Day Out to Carlisle

Another trip out for lunch, this time to Carlisle where the cafe is good. I’ve eaten there several times in the course of the years, but we’ve never flown there in the Sting.

It started off as a lovely day with sun patches and high cloud, well clear of the tops of the hills. We set off from Perth across the Kingdom of Fife to Elie, where we struck out across the Firth of Forth to North Berwick. Lifejackets mandatory, although we were never out of gliding range of land.

Then down to Galashiels and Hawick before turning for Lockerbie, the routing chosen so as to avoid Edinburgh’s controlled airspace and the danger area at Spadeadam. The nice folks at Scottish Information on 119.875 offered to arrange a direct routing crossing the range but we were sightseeing and declined, while expressing our appreciation of the offer. Always be polite to the folks on the other end of the radio!

There was a bit where the cloud lowered a tad, but we always had an escape route and plan…and after a while the Solway Firth was visible in the distance:

Carlisle was quiet with one aircraft in the circuit, and we were soon down and directed to “Taxi to stand 2A” – just like being back in an airliner. The controller called us a TB20 rather than a TL20. A TB20 is a serious long distance 4-seat IFR touring machine. Maybe we’ll upgrade?

During lunch I noticed my old Air Force instructor pinned to the wall, not literally but in a frame. Andy taught me to fly the Jet Provost at Linton-on-Ouse in North Yorkshire…a long time ago!

And after lunch we found that an old open-cockpit Stearman on its way to the Scottish Air Show at Ayr seafront had popped in for fuel and was parked on the stand next to us. The lady flying it was looking slightly windswept as she left operations for the cafe…

The Carlisle landing fee was surprisingly economical. Having paid £15 at Fife and £15 at Cumbernauld we were expecting an airport with lots more facilities including real air traffic controllers to be more expensive. It was actually just over £10. We’ll definitely be going back.

Tenner paid we started up and made our way to the runway behind the club PA28 Warrior which was off on a solo training flight. ATC let us both taxi down the runway to the end, where we held position while he took off:

The return route was east towards Newcastle then north up the coast. Brenda asked me why I like flying. I couldn’t tell her but I could show her. Some views from the trip north…

Northumbria countryside:

The former WWII airfield at Brunton:

The sun shining on the righteous:

Berwick upon Tweed (in the rain):

After Berwick the rain cleared. Here’s the bird sanctuary of Bass Rock:

Crossing the Firth of Forth again northbound, with the three bridges (all now in use – the new one has just opened!) just visible way off in the distance:

And finally back to Perth after about two and a half hours flying, no refuel required at Carlisle. The fuel capacity and efficient engine can make for some serious distance covering ability.

Short final for runway 27 with the windsock showing a slight crosswind from the right. Last time I landed here the crosswind was from the left and from that direction it curls over the hangars and can produce some “interesting” turbulence and wind shifts just when you don’t want them…luckily the landing was smooth.

Brenda’s already planning the next lunch trip…

Time to spare? Go by air… (alternative title: “Bloody weather!”)

Once again the weather dashes the best laid plans. Check out these charts, showing crappy weather in the UK, our route to Sweden or Sweden itself.

We only have 12 days before I have to be back at work, and the long range forecast showed that we would have arrived at Siljan Air Park just after we needed to set off to come back.

It seems that work is getting in the way of holidays. We’re working on THAT little problem right now…more news to come.

Dan Roach, in his flying blog has this to say about weather:

So I had booked a days holiday and I had access to money and I had an aircraft booked.  So what?  Yes these are all things I can control.  But I can’t control the weather, if I could I wouldn’t be an IT consultant any more…

Given that I can’t control the weather, there really is no point in getting upset when it doesn’t conform to the plan that I had in my head.  I realise this is easier said than done in lots of circumstances, but if you face life with a smile on your face you really will be happier.

So, no flight to Sweden this time. In our aircraft at least. I say that ‘cos we’ve booked seats on Norwegian to Stockholm. There is no way we are going to miss the fly in / airshow / party this year.

One good thing about flying commercial is that Rory is coming too. Rory, also known as “The world’s coolest copilot” …

…although his coolness is somewhat hampered by the occupant of the other seat…

He’d better not complain though, he’s getting a free summer crayfish party and airshow in Sweden. Just don’t mention the clean up afterwards…

Four On – Four Off

The roster at work is quite civilised. Four day shifts (12hr from 0800 to 2000) followed by four days off. We don’t do nights at work, at least not yet. We do have to put up with the cameras though when the charity is on another media push…here’s me taking a photo of Rich taking a photo of a film crew filming John (He fluffed his lines).

Anyway four on four off…also known as 4on/4off/4ever because we can look ahead, years if need be, and know if we are working that day. Pilots only, paramedics have some weird system which only they can understand, and most of them don’t.

Four off in a row gives the ability to go away on a short trip every 8 days. The last one was (Brenda’s idea, honest!) to the RAF Museum at Cosford, the IWM at DuxfordRAF Cranwell Heritage Centre (we drove past and I saw my old room in the mess) and the Newark Air Museum.

At Cosford I was reunited with an old friend who I hadn’t seen for over 20 years…I got quite emotional standing looking up at Wessex XR525 and thinking things like “I used those steps and those handles to climb in”, “I flew that!” and “I wonder will they put me on a wall in a museum when I stop flying”

I also got quite emotional at Duxford, thinking “I really really really REALLY want a go in that, mister. Please!”

Brenda mentioned Spitfire Overload, but trust me, Duxford is ace!

4 days off also gives loads of time for good weather and trips in the Sting, such as flying the boy for lunch to Fife (where he mooned the camera!)…

Or flying Brenda to Cumbernauld for a quick cup of coffee with Haggis and Johnny at Phoenix Flight Training (I had done my licence renewal with them the previous week and promised to pop in and visit)…

(no mooning the camera this time!)

Or just getting airborne for a “bimble” – here we are checking the performance at 6000ft, which is our planned crossing altitude from Dover to Cap Gris Nez.

120 knots is pretty good. At two miles a minute it also makes the maths easy. Everything helps.