The second week of August was also the second week of my summer holiday this year. In the first week, we (three of us) did a very nice southbound tour which included Croatia, Bosnia, Italy and Switzerland as our destinations. I might cover that in a separate report.
In that second week, all I had on my agenda was that the aircraft (our SR22) was supposed to be in Groningen (EHGG) for its annual inspection on Thursday morning (to be completed by Friday afternoon, if possible). Therefore, I had three and a half days of time at my disposal. Flying to the west or northwest of Europe made the most sense, since Groningen would then be right on my way back home in Luebeck (EDHL).
I hadn’t been to wonderful Scotland for seven years, so that was my option number one. On Sunday morning, the weather looked good for Monday and Tuesday, and a bit poor on Wednesday. Two nice days out of three sounded like a good proposition for a UK flying trip. Also, due to looming Brexit in the end of October, I thought this might be the last chance at making a UK trip without being constrained to using only "customs designated“ aerodromes or similar, so I decided to go for it.
I will have to split this into several parts as I am very short of time at the moment (and off for a week of non-flying holiday shortly). So here is.
The first leg of the trip would take me into England though. The flight via Denmark and then all across the North Sea directly to Scotland sure was a possibility (no pax on board, a „relatively“ warm North Sea, a very well-known and proven aircraft, etc.), but I still decided against it. I was anyway quite keen on also visiting some coastal place in East Anglia…
I did however feel quite comfortable crossing the southerly bits of the North Sea, coasting out near Amsterdam and coasting in again near Norwich. After all, that is exactly what the autorouter proposes when flying from anywhere in Northern Germany to anywhere in the middle of England. It’s about 100 NM or up to 25 minutes over the open seas in the SR22.
As for my first destination, I was considering Cromer (Norfolk) and Skegness (Lincolnshire). Both are unlicensed grass strips, but with a good runway length for me in the SR22. In the end, I opted for Cromer, since the website gave some very good information and the town looked more appealing to me. Also, minutes after I had PPR’ed via their website, I got the OK from the owner/operator (Kevin), which gave me a good feeling.
So, after completion of this first task (decide on destination and get destination PPR), I still had to
but that was all quite routine.
Here is the flightplanned route:
The weather on the (Monday) morning of departure was very good in Luebeck and also over most of northern Germany. Some big showers were present north of the Frisian Islands, and in the Amsterdam area (which I would have to cross). After that, there would be very good weather again over the North Sea and East Anglia. The GRAMET confirmed exactly that:
Departure was set for early in the morning, at 8:20 local time. It was a beautiful morning.
Of course, a life west was in order.
Westerly departures from Luebeck often go straight over Hamburg. I climbed straight to FL110, which is the highest I go without being on oxygen. What a view!
Some of that weather over and to the north of the Frisian Islands:
After crossing into the Netherlands, I also visually saw showers/CBs over the Amsterdam area, so as a first measure, I requested FL140, in order to get a better view of things ahead. Once there, I saw a path that would likely keep me in VMC, going a bit to the north of Amsterdam. This is largely territory of the military, so I made a timid request for that northerly deviation with Amsterdam, which, to my astonishment, was quickly approved. I also had to climb a little more to clear the clouds ahead, so requested and received clearance for FL160. Nothing to complain about this time. Shortly after, I was able to descend back down to FL120, and proceeded to the NL/UK FIR boundary, at the point AMGOD.
As soon as I reached the FIR boundary, I was in uncontrolled airspace. In fact, I had expected to be handed over to London Information, but instead, Amsterdam handed me over to a station called „East Anglia Radar“. No idea which airport they are associated with, but they got me a radar service, so that was fine.
As Cromer is right on the coast, I had to time my descent properly. On the one hand: avoid descending too late and wasting time and fuel. On the other hand, avoiding descending all too soon in order to get in gliding range of land as soon as possible. It all worked out fine.
An interesting sandbank, about twent miles east of the Norfolk coast.
Reaching the coastline:
Cromer in the background.
Before this, I had switched to „Cromer Micro“ to announce my landing. The very friendly owner came back to me on the radio with more friendly advice. Mind you, he wasn’t at the airfield at all… he was elsewhere, at work, but had a radio with him. After landing, he even called a taxi for me. How cool!
Here I am, approaching the overhead:
The longer runway at Cromer is 04/22, and the wind was from a northwesterly direction, so that meant a crosswind on 22, but nothing too strong. A lefthand circuit ensued. The runway turned out to be in good condition, and the parking too. I really love that moment when, after a flight across the Channel, to some rural grass runway in the UK, you shut down, open the door and take that first breath of fresh English air. Priceless!
There was not a soul to be seen at the airfield (not even the UK Border Force!), so I went on, paid my 7 GBP landing fee via their honesty box, and just as I was doing that, the taxi arrived at the parking lot.
Cromer is one of those typical UK seaside towns: Fresh air, a sandy beach, a pier, amusements, fish ’n chips, and ice cream. Pleasant. After taking a bath in the sea, I got myself a big chunk of cod and all was well in the world.
In the meantime, I planned my next stop, which was supposed to be the city of York, for a short afternoon visit. York has two airfields nearby: Rufforth-West (which is west of the city) and Elvington (which is southeast of the city). The day before, I had tried to get PPR from Rufforth West (a gliding site, mainly), but got no response, neither via telephone, nor via email. So now I tried Elvington via telephone, which worked out fine. I took the taxi back to the airfield and off I went, heading northwest, on a 45-minute, low-level flight along the coast, across The Wash and the Humber estuary, into Yorkshire.
