After what seems like weeks of rain finally a sunny day. A few clouds around and fairly light winds but a bit cold for late June. I’d taken the day off work to go flying as I needed a bit more solo time and the bad weather was making things tricky.
Anyway, I had planned a route from Redhill to Sevenoaks, then on to Chelmsford, Faversham and back to Redhill. Total distance about 115Nm and flying time of about an hour and a half. Drove over to Redhill where the Instructor reviewed my flight plan, approved it, and I was good to go. As ever, first stage is over to the aircraft for usual walk around checks then start up and get clearance to depart. As the wind was from the east I was cleared for Runway 18 with a departure via Godstone South.
As usual on a solo flight it sinks in just as I take off that I am on my own and have to fly the aircraft myself. Always a bit scary. Takeoff was uneventful and I was soon heading for Godstone South and planning my turn to Sevenoaks. I was being extra careful as last time I was flying towards Sevenoaks I got a bit off course. No problems this time and I arrived over Sevenoaks bang on time. Next stage was to turn towards Chelmsford, climb to 2300ft and make radio contact with Southend air traffic control. As Southend is now a busy airport (and one of EasyJet's new hubs) I needed to be careful and not come face to face with a bright orange Boeing 737. On contacting Southend ATC they asked me my position and it took me a few mins to work it out as I wasn’t over any big towns. Eventually sorted out my position with Southend and was cleared to proceed to Chelmsford.
Great views over the river Thames and the Dartford bridge but I was concentrating on my navigation as I didn't want to get lost. After a few checks I was on course I could soon see Chelmsford in the distance. I arrived over Chelmsford bang on time and flew on past the town a little bit before turning for Faversham. This allowed me to set an accurate time for departing Chelmsford.
This route to Faversham took me very close to Southend Airport so I contacted Southend ATC again to request a zone transit. They advised me to my to maintain my current altitude and to fly overhead the Airport. They also asked that as I passed overhead I continued my course to take me over the end of Southend Pier. So far so good and I passed over the edge of the Airport and headed for the pier. They then cleared me to continue to Faversham.
The slight deviation over Southend meant I had to re-establish my route. Fortunately Faversham is close to the Isle of Sheppey which is very obvious from the air. I soon found Faversham and turned towards Redhill. My route back to Redhill took me overhead Maidstone. I could see a large town to my right and wondered if I had drifted off course. Having checked my instruments I carried on and soon arrived over Maidstone – I had been looking at Chatham so it was as well I didn’t change course.
Then it was on towards Bough Beech reservoir and descend to 1400ft to avoid Gatwick airspace. I contacted Redhill ATC and was cleared for a re-join over Godstone and then a downwind join for Runway 18. Approach and landing were OK and then it was taxi back to Cubair and shut down. When I got there I was on my own. The Instructor was off flying with another pupil so I let myself in the back door and filled in the various documents. First time I had done these without someone checking what I had done.
Overall I was reasonably happy with my flying. I got to where I wanted to be on time and although my radio work wasn’t great, it was ok. My altitude control was a bit variable but no real problems. I was exhausted after all that concentration but it is quite something to fly solo.
Overall flight time 1 hour 30 mins. I think this almost completes my solo hours
Crossing the River Thames near Dartford
Landing approach on Runway 18R