Saturday, 11 July 2009

More weather thoughts

Off to Flying Legends at Duxford tomorrow (I hope). My slot is for 09:48 local, so will need to get airborne at about 09:00 to be there on time. The Stansted TAF is

TAF EGSS 111700Z 1118/1224 19010KT 9999 BKN020 BECMG 1118/1121 -RA BKN012 TEMPO 1120/1208 8000 RA BKN008 PROB40 TEMPO 1121/1206 3000 +RA RADZ BKN004 PROB30 TEMPO 1201/1207 19015G25KT BECMG 1207/1210 25010KT NSW SCT030 PROB30 TEMPO 1214/1219 26015G25KT 7000 SHRA=

If the red TEMPO is running late it'll be interesting, but the blue BECMG looks just the job. Let's hope that the front shown here is punctual and clears through in time.

Cirrus fly in - Turweston

Well, it's 07.30, and outside the sky looks grey. I need to get to Turweston - this is Lyneham's weather. Lyneham is 10nm north of the strip, so their weather tends to be 'my' weather.

TAF EGDL 110434Z 1106/1124 19005KT 9999 BKN012 TEMPO 1106/1108 7000 -RADZ SCT004 TEMPO 1110/1113 BKN018 BECMG 1113/1116 7000 -RA BKN006 TEMPO 1114/1124 2000 RADZ SCT002 BKN004 BECMG 1120/1123 19016KT=

The weather is generally coming in from the west, so I took a look at Yeovilton's TAF to see if the Navy had a more optimistic view, in my experience their weather forecasts are pretty accurate

TAF AMD EGDY 110609Z 1106/1115 21005KT 9999 SCT008 SCT020 TEMPO 1106/1115 FEW010 SCT020 TEMPO 1106/1115 8000 -RA PROB40 TEMPO 1106/1115 3000 -DZ BKN006 BECMG 1112/1115 21010KT 6000 RA BKN008 PROB40 TEMPO 1112/1115 3000 +RA BKN007=

I don't like the bold bits, which cover the period of the flight there and back. I hate TAFs like this, because if it's a TEMPO it's tempting to think that the weather will be fine, and that the TEMPO will turn out to be nothing more than a 5 minute shower. So fly or drive?

Does anyone know where I put my car keys?

UPDATE: Well, despite last minute doubts I stuck to plan B and took the car. The weather en route wasn't great, but was definitely flyable - a few bits of brightness suggested that I'd have been able to enjoy some sunshine on top at 3,000', or make my way in decent viz under the cloud. During the day, the weather just got better and better. By Hungerford I was cursing the weather forecasters, and feeling bad for not having flown. By the time I got to Marlborough I wasn't quite sure, and by the time I got to Devizes I was very glad to have taken the car. Here's the view. This is about 2nm from the strip.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

So that's what they were thinking

There have been rumours about NATS wanting to charge for services provided to VFR flyers for years. This year there were yet more rumours, and they were being repeated by individuals not known for spreading unfounded gossip. I decided to use the Freedom of Information act to ask the Department for Transport for any documents relating to any discussions with NATS about charging for these services.

Here are the results. There's a news story in next month's Flyer

Covering letter from the DfT, including a (good) statement of intention
An email referring to an upcoming meeting
A document prepared by NATS discussing the services provided to VFR flyers and the rationale behind charging.

I think you'll find the documents, particularly the last one, of interest.

We've been offered an interview with Ian Hall, Director of Development and Investment at NATS, so if you have any questions you'd like us to put to him, drop us an email at asknats at flyermag dot co dot uk

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Lydeway approach

A bit of an experiment this, coming back to the strip today (Lydeway), I put the G10 into video mode, propped it up on top of the instrument panel and switched it on. This is the approach to the westerly runway, and as you can see it crosses the railway line on short final. If I can see a train coming I'll hold off, or go-around. The trees that line the strip on the left during the final part of the approach and the rollout make a great hiding place for deer. For some reason they (so far) only seem to hide in the first third of the runway; I've had to go around three or four times because of walking wildlife in the two-and-a-half years that I've been at the strip.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Chamois closed

I've just been speaking to Adrian, a friend who lives in France and who uses his Jodel to fly in and around the Alps far too regularly. Adrian has just given me some bad news. Chamois, the Italian altisurface is currently closed. The grass is too long, there are cows grazing on it, there's a fence in the middle and if that's not enough, it appears that there's a bit of an argument going on between the people who manage it (someone manages it?) and the local farmers. Aaarrrggghhhh.

I've only flown in once. I took off in a D140 from Megeve with Frank (seen arriving here) and Bruno, Megeve's CFI. We picked our way through Mont Blanc's valleys into Italy and routed overhead Aosta heading roughly south. Roughly ten miles later we turned left up a valley to be greeted by the Matterhorn looking simply stunning. Chamois was off to our right a couple of thousand feet lower. We landed, walked into the village (only accessible by cable car or aircraft) and had lunch. It is, or was, a great little strip in a spectacular setting.

There's a meeting taking place next week to try to resolve the issues and to get this little bit of aviation paradise open again, but I'm told that hopes are not running too high. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Update: It seems that Chamois will now be closed until the end of the year, it may open again in 2010, but that is far from certain. Bugger.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Will The Fighter Collection fly?

The Flying Legends airshow takes place at Duxford next Saturday and Sunday. I'm planning to fly in, meet some friends and enjoy a nice picnic in glorious sunshine while enjoying some great displays. There is however a bit of a fly in the ointment as it were. The Fighter Collection, the mainstay of Legends, has had many of its aircraft grounded by the CAA.

I'm told that following an audit of the Fighter Collection in October 2008, the CAA wasn't happy with both some modifications and the use of alternative parts and materials which, in the CAA's words, had not been properly validated. The CAA say they were also concerned by the lack of records detailing how some of the changes were accomplished.

The CAA says that for safety reasons certain aircraft are grounded until such time as the organisation can show the CAA how the work was undertaken and have completed any remedial work required.

I'm sure that the team at Duxford will put together a great event, but I'm equally sure that the groundings will have long reaching consequences.