DAY 3 held some fantastic flying in store for me. Five different airfields. This report is actually quite a promo film illustrating how enjoyable flying in Southern England can be, even when the weather is not entirely perfect. Speaking of weather… on this Friday (2nd of May), high pressure was slowly reaching over the south of the UK. As often is the case at the very beginning of a high pressure period, there was essentially no rain at all and “solid” VFR flying weather, but still with a rather persistent cloud deck. So: overall solid weather, but rather cloudy and a little breezy (winds from the northeast).
The evening before, I had made a rough plan for the next day. I wanted to do less “ground activity” than the day before and visit as may costal airfields as possible. As my final destination, I eyed Bembridge on the Isle of Wight and reserved a room at the “Crab & Lobster”. Also, I wanted to make my first stop after the Channel crossing on a nice “farm strip”-type airfield, just to get right into the mood for UK flying. I was undecided between Pent Farm and Deanland (EGKL), but then settled on the latter, since I didn’t manage to raise anyone on the phone for Pent Farm. David, one of the owners of Deanland on the other hand, even called me back on my german mobile and told me I was most welcome. Thanks!
In Ostend, early in the morning, the weather was still quite bad. While most of the previous day’s front had indeed moved through, there was still a lot of low cloud and poor visibility around. Nevertheless, I decided to head to the airport early on. After taking the bus, then the train and then bus again (all working out nicely), I was at Ostend airport at about 9 c’clock. Sure enough, by that time, the weather had improved just enough for a safe VFR departure.
After security checks, a policeman came over to have a look at my ID card. Then on to “C” for landing fees and on to the aircraft. Again, even though all movements on the airside were done using the follow-me car, they insisted on hi-vis…
The fuel tanks were still half full, the oil level was good and all else was in order as well.
Selfie. This by the way is the Compass life vest (50€) mentioned in the life vest thread.
At the hold for runway 08. The clouds were still quite low and mean-looking, but the airport was now actually above special VFR conditions.
Left turn out westbound along the coastline, inbound Koksijde.
…but 1100 feet MSL had to suffice for the moment.
Koksijde military airport lefthand.
The first sunny moments…
Dunkerque harbour ahead.
Peter’s favourite prohibited area to the right.
Calais airport to the right. Calais CTR was under special VFR conditions due to the cloudbase. Nonetheless, crossing was approved immediately.
Calais city in the foreground.
A P&O ferry arriving from Dover.
Approaching Cap Blanc Nez.
By that time, there were more and more holes in the clouds…
…so I asked Calais Tower if they were able to give me latest met report for Lydd. It was “Broken 2300” so I elected to climb to 2200 for the crossing. Looked like this:
Coasting-in at Dungeness.
Crossing the ATZ of Lydd.
Beaches near Bexhill.
Eastbourne and the Pier.
Proceeding towards Beachy Head.
Sightseeing height, a couple of hundred feet.
(Note to pilots who may not be aware: there is currently no hard-cut minimum VFR altitude in UK).
Can’t get enough of these…
After that, I had to fly a few miles inland for Deanland airfield. Its runway is only 500 metres long. Approaching the overhead from the south:
When I walked up to the clubhouse, I friendly, elderly man stuck his head through its door and asked: "Tea or coffee, Sir? What a nice welcome!
That gentleman’s name was Clyve and he has an aircraft based there. He explained to me that Deanland airfield was a military base in the later stages of the Second World War.
Today’s Deanland airfield is only the portion which is marked in green here:
Clyve owns a very nice, rare permit aircraft, a French made “SIPA 903”. The engine is a Continental C-90.
He told me he intended to go to Goodwood (he doesn’t even need to pay landing fees there with his oldtimer), which also happened to be my next planned stop. Off he went. Then it was my turn to taxy to the hold.
By the way, the runway in Deanland was in very good condition (despite the bad winter in the south of England).
I took the slightly longer way via the coast (didn’t want to miss any of those piers…)
Brighton City and the Pier.
Here’s Shoreham Intergalactic Spaceport. I remained just south of the ATZ, but called in nevertheless for traffic awareness and a dose of that wonderful basic service. I happened to hear G-LIZZ taxying out so I assumed it was Timothy and passed on a short greeting over the radio.
At Bognor Regis, I turned northbound for Goodwood.
Approaching Goodwood (EGHR).
Trying to make a good job of my standard overhead join.
Clyve had landed just before myself and was at the refuelling station when I taxied in. I was a little shocked when I saw this:
I walked over to him and asked “did you see that??” and he went “oh yeah, no worries… that’s a bit of a leak from the oilcap…”
British grass airfields…
There were several furrows and holes in the runway and in the maneuvering area (all unmarked). Nobody seemed to bother much.
By the way, uplifted 128 litres of Avgas, which meant that the average fuel consumtion so far was only 28 litres per hour.
