Well, Stornoway is finally in the logbook. Having tried last year when I did the Plockton trip but failed due to a variety of reasons, we pushed the boundaries and achieved the goal this year – Stornoway. ? 6 April to 8 April.
How bazaar is Face Book? After agreeing with the person that would have been my co-conspirator on the Stornoway trip that in the interests of aviation safety it would be best we did not share the same cockpit (pardon the expression) I posted a status update stating that this trip was in balance and I might switch to Ireland as it would then be a solo trip and Ireland would be easier on the pocket when I got a reply from a fellow formit on Face Book asking if he may join the trip on a cost sharing basis. Like so many of my face book friends, I had never met him or spoken to him and it was in fact the night before we flew that I finally spoke to him on the phone. I will confess to having reservations but thought it could be no worse than flying with someone you know and don’t get on with. It turned out to be a great decision. I got on well with Charles. I finally met someone that can out sing me no matter how hard I tried. Hahahaha.
So, game on. Charles did his check out on the Archer, KL and all the ducks started to line up and all we needed was the weather. As the departure date approached I started to feel rather optimistic about the weather and my optimism was to be rewarded. The only challenging (ish) bit of weather was around the Isle of Harris both in bound and out bound to Stornoway.
As the weather was good on departure Charles requested the first leg
Shoreham to Sleap. Chock to chock 1.6 hrs and 54.47 lts used @ £2.41 pl. I did not particularly like Sleap.. Happily, apart from the Humberside security, every other facility was just great. I sometimes surprise myself with my military precision on getting things moving. We were on a tight deadline time wise if we were to meet Stornoway’s funny opening/closing times so poor Charles got frogged marched out to the plane still trying to stuff a bun down his gullet. It seems he was used to going at Paul S’s pace. Hahahaha.
Farnborough overhead Final Sleap Pilot Charles
The next leg was Sleap to Prestwick. I wanted to go into Prestwick for a variety of reasons. The trip the year before I was persuaded not to use Prestwick due to turn around time for fuel etc. Heck, Prestwick was just great for both stops. £20 for the landing and the re-fuelling was very quick. The service from the Flight Centre was awesome. They gave me lots of help with regards to me making the go/no go decision to Stornoway as the weather had started to deteriorate. I also wanted to use Prestwick as it had an IAP. With lowish cloud, if I had used Cumbernauld, I felt we would risk being caught with the highish mountains and Glasgow airspace. It turned out to be a good call. As the weather was still nice from Sleap to Prestwick, I offered that leg to Charles who accepted the leg and off we went. 1.9 hrs chock to chock and 67 lts used @ £2.48 pl.
Crew change. The Edge took the left seat. After speaking to Stornoway regarding the weather which was 1300ft few 900 with light rain I elected to go. Back doors were Benbecula and Glenforsa and if that failed, I would do the IAP into Stornoway. As it was, the only mind focusing part of the trip weatherwise was as we approached the Isle of Harris. The base had lowered and rain turned into heavy rain which turned into horizontal snow. It felt like an eternity but in reality it was not and as I featured crawled around the coastline, the snow stopped and the cloud base rose to what the ATC folks had stated the weather to be and we arrived safely much to the relief, I suspect, of my colleague. Chock to chock 1.9 hrs, 68 lts used @ £2.67 pl.
Just airborne out of Prestwick route Brute
Yay we go there safely :-)
I must mention at this stage that I had the Nexus 7 with SkyDemon on it. I am very glad I got the one with the 3g connection. It was superb. It did not falter once on the entire trip. It did not lose GPS signal once, unlike my Garmin 96 and oddly the Ipad thingy. While the Ipad thingy was not on this trip, it was on board when I last flew Shrek and it dropped out twice I think and I remember the wails (poetic licence) of bemusement from its owner saying it had neeeever done that before. A bit like people saying the GNS 430 never drops out and I have had that drop out on me more times than I care to remember. Hehehehee. The only negative side to the Nexus 7 is the screen cracked. I thought I did this on take off out of Stornoway when it landed on the floor but having googled this, it seems these 7’s are known for “just breaking their screens” so I am not so sure anymore. Happily I can still use it if I swivel the menu away from the cracked part.
