Flew a PA-28 to Manchester on Saturday afternoon for an event in the Concorde hangar on Sunday. Handling on the ground and cost was the big issue. Signature wanted £800 which was about what I expected and way out of my price range, second call was to Weston who could do it for £250 through the passenger terminal instead of a dedicated VIP facility. Still big bucks but I had 80kg of books to sell which would cost quite a bit on BA who only have two flights a day and timings are hopeless so I took the plunge with Weston.
Landing in Manchester
Human spirograph waiting to land
Southend Flying Club have two planes in the shop for checks so they’ve leased in a PA-28 registered G-AYAR, already nicknamed Gaydar. Interesting bird, 51 years old, originally used by BA for training, alas one of them climbed into another aircraft with inevitable results so at great expense BA installed extra windows in the roof of the rest of the fleet. Bit banana’d by old age I think as it doesn’t really stay in trim, VSI shows -100fpm in level flight, with power set at cruise power of 2,300rpm two bits of metal somewhere vibrate like a fire alarm, or more charitably, a school bell. Don’t mind, quite charming actually. Misunderstanding the unfamiliar radio set up meant I actually had to go back and land after just a couple of minutes in the air to sort it out, £30 landing fee, portent of an expensive weekend to follow.
Taxiing off the runway
Forecast wasn’t promising but improved on the way, hazy and cloud base at 2,500 feet so flew at 2,200 feet no problems with radios all working perfectly. Essex Radar let me through the Stansted zone despite quite a bit of traffic. Clearance ended with “…welcome!” So nice. Did a human spirograph three miles south of Manchester airport to make room for Finnair, Lear bizjet and Ryanair arrivals. Felt very self conscious on final approach with four jets lining up on the taxiway waiting impatiently for takeoff while I coasted in at 70 knots. Runway turnoff was about a mile past the touchdown zone so I actually piled on quite a lot of power and scurried along as fast as I dared, could have probably got airborne again. The tower thanked me for keeping the speed up and there was a follow-me car to escort through the maze of taxiways to parking. So funny taxiing around in a plane the size of an actual taxi among big jets. Parked on a remote stand in between a pair of Jet2 757s. I asked the guy with the Weston minivan if they get PA-28s very often. “We never get PA-28s.”
Follow me vehicle to parking
Mixing it up with the big boys
Legends dinner with Andy Martin, Craig West and Barry Woods-Turner. Show the next day was not a smash hit due to no international visitors and some locals staying away presumably due to concerns about the dreaded, could have left half the books at home, made enough £ to cover Weston and a bit of the flying but factoring in hotel and meals etc not a profitable trip.
Parking between a pair of Jet2 757s
Next stop Lydd in Kent to join family who are spending a week in a rented house on the coast, weather south of the midlands was so apocalyptic that it ended up being the lead story on the news so I wanted to delay til Monday but my security pass for the airport couldn’t be extended so I had to fly somewhere, chose Nottingham mostly because it’s where the Jet Provost was based (now in Wales for a heavy check) and fuel there is super cheap. Felt like a pro working through four different controllers just to get to the holding point short of the runway — information (ATIS), delivery (for start up and initial taxi), ground (taxi), tower (taxi and take off). Uneventful 40 minute flight and got directions to a hotel 1.5 mi away, walked along winding Nottinghamshire lanes dragging my Tokyo 2020 wheelie suitcase thinking it’s weird where aviation can take you.
Manchester to Nottingham, pink is planned, blue is actual
En route weather for Nottingham to Lydd today mostly OK but local forecast at the destination was terrible, expected to divert back to Southend and find another way to Kent and probably on a different day. Once past Stansted I asked Southend Radar if they could get the Lydd weather for me and it was still crap, rain and low cloud ...but with an update due in ten minutes. I ploughed on across the Thames towards Kent, Southend came back to me and said they’d phoned Lydd and the showers had moved out to sea and the cloud base lifted slightly. Profuse thanks for the help. Crossed Kent and it was hazy, cloud everywhere, but never met the impenetrable wall that was in the forecast, then there was the coast, and a runway! Parked, paid landing fee and overnight parking (£37 total). Sis bro-in-law niece nephew nephew’s-girlfriend and dogs waiting outside. Rented house is gorgeous and as I enjoyed a swim a Spitfire did a series of aerobatics right overhead.
Nottingham to Lydd
Time to write this long post cos the rest of the family are watching something called Love Island which is very fall of Rome. Tomorrow heading back to Southend and home. More bad weather forecast but I can follow the coast at 800 feet if necessary, or wait til Wednesday morning. Then it’s back to work, no more flying for a while until I can get some instructing work, the money’s all gone. Worth every penny though!
Introducing the next generation of Amelia Earharts
Introducing the next generation of Amelia Earharts
Home stretch Lydd back to Southend