That’s it, I can do no more. My flight to France in 24ZN is now definitely postponed until the new year. We had a freezing cold night last night in south-east England and when I arrived at Clipgate this morning my worst fears were realised. Not only were there extensive banks of mist in the whole area but 24ZN itself was covered in a thick layer of hoar frost. Taking off with it in such a condition, even if it could get off the ground, would be potentially fatal.
My guess was that it would have taken at least an hour for the frost to have melted, possibly longer, and then there was the question of what to expect over on the other side of the Channel. When I checked while still at Clipgate the whole of the French Channel coast was IFR and at the time of writing this post (11.30 am UK, 12.30 hrs France), Evreux, which is on my planned route, is still declaring LIFR in freezing fog.
Taking off much later than 8.30 am UK time is not really an option because we are now at the end of the year when the days are at their shortest and with the fuel stops that I’ve had to build in, there wouldn’t be enough daylight hours left to make the kind of progress that is necessary for this kind of flight. I also think that in order to get the kind of en-route conditions that I need for the flight, at this time of year the mornings will tend to be bright and cold like today and will almost inevitably be foggy on either the UK or the French side thereby preventing me from taking off until it’s too late.
So I’ve reluctantly decided to call it a day for this year. It’s difficult to believe that the whole saga began in summer-like weather in September. Unfortunately time was lost getting the aircraft onto the French register (around a month) and it was during that period that the weather changed for the worse. But the final conclusion has to be that planning a longish flight in an ULM across an international boundary at around the shortest day of the year is really pie in the sky.
My life has been on hold for too long waiting for a weather window that hasn’t materialised and is now unlikely to do so and I have things to do back in Plazac. I’m hoping to make arrangements for 24ZN to go into the new hangar at Clipgate in which there appears to be space for another couple of aircraft and if I can do that I’ll be heading off back to France by car with the idea of returning in the spring when the weather starts to improve. If so, I hope that the whole sorry story doesn’t start all over again.