Young Aviators Day at Bodmin

Glancing out the window this morning told me that we’d be good to go today! Brilliant! I had no idea, by the way, that today was "Young Aviators Day at Bodmin", in fact, it came as a bit os a suprise to see lots of bored/excited kids milling around the place. When I got to the control tower, the situation hadn’t improved either, with yet another group of expectant kids loitering therein. I swiftly booked out Fox Zulu, and escaped! Erin, the baby of my brood, was hot on my heals, and I let her sit in the plane briefly while I did a few checks. Everything looked ship shape, so with that, chocks away. With 35 liters in one tank and 20 liters in the other, we could avoid the kids for a goodly while. A good squirt of fuel, and Fox Zulu chugged her way back to life. We threaded our way throught he waiting aircraft, and made for the top of the field. A quick engine check, and we headed for 31. Phill was just about to land the clubs Robin so we got a great view of the Robin from the hold. Before we’d lined up, they we clear of the runweay, and we could go! The flat four had as bobbng down the grass strip and within a but a moment we were at the right speed to lift her off the deck. As we sped into the rather grey sky, I glanced down at 2 and a half miles of tailback on the A30, in each dirrection, and was instantly happy to be flying!
 

Within a very short space of time, we’d chatted to Newquay radar and got our selves a ‘Basic’ service. We got to Rock, and I let my boy have a go on the controls. We did some gently 30 degree turns in the only patch of blue sky for miles! After a couple of them, I figured we could do some VFR course following, and got him to follow the Camel back to bodmin. We crossed the A30 again, the broken backbone of Cornwall, and headed towards St. Austell bay. The whole flight had been limited to 1500 feet due to the cloud sitting not much higher, with the odd tendril sticking down a bit. . We got a bit of place spotting in, before heading back towards the airfield, via the Colliford lake side. All those scouts on the ground awaiting there turn, was causing me some worry, as I didn’t know how many would be in the circuit when I arrived back, hence coming in on the dead side! Desending to circuit hieght, I shed a few hundred feet, joined crosswind and went from there. I was a little lower in the circuit than I am normally, so cut in on final a bit. The landing wasn’t one of my best, as I came in slightly sideways. Didn’t quiet get the rudder in before landing!

 

Well, till the next time, take care!   

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Weekend of local flights

Its been a pretty duff summer, as far as flyable weather has been concerned. But this weekend, I managed to get a few flights in, one with my boy Tom on sunday, and a couple on saturday with Chris & his daughter. Saturday had the usall low clouds scudding across cornwall with light rain showers here and there. I arrived at around 1 o’clock with Chris and his daughter, Frankie, in tow, and to be honest, it didn’t look like flying weather. But, having some faith in the met office, I had a pretty good feeling that it would pass and we would be able to get a quick flight or two in. By two o’clock, the weather had moved away from the airfeild, so Frankie and myself made a hasty takeoff for the north coast. The air was pretty still today, considering all the low cloud and drizzle, so it was a pleasant enough trip up to Boscastle before we did a 180 and turned back down the coast. Now it was my passengers turn to gaze down at the sea lapping up against the cliffs. Frankie seemed to enjoy her turn at the controls as we slipped under the blanket of clouds, dodging round the odd bit of white that hung below the others. Once we got back to the estary, I got her to follow the river inland towards Bodmin, which was clearly visible from Wadebridge. IN no time at all, we were joing downwind for a full stop landing on 31. A quick passenger swap, and we were off again. This time the north coast was shrouded in rain, so we headed up towards Davidstowe followed by Colliford lake, Dobwalls, Liskeard and finally back round to Bodmin. I let Chris have a go at flying, again, and this time we porpiosed through the sky. Once we hit nearly 3000 feet, I took control and desended us back down to a mnore civilised 2000 feet, and clear of all the white stuff. In no time at all, it was time to rejoin the circuit at Bodmin for a full stop landing. Chris took this video of our landing, watch out for the noise he makes on touchdown!
 

