Lydd night flight

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25th November 2011

Arranging these night flying trips is always a bit of a logistical nightmare. We had already been caught out on one of the refresher recoveries when the forecast bore absolutely no relation (amazingly) to what was out of the window. It was only after a considerable amount of wasted time that the intrepid steely few managed to get the aircraft back to North Weald in some very grotty conditions. I would like to say a big thank you to all of the participants for being extremely flexible in their approach and volunteering for the various tasks that needed to be undertaken to make these events work.

The night flying trip took place on the evening of the 25th of November. Again flexibility was the key as the forecast for the Midlands showed showers, very gusty 28kt winds 40 to 50 degrees off of the runway and a stonking headwind at 2000ft on the way out. It’s actually quite difficult to find another airfield that not only has lights but also stays open to a reasonable hour as well as not needing us to take out small mortgages to fly into at night. Lydd fitted the bill perfectly and although closing at 19.00 it gave us plenty of time for a decent stop for a coffee and chat. Lydd’s main advantages include its ATC, a nice runway with full approach lighting, which adds to the attraction of night flying, and the reasonable price.

With the previously mentioned logistics in place and despite a late mad dash in failing light to change NUKA’s landing light and battery, it was time to get going. The sky was beautifully clear with a moderate SW breeze and the evening had all the hallmarks of being a good one, and so it was.

Jon Ward and I departed in G-FC shortly before ‘Night’, 16.29 that evening, as to have a decent night flight down and also to take advantage of Lydds procedural DME arc ILS approach for some practice. Stewart Braddon, Vrai Stacey and Jonathan Senior departed in G-FG, G-MM and NUKA respectively, meeting their flying partners Les King, Malcolm Jarvis and Simon Pimblet at Andrewsfield before heading to Lydd.  

Watching the sunset from a light aircraft still gives me a big buzz. As the sun settled below the horizon the stars appeared as we slowly cruised over the Thames and down towards the DET VOR above a now very black countryside. The outlines of the towns were very defined by the thousands of lights in houses and on the roads below. The M2 and M20 were just continual lines of headlights streaming into Kent, adding to the smug satisfaction of us sitting up there in our nice warm cabin enjoying the view with even the lights on the French coast becoming visible in the distance.

The long offset ILS approach from 14 miles out and 3200ft took a while especially with the headwind but the view of the runway (when I eventually looked up that is) was stunning. Picking our way around the taxiway lighting to park up is always interesting but we were soon settled in the airport cafe. No real food at that time unfortunately but after a flight like that a coffee and a packet of crisps is enough to keep me happy!

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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