D-Day 80 Part 2 – “OK, Let’s Go”

Scene from “The Longest Yarn”

When Eisenhower made the decision and said “OK, Let’s go on 6 June”, D-Day had already been postponed by 24 hours. If my trip had been forced to delay by another day there would have been no point in going, so it was with great relief that there was a weather window on the 5th June.

Rain moving in slowly and a strong wind. Strong but crucially straight down the runways at our departure and first two fuel stops. And also a tailwind aloft, pushing us along. The overnight stop at Rochester was forecast to have light winds. That was a days flying away anyway, and a lot can change in that time.

The decision was made – GO!

First leg was Perth to Eshott in Northumbria. As practice for the English Channel we had to cross the Firth of Forth:

Eshott is a delightful airfield, with great service and an excellent café. Refuelling was quick and efficient:

Next leg was to Breighton near Selby in Yorkshire, another lovely airfield. On the way I took a slight detour to overfly RAF Linton-on-Ouse, now disused, where the Air Force taught me how to fly jets. It’s looking a bit sad and neglected now…

Breighton was windy and quiet, with only one other aircraft flying. I was soon parked up at the self service pumps. Such an easy process…

Aircraft refuelled and bladder endurance reset, we set off for Fenland near Spalding in the, well, fen lands. Nice grass airstrip with cross runways, and once again self service fuel pumps:

This was the fastest turnaround of the trip, just 25 minutes after touchdown we were off again in the final leg of the day, to Rochester in Kent. The superb team there helped refuel the aircraft on arrival and push it to a tie down spot on the grass:

There is a Holiday Inn right next to the airfield, and that was my bed for the night. It’s a two minute walk away, and after a quick dinner I finished the planning for the crossing.

Flight plan filed and confirmed, Outbound General Aviation Report (GAR) sent to Border Force and confirmed, and email sent to Customs at Le Touquet…it was time for bed…


The next morning was clear and still, a perfect day for Cubbing.

Just like on our Sting trip to Siljansnäs, Rochester opened the flight plan on take off, and after a transit across Kent, we were soon out over the water at 4000 feet. Visibility was excellent and the other side was visible for the whole crossing. I did have a Dynon D2 portable attitude indicator just in case – if it’s hazy and sunny with no discernible horizon it can be easy to get disoriented in the “fishbowl” effect. The D2 wasn’t required.

Just like last time the shortest route was used, Dover to Cap Gris Nez. Same routing this time but the difference was below us – the new danger areas, designed to segregate surveillance drones monitoring the channel for migrants:

Cap Gris Nez approaching! Last time we turned left for Sweden. This time it was right for Le Touquet:

Joining downwind right hand for runway 31. Le Touquet airport is a popular destination for Brits flying across the channel as it is very easy to find and so near. Great restaurant too…and bikes for hire to get into town.

In anticipation of this trip I had arranged to get a Total card for the automated fuel pumps which seem to be everywhere in France. At the risk of repeating myself (again), automated pumps make the refuel very fast and easy:

Then it was taxi to the apron and into the terminal to clear customs. The customs desk is permanently staffed and once inside, the admin desk is right there. They take your landing fee, sell you a France Nord-Ouest chart if you don’t have one (I didn’t) and also rent out the bikes…

In September 2022 it was announced that the airport would be renamed “Le Touquet Elizabeth II“ in honour of the late Queen. Next time I’ll buy a patch…

Airborne again, heading southwest towards St-André, passing the Baie de Somme. I think these pools are to do with salt extraction? I noticed some on the way into Le Touquet as well. Not sure…

Inland now, we crossed over the Seine to the southeast of Rouen:

After the Seine, only about 30 miles to go. I reflected that the Cub and I had just crossed the channel on 6 June, just like thousands of aircraft and personnel 80 years ago to the day.

The radio was quiet as we approached Saint André de l’Eure. Then somebody called in French. The airfield was NOTAM’d to be reserved for L-Birds only with English on the radio so I wasn’t expecting that! I dug out my French radio calls crib sheet and made a stab at announcing my attentions, joined the circuit and landed.

Once clear of the runway, I was directed to park on the grass to let two Cubs out from the pumps, and then got refuelled (good old automatic Total pumps) and parked back on the grass:

But where the hell was everybody..?