  

 

 

 Well, sunday dawned, and I had got it planed for Tom and myself to go up to Dunkeswell for some cake, and perhaps meet up with an old friend. The cornish weather very quickly put paid to any thought of going off though, as there was a warm front being chased by a cold front over the Scilly isles, making its way towards us at a steady 30 Knots. So, I abondoned the idea of heading off for cake, and myself and Tom went fo a nice long local flight along the south coast all the way down to Truro, and then back along the same path. Tom took cusions with him this time, so he could see the horizon! That improved his hieght holding no end, although it didn’t help his course holding! Newquay radar had us pinned down to 1500 all along the south coast, which made for a much better view of the south coast, it has to be said! On the way back to Bodmin, we were asked to stay on Newquays radar frequency as there was a Dash 8 some where above us, desending to join final. We did a little orbit over Lostwiethiel as we waited before being told it was ok to rejoin Bodmin’s radio. A quick frequency change to find out that we were no longer using 13 but were now on 21. I’m not fond of 21, as it goes, the runway slopes in all dirrections! Compund that with a strong 20 knot wind and some gusts, and suddenly it was becoming an interesting landing! We turned onto final with just 2 stages of flap, and a heap of power left on. We slowly crawled down to the runway, keepingt hat extra bit of power on all the way down. The landing was supprisingly light, and we ran striaght, so what more could you ask for! All in all, it was a great weekend of flying.
 
 
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North coast, just for a change!

Its been four weeks since my last flight, which is an age! So I booked the plane for today with a certain amount of glee! This morning dawned with a nice shower, not the best start. Looking out of the window confirmed it, an ashen, overcast, grey sky. I pulled the Met. Office web site out of Google, and went and looked at what the weather prophets had in store for us. They claimed it would improve, is the short version! Well, Jim arived in due course, and after a small lunch we set off towards the airfield to preflight the ‘plane. BY the time we arrived at the airfield, it was clearing up nicely, apart from one great big blob of dark grey! With a certain amount of haste, I preflighted Fox Zulu, and got us up onto the field. She seemed a bit sluggish to get going down the runway today, but with the Air Speed Indicator hitting 45 knots where the runways cross each other, all seemed good, so off we went.
 
On the way into the airfeild, we sat in traffic for a good 20 minutes while it slowly crawled eastwards along the A30. Overflying that same traffic was magic! Cars backed up in both dirrections for miles! In minutes, we had reached the north coast over the Camel estary, and we turned eastwards. I followed the coast all the way up to Bude, dodging the odd cloud and just admiring the view. Lundy island was clearly visible off the coast through the slight haze. The Devon Strut of the LAA was having there fly-in there today. Maybe next year I’ll make the trip myself, but not this year! By the time we got to Bude, I knew it was time to spin as around and head back towards the Camel once more. And this seemed the perfect opotunity to practice a steep turn. So, back angle of 45 degrees. Check. Add a bit of back pressure. Check. Add a little power. Check. Look at startled passenger. Check! In fairness, he was using his mobile to make a video, and I don’t think he caught what I said about making a steep turn! Now it was his turn to look at the cliffs as we trundled back towards the Camel. We passed the air ambulance and the coastguard, obviously on a rescue, just east of Boscastle.
 
When we got to Polzeath, I went and overflew Rosecarrow golf course and airstrip to point it out to Jim. Its quite a long strip in fairness! We turned inland and set course for Bodmin industrial estate, flying past the Royal Cornwall Show grounds. I pointed them out to Jim, and told him how busy it had looked a couple of months back when the show was in full swing. We quickly made our way back to Bodmin, and joined cross wind for a touch and go on 31. Sloted in nicely today, with a microlight on final and one not far behind me. By the time we were on final, the runway was nice and clear for a pretty good touch down. So power in and off we went for another go. The second one I did with full flap, and a microlight very close behind me. I landed long, and took the last exit from 31, allowing the microlight as much room as it would need. Runway vacated, we took Fox Zulu down to the stand, to wait her turn for refueling.
 
Engine off, keys stowed and everything left as I’d wish to find it, it was off to the big ‘C’ to sign the book, and pay the man. Next stop, the canteen for tea and coffee! Till next time, fly safe.
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Trundling round the south coast ..

