Afetrnoon flight to White Waltham

The clubhouse and bar in wodden huts at White Waltham

The clubhouse and bar in wodden huts at White Waltham

Sunday 1st of August 2010 was a lovely day, light winds and little cloud in the sky, so I took an afternoon bimble flight from Kemble along the M4 to White Waltham, just beneath the outer edge of London Heathrow CTA.

White Waltham is a great historical airfield. It’s like stepping back in time. There are old wooden “nissen” hut style buildings, housing the bar and clubhouse etc. Outside you will find many old bi-planes being lovingly tended.

Take a visit, sit on the seats on the white picket fenced lawn area outside the bar and watch the world go by like it’s 1930.

"Red Sparrow" G-CBLX at White Waltham
“Red Sparrow” G-CBLX at White Waltham with aircraft behind


The West London Aero club website has more details. Do read the information before flying there, you don’t want to infringe and the Eastern half of the White Waltham ATZ is within the London Control Area Class A airspace.


Trip to Welshpool and back.

Sunday 11th April 2010 and it was considerably warmer than the last couple of times I’d flown, much to the relief of my passenger Elly. I’d made a couple of plans and we chose Welshpool.

It was a nice sunny day so we departed Kemble around mid-day (yes I dont really do mornings!) and set off via the Severn Bridges spanning the twinkling Severn surface and off up the very picturesque Wye Valley, over on up to Hereford, passed Shobdon airfield, Ludlow and off left keeping a lookout for gliders off Long Mynd before dropping down into the steep valley in which Welshpool airport nestles. (faster aircraft advised to stay high until in the ATZ)

The outbound Kemble > Welshpool (Mid Wales Airport) took us 2hrs 10 flying time.

On arrival we refuelled and then were told we could park right next to the “tower” window which is on the ground floor.  Flexwingers, be aware, this sounds great and you can keep an eye on your machine and no distance to walk and grass to tie down into, BUT, it’s opposite the pumps and they have a few helis in and out refuelling, so tie down well or ask to park elsewhere !

Just beyond the “C” in the photo is the way in. Inside you find the desk to sign in and pay, cant recall, but it was reasonable. There is also a cafe serving standard bacon/sausage butties, breakfasts etc. Just ask if no-one there and they come and serve you. Also a vending machine too. Good views of the runway.

The airfield is nice, well kept, good condition runway and taxiways etc. Two hangars with a mix of aircraft. An air ambulance also is based there…

Air Ambulance at Welshpool

Elly and I went for a wander along the Montgomeryshire canal towards town. It’s probably a 30 min brisk walk all the way into town. The area is beautiful and the fields along the canal were full of lambs.

On the way back my sole cabin crew stewardess / Penelope Pitstop impersonator had her pic snapped as proof of visit…

and we then prepared to depart…

I do like my aircraft’s new accessory.  (The luggage pod, what were you thinking?!).

The return leg took 2hrs 05 and was pleasant until around Gloucester when it became more apparant the surface wind had picked up to a quite gusty crosswind, rather more than perhaps forecast.

Arrival at Kemble was more arrival than landing. Unfortunately I bounced CBLX as a gust dropped in the flare, drifted sideways and contacted again before applying full power and going around.  Second time far better but alas we had done damage.

It transpires I must have used a lot of the shock absorber on the right side and that coupled with the engine being set at a slight angle (to counter torque) thus the spat that side being closer to the prop arc, amazingly amazingly allowed the spat and prop to have a very very brief discussion !  Only long enough for 1 blade to take a bit into the spat top corner, but not for the next 2 blades coming around !

So, that kind of spoilt a fantastic day out !

Such is life.

Anyway, some 8 weeks later after messed up orders and delays from French bank holidays etc, I had a new blade from Arplast.  Also the fabulously talented Mark down at Galaxy Microlight, Wing Farm made my spat look good as new too with fibreglassing and respray.

Thankfully no other damage, all fixings, mounts etc on airframe checked and engine fine too :-)

Paul at Flylight (UK Importers of Air Creation) said he has known it once before but it’s very rare and very unlucky!)

I’ll say! Calculate the time span that spat must have been in the prop arc to only damage 1 blade, very short indeed.

So, visit Welshpool, check the weather, add more wind than forecast and as I am doing now, practice powered approaches lots when you have an aircraft you haven’t flown for that long yet, you might need to be good at them when you get home !


Enjoying tea at Wellesbourne Mountford

II’m at Wellesbourne with Elly.  Nice flight here from Kemble in G-CBLX. Update later!

(edit) Back home and months later !…..

We had a nice flight up to Wellesbourne Mountford airport (few miles East of Stratford Upon Avon). It was a lovely clear sunny March afternoon, we left around 1420 and spent 55 mins in the air on the outbound leg.

