotting the airfield. Leigh could see it and I knew it was there but it turns out I wasn’t looking quite far enough away. Spotting stuff from the air is much more difficult than you might think. After I adjusted my gaze about five degrees up it was obvious! I took a standard approach over the second runway and turned into the circuit. I was a bit close on the downwind leg so the base to final turn came up a bit quickly for my liking. However I managed to get LB down onto the runway, albeit a bit bumpily. We popped inside for a quick toilet break, and to pay my landing fees of course.
After taking off from Peterborough my route was Boston, then Caistor, before landing at Humberside Airport. This is a pretty long, and quite frankly boring leg, 69 miles in total, over a mostly flat, featureless landscape. We had to ask for a MATZ and ATZ penetration over RAF Coningsby which was duly given, though not before realising they’d recently changed the frequency and we had to talk to the Tower to give us the new Approach one.
Humberside is very easy to spot and has a huge runway, even bigger than Gamston. The landing was smooth and we parked up on the GA apron with some much bigger aircraft. One of the problems of a bigger airport is the long way to the terminal to pay the landing fees! It’s over 10 minutes each way, luckily it wasn’t raining. They do offer a reduced landing fee for students which was very reasonable.
Then from Humberside I’d head over Brigg then straight to Gamston. By this time I was starting to get tired and it was nice to, effectively, come home. As it was late afternoon and there was no traffic I asked if I could do a straight in approach. I’m pretty sure it was the first time I’d done that. Leigh says it always makes him feel like a airline pilot and I knew exactly what he meant.
After getting back in the office Leigh mentioned a couple of things I needed to just tighten up on, but was pretty happy with how I’d handled everything. I couldn’t wait to do my Solo Cross Country next. I hoped it wouldn’t be too long!
I did a video of the run from Peterborough to Humberside at 8x normal speed on YouTube at
If you want to know more, the podcast, as always, contains an expanded version of the above.