I’d been meaning to visit a friend who lives near Bognor Regis for some time, and the journey by car is such a bore, so I decided to fly down, have lunch at Goodwood Aerodrome, and then take him on a tour of Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight.
I set off from Biggin Hill at midday, after waiting for the morning showers to clear to the east, and had a lovely flight via Guildford and Midhurst. I joined into the aerodrome circuit from overhead at 2000ft, then descended for runway 32 with right hand turns. I’m still getting the hang of this aircraft, and its landing characteristics, but the touchdown was smooth enough. I needed a little help from the aerodrome flight information service officer over the radio to find my parking spot – the controllers always give directions relative to the various aircraft on the apron, and I can’t tell the difference between a Mooney and a microlight. Their instructions therefore leave me a little baffled as to where to go, so I suppose it’s about time I brushed up on all the different aircraft types.
I had lunch with my friend in the old control tower next to the motor racing circuit. We could barely hear each other because of the roar of high performance cars flying by. I briefed my friend on our route, then wondered back to the aircraft, did a quick transit check to make sure nothing had fallen off during landing, then settled back into the cockpit.
After take off from runway 24 we climbed as high as the clouds would allow – about 3000ft – then coasted out over Portsmouth towards Ryde talking to Bournemouth Radar on the radio. We chose a wide clockwise route around the island, so my friend in the right hand seat got the best view. He snapped away on his phone while I descended to 1800ft passing The Needles to stay below Southampton’s controlled airspace above. Solent Radar, who were now giving me a service, were polite and helpful, warning of opposite direction traffic approaching the island from Selsey.
There were few clouds dotted around at about 3000-3500ft, and it was fun dodging them as we circled back to Ryde for our short crossing back over the Solent. Passing Selsey Bill, we headed for Bognor Regis for a quick orbit of my friend’s house, before calling up Goodwood Information for landing information.
My approach was a little high, and I was considering going around, however I managed to lose enough height and speed to make a safe touch down. Conscious of some rather dark clouds slowly approaching the airfield from the west, the start of a cold front moving through, I quickly paid my landing fees and said my goodbyes to my friend. I departed from runway 24 again as before, thinking I was observing the aerodrome’s noise abatement procedure – turning west asap – but I got a stern message from the Flight Information Service Officer. I was always trained not to turn after take off until reaching about 500ft, which I did, but this clearly wasn’t early enough for Goodwood. My apologies to the villagers of Lavant who got a loud blast of my engine as I concentrated on lifting my flaps safely. In future, I shall make a shallow turn much earlier, and perhaps delay retracting the flaps.
My route back to Biggin Hill took me via Brighton and Crowborough, and this leg was completely uneventful yet pleasurable. There was smooth air all the way, and I was able to enjoy the views as the sun began its descent towards the horizon.
Distance flown: 257 nautical miles
Flight time logged: 3hours 25 minutes.