Well, in a view of getting my hours up in a steady fashion, with no gaps, I figured it was better to do lots of short local trips rather than setting off once every couple of months on some long trip. So with that in mind, I booked one of the club’s Cessna 152′s for a couple of hours or so in the afternoon. With the plane booked on the monday, all I could do was wait for the weather to improve. Well, after a week of sporadic rain, low cloud and just genrally horrid weather, I awoke sunday morning to a total grey out and some pretty heavy rain. Checking the met office website gave me reason to believe it would rain itself out quite quickly and improve as the day wore on. It did! So, a quick check online to make sure there were no red arrows or the like in the local airspace, and it was off to the airfield. Now Chris has been quite excited about this from the moment I phoned him to tell him I’d booked the plane. I got him signed in, and made him sign his life away, before we set off to Seirra Mike to preflight her and check the fuel levels. With a little over 50 litres, I figured it would be better to drag her down to the fuel bay and add a bit of fuel to save time later. I didn’t fill her right up, but rather just added some fuel so I could take her out for a couple of single hour flights. With an Aeronca waiting for me, I started the engine and moved out of the way, and made my way up to the field for some power checks before departing for the south coast.
 
Once out of the circuit, we passed overhead Bodmin before setting course towards Par sands. I got my passenger to put there hand on the yoke and just to follow my inputs while I explained keeping the horizon about two fingers above the engine cowl, before saying ‘You have control.’ His excitement must have matched my own when I was first given control all that time ago, and he held 2000 feet rather well. It was with some reluctance that I took back control so I could position us for an orbit over his house. Chris could see his dog in the back garden as well as Lucy waving up to him. Job done, as he would say himself. And since he seemed to enjoy it so much, I flew round my own house a couple of times for good measure. We headed off further west down the coast to check the surf at Valt, which was fun, and I once again gave Chris control for a while. But time was ticking by, and I should get back to Bodmin to pick up my next passenger, my Father inlaw as a matter of fact! With that in mind, we headed back towards Looe, following the coast all the way up, with Chris handling the plane very well for large chunks of the trip. At Looe, we turned inland and headed back. Now, Bodmin is a quiet little airfield, and even on ‘fly-in’ day, its not that busy. I arrived back to join base to find another one joining crosswind and the Robin returning from an aerobatic sortie. We joined late downwind in the end, letting the plane on crosswind get down and off the runway. The Robin formated with us, to the right on our left hand circuit before ‘buzzing’ the field as we came down on final! Down in one piece, with all the excitement out of the way, I let Chris out, and we went off to find tea. And my in law!
 
Tea inside me, a quick briefing before installing the inlaw and another preflight before we too were under way. There was a horrid looking line of grey raining clouds, just inland from the south coast. We picked our path between them, and headed for the sun along the coast. We did a few orbit around the town center, looking at the building work, and also did some orbits of the Bill’s house, so he could get a picture or two, if he wished. After the obligatory orbits of his house, we continued down towards the Fal estary before turnng inland towards Truro. The plan was to cross over to the north coast for the trip back, but I really didn’t fancy what was ahead, so I turned us around and headed back towards the south coast again. This gave Bill the perfect view now as everything was on his side. We followed the south coast all the back to the bay os St. Austell, before heading inland over the Eden Project. We dodged through the grey stuff again here, and I was pleased to see that we were going to arrive at Bodmin well ahead of the rain. This time I joined overhead, desended dead side and joined crosswind. Much easier, even if it was just us in the circuit! It was a nice touchdown, although there was a fair amount of sink in the last 200 foot or so, but I was already expecting that. We parked up on the hard stand, and shut the engine down.
 
So, all that was left was to pay at the big ‘C’ and grab a well earned brew!
 
 
The river Fal

Mevagissey Harbour

 
 
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To the Scillys!

This was quite a trip for me, over the sea and to an airfield that I’d never been too. Add to which the runway is plonked over a hill, making the landing interesting, to say the least. The weather prophets have been chanting about storms for days, but they never really materialised down here in the south west, so it was with some trepidation that I downloaded the met forms and purused them. All seemed to look good. I checked my flight bag, grabbed my boy, and headed off to Bodmin to preflight the ageing Cessna 152, Golf Bravo Mike Foxtrot Zulu. Now, recently, theres been problems with some of the instrumentation on old Fox Zulu, what with the direction indicator being non functional and the artificial horizon having a mind of its own. Today the heading indicator was working, but the compass wasn’t, as most of the alcohol was missing! Setting the dirrection indicator in flight became an absolute nightmare! So I dug my GPS out of my flight bag, the first time I’ve ever had reason to use the thing, and as we were about to head over the sea, it seemed the prudent thing to do!
 