Stornoway itself. Ha. ATC were great. Lots of healthy and safety and security. More of that later. We booked into the Crown Hotel at £65 per night with breakfast. Unfortunately the hotel is right opposite a night club. When that finally calmed down in the wee hours, the blooming seagulls started their noise. Waaaay Hey, I finally met someone that enjoys a beer after flying as much as I do. It was Charles’s turn to do the frog marching and we went pub crawling and street crawling.
Even Betty left her name for Charles in anticipation. ?
By now the snow had set in. Rather surreal have snow chucking it down in April.
Dinner was had at the Royal Hotel but we were not allowed into the posh section but were given separate tables in the poor mans section ten yards away. Hahahaha. And no, I did not have my jumper on.
Anyhow, after a sleepless night, I was expecting to be weathered in but no, Stornoway was flyable and Prestwick was good. We just had the same crud to get back though that we had inbound. I offered the leg to Charles but he felt it wise given the weather that I should be PIC. Airport opened at 12:45 local and closed again at 13:30 so I was a man with a mission again. We arrived early and ran into security. They would not let us airside as they were not allowed to for whatever reason. I stomped my trotters like a 2 year old which may or may not have had an affect because miraculously we were airside. Up to the Tower to talk to the gorgeous FISO and book out. Next fuel. Ha. No complaints with the service BUT BP seem to have no money to invest in a proper credit card system so I had to have my card done manually plus they had to phone for authorisation. It would not have been a problem had I had a BP card. I then had to sign an indemnity for the fuel they put in as the plane did not have big red AVGAS stickers next to the caps. All this really tested my mindset. Anyone that knows me knows I don’t do all this nonsense. While it may make some pilots feel important and whatever filling in paper work and being pedants, me, no, life’s tooooooo short. So we launched. Chock to chock 2.0 hrs, 67 lts used @ £2.48 pl. We used a landing voucher and parking for the night was £3.50 I think.
Next leg was Prestwick to Humberside flown by Charles. It amused me through out the trip how this map and compass aviator grew more and more attached to the Nexus 7 and the mighty Demon. Chock to chock 2hrs. Have no idea what fuel was used etc as I did not pay for this leg. I do know that if it were not for my friends Mel and the Drew Boy, I would never go to Humberside. ATC is great but the getting though the admin is painful. Parking and landing cost £72 I think. I still am not sure what we got for the money.
Final into Humberside. The Camera's battery died so there ended the evidence. :-)
By now Charles had learnt I have a low threshold of tolerance for “No we cant attitudes”. They basically just don’t give a shit for GA. For example. We paid our money at the main terminal, got given a slip of paper. We then had to go back out the building, back to the old security place for GA. They took the paper but instead of letting us out the door 6 paces from where we stood, we had to go back outside, up a path to come back down the other side of the fence to a gate that was right next to the original door to be buzzed through? Crazy world we live in.
Spent the night with Mel and Drew Boy. Lots of wine and yummy pulled pork. It was at this point I discovered the Nexus had stopped working. I did not realise that I could still use it. Anyhow, out with the 96 and the paper chart and back to the old way of flying. Boy, I suddenly felt how spoilt I had been with the black magic box. No instant weather, no notams and so forth. Humberside annoyed me with this as the facilities they had did not work and I just got a shrug of the shoulders when I asked how was I to get the weather. Grrrrrrrrrrrrr. I did this leg which was chock to chock 2hrs. Viz was carp.
Aircraft performed well. Not a drop of oil used but it was not without its snags. We ended up flying her by “ear”. The RPM gauge has stopped giving any meaningful info. The nose oleo sprung a leak. The chrome had started to de-chrome and was cutting into the seal so we elected to avoid all lumpy airfields. The altimeter appeared to be under reading by a margin that made me uncomfortable to go full IFR and we had a soft main tyre. But flying would not be flying if it was fault free. Hahaha?
Just for reference Breighton is not that far from Humberside
The fuel is 1.86 litre and is available 24 hours (no runway lights). Its self service and if you uplift fuel there is no landing fee. 5 quid otherwise.
Pretty tidy collection of aircraft there to.
Very nice trip.
I am Shoreham based too
In fact we have probably stood in the same queue in the cafe there, furiously scanning the room for a vacant table...
Nice trip. You seem to have managed to find some if UK's most expensive Avgas, though. I knew Stornoway was bad, but didn't know this also applied to Sleap and Prestwick...
Nice trip and nice write-up / photos :-) And you're quite brave taking an unknown Facebook'er for such a long flight. It looked like it worked out well.