As I approached York, there were more clouds and a few showers around. One was located right over Elvington aerodrome, but it wasn’t strong, so it didn’t make me any problems.
Here you can also see the Air Museum, which is next door, and partly indoors, partly outdoors. I would have a look inside after returning to the airfield (entrance to the museum is included in the landing fee of 20 GBP).
First of all, after landing, I got some Avgas, as I knew that fuel is usually more expensive in Scotland than in England. 1,98GBP per litre wasn’t cheap, but OK. A nice fuel truck, too.
The taxi called by the the staff manning the airfield took 20 minutes to arrive, but cost only 15 GBP for the trip to the city centre. A had previously read about the beauty of York, and haven’t been disappointed.
The Yorkshire Air Museum closes at 5pm (last admissions at 4), so I sneaked in right at 4 o’clock. They have a wide selction of pre-WW2, WW2, post-WW2 and Cold War aircraft there. Amongst them, a Handley Page Halifax bomber, which, along with the Avro Lancaster, was the main bomber of the RAF in WW2.
In addition to all the aircraft, the nice thing is that they have WW2 buildings there (such as the original RAF Elvington control tower), which really makes you think you are in the middle of an active RAF WW2 base…
In summary, I’d say that whilst it is no Duxford, it is still very interesting for a few hours. So, that’s TWO reasons for flying to York-Elvington. Thumbs up!
The third and last flight of the day was to – well, where else? – Glenforsa in Scotland (for the night). But even in the SR22, that’s another two hours of flying, all across the northern half of Britain.
Before takeoff, I rang the hotel again for an update, and they said there was good weather, with just very occasional showers. Of I went at 5:00pm.
What followed was one of the most beautiful VFR flights I have done in a looong time. And I have done few, including several flights from England over to Glenforsa. But departing from York, it is simply gorgeous, as you first fly over the Pennines, and then through a very wide, beautiful „valley“, past Carlisle, until reaching Scotland. And here we go with a few photos taken on this flight, without much comment.
There were quite a few showers around, but yet again, the ADL made it easy to anticipate them and to know “what would be ahead”.
Reaching Scotland, I got handed over to the ever so friendly Scottish Information, and as always, it was a warm welcome.
This the beautiful little airfield at the island of Bute. The runway is only 450 meters long, but I have still landed there, in this SR22, about ten years ago.
I terminated communications with Scottish a bit before reaching Oban, to avoid just „losing“ them.
Arriving overhead at Glenforsa, I noted that there was a little bit of wind from the west, so I chose runway 25.
I then checked in to the hotel and pretty much went straight for the bar to have a beer and dinner. The food (fresh langoustines as a starter, mussels thereafter ) was as good as always. And the rooms were also as nice as ever.
But for those who have previously been to Glenforsa: it has definitely changed a bit over the last five years or so, and not so much for the good. First of all, the ultra-cozy little bar with that unforgettable view over the Sound of Mull is no more. It has been extended to make room for a little „pub-style“ restaurant…. somehow understandable, because everyone always wanted to have their dinner there, and it was always super-packed. Still, quite a pity, as it has really lost on atmosphere. Also, generally, the hotel has become a bit of a rush. Loads of rooms. Still often booked out in summer. It doesn’t quite seem to have that “personal touch” any more. A money-machine, if you will. Again, can’t really fault the owners, who simply reacted to the huge demand (most of which is from non-flyers…). Just the way it goes sometimes. Still an amazing place, mind.
Before going to bed, I went out again, and took a few more pics of the scenery during sunset. That concluded day 1.
For those who knew him: Keef’s bench, which was in good order…
You did ALL of this in one day ???
Wow. Now I get your advice of getting up early ! Or maybe it is the Cirrus lifestyle
Also, does that plane normally cruise at 172 TAS at 12.3 GPH?
The G5/G6 I fly are probably 10 kts slower!
yes indeed. Of course, I would have liked spending more time at each of these three places, but sometimes it just isn‘t possible. And the wish to see as many places as possible often prevails. That said, you can‘t really do such trips with (non-pilot) passengers.
But it all worked out fine. What helps is being organised and thinking ahead, thus avoiding wasting precious time.
Nice trip, thanks for posting.
Interesting museum you went to. I was always intrigued by the 3 British ‘V-bombers’, the Victor over there being the most visually pleasing of the 3.
Very nice trip and nice pics.
You have an admirable willingness to land the SR22 on “condition unknown” grass strips
Very nice trip report again ! Thanks
yes, that‘s what it does at FL120-140. But everything needs to be perfect to get these NMPGs:
I doubt the G5/G6 is that much slower. Yes, they are heavier and they have a couple of antennas, but I think the main points are mentioned above.
You have an admirable willingness to land the SR22 on “condition unknown” grass strips
It is still a fixed tricycle gear with 60kts stall speed
Thanks for your answer. Departing early makes a day much more profitable.
I more and more tend to stay longer and enjoy each destination and share trips.
One could say that a girlfriend changes one’s perspective And I don’t pay for the plane rental when it is parked !
I once did a trip alone and got so bored I came back early.