We followed the A30 for most of the way west, at around 2000 feet. Watching the Dash 8′s landing at Newquay was fun from up high. We routed around Perranporth to give the parachutists a wide berth and eventuarlly reached the end of England! Coasting out over the cliffs near landsend was excellent, with nothing but the Atlantic ocean in front of us. And sea mist. And low clouds. To stay visual with the sea, I had to go under the lot, and landed up at only 1000 feet above the waves! But in no time at all, the islands appeared out of the murk and I anounced that we were passing over St. Martins. Air traffic control let me overfly the airfield at 1500 feet to get a look at the place, where upon we decended to circuit hieght to join downwind. Downwind checks done, I cut the power and set two stages of flap. Flying the base leg, I realised I was making quite a small circuit, so dumped the rest of the flaps and did a nice glide approach. As we got low, my speed was decaying a little too rapidilly, so just before touchdown, I put a boot full of power in just to soften the ‘blow’, and had a nice gentle touchdown, albeit on the left wheel first! I bought the plane to a halt very quickly, and backtracked runway 15 and parked up. We visited the tower, which was very busy, and payed for the privilege of landing.
 
The Scilly islands are calm, refreashing and gorgeous. And I shall be returning. Soon. We visited the old town and the new town, stopping off for a bite to eat at the Deli. The beaches there are long and pristine, apart from the obligatory seaweed. The locals were very friendly and helpful too. But, as we arrived at 3:00pm, and had to be off before 5:00pm as ATC closed up shop for half an hour at 5:00pm, we didn’t have too long too dally about. We wandered back up to the airfield for 4:30pm and I made the call to Bodmin telling them I was going to be setting off shortly. The ‘plane was where we left it, on a slight incline. I started the preflight checks while Tom got his life jacket on and settled himself into the co-pilot seat. A guy in a yellow jacket came over at this point and told us that ATC had just gone offline at 4:45PM and woudldn’t be back for half an hour. So, Tom got back out of the ‘plane and shed the life jacket once more. We went and sat over by the main terminal building and got chatting with a pair of GA pilots who had come down from plymouth for the afternoon in there club’s Piper. Sitting in the sun, watching the island going about its business was rather pleasant, and in no time at all, it was ten past five and time to go and warm up our steed. I let our new found friends go first before announcing our own desire to be under way to ATC. In no time at all we were belting down runway 15 and were airbourn once more.
 
With a final look over my shoulder at the islands, we set course for the Cornish mainland once more. This time, though, I went over the clouds and kept to around 2000 feet all the way back. Tom spotted a pod of whales below us, which was pretty cool! In no time at all, we were talking to Landsend tower before changing back to Newquay radar. We followed the A30 to just past Redruth, and then headed for the south coast for a nice scenic route back to Bodmin, passing near to where I live, St. Austell, and past the Eden project. The landing at Bodmin was one of my better landings, and in no time at all, Fox Zulu was parked outside the hanger, and we were off to the big ‘C’ to pay.
 
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First Passenger!

What a day! I’m learning to drive at the moment, I figured it was about time, and would be a handy skill to have in getting myself to the airport. As luck would have it I chose a driving instructer with a passion for flying! So, cut a long story short, I had an hours driving lesson followed by the prospect of doing some flying. The bonus was, my driving instructer had no qualms about being left at the airfeild while I went off and did some Practice Forced Landings and some glide approaches. That chewed up a good hour of time, and then I was set to take my passenger. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.
 
