Video: Flying with subscriber

YouTube subscriber Stefan, from Australia, asked The Flying Reporter to take him on a tour of Kent, where he grew up.

I usually keep in good practice, taking flights as often as I can afford, but my usual aircraft, India Zulu, had a technical problem.  I had to rent a PA28 from my old flying school.  I haven’t flown Victor Mike for a long time, and so I’d become rusty on it’s COM/NAV setup.  I therefore opted to do a round of circuits before Stefan joined me in the cockpit.  It was a good chance to practice my crosswind landings too, as winds across Biggin Hill’s runway 21 were peaking at 280/14g20+ knots.  For all intents and purposes that’s a full crosswind component.

Biggin Hill Airport

Biggin Hill Airport

The circuits went very well.  The heart started pumping as the aircraft shimmied on the runway, and then yawed aggressively in the climbout as it adjusted to the gusts.  The first touch & go was a little shaky on the approach, but ended with a good crosswind touchdown.  The following two were the best crosswind landings I’ve ever done!  Pleased with myself, I stopped for a cold drink at the Lookout Cafe, before meeting Stefan.

Stefan grew up in a small hamlet near Brands Hatch motor racing circuit in Kent, called East Hill.  I’d identified it on google maps, then estimated its position on my SkyDemon Ipad app and 1:500,000 chart.  We reached it just a few minutes after leaving the Biggin Hill ATZ.

Next, we hopped up to the QE2 bridge, affording us spectacular views of the River Thames in Essex.

River Thames, Essex

It took us about 25 minutes or so to reach the East Sussex coastal towns of Hastings & Bexhill, where Stefan recalled playing pitch and putt as a child on weekends.

Bexhill & Hastings

Returning into Biggin Hill was a little trying to be honest.  We were overtaken by a spitfire, which was a thrill to watch, but other traffic arriving on the ILS held us both up in the circuit.  The Spitfire’s speed meant its holding orbit started off occupying pretty much the entire live side of the overhead.   I was asked to orbit early downwind, but I had to position carefully to avoid its path.  This made it difficult to avoid Biggin Hill town at first, which is supposed to be avoided because of its noise sensitivity.

After a few more holds for other aircraft, and positioned number 2, we were unexpectedly overtaken in the circuit by the aircraft at number 3.  We had to take avoiding action when it approached us late downwind.

A bit of bad positioning and timing on my part, meant that I had to go around when we eventually reached the final approach.   The number 3 aircraft was still on the runway and I had been given ‘land after’ instruction, but it was barely half way along and with the strong gusty crosswind, I wasn’t confident of making a safe touchdown, and keeping clear of the aircraft rolling out.  After an uneventful go-around, we landed on the next attempt.

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Video: Flying with a subscriber