At Wellesbourne there is a nice cafe serving a mix of snacks from bacon butties to sandwiches etc and cold/hot drinks. The cafe doors open onto wooden decking with views of the taxiway and runway, a nice place to sit and chill on a pleasant afternoon. There is normally quite a bit of activity.

Wellesbourne also has a museum, which I have not been to yet but it looks interesting from walking by. There is also a based Vulcan undergoing restoration/preservation.

Have a look at their website for more information and even if you are passing by as they have a LIVE weather page and even a controllable webcam so you can see for yourself !

It’s an airfield I’ve been to a few times before, the last time however was in Paul Hills Tanarg when I was getting to grips with it prior to flying on Fly-Uk with him in it. Since then of course I got the Air Creation bug and have my own Kiss 400 now.

Anyway, Elly and I enjoyed a sandwich and tea (well I think Elly had seen better tea!) and we watched the activities for a while before mooching off home.

The return leg was against the wind and took 1hr 20mins but we did do some bimbling off route including a lap or two around the fire service training college at Moreton-In-Marsh, very interesting from the air, multiple fake buildings, motorways etc etc for training.

Altogether a good afternoon out.  I reccomend Wellesbourne for a visit, always lively there and quite central so often not far off route on longer days out either.


New permit, new suits, cold visit to Windrush!

Time for a blog update I feel.

Well the last month has seen G-CBLX permitted for the first time since I bought her a little under a year ago. I’m pleased to report she passed through fine with just one note, one corner of the radiator air scoop intake mesh had come loose.
So that was quickly fixed with a little bending of the mesh and a re-tightening of the screw/washer in that corner.

I must admit, I didnt enjoy watching the dreaded “betts” test. But the inspector said the wing was in great condition.

Finally the weather has calmed a bit and the last few weeks I have got a couple of local flights in and some circuit practice to get my hand back in after a lack of hours flown this winter.

I’ve dropped into the lovely ex ww2 airfield at Windrush a couple of times recently. It’s a nice 30 mins bimble from Kemble to drop into and stretch your legs before flying back.

Theres nothing much there apart from ghosts ! An old tower, a gun house and some old hangars now used as barns.
The tower was once refurbished and housed a skydiving/parachute club a few years ago but the airfield has no residents now.

However, Roy the farmer very kindly keeps a grass runway mown most of the year, so if you drop in then bung £3 in the box in the bottom room of the tower (side door). If you bump into Roy he can tell you some history.
Also, look for the plaque on the tower wall commemorating a brave pilot who flew an unarmed aircraft into a german bomber overhead the airfield.

There is some excellent information posted here in another blog/forum, well worth a read and more photo links.

On Sunday I planned two possible flights, Kemble to either White Waltham or to Wellesbourne Mountford. As it happenned the wind was quite strong from the East so I decided to fly North to Wellesbourne rather than fight the wind.
Elly my girlfriend was coming with me on her 2nd flight, the last was back in August. It was barely over zero degrees on the ground so we decided to fly to Windrush and see how we felt.

Well, it was cold, despite several layers under the suits and balaclavas etc. So we thawed out at Windrush and flew back to Kemble.
As it happenned it was a glorious blue sky sunny day and out of the wind it was not too cold. In fact we found a sheltered sun bathed area of patio and sat leaning on the old tower wall chatting and enjoying the peace and quiet and imagining how it would have been 60 years ago.

The flight back was 10 minutes quicker than out thanks to the wind and we packed CBLX back into the hangar and retired to AV8 bar/restauarant for a hot chocolate :-)

Other news, blueskyblue are having a closing down sale, so I have ordered 2 new flying suits for us. We really are now set for the new season, bring it on.


Isle of Wight Day Out

27th September was a lovely day and I’d planned a flight to the Isle Of Wight for some time. I’d been there before but that was on Fly UK, I’d landed at Sandown that time but decided to head for Bembridge for a change.

I departed Kemble at 1040 and set off towards Popham in Hampshire where I planned to drop in for tea and refuel to give me enough for the rest of the day.

1hr50 later I was engine off at Popham and enjoying tea and cake in the sunshine. it was a busy day and there was lots to watch.

Refuelled I departed around 1400 for a 1 hour flight to Bembridge. The weather was gorgeous and I took many photos of the docks at Portsmouth and the Solent as I tracked out to the island. (See the gallery).

Portsmouth Docks

Portsmouth Docks

Solent Approach air traffic controllers were helpful as always providing me with a Basic Service until I changed to Bembridge radio and started my descent. Its always nice to have someone to work when crossing water even if the engine doesnt know you are doing so !

Bembridge was a nice airfield, easy to find, clean and tidy, nice club house serving food and drinks.

View towards clubhouse at Bembridge

View towards clubhouse at Bembridge

I stayed just 45 minutes as I planned to cirumnavigate the island before heading home and time was a little tight to hang around. It seems many were thinking the same as I was number 5 in the queue for departure ! A mix of spam cans and microlights.