I had booked G-BMFZ for around 2 hours, from 3:30 in the afternoon till 5:30. The weather this morning was dark, low and forboding. A pretty typical cold front for Cornwall, and my hopes wern’t that high that I’d be flying. But as the day wore on, the weather was definately lifting. By the time three o’clock came round, you could see for miles. The clouds were bunched up and showery, but resonably high to allow some VFR flight. So I grabbed my knee-board and maps from my fligth bag and scurried off to G-BMFZ, where Phill, who’s incidentally turned 80 today, was promising me that he’d preflighted the Cessna 152. Without further ado, we jumped in, belted up and I started going through the start up procedure. In no time at all we’d made our way onto the field for some power checks, before making for runway 31 for a swift departure towards the north coast. Bobbing and weaving under the clouds was interesting, especially as the horizontal indicator was just rolling around with a will of its own. The direction indicator spun pretty much anytime we made a left turn, which was amuzing to watch. So, mental note to self, stay out of the clouds, pretty much at all costs! We dodged around them and picked out a sunny spot and tried a practice forced landing. It was horrible! I would have got us down, but not in the field I’d picked out. Trrible! I turned in much too soon and landed up too high and too fast.  So back to 2000 foot we went and I gave it another go, this time I did a little better, but I still turned in too soon, and once again was a little too fast for comfort. With the weather being less than friendly today, we headed off to Roserrow golf course to give it a try there. The sun was shining here, and it was much easier to see what I was aiming at, but this time I got it bang on and would have made a lovelly landing. So, full power, flaps away and back to the airfield to do a series of touch and goes, and practice that glide approach, of which I did four of. So, a final circuit before doing a normal landing. I’m still, in fairness, landing a little ‘flat’, and need to get used to pulling the stick all the way back, and looking out the side window. My landings are perfectly safe, don’t get me wrong, they’re just a little ‘flat’!
 
So, engine off, chock in, grab my driving instructer. Remember her? I got her to sign into the club as a 1 day member, and that was it. I did a quick check of the thing, just to make sure nothing had fallen off in flight, and peered into the fuel tanks. In not much time at all, I’d got the engine started, and moved off to the runway before heading off with my first passenger! Lift off was all the sweater for it too. I climbed to circuit hieght, and departed towards the south, heading towards the bay of St. Austell. My map was stuffed down the side of my seat, only the truly VFR instruments worked! Ideal! I dailed Newquay Radar into the radio and gave them a call. They asked me to do a right hand turn to 090 degrees, which I complied with. Then I realized why. I’d forgotten to turn the blasted transponder on. I turned it on. I took us down the river Fowey before turing left and flying over Par habour and up towards St. Austell. Now, it sounds silly, but I’ve never flown over my house, so I took the oppotunity to do the obligatory ‘fly round my house’ thing! It was pretty good actuarlly! After doing a few ‘circles’, I headed off towards Gorran Haven to do the same round my instructers house, flying along the coast line all the way. Trenarren cove looked fantastic with a large yacht anchored up. We got to Gorran, and did some 360 degree turns over her house. She was very excited to see her car! Which was funny, as I’d said exactly the same when circling my own house; "Look, theres our [my wifes] car". With all that out of the way, I pointed us towards the Fal estary where there is always impressive shipping! And sure enough, there was an asortment of rather large ships spread out on the river. It was time to head for the north coast and make the trip back to Bodmin. We followed the river inland towards Truro, where we left it. Heading towards Perranporth and Newquay, we crossed the A30. I steered us around Perranporths ATZ and set course for Newquay’s ATZ. The cloud base meant that I had to cross there ATZ, which meant I had to ask for a crossing. They told me that would be fine, and to anounce when clear of the zone, which I duly did as we crossed the windfarm to the East of the Newquay airfield. Newquay airport is something else from the air. Its the old RAF St. Mawgan airbase, and its huge! It has one of the longest runways in Europe, and its wide too. Newquay was behind us and the river Camel was ahead of us, to the right, the Royal Cornwall Show was well into it’s last day. There was field upon field of neatly lined up cars! Within no time at all, Bodmin airfield came back into view and I positioned myself for a downward join, there was no way you could do an over head join in this. So I said my farwell to Newquay, and retuned Bodmin radio. 31 was still in use, which was perfect. I dropped us down to circuit height, joined downwind and performed a nice, soft, safe landing! Parked up, engine off, chocks in, all that was left was to pay and have a nice hot cuppa tea!
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Bodmin Fly In

