Today (June 14th) was a lovely sunny day, and it was also the day of Flyer Magazine’s 20th Anniversary Fly-In, which happened to be at Gloucester Airport and hosted by Aeros. So before my lesson, I arrived a little early to join in the celebrations. There were lots of people, lots of new planes on the apron, and – most importantly – a hog roast!
Whilst eating the rather lovely hog roast, I got chatting to a nice young chap called Will. He’s also learning to fly and has the same instructor as me. Despite having around 20 hours logged and being on the Navigation part of the PPL, he hadn’t yet flown solo. You need to be 16 before you can fly solo, so he was counting down the months until his next birthday. How frustrating must that be! He shown me some of the photos he’d taken whilst up in the plane, and they were really impressive. I said he should start a blog 🙂
After a second portion of hog roast, my instructor and I were talking through today’s lesson. We’d fly to Wolverhampton Halfpenny Green together, another new airport for me. The significance of flying here is that when I do my Qualifying Cross-Country flight, it’ll be from Gloucester to Cardiff to Wolverhampton to Gloucester, so it would be good to check out the place together first.
There were some NOTAMS covering Tewkesbury and the surrounding area, meaning the straight line route between Gloucester and Halfpenny Green would be no good. Instead, I planned to fly North West to Ledbury, turn there and head North East direct to Halfpenny Green. Estimated time in the air: 19 minutes.
Planning complete, time to check the aircraft. I hadn’t flown this aircraft before, and the interior decor looked a bit like stepping into a living room from the 1970s! I did the A-check and everything was fine, so very shortly after I had the engine running and requested taxi. The airfield was busy because of the Flyer fly-in, but after a short wait we were cleared to take-off and I was climbing out from runway 04.
I headed to Ledbury, turned, and then flew directly to Wolverhampton, changing frequency from Gloucester Approach to Hapney Green Information at Worcester. Runway 04 was active, with left hand circuits, and I joined by making a standard overhead join. The landing was relatively successful (although I was a little low towards the end) and we parked up and got out to have the obligatory coffee.
Here’s a clip of me downwind, turning base and then landing:
I don’t know if they were having a bad day or what, but the staff in the café seemed pretty miserable – the service was dreadful and so we didn’t feel like hanging around too long! We drank our drink, headed up to the tower to pay the landing fee and went back to the aircraft.
I’d planned our route back to be via Evesham, avoiding the NOTAM area previously mentioned and giving us some different scenery. The flight back was pretty uneventful, and by the time we were near Gloucester nearly all the fly-in traffic had left, so we were able to land without much waiting around.
I was back in Gloucester in time for the evening Flyer celebrations at the Jet Age Museum (located within the airfield). I hadn’t visited before, and am glad I did – it has some cool stuff in there and is definitely worth checking out next time you’re in Gloucester. You can even taxi and park there.
Ian Seager, the publisher of Flyer, gave a short speech (looking at the journey over the last 20 years) and there was plenty of bubbly and canapes. A great celebration. He looks nothing like the photo in the magazine!
Next lesson will be… my solo qualifying cross country flight!