Up to yesterday I hadn’t flown in either my Savannah (77ASY) or my Xair (24ZN) since July when I took Sophie’s granddaughter up in the Xair. The Savannah had been fuelled-up ready to go for a couple of weeks or so, but I’d not been able to find either the opportunity or the motivation to get airborne so as the weather is now becoming rather autumnal and opportunities might start becoming few and far between, I thought that I’d better make the effort before I lost my flying mojo.

The daily weather forecasts for this week were not too encouraging but although yesterday started out cloudy and dull, it brightened up considerably during the afternoon and as there was also little wind, I decided that it would be a good time to go flying. In fact, although the temperature was only around 19 or 20 degrees Celsius, I was surprised to find as soon as I took off that it was surprisingly bumpy.

As I knew I wouldn’t be taking off until late afternoon, I thought that I’d go for a fairly short flight, from Malbec to Figeac-Livernon in the Lot and then back to Malbec via Sarlat. The planned flight time was 65 minutes but with taxying, approaches and landings, the total came out to 90 minutes. Here’s a pic of the route.

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I mounted a GoPro behind me in the cabin and although I planned to get more, I shot a video of just the leg from Malbec to Figeac-Livernon, including the take off and landing.

There’s a reason why I didn’t get as much video as I wanted to. While I was on base leg at Figeac, I heard another aircraft call up to say that they were coming in for a touch-and-go somewhere behind me and to my alarm, I heard him call final while I was on final myself. Figeac has no taxiway and it’s normal practice to backtrack after landing to exit the runway on the short length of taxiway down to the parking area.

However, knowing that this other aircraft was behind me, I thought that it would be prudent to go for the grass and it’s lucky that I did, because in the time that it took me to turn 180 degrees, he was landing beside me. It’s not a good idea to taxy on the grass on an unknown airfield because there are often hidden objects and/or rabbit holes that you can taxy into and damage your propeller and engine, but I watched closely what I was doing and taxied slowly and with great care.

Even so, it was a bit much for this other pilot to just assume that I’d be kind enough to get out of his way and he should really have extended his circuit or approach to allow me to land and clear the runway. That’s what a British pilot would have done anyway. Here are a couple of shots that I took of 77ASY in its ‘usual’ parking place opposite the flying club clubhouse and airfield offices. Unfortunately, however, the bumpy surface of the grass had caused the GoPro to fall down and as I didn’t notice, that was effectively the end of videoing for the day.

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That’s a Maule, the first one I’ve ever seen, in the second shot above. It looks just like the one in Microsoft Flight Simulator, and even had a ‘N’ registration!

After a brief stop, I took off to head for Sarlat. By now as the afternoon wore on, the turbulence was beginning to subside and the flight was fairly uneventful. There was one annoyance though. A student pilot, evidently with an instructor on board, was flying circuits and ‘touch-and-gos’ there in a Robin and the problem was that he was flying absolutely huge circuits which were totally uncalled for and unnecessary.

In fact I saw him climbing out and thought from the height that he climbed to that he was going to fly away from the airfield, but no, after flying a huge cross-wind leg and turning downwind, he called downwind to land well after he’d passed the runway landing threshold. And then he carried on so far that I lost sight of him.

This caused me problems because in the time that it then took him to fly all the way back again, I could have cut in and landed, but you can’t do that sort of thing. So I had to also fly an extended circuit until I could see him on final and turn in to land myself. What the instructor was doing I do not know. That is not the way to train a student pilot to fly circuits, even in an ‘avion’ (Group A aircraft).

Here are some shots that I took at Sarlat.

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The very pretty Piper Cub was on the parking area. It transpired that the owner was looking to sell it. It could be a bargain for someone as its engine is almost out of time and will require a complete overhaul. However, even if its selling price reflects that, which it should, I can say with some certainty that that person will not be me!

After filling in the movements sheet at Sarlat, which the majority of visitors don’t seem to do, I then took off to head back to Malbec. I heard the student pilot start taxying for another session of circuits so made sure that I climbed away and cleared the area as quickly as I could.

The flight back to Malbec was in almost clear air in contrast to when I took off and I landed without incident shortly after 6.00pm. I’d enjoyed my first flight in something like 6 weeks but I was glad to be back again and also pleased that despite the break, all three of the landings I’d done were very respectable if not actually greasers 😉

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