Yesterday I did a little raid to Newquay in order to fulfill the insurance requirements for a SR22 I am renting. It all happend in the afternoon and evening, with 4 legs, partly to clear customs between France and the UK, but also to get in some approaches.
The weather was perfect for my purpose. Some fronts had passed southern England in the morning and early afternoon. The weather in Paris and Normandy was mostly overcast but with comfortable ceilings ranging from 3000 feet at Pontoise (LFPT) to 1500 feet at Dinard with showers of rain associated with visibility reduced to 5000 m. The Channel Islands were soaked in with BKN000. After the fronts cleared, Newquay was supposed to become SCT020. No significant convective activity was forecast except a potential for TCU at Evreux LFOE. The QNH was pretty much 1018-1019 hPa all over the place. At altitude (FL100) there were north-westerly winds between 20 and 30 kts.
The 4 legs would take us first to Caen LFRK to clear customs, then to Newquay EGHQ, then back to France and Dinard LFRD to clear customs again, and the final leg back to Pontoise LFPT. I had called Flynqy to seek PPR in accordance with AIP and they requested me to send them my GAR form. The GAR form was submitted using the autorouter (at the same time as the flight plan) which sent me a copy of the e-mail which I then forwarded to Flynqy and confirmed I would refuel at EHNQ. Caen requires 2 hrs prior notice for customs and I was planning on calling on the morning of the flight. I would not be able to use Caen on the way back because they close at 17Z, so I opted for Dinard which according to AIP close at 19Z, but NOTAM to close at 18:45Z.
I arrived at the airport before 13Z, and @Nestor joined me shortly thereafter with a bag full of in-flight snacks and beverages, and then my co-pilot of the day, JL. The airport was more or less deserted. We taxied to the fuel stand, filled it up with 100LL, got our departure clearance and off we went into the overcast at around 3000 feet, but emerging on top shortly thereafter. De-Gaulle immediately gave us DCT EVX at FL070 which is the lowest flight level they will accept due to uncontrolled airspace below. They have this funny conception about uncontrolled airspace being inherently unsafe, so they will insist on you remaining IFR in CAS. De Gaulle subsequently transferred us to Paris Control, then to Deauville which gave us a direct PIKUP which is the IAF for the ILS31 at LFRK. There is no ATIS at LFRK, so information, including runway in use needs to be obtained from Deauville approach. Given the forcast wind and the fact that we were given PIKUP, everything pointed in the direction of ILS31. The LLZ was intercepted using the autopilot, likewise the GS, and down we went. We emerged from the clouds around 5 NM, landed and parked in front of tower 40 minutes after the wheels left the ground at LFPT.
I left my passengers with the airplane and walked the short distance to the OPS. While walking I suddenly realised that I had forgotten to call for customs… I had filed the flight plan a couple of days in advance because of the GAR, and from experience the OPS normally get a copy of the flight plan so I was hoping that they would have taken the initiative to call customs for me. Flybe had left for Southend shortly before we arrived, and there being no other scheduled traffic, there was no waiting at the office. I explained my predicament. The person told me customs (immigration, actually) had just left but he would call them just to be on the safe side. He was very good about it, and instead of telling them I had forgotten to notify them, I heard him tell customs that he had not gotten around to calling them about us. What a darling! I walked back to the airplane 9,07 € off my shoulders, ready for the next leg to Newquay at 13:30Z.
When runway 31 is in use at Caen, you have to backtrack from A1. After run-up at A1 and a couple of T&G by a Cub and another airplane, I got cleared to backtrack, lined up, got the expected departure clearance and got off right on time. Before I had even turned to intercept CAN R275 to LUSIT, I got cleared direct to JSY at FL100, and shortly thereafter to SKESO. There was a pretty solid undercast with a few holes through which we could occasionally spot a ship. Our 172 KTAS resulted in a GS of 148 kts. After SKERY we got cleared to BHD (Berry Head), and then on a direct track to NQY NDB. After SKESO London Control gave us a new squawk and shortly thereafter we were transferred to Western Radar which asked what service we wanted. Deconfliction service was accepted. The same repeated itself approaching Newquay. New squawk, frequency change and type of service.
The Newquay ATIS came somewhat as a surprise. Instead of SCT020 there was a 600 foot overcast. Not a problem, but apparently the weather forecast was somewhat off. Sure enough we broke out at around 600 feet, landed and taxied to the GA parking. The ground frequency was apparently not in use, so I asked tower for fuel and they called the bowser. After having topped off the tanks, we walked along the airport fence, past the tower to a gate outside of which there is a mobile home which is the office of Flynqy. After having paid for fuel (1,80 £/l) and landing (25 £), JL and I walked to the nearest pub where we joined Nestor who had already had time to quench his mighty thirst with a pint of a local brew, and ordered coffees for JL and myself.
