I have been very fortunate to be able to use a lovely Hamble PA28 on occasions. I last flew it from its temporary base (at Fowlmere) to Bicester (Scramble meet) and back … both grass strips and both offering different approaches … Fowlmere slightly undulating and very close to busy Duxford and one with quite a few residences around to make approach sensitive
I remember years ago flying to Fowlmere to reposition a PA32 from Duxford as Duxford advised I couldn’t depart before 8 am next day back to Jersey as only locally based aircraft could move early … remember lining up with my Dad onboard …and the chap in the tower advising L or R turns as people departed ..depending on their destinations N or S in the U.K. … I lined up .. and said Fowlmere …and he asked if I had enough fuel for the trip ! Being about 45 seconds in a PA32 ! As Dad was onboard I asked if we could do a circuit and low flyby before peeling off to Fowlmere and was surprised to hear “No problem … line up on the grass after the landing Spitfire … which came just over our head … cleared circuit, flyby then Fowlmere” ….
Think Dad smiled for the rest of the day ❤️❤️😊
I’m currently doing some Programme support for an exciting company down in Jersey so have been down a few times this year. Travelling commercially is a pain … drive around the M25 to Gatwick and overnight for the red eye out next morning … then the slog back after a few days.
This week, I was fortunate enough to get use of the PA28 again, now re based back at Little Snoring. The dense fog of the preceding 2 days in the U.K. was easing and looking like clearing on Wednesday morning. I’d booked the flightplan out, using SkyDemon, and was set for a 9:00 local departure. Filing custom gendec forms with Jersey and the ever helpful Norwich Border Force
The fog was a little slow to clear and pre fuelling (to the top of both tanks) meant departure was about 10:00 local. Backtracked down the tarmac to the grass of threshold 25 … around a couple of pheasants !… and climb away above the mist into a lovely clear layer. Calling Norwich at 1,600’ to make sure I could get good 2 way comms … but they advised they couldn’t open my flightplan…and I’d have to ask London
I switched to London Info 124.60 and was still abeam the Norwich zone .. London Info opened the flight plan and I advised my planned routing, Bury st Edmunds, Chelmsford, Thames, Mayfield, Goodwood, Orist and would remain outside controlled airspace of Stansted, Southend and Gatwick
Managed to actually see the MAY VOR as I banked wingover right …
Had to orbit 2 or 3 times just to the North of the Northwest corner of Jersey when a fellow Jersey pilot in a faster PA32 overtook me … parking up on the grass at the aero club as the grass nearest the club looked pretty wet ..buzzed through the access door, as my Aero Club access card has now expired (following recent security enhancements at the airport)
The return, was set for Friday and Thursday was pretty grim on the deck.. typical of the moist airmass around Jersey
Flightplan was filed for 1400 local on Friday … and Friday woke to BKN below 100 with all the early commercials being turned back as they were he night before ! People were being shunted to Saturday flights for BA
Got a ‘phone call from a private number just after 9.00am and it was Norwich Border Force saying they had seen my flight plan but no customs form (the one I had sent earlier in the week noted outbound AND return but I think they prefer one each sector .. no worries resent it and they emailed straight back to say many thanks and all fine .. “Have a nice flight” …nice touch 👍👏
The forecast for Friday was set to lift around midday .. but was still on the deck and showing a usual very slow up and down mode !
Clicking up the TAF every 20 mins or so didnt offer an obvious window but at 1230 I headed up to the aero club to get the aircraft loaded, prepped and ready. … and hose off some of the mud on the underside and undercarriage from the Fowlmere-Bicester trip
At 1400 there was a sudden small break in the clag .. so I started up and got to the threshold and was a finger from transmitting ready for departure … when a Citation came in and said 7 mile final .. he was given clear land …and ..with a stiff headwind took ages to get in …and in those minutes …the MET went BKN at 300 …Sat at the threshold engine on tickover and watched successive 300, 400, 300 foot bases drift through
Eventually I taxied back and shut down .. and sat in the aircraft as it was clearly going to be a short window if indeed it DID open up. I watched the TAFs come and go … and still no luck … my problem now was that the planned 2 hr 19 min flight was dependant on hefty cross,tail winds and this all bound by a sunset in Norfolk of 17:11 .. meaning night officially 30 mins later at 17:41 ..so my absolute drop dead time for leaving was 15:15 … Eventually the patience paid off and tower called me on one of the times I had switched the radio on to hear the ATIS 134.80 SCT 300, BKN 600, BKN 1800 … we’re OFF !
Engine already warm … ran through checklist and out and lining up in 5 … climbing away .. cleared to 1,000 … then 3,000 … then not above 5,000 .. base was 3,500 so 4,000 was great
Approaching the Isle Of White and the base rose up and the tops descended to swallow me …
..what had been forecast as a 2,000 base became, in reality a few 100’ .. solid IMC with all the rising ground near Gatwick and the downs I opted to stay at 2,000’ to MAY then turned North … eventually becoming VFR again just abeam Southend
As I coasted in towards IOW, London Info had said I should call Farnborough West … but they were back to back with ILS routing entries so I re switched back to London 124.60 and stayed with them until 1.7 from Little Snoring .. awesome service