Afternoon actually. We had a high today as forecast of around 15 degrees Celsius, clear blue sky with bright sunshine and little or no wind, but a dirty little low level immersion as a result. But no matter. As yesterday I finished all of the work on the Savannah to do with fitting the replacement screen, changes to the electrics and installing new strobes (just the new landing light now left to do), as I haven’t flown it since August when the damage to the screen occurred and as Malbec, our home strip, is an ‘altiport’ (land up-hill, take off down) of only 160 metres, I thought that it’d be a good idea to get some landing practise in.
We are very lucky as we have a whole bunch of airfields of all types and dimensions within just a few minutes flying time but for the exercise today I chose the following:
Take off Malbec
Landing 1 – Belvès LFIB (conventional, 800m grass runway 11/29)
Landing 2 – Castillonnès LF4722 (conventional, 450m grass runway 15/33)
Landing 3 – Sarlat Domme LFDS (conventional, 747m tarmac runway 10/28)
Landing 4 – Galinat LF2461 (altiport, 450m grass runway 16/34)
Landing 5 – Condat sur Vézère LF2423 (altiport, 600m tarmac runway 17/35)
Landing 6 – Malbec LF2467 (altiport, 160m grass runway 02/20)
Here’s a shot of the route.
The total flying time was only 1 hour 52 minutes, the shortest leg was just 11 minutes and the longest only 32 but the enjoyment and satisfaction was out of all proportion to the time involved. And to top it all, I at last got my little camcorder working on a power pack and without vibration in its mount, so I got it all on video. Editing that should keep me occupied during the long winter evenings.
There were one or two interesting incidents along the way. For the first time since Wim and I have been landing there, there were other aircraft parked on the apron at Condat and the pilots of two of them were standing chatting together. I passed the time of day with them for a few minutes before they left, one in a Zenair 701 clone and the other in a rather odd looking little biplane.
While they were leaving, I noticed a gyro on the dead side, which you are not supposed to fly over because of houses, and before I taxied to take off myself, I failed to notice that he’d turned in tight and was going to land. I didn’t even see him on final and as I was about to enter the runway, the gyro shot past above and in front of the Savannah. So that was a lesson learned. I’m used to just looking out for other fixed wings, but gyros are much smaller and less noticeable, so from now on, I’ll take even more care looking up the final approach path.
It then became a bit like Piccadilly Circus with busy traffic. As I took off and climbed out, I kept a special look-out for the gyro just in case. I didn’t see it, but as I glanced to the right straight into the sun I caught a glimpse of another fixed-wing in the glare of the sun just beginning to turn onto base leg. That was enough for me. The Savannah climbs like a lift when asked, so I pulled up the nose and climbed out of there before any other unexpected traffic appeared. And of course, nobody was talking on 123.5 as they could have been…
But that wasn’t all. As I was heading west straight into the sun at about 1700 feet, suddenly I noticed another aircraft below me and to the right. It was a retractable flying on about the same heading and overtaking me at about 300 feet below. The sun being so low made it difficult to see very much and I was worried in case he was flying with a partner aircraft, but all I could do was pull right to place him on my left where I could see him better.
As I turned left towards Malbec overhead Wim’s field I watched as he slowly disappeared into the distance. I didn’t see any other aircraft, though, and shortly after I was very pleased to do a perfect landing at Malbec without further incident.
I now have family visitors arriving tomorrow for the next month, so this could be my last flight of 2016. If so, it was a really good one 😉