Duxford Fly-In     Sunday 29/5/05

Today proved to be a milestone for me. After gaining my PPL in 1998, I temporarily stopped flying after the 17th December 2003 (the 100th anniversary of powered flight), I think because I was getting tired of just doing local flights from my home base, over the same old route.

Thanks to several members of the FLYER forums, I was invited to join a student fly-in to Old Buckenham in Norfolk in July 2004. I flew with "Keef" and "L2kPhil" from Southend to Old Buckenham in PA-28 G-UTSY. 

I returned to flying in April 2005; I had 2 flights with an instructor who signed me off as competent to go solo again. I was surprised that I only needed 2 hours of instruction after such a lengthy break, but reading about flying (books or magazines) obviously helped to keep my mind "airborne".

Anyway, as I was saying earlier, today (29/5/05) was to be a major milestone for me. It was to be my first P1 landaway for a very long time, it would be to Duxford (where I have visited many times by car but really wanted to fly into) and along a route that I had been reluctant to fly along in the past because of the discipline required for maintaining heading and altitude. 

Several hours were spent planning the trip, including revising navigation techniques and how to use the GPS (Global Positioning System) as a secondary aid to navigation. The amount of other traffic in the circuit at Duxford was surprising, and was more than I'd ever been a part of before. There were several interesting types (DH Tiger Moths & Dragon Rapides) all swarming around the circuit like bees around a honeypot, along with lesser beings in our spamcans. After 2 missed approaches due to traffic levels, we got in at the third attempt. I even heard of someone who got in only at their fifth attempt!

My landing on the grass was a real pleaser, and I hope the people watching from the museum (who seemed to number in their several hundred!) liked it too.

We met several other FLYER forumites, some familiar faces from Old Buckenham, and some new. We couldn't stay for very long as the aircraft (a Cessna 152 G-BHYX) had to be returned to Stapleford Flight Centre. At around the time we departed Duxford, I passed the 100 hour mark in my logbook.

Below are some of the photos from the day. 

At the bottom of the page are the plots from my GPS.

On final to runway 24 grass at Duxford. The concrete runway can be seen to the left.
Short final to runway 24 grass at Duxford, looking out of the right hand window. Concorde & Vulcan outside while hangar extension work takes place. Photo taken by my wife.
"I want to fly home in this"
Two seat Spitfire landed shortly after us and was a wonderful reminder of why I'd wanted to fly to Duxford.
My 'co-pilot' in front of the American Air Museum
Time for one last pose before climbing aboard for the return trip to Stapleford.
G-BHYX at Duxford
The departure from Stapleford was to the south west. Turning right to skirt Abridge (for noise abatement), we crossed the M11 and the M25 motorways towards Epping. We then set course towards Ware, passing the Rye House gas power station near Hoddesdon. For this leg, we had to be below 1500ft to pass underneath the Stansted control area.

After Ware we could climb higher (maximum 2500ft) and headed north to the town of Buntingford. At this point, we turned on track to Duxford and contacted them by radio. It was clear that the area was very busy - the lady in the tower said there were seven in the circuit!!

The route home to Stapleford was a lot less hectic. Departing from runway 24 grass, we climbed straight ahead before turning left to regain our track from Duxford to Buntingford. Then south onto Ware, descending to be below 1500ft before the Stansted control area. Rather than cut inside the corner at Ware, I chose to fly around the outside of it, to minimise any risks of having to glide clear of a built up area should the engine fail at 1400ft!!!

It was then on towards Epping, before trying to recognise the Stapleford circuit from a different angle. I normally approach it from the east, but it was reasonably easy to spot the field and join the circuit. In constrast to our approach(es) into Duxford, Stapleford was pretty quiet and so with a tight circuit we were in at the first attempt, for another superb landing (as commented by my passenger!)

Although the distance travelled was not very great, the achievements were very significant:

  •  My first P1 landaway since February 2000
  •  My first trip to Duxford, routing between the Luton & Stansted zones
  •  Passed 100 hours total logbook time.