← Back to Previous trips

15th March 2014

Although the group night flying plans for this year had been scuppered by the very poor weather amazingly the day Fly Outs for 2014 got off to a good start. The first one of the year normally ends up being cancelled or put back for weeks on end and as a result I always try to kick off with an easy trip without to much planning. Saturday the 15th March dawned clear and bright with the sun actually visible despite the high cloud which was a bit of a novelty in itself after the almost continual cloud and rain. It was also forecast to be good if a little breezy for the whole day. The destination for our first outing was Lydd for a group lunch and to make it a little more interesting I suggested that we take a low level route around the Kent coast to get a bit of a different perspective on the trip. Some of us had done this on previous trips to Lydd but it was to be a first for several of our members.

Six aircraft were taking part, five from North Weald and the sixth, a C172 from Beccles piloted by our old friend and ex NWFG member George Tunks joining us there. The routing wasn’t difficult, out from Ongar to Canvey Island, across the Thames and then drop to low level from the eastern end of the Isle of Sheppy and initially follow the coast east towards Margate. Height was at the discretion of the pilot but obviously we needed to comply with the 500ft rule. The view along the Thames around Canvey was as nice as it ever gets and Southend provided us with a basic service until suggesting a call to Manston. Speaking to Manston was going to be a must as the coastal route would take us close to their ATZ and of course directly through their R28 centreline when we eventually turned the corner at Margate.

Once we reached the east end of the Isle of Sheppey we descended down to around 800ft which gave a great view over the coastal area. Running serenely along the coast we slipped past Whistable and Herne Bay admiring some of the lovely properties overlooking the sea and watching the numerous dog walkers on the prom some of whom we could see glancing up at us.

It was slight choppy at low level and although not really uncomfortable it did make a few of the pictures being taken rather blurred. Slipping past the remains of Reculver Castle resurrected memories of how this area of the coast was used for the test drops of Sir Barnes Wallis famous bouncing bomb of Dambusters fame and how the test aircraft had flown from Manston just out on our starboard side. As we approached the furthermost eastern tip of Kent at Margate we were asked by Manston Radar to carry out a few orbits to allow separation from a BA A320 and a KLM Embraer which were carrying out circuits on R28. Once they were clear we were able to make a swift crossing through the centreline and continue down the coast. Ramsgate Harbour and Deal Castle slipped by before we reached the White Cliffs leading to Dover harbour. No matter how many times I do the trip past Dover the sight of those cliffs is always impressive especially at low level.

Just staying on the sea side of the harbour we carried on towards Folkestone before climbing and turning inland to avoid the Hythe Danger Area (D142). A listen to the Lydd ATIS and then a call to Lydd approach revealed a rather busy VFR circuit and some ILS traffic which scuppered my plans of a nice nifty straight in approach. So it was up towards Ashford and then back towards Lydd with a call at 4 miles and then join overhead at 1500ft before descending quickly for a 1000ft left hand downwind leg on R21. Slotting in behind other traffic the approach was longer than usual and fair bit more lively in the 17kt crosswind. Darren Foss and Nick Allum were offered a ILS approach for some reason which accepting for a bit of practice had them directed to ROMTI almost never to be seen again, well not until we were well into stuffing our faces at lunch!

With the landing fee paid we headed off to the restaurant for lunch and had a leisurely chat which enjoying the view of the runway and the scenic delights of Dungeness Nuclear Power Station in the distance.

After lunch the plan was to route further west along the coast to Beachy Head before turning inland with a more or less northern track towards the QE2 bridge and home. Departure was simple enough just routing north around the Lydd Danger Area (D044) and then over Rye and towards Hastings and Bexhill. Once again great views along the coast but not getting too low as the wind was slightly stronger making a bit bumpy at lower levels. Eastbourne approached with the huge mound of Beachy Head just beyond. Slipping round the lighthouse looking up at the walkers on the cliff top above us waving still gives me a buzz despite having done the route quite a few times.

Turning in before Seaford and climbing it was simplicity itself routing back to North Weald on what has become a well trodden route over the years. With all back in safely at NW it was the end of the first 2014 fly out and it had proved a very nice day in all respects. The weather was pretty kind, certainly good enough for a simple starter trip like this and it gave Andy Hughes and John Law their first opportunity after joining the NWFG to join our band of aviators on a day out. Linda Winstanley who had been flying with Stefan Atrill hadn’t stopped smiling all day having just secured a place on the Canadian Lancaster Bomber which is coming to the UK in the summer to carry out joint displays with the RAF BBMF. Lucky you Linda and hopefully we will see some of your pics in the summer and for anyone who gets the opportunity to see these events will be in for a unique treat.

A good start to the season, lets hope it’s a good omen for the rest of the year.

← Back to Previous trips

Contact us

North Weald Flying Group operate out of the Squadron at North Weald Airfield.

The airfield is 10 miles south of Stansted and can be seen from the M11. Follow signs from the A414 and on entrance to the field, follow the perimeter track all the way around the field until you arrive at the distinctive Squadron building.

phone: 01992522090