Always something to see at Goodwood.
Always at least one Scottish Bulldog around as well.
Since it was lunchtime, I had a bite to eat at the aeroclub’s cafe. Now that was really basic! Anyway, I was in good company with Clyve and that moret han compensated for the food. He is an ex-BA 707 and 747 pilot and obviously had a few stories to tell.
I then planned my next stop, which I wanted to make at Lee-on Solent (EGHF). I had never been there before. Since I didn’t exactly know what the current situation with PPR was, I just gave them a quick call but it really wasn’t necessary. Clyve and I said goodbye to each other and went our ways.
A couple of Goodwood’s Cessnas.
Despite the cloudy weather, on a weekday, there was quite a lot of action at Goodwood.
By the way, on climbout from runway 06…
one happens to fly past the residence of the Earl of Goodwood himself.
This short flight to Lee turned out very enjoyable. I really like the whole Solent area.
Boats around Chichester harbour.
Now that would be a great GA airfield: Thorney Island.
If this place only had a bit more sunny weather… could be a bit like Florida.
South Parade Pier at Southsea.
The ex-Navy airfield Lee-on-Solent.
The tower. Visiting aircraft are now usually parked in front of this building, on the grass.
Off I went, towards the near Isle of Wight. Before heading to Bembridge, I decided to fly to Sandown (EGHN), even though I had previously been there before.
Unfortunately, it was now totally cloudy, so I decided to skip the detour to the Needles. Here’s the Solent, looking southwest.
Cowes, Isle of Wight.
Entering downwind for runway 05 at Sandown.
Sandown now has fuel again. 1.92 pounds, which is only 3 pence more than Goodwood.
Good to see the airfield back on track.
The tower building and Carla’s Cafe.
Where British pilots feel good and comfortable…
Shortly after, an Aztec landed. Did I mention that I love Aztecs?
I took the bus to Sandown for a walk by the sea. Sandown is a typical (read: a little run down) UK seaside town, but the beach is very nice.
No visit to a UK seaside town without a walk up the pier and a game at the inevitable amusement arcade…
Back at the airfield, there were some mean looking clouds in the sky, but no rain to be seen.
Off to Bembrige (EGBJ). On climbout from runway 05 at Sandown, it was “England in one view”: Sea, white cliffs, houses, rugby, golf… and cloudiness
The flight to Bembridge ended up being one of the shortest ones I have ever done. After 4 minutes, I was overhead.
Normally, there are no overhead joins due to possible glider activity, but since there was no glider to be seen and nothing on the radio, that’s what I did. I also wanted to have a good look at the windsock, since the winds were generally from the northeast and the runway at Bembridge is 12/30… Turned out that the winds slightly favoured runway 30, which also happens to be slightly uphill.
On my subsequent righthand circuit, some unbelievably dark clouds were above me and made these next photos turn out really dark. I still like them…
Made it for the day! In the background, a parked Seneca and and the former admin/cafe building.
I love Comanches. They look much better when “nude” though.
And the old BN hangar.
My shelter for the night: the famous Crab & Lobster Inn.
After a shower and before having dinner, I went for a quick walk to check out the views. Lots of ships to be seen south of the island.
White Cliff Bay.
The “pub area” of the Crab & Lobster.
Stay tuned for the fourth and last day of this trip. Sunshine guaranteed.
[edited as requested]
What a wonderful report. Would love to visit some of these but while I could get in, getting out would be a challenge.
Yes – my usual area and going around the IOW is the usual route for taking somebody out for a scenic flight. It’s about 1hr total out of Shoreham.
BTW the UK is 500ft min away from any (loosely speaking) man-made object, so over the sea you can go below 500ft only if you are sure there isn’t a boat down there
My “favourite” (not!) prohibited area is this one
Sorry, I was led to believe that it was the Calais one…
What a terrific report Boscomantico.
Just one (probably stupid) question: how come you did not have to clear customs upon landing?
Can’t wait to read day 4!
Thanks for sharing
He would just have had to file a GAR form. HMRC will meet you if they want to see you.
what Jason said. It’s just an advance GAR to be filed, which I did via onlinegar.com.
….oh, and beware of what Peter might have to say on the subject…. he likes to cause confusion about “customs”.
Sight seeing low and slow :-)
Low level channel crossing, keep your feet dry!
Thx for the report and Pics, so much more places to be, no chance to catch you up!
Very enjoyable read. I recognise a lot of these airfields from my travels around the coastline, but there are a few I havent done, which look quite attractive and will now go on my list – especially Lee-on-Solent. It’s nice to see some good old VFR pictures, taking in some very nice views from the air, and on the ground. Looks like a great trip you are having.
Makes me want to take the Auster to the south coast of England some time. I lived on Hayling Island for about a year, and the summer that year was pretty good, I spent a lot of time on that beach.