Flying from Alderney to La Rochelle

Part 2 of my 2019 Europe adventure sees us depart from the Channel Islands and head south into the mid west of France.

Coasting in at Cherrueix

Even though I had filed a flight plan with a south easterly track, I was expecting to be given a clearance to leave the Channel Islands via one of their VRPs on the west of France. As it turned out, my clearance was via the southern zone boundary of the CTR not above 2000ft VFR. Low level over the sea is never very nice, so I asked for higher, and was initially given not above 3000, before being cleared to not above flight level 80 by Jersey approach.

VFR on top

There was scattered cloud as we approached France, but being 1000ft above it, we could remain VFR. It was a smooth, and cooler ride too at this higher level.

I made use of the French airways system, which had an almost direct route down to La Rochelle. The airways can be viewed in SkyDemon if you switch to airways mode. Details of the airways can also be found in the French AIP. These are class E airways usually above FL65, and adopt a higher class of airspace when they pass through areas of D or C for example.

The benefit of using the airways is that they generally avoid any airspace obstacles along the route, such as danger areas, restricted airspace or parachute zones. They don’t always, so you still have to check your entire route, and you may have to deviate.

French ATC was a breeze. We were cleared through the class D TMAs without hinderance. In fact, apart from a 20 mile stretch south of the Channel Islands CTR, our entire journey was in controlled airspace, mostly class D.

As we neared La Rochelle, it was clear from the frequency that a Ryanair had just landed, and an EasyJet A320 was on approach. I planned my descent well, calculating an optimal top of descent 18 miles before the aerodrome, and was able to adopt a constant rate of descent. We were told that the EasyJet was going to have to back-track, and so I was asked to position long-long final. To be honest, I didn’t do this very well, and actually ended up on a 5 mile final. The controller asked me to reduce to minimum approach speed, which I did, and that gave the A320 time to backtrack, and I slotted in well.

It was very warm in La Rochelle, and evidence of a frontal system could be seen in the embedded CBs nearby. We retired to our hotel, and then discussed our options for the following day’s flight.

Premium supporters can look at the GPS flight track and flight plan from this journey here.

Here is the video from this leg.

Details of Simon Keeling’s Weather School can be found here.