Earls Colne and being chased by the rain
Well we have had a few flights plogged and ready but the weather didn’t comply so we’ve just been flying locally. However, I managed to get 2 flights in this week while the sun shone. The first was to Earls Colne which we had, had on standby for some time. A front was forecast to arrive in the South in the afternoon so we set off early to beat it. There were lovely clear skies with a little mist to the south of Biggin Hill, which soon cleared as we headed north at Sevenoaks. There were great views of The City as we flew over the QE2 bridge. This was the first time that we had flown this route since the change to Southend airspace so we kept a watchful eye on our altitude. However, flying in the South East means that there is usually some restriction somewhere and I often find there is a block of 2400ft in my head even when I can climb. Earls Colne was fairly easy to spot. On Google Earth the shape of the old WW2 airfield outline was fairly obvious but having been turned into a golf course, it wasn’t so easy to see from our approach height. When calling for PPR my buddy had asked about the runway as it is unconventional with a narrow asphalt strip alongside the grass runway. Unusual to have the choice of surface. However, he selected the grass, which was in very good condition and led to a nice smooth landing. Free coffee was offered at the clubhouse but we needed the obligatory bacon sandwich so we were directed for a short 10 minute stroll down to the golf course where we enjoyed sitting in the sun on the terrace. The weather appeared much better than forecast but eventually we made the move back to the airfield. Just as we were entering the clubhouse, a HEMS helicopter took off and we were covered with droplets of water. Strange! We went out to our aircraft and it was wet. Looking up and across to the west there was the rain, just as forecast. As I did my checks it began to fall but cleared as I taxied. Choosing the hard runway I took off and saw the Front looming over from the west. Rain was falling and I did my best to fly around as much of it as I could with the knowledge that I would have to plod on through it. Suddenly the airspace restrictions made it feel like a much narrower corridor. Thankfully, the rain cleared as we reached the Thames and I had an uneventful flight home.
Lessons learnt on this trip – another weather one. Even if the sky is blue take heed of the forecast. The timings might be wrong but it’s on its way!