Another pint later it was time to head back to the airplane the same way we came. The nice folks at Flynqy let us back in airside, and off we went back up into the clouds. We were cleared direct SKESO which appears to be on the boundary between London and Jersey. Western radar informed me we were cleared through a restricted area extending up to FL220, handed us over to London after a squawk change. Shortly thereafter we were cleared to DIN (Dinard) VOR with a ground speed of 190 kts or more now that we had a tailwind. The Dinard ATIS announced a ceiling of 1600 feet, and RNAV 35 in use. Rennes Approach cleared us for the RNAV 35 approach. Since we were cleared to DIN the plan was to continue outbound from DIN to ABOTI, the IAF. Apparently there was a Mustang inbound at high speed, so the controller asked to maintain high speed, and then offered radar vectors to expedite the approach. In the clouds at 3000 feet, on a downwind for RWY 35 he asked whether we would accept a visual approach (!), then was very anxious to turn us onto the final approach course before the FAF, which I obviously could not accept. With that cloud base, I did however feel pretty comfortable with being vectored tightly, so asked him to vector me to minimum 2 NM outside RD508 (the FAF) so that the GPS would get a chance to switch to APR mode, still at cruise speed. Once past RD508 he turned us left to intercept. In the turn the GPS switched to APR mode, and as we rolled out of the turn we were on track but not comfortably established. A zig and a zag later we were fully established and descending on the CDFA profile and slowing down to flap extension speed.
As we touched down at 17:45Z, the aircraft in trail announced 4 NM final and landed shortly after we vacated. We were asked to park on the grass, but JL insisted on tarmac, and after having told TWR that we would be leaving in a short while, that was accepted. Tower told me that we had to hurry to the terminal building for customs because they were closing. According to NOTAM they were however supposed to close at 18:45Z, or 45 minutes later, and I have not yet figured out the reason for this discrepancy.
Nestor’s two pints had to be jettisoned before going through customs. Once the formalities were done, we had to walk to the other side of tower to the fire station to pay 7 € in landing fee, and then back to the airplane for our last leg to LFPT. We got the multi-directional departure RWY 35 followed by a right turn to CAN, then PEXIR which is the start of the STAR, and immediately thereafter directo to MOPAR which is an IAF into LFPT. LFPT tower was already closed when we departed LFRD, so we would have to do a circling approach as dusk. The plan was to do a procedural ILS05 to circling minima and then circle to RWY 30. De Gaulle eventually cleared us down to 3000 feet direct to PON, and before reaching we were in sight of the field. We were warned about a Beech doing circuits for RWY 05. Despite the dim lighting, it was difficult to acquire visual contact, but we established radion contact and following him around the VFR traffic circuit, remaining 500 feet above, finally getting visual when he was at the end of the downwind. He was doing single engine low approaches in a twin, went missed and we landed behind at 19:35Z after having lit the runway by hitting PTT 5 times within 5 seconds.
That concluded a busy afternoon of flying in perfect IFR conditions. I am now very comfortable with the Avidyne/GNS430 combo although I will still need to go through the manuals yet another time to pick up whatever I missed the first two times.
Sounds like a busy day out. Thanks for the write-up
I called the Dinard airport to figure out why there seems to be a discrepancy between the effective OPS/Customs hours and what is published in AIP/NOTAM. The person I talked to said that several others had also been caught out by this and was going to investigate. My guess is that they converted LT using UTC+1 and did not specify a different offset for DST.
They close at 20:00 LT, which amounts to 18Z when daylight saving time is in effect.
Thanks a lot @Aviathor for allowing me as a passenger on this flight
I learnt a lot because it was my first SR22 flight and only my second long IFR flight, and it had very real IMC conditions !
Here are some pictures from this memorable flight.
On short final in Caen LFRK
The plane in Caen LFRK
Newquay EGHQ airport’s entrance sign (I was here !)
The pub within walking distance from parking (yes, it’s Britain !)
Leaving Newquay EGHQ’s sandy beaches (before going IMC again!)
Nice view of the Channel (la Manche !)
On final in Dinard LFRD
Parking our aircraft in Dinard LFRD, alongside N2N, the G650 business jet given to Steve Jobs as 1999 bonus by Apple.
Quite cool for a pilot working in software
Back to Pontoise LFPT at dusk (it was a long day !)
I can hardly believe that N2N aircraft reg! IIRC, all the single digit tail numbers were pre-allocated to the FAA.
I recall flying a PAR approach into Newquay (St Mawgan as it used to be called in the RAF days). The RAF controller spoke so fast I could not understand anything she said (neither could my co-pilot) and I had to abort and just fly the ILS
Speaking of that sign, this is how I read it
This (i.e. all of us)
paid €10k for this artistic impression of the airport
and paid €10k for this PR wording
and paid €10k for this logo
(behind which is another gravy train)
and the whole sign would have cost €10k, including a risk assessment by a Univ of Upper Warlingham MBA
I hope the PR agency is based in the SW UK which needs the money
The pub within walking distance from parking (yes, it’s Britain !)
You obviously have to discover the charms of nearby Belgium! Only the fewest fields do not have a good bar/resto on the grounds.
is based in the SW UK which needs the money
…. and voted Leave. Just sayin’……..
This forum is becoming too political for me. I didn’t mean to be provocative. I just took a picture of the airport’s sign !
I’m pretty sure Britain had regional development subsidies before joining the EU/EEC and will hopefully still have them after leaving the EU. All countries have some sort of subsidies to level the development between urban areas and remote rural areas.
At least this money resulted in a nice airport with immigration control and attracted us, the French pilots
This forum is irreplaceable for aviation !
It’s OK, Nestor I just have this funny habit of taking the p1ss out of all the signs which the UK is full of, and around which a whole “business culture” has grown up. I am sure the UK is worse than most places in this respect.
Newquay is really nice. The beach is worth a visit. As a Frenchman it will take you a while to get used to what they call “food” there, however