It was an opportunity to get a flight in my logbook on the 1st of January. What better way to spend the day than flying. It was Winter so the majority of my flying would likely be in scud, but with the icing level so low It was a lot of careful planning and using my knowledge of the weather in this part of the world to decide to fly IMC. It was quite an unseasonably warm New Year’s day by most measures. Except for the headlines on the Daily Express of the impending ice age…
I woke up at 8am and met Gary at my local McDonalds (Literally 150 meters away) and had some breakfast. A quick drive to Stapleford got us to the airfield in 45 minutes from Central London. Gary was highly enthusiastic having flown with me many years ago, long before I gained the experience I have.
A quick look at the weather showed it was flyable, but we would encounter the first polar frontal system of the year. I had phoned SaxonAir who are the designated handling agent at Norwich Airport (Make sure you explicitly state you do not require handling) for General Aviation. I was quoted £38 for a 1150kg MTOW with 2 hours free parking. Jolly good sir!
After freezing ourselves outside, we elected to delay the flight by 1 hour and have some hot chocolate whilst we briefed over the flight and what sort of weather we would encounter. Gary had no experience in flying, but had been in a club aircraft with me at Biggin before. This was different, this was a far advanced machine and I had advanced my flying skills so he was a little nervous about the type of flying we was intended on doing this day.
The airfield wasn’t particularly busy, two aircraft had departed whilst we prepared to leave but there was no radio room, which made me ring up the local examiner to check if we could depart or not. After a 15 minute conversation I briefed for the flying conditions with my passenger. Severe icing and Moderate turbulence associated with the front. The tops to 8000ft in the East. Which if you look at your routing planned and flown route, you’ll see we was flying right through the worst of the weather. This was good experience for me, as I could get cosy with the limits of a non-FIKI aircraft and what was acceptable. A careful look at the chart showed that the icing level would be sub-zero between 5000ft and 6000ft which as you’ll see in the video was pretty spot on, requiring a descent into the front. Although in hindsight I could have flown over it (it was about 5 minutes flying time through the front) outside of the icing range in IMC.
Looking at the virtual radar though, if those tops inside the front were at 8,000ft (which from the video they wasn’t) we could have probably climbed into clear air above the weather. But looking at the airspace limit (Class A +FL80) it was probably a good decision to fly IMC instead.
This flight involved flirting with the icing range, and developing my skills for the IR rating and understanding the limits and scope of high-altitude winter flying. Don’t forget to subscribe! – If you hit the dislike button, please provide feedback as to why.
Trying out the NEW GoPro 7 into Norwich, with an ILS approach for Runway 27.
Just make sure you self-brief where SaxonAir is and keep to the taxiways before you get to the SaxonAir apron as there’s a lot of jet’s around and commercial stuff parked up that you need to be aware of on taxin’ing around this place. Once we had arrived we walked a short distance to the local Brewers Fayre Oaks. It was that or McDonalds…
Food was pretty good and arrived relatively quickly, despite how busy the place was. I mean after all it was New Year’s day. We then walked back to the aircraft and paid our fees to SaxonAir. £38. It’s £10’s cheaper on weekends for those looking for a bargain.
It wasn’t a bad idea to get moving though as we hadn’t got that long till sunset and the airfield wasn’t going to be putting the lights on for us, as they wasn’t even there. I thought this was a cool shot though with perspective.
It was time to witness the first sunset of 2019. We did this flight home relatively quickly, some 45 minutes airborne time. 100 miles in 45 minutes isn’t that bad considering. It really is amazing what you can do with a light aircraft. In this video I discuss what last year was all about, and what my plans are this year.
As Gary said at the end of the video. All you need is time huh?