Well, left the camera at home today, which was a bit of a shame, but hey ho and all that. Set off this afternoon for Bodmin’s airfield in the hope that today’s nice sunny weather would allow at least some to make it down for the fly in. And come they did! The airfield was cluttered with many GA aircraft, shinning in the sunshine. My daughter, now two and a half, couldn’t believe her luck when she was fished out of her carseat; "Airplanes Daddy!" was about all we could get out of her for the next half hour or so. I popped into the control tower with her, and generally said my hellos, and answered the obligatory "Where have you been" questions.  I noticed that G-BNSM was sitting all unused on this sunny day, so myself and the girl went down for a closer look followed by each ‘Airplane!" in the hangers and spread round the apron. I didn’t take her up onto the field to see the visiting aircraft as I didn’t deam that too safe. She can be a slippery fish that daughter of mine, and safty comes first. She was, in all fairness to her, quite happy to stand by the fence and watch all the aircraft taking off and landing.
 
After some chips for the boy and another walk round the "Airplanes!" with the girl, I couldn’t resist anymore! G-BNSM was still unused, and every fibre of my being was screaming to go book the thing out! Who am I to argue with that, so I dropped the girl off to Emma, and made sure they would be alright for at least half an hour. Sped to the car, grabbed all my flying kit, grabbed Steve the instructor, and headed off towards G-BNSM via the control tower. Fifteen minutes later, I’m taxing through all the aircraft covering Bodmin field. It was really good seeing it busy, as I’ve never really flown with any traffic. Power checks done at the top of the field and vital actions performed, so a quick turn round and lined up with 1 on the runway and two in front. Proper busy! Minutes later and I was turning onto the runway for a rolling start. In seconds I’m doing 45 and the decision is made to fly! Pulling the nose wheel off the ground at around 55, the old Cessna 152 slowly crawled into the sky. I looked out over the A30 as we crossed it at around 200 foot or so and grinned. I’d missed this a lot!
 
We climbed straight ahead and headed over towards Wadebridge and the north coast for some general handling to include a stall or two. First up though was talking on the radio, and not to St. Mawgan anymore, and not asking for a ‘Flight Information Service’ but a ‘Basic’ one instead. My radio is crap, and I basically screwed it up, but those lovely people at Newquay knew what I meant and gentlly corrected me. We very quickly got to 3000 foot where I was just enjoying the flying. But, after a little bit of just following the north coast, Steve reminded me what we here for. So I flipped my checklist to the Hassel check, as I have no faith in my memory! A steep(ish) turn of 180 degrees, and still at 3000 feet, so good there, followed by a power off stall, flaps up, not too bad. Back up to 3000 feet and try it again, this time I lost around 75 foot! All good there then, so a return to Bodmin seemed par for the course to do some touch and goes.
 
The flight back wasn’t very long and pretty direct, even after all this time, it’s nice to know I can find the airfield! I said my good byes to Newquay radar and informed Bodmin radio that I was returning from the west for an overhead join. Scanning the sky constantly, I lost 2200 foot on the ‘deadside’ before joining crosswind. My first landing in nearly nine months and the speed crept up to 75 knots from the suppossed landing speed of 65 knots which meant I ‘floated’ along the runway a lot more than I had intended. And Bodmin is NOT the place for long floats! The 2nd landing was much better speed wise, although it was a little flat and hence a little on the heavy side, but not bone jarring. The next landing was also a little flat so Steve did a quick low circuit and I followed him through the landing and then did the same myself. That was lots better! The next one had to be the last one as I had visions of the girl going crazy on the ground by now! And the last one of the day was certainly my best! I popped G-BNSM back down the steep slope and onto the concrete parking area. A last quick engine check before shutdown and a wander off to the big ‘C’ to pay!
 
My boy was pushing the girl round in her buggy when I parked up, so she got to see me get out of the "Airplane!". It was good to hear her squeal! The fact she was in her buggy could only mean that Emma and the boy were trying there damndest to control her! So a quick trip to the control tower, filled in the booking in/out form for G-BNSM and paid for the privilege, then it was off to grab kids and head homeward, earthbound once more.

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