Spring flying to Shipdham
Now it’s time to catch up on the two new airfields to add to our list, Shipdham and Newquay.
As distances get longer and the list of destinations gets shorter, it is becoming harder to get the weather to comply with our availability. For many weeks this Spring I have enjoyed fine weather during the week while I am at work and then watch with a feeling of inevitability as the winds pick up or the clouds descend as the weekend approaches. Add to that a buddy who has limited availability and the slots for exploring become more difficult to find.
The east so often has more favourable conditions and I suddenly became aware of Shipdham situated on the south west corner of the Norwich CTA. It was perfect for blustery day, after a wet spell, to find a hard runway with the right orientation to avoid a full on crosswind. We knew the route well having visited Old Buckenham just to the south and as usual all went well until we tried to find the actual airfield. Much searching went on while we tried to identify the old WW2 airfield that was so distinctive in satellite mode on SkyDemon and nigh on invisible from 2000ft!
We were making blind calls because there was no ground radio following a recent storm. Eventually, we located it and then everything went a bit horrible for me. I joined in the overhead, descended on to a right hand circuit and then began to fight the Arrow. I was not trimmed and the aircraft just got heavier and heavier while I struggled to trim. I reduced the power and plummeted like a stone as I flew downwind. Suddenly, the lack of familiarity with the aircraft was biting me again. I abandoned the landing on base leg, climbed and had another go. This time I was more in control but got caught out by the displaced threshold and only just made the numbers.
If you have read other recent blogs you will notice that the Arrow and I are not gelling as one! I know now that most of my problems are down to under trimming but lack of flying the beast means that it keeps catching me out.
Anyway, we were safely on the ground and looked for some indication as to where we should park. With no radio and no other visible aircraft it was anybody’s guess. I turned off the runway onto the taxiway that seemed rather unkempt but looked like an option on the plate. We only realised later that the taxiway was at the far end of the runway and we should have used that or the grass runway that ran parallel to our chosen taxiway. All in all not the best arrival at a new airfield – the term Bumbling Idiot springs to mind! However, we were greeted by a very friendly man who showed us where to park and then gave us a full history of the airfield and bacon sandwiches. As we sat in the sun several other visitors arrived from more local airfields, they probably wondered why we had parked in an exclusive spot right outside the club house!
Shipdham was a perfect example of welcoming GA airfield.