The trip around the island was very worthwhile, it was nice to skim along offshore of the white cliffs and around the needles. (again see the pics)

Isle of Wight - The Needles

Isle of Wight - The Needles

Bembridge to Kemble took 3 hours on the return, the wind was against me and ground speed down to 35/40 mph at times according the the GPS (good nav backup only!)

All in all a grand day out and I look forward to maybe flying down on a Friday and spending a day or two there exploring.


2 Fly in to Kemeys and 3 fly off to Swansea

SSunday 25th May 2009

A fantastic blue sky light/no wind sunny day with a great forecast greated me as I rose from bed far earlier than normal for a Sunday !

I was off to Kemeys Commander to meet some friends flying in from Kemble to meet me before heading off to Swansea and the Gower coastline for the day.

I arrived at the strip early and set about getting “red sparrow” out of the hangar (erm barn?) and free wheeled her down the ramp onto the grass apron.

I lugged the gerry cans from the car and added a whole 40 litres of unleaded into the tank giving me the full 60 litres on board ready for a day out.

Around 0930 I turned on the airband radio to listen out for Paul in G-IMUP and Alan in G-BYFF (my old machine). I heard them, but they were calling they were “overhead”" yet I heard no engines or saw no aircraft ! Uh-oh.

A couple of radio calls later and I’d established they were over a nearby airfield used for gliding, oops. I directed them towards the reservoir and they soon spotted my strip.

They both landed fine on 31 and had passengers. 10 mins later and Paul + Tracey, Alan and Andy and I were all enjoying a cup of tea and biccies courtesy of the strip owner Alastair. We chewed the fat in the morning sun with Alastairs Mum and Dad. (Thanks for being so kind and welcoming and sorry to interrupt you breakfast Alastairs Dad.)

Soon we were all togged up again and starting up ready to depart and afer a wee hitch we taxied down the runway to the far end.

1…….2…..3 we all roared down the grass and into the air turning left towards the South Wales Valleys.

It was lovely up there and as Alan dissapeared off into the distance like a bat out of hell, Paul and Tracey in his Air Creation Tanarg G-IMUP and myself in G-CBLX took our time ambling along at 55/60mph enjoying the stunning deap valleys of South Wales as we tracked West passing North of Cardiff and on to Swansea.

Swansea was soon on the nose, the bay and the Gower coastline beyond looking great in the sun.

Swansea Airport

Swansea Airport

Swansea has skydiving on the weekends so from time to time there is no overhead joining (Alan!) as the parachutists drop on the “dead side” so aircraft must join the circuit downwind and not overhead (Alan!)

We overheard instructions along these lines to earlier arriving aircraft and so, IMUP and I (CBLX) both called Swansea Radio and advised we’d pass to the North, turn around overhead LLanelli and join downwind.

Alan didn’t seem to have heard and, well, had other plans and, well, eventually reported downwind and the controller cleared the drop plane “swansea DZ cleared to drop;-)

By the time IMUP and I had taxied to the Apron, Alan in BYFF had already made it to the pumps and refuelled.
We all paid our £5 landing fee each (bargain, good value Swansea) and headed to the cafe for some nosh.
Swansea has a good cafe and we all had some form of bacon/sausage butty or full cardiac breakfast and a steaming mug of tea. Nice.

Staggering stuffed into the sunshine, Paul felt a bit sick, seems the greasy hadnt gone down well. So, we relaxed a bit, admired the nice 3 Icarus fixed wing microlights belonging to Swansea Sport Flying microlight school and had some chat with two other microlighters who’d flown down from Wolverhampton Halfpenny Green.

In no time Paul perked up and we prepared to depart.

“Overhead Alan” ;-) and Andy in BYFF were off to land on a friends golf course somewhere near Haverford West. Paul, Tracey and I decided to do a bimble around the gower before heading home.

Soon we were all off the tarmac and BYFF zoomed off.

Empty here the beach was very busy when we flew along it.

Empty here the beach was very busy when we flew along it.

Paul and Tracey in BYFF and I in CBLX headed out to the coast and had a flight along the cliffs and then turned North along Rhossili Beach on the end of the Gower Peninsula.

The beaches were busy, many kayaks in the water, many sunbathers, even some kite buggies bombing along the beach.


Then we turned East and headed back homewards passing the Swansea Airfield again and on into South East Wales.
On the way back we enjoyed flying in formation (alas my video headcam battery had died, but Tracey was taking stills – watch this space)

Before long Llandegforrd Reservoir came up on the nose and I bid Paul, Tracey in G-BYFF fairwell as they peeled off to the right to cross the Severn into England and back to Kemble.

I was soon back on the ground at Kemeys. It had been a lovely day out with friends, some great flying, some great banter.

Smiling, I quickly put “red sparrow” away “goodnight, must fly- party to get too”

"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward,
for there you have been, and there you will always long to return." -- Leonardo da Vinci

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