In this video, I tackle a recent dip in my pilot confidence and run through the procedures for flying from an aerodrome with full ATC, such as Biggin Hill.
After a few knock-backs recently, and having not flown for a month, I planned a straightforward flight with no passengers, on a perfect VFR day, to rebuild the confidence. It’s natural to feel a little uneasy before a complicated flight, or a flight in marginal weather I think, but some recent experiences had had quite a profound effect on me. If I was to carry on flying, I needed to tackle this by ‘getting back on the horse’.
It was about time that I suffered from this phenomenon – something I’ve heard other pilots talk about – since I’ve reached about 230hrs flying time now. Being a confident pilot is essential. Being too confident is dangerous. It’s a fine balance.
It had been a frosty morning, and so I taxied the aircraft to the other side of the aerodrome to find some sunshine. This melted the thin layer of ice that had formed on the aircraft overnight. I then spent some time, running the engine to warm it up before requesting taxi. I used this time to explain in the video some of the GA procedures at Biggin Hill.
At the time of writing, Biggin Hill requires all flights to obtain prior permission (PPR) more than 30 minutes before arriving or departing, unless those flights have filed a flight plan. This is done online, using the airport’s booking form. You have to register, enter your details, the aircraft details, the flight details etc. Thankfully, the website works quite well on mobile phones, and so this can be done remotely. It’s a faff, but I do understand that it helps the airport manage traffic density, and presumably gives them the details they need if they need to take issue with the pilot at a later date for noise abatement transgressions. The airport is planning to come down hard on pilots who don’t follow the published procedures.
Having filed all of these details online, there is no reason why your initial radio call, either arriving or departing, should have to repeat them. The video shows my approach to the initial departure call, which quotes the PPR number, parking position, QNH and ATIS received.
Similarly, when arriving at the airport, there is no need to say the aircraft type, point of departure etc – because the airport should already have taken these details when obtaining PPR. This is another benefit of the system, as it slightly cuts down the amount of information that has to be passed over the radio.
Once you’ve filled out the form online, you receive an email with the PPR number which you will need to quote. Check it hasn’t gone into your spam folder! The detailed procedures, including noise abatement rules and standard joins can be found in the usual flight guides, or on the NATS Aeronautical Information Service website.
I had a lovely flight, the air was smooth, and the views tremendous.
Don’t forget that you can view the GPS tracks of my flights here. Just scroll to the flight on 4/12/16.