For the second flight of the day I was told to plan a flight over Silverstone – so I popped to the Cafe (to be specific, cafe pacific) where I ordered a nice big fry up and started planning.
One full stomach later, I headed back to the flying school to check for any relevant NOTAMs for the flight… and this is where I learned to check BEFORE planning – as Silverstone had a published NOTAM for an air display. Ahh – well I changed to plan to go over Buckingham, a little south of Silverstone. I also vaguely hoped I might see an air display, so brought the camera along.
As part of the pre take-off checks we tuned and identified the Cranfield VOR. This was so we could do some VOR tracking after the nav exercise – but I imagine this is also a useful habit to test the equipment and also if not using any other VOR, having Cranfield on standby incase of getting lost seems like a good precaution.
We went up into the air, and since we also planned to visit all the VRPs for Cranfield, we headed first to Olney – very easy VRP to spot thanks to a windfarm which also happens to line up nicely for the base leg on RWY 21.
From Olney we flew to Buckingham. Was a slow leg thanks to the wind 220/25 meaning we had quite a big head wind. This meant for the first nav leg I’ve flown in a while, that things happened nice a slowly and I felt very confident. During this leg of the flight, we came near head-on to a glider, I made an avoiding turn to the right more for courtesy and communication rather than due to collision risk. Shortly afterward we heard a glider radio Cranfield to advise they were low and might need to land – we saw them later on the ground at Cranfield.
When my timings said we got to Buckingham, I was not 100% sure this was correct. It had the correct position relative to Silverstone, it was there when my plan said we should be over it – but I saw on the map a river, which I could not see from the air. My instructor assured me it was Buckingham – I guess I need more confidence in my flight planning! I made the turn to head to Woburn, and I am pleased to see on the GPS track below that it was a nice straight leg. My track/heading calculations worked out nicely – as did my time.
At Woburn (another VRP) I headed for Stewartby (a third VRP), and we started some VOR exercises. What would my inbound radial be, pick up the 170 radial.. etc. I like this stuff! While doing these exercises we head the Red Arrows come onto Cranfield frequency to ask if they could fly through Cranfield ATZ and ‘if the circuit was cold’ – I was thrilled hoping they would be flying past 500ft below us! Sadly though because we were around they decided to fly a few miles north of the airport, and so I did not see them at all. Boo.