I flew a return trip between Biggin Hill and Northampton Sywell, to mark my last time in G-CEIZ, the PA28 that has been my aircraft of choice for more than 2 years.
I have bought into a new PA28 share at Biggin Hill. Golf India Zulu has been a fantastic aircraft to fly, but in order to keep my IFR flying skills current, I need an aircraft with an ADF (automatic direction finder) and RNAV GPS.
I now own a 1/6th share of another 1980 PA28 Warrior 2. I’ll make my first video in the new aircraft soon, but before I left the IZ group, I took one more flight, to say goodbye.
Do you want my old share?
As I write this in December 2016, there is a non-equity share in G-CEIZ available. If you like the look of the aircraft, and would like to enquire about the group, checkout this page for up to date information.
My farewell flight was a return to Northampton Sywell, somewhere I haven’t visited before. The weather forecast was warning of a 40% probability of low cloud, and 8-10km visibility. Given the time of year, I knew the southbound return trip into the sun would be challenging. I wasn’t wrong!
On departure from Biggin Hill, I soon hit cloud at about 2100ft. Using my IR(R) (restricted instrument rating) I climbed through a hole to get above this. It was a bit of a juggling act, since the freezing level was about 2500ft, and there was a risk of airframe icing.
The flight to Sywell was conducted mostly IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) using VOR/DME (VHF Omni Directional Range Beacons/Distance Measuring Equipment). Once north of Luton, the weather became CAVOK (no cloud below 5000ft/10km+visibility). In fact, there were clear blue skies. I made a standard overhead join into the circuit at Northampton, and was helped by a confident FISO on the radio.
The airfield looked great with its Art Deco buildings, a good cafe (The Pilot’s Mess), and excellent runway and taxiways. I enjoyed watching helicopter pilots practising auto-rotation engine-out landings.
As predicted, the return flight was a challenge, given the low sun and a slight haze. The forward view was practically a white-out, and would have been quite a risk for a non-instrument rated pilot.
Out of the sun, the visibility was 6-8km.
The added risk of the poor forward visibility was that low cloud wasn’t visible until you were in it. Twice I had to descend to remain VMC (Visual Meteorological Conditions), and both times when inadvertently entering cloud. It was no big deal with the IR(R) rating, but it would have been scary if a straight PPL pilot. At one point, I was considering resuming IFR, and was about to request an instrument approach back to Biggin Hill, but their ATIS (automatic weather broadcast) stated that VFR conditions prevailed there.
It was a really good return flight, with good, challenging conditions. It was another day I would have been grounded if I didn’t have the IR(R).
As I refuelled the tanks to tabs, i said farewell to G-IZ.