On the then, hottest day of the year culminating in the highest maximum temperature of 34.0 °C at Heathrow and Northolt on 29 June. We flew to the Isle of Wight for it’s regular weekend BBQ, for what was a unique daytrip in a general aviation aircraft.
With a saturated Farnborough Radar Frequency and high temperatures, this provided a great experience and some detailed planning before making one of the most unique flights to date with fellow pilot Stefan Szaniszlo on the way back to the mainland.
Being at maximum take-off weight for the first leg, with next to no wind was an interesting calculation. Probably the highest amount of ground roll calculated since I started flying in the DA40.
The take-off roll as anticipated was long, and the climbout for at least the first part was as expected shallow. But we quickly gained momentum and climbed away towards the Thames Estuary.
I brought James along with me to see how good his camera lenses were and I knew the weather would provide some form of challenge, but it was good to see what would be the result. Initially the plan was to route just east of the London City CTR within the London City CTR which is 1500ft-2400ft and defined Class D Airspace, this was simply to remain land clear. (Rule 5 of the ANO)
Mean whilst a fellow pilot was flying from Biggin in a much faster Mooney to meet up with us at Sandown. Some delays meant we wouldn’t get airborne till closer to the time we expected to arrive, but at least he got some pictures as we landed.
The result of attempting to get airspace clearance with Thames and then Heathrow special meant we couldn’t get a transit as we wanted. Instead we routed due east of both zones but with some spectacular results.
Believe it or not, these pictures were taken outside of controlled airspace some 8-9 miles east of London. But he does have a bigger camera lens, (Watch this space.) The inversion however is so notable, and with such a hot day to come it was great to be flying to the coast.
Stefan must have landed by the point we arrived on the Farnborough Radar Frequency. It was definitely something akin to the LTMA frequency, it was horrendously busy and as soon as the airspace allowed I would climb up to 5,000ft for the short English Channel crossing to the Isle of Wight.
Flight Video –
When we climbed up above expecting better performance, we instead got worse performance and this was partly down to the inversion with the temperature rising once we was flying above it.
However as we routed southbound we got one last shot of London. The concrete jungle metropolis is so spectacular. It’s amazing to call it home.
Once we was settled in the climb, some conflicting traffic that wasn’t reported to us by Farnborough on our route towards Seaford (SFD VOR) meant that we had to make an interesting turn to avoid any conflict, most simply because of the view it provided us with of Brighton. Busy day on the beach huh?
During this flight, it was already the hottest day of the year with further temperature increases to come as the sun got stronger, as the afternoon progressed.
Once we reached our cruise height for the remainder of this flight, we settled into the cruise and utilised the fantastic autopilot that we have on this aircraft. I feel it’s important to enjoy flying and sometimes it means monitoring the aircraft and how it handles with a computer rather than a human input. But it’s what you put in, is what you get out. Important to remember when I do the IR and complete it.
With just under an hour since we departed London, Farnborough Radar handed us over to Sandown Radio. The frequency was very silent considering how busy the other frequencies were this morning.
As we approached the Isle of Wight we started our descent into this beautiful Island situated just of the South Coast of the Mainland, with a stunning view and backdrop all around.
With an overhead join, and slow descent we made our final approach into the aerodrome. It looked busy, and I suspect we missed the mad rush in the morning.
With a grand total of four bounces, I knew someone would be counting…
But according to Stefan, it wasn’t only me that wasn’t landing flat on this hot and humid day. Some pilots perfected it, however I elected for a higher indicated airspeed due to the unusual nil wind but plenty of thermals. Something you don’t really want when at max take-off weight.
We quickly made our way to the BBQ where we met up with Stefan and Phil. The food is brilliant, it’s quickly delivered; although somewhat airport prices you do get a decent portion size.
I wasn’t aware what the running times of the BBQ were, but lunchtime onward seems to be when the non-aviation folk turned up along with most of the pilots. There was a short wait before the BBQ was ready.
It wasn’t really long till we decided we wanted to walk into town and make the most of the day. It’s just over 2 miles to walk down into town; there’s a nice pub for food, along with many other places to shop at such as Tescos Express which is handy in this hot weather.
Once you’ve passed the railway you’ll find a playground and Battery Gardens. You can walk down here to some of the beach cafes. The view is quite spectacular, especially if you are into photography and stunning landscapes.
Alternatively If you continue down the road you’ll reach the main area for restaurants and Sandown Pier. It’s easier to walk back to the aerodrome this way, as the cliff-face way via Battery Gardens is quite steep.
After a relaxing moment out of the sun we elected to check out the pier along with a quick refreshment break before heading back to the airfield for the flight back to London. The walk back to the aerodrome is a little bit more taxing, but not as hard as you think.
We took a quick stop at Tescos for some water, before making our plan. Stefan decided he wanted some air-to-air shots. I agreed, and said we must plan for this thoroughly and utilising the unicom frequencies for this flight back together.
Stefan is a lot faster in his Mooney than with the Diamond so I would depart first before Stefan would climb up behind and we would follow each-other towards Beachy Head where we could get some stunning pictures with an amazing backdrop.
I prepared the aircraft for departure, and did some final performance calculations for the increase in anticipated temperature. I did this as a cursory check, simply because the trip wouldn’t have gone ahead if the aircraft couldn’t depart Sandown in the highest possible temperatures forecast. I did the below calculations and added the various safety figures.
Once I had departed the Isle of Wight, the view’s were absolutely incredible. It’s a huge surprise that I haven’t been here in over 4 years; as it’s a fantastic place. There’s also Bembridge that offers fantastic opportunities for visiting this wonderful Island by aircraft; in what is the quickest way to the Isle of Wight.
The next time I visit this wonderful Island I will most likely camp and experience it for the night; to see what it has to offer.
The plan back to Stapleford was relatively routine and straightforward. It was fast approaching 7pm and it would be a flight up to 4,500ft so that we would be high above the water for the direct crossing towards Seaford (SFD VOR)
The results with James camera were quite something to behold. His photography is truly stunning, and it’s with no question of a doubt; D-EBIE is an impressive aircraft that Stefan loves and cares for as his pride and joy.
It was quite a struggle to keep up with the Mooney, but we managed to get to Beach head where we then went our separate ways back to the London Airports.
Flight Video –
There is something quite special seeing a picture of the aircraft you fly and enjoy so much, with you in the aircraft high above the English Channel.
But one thing I wanted to see, which I’ve rarely seen from low altitude was the cliffs of Beachy Head. I was always a regular user of the Seaford VOR due to it’s location for flights and a point of navigation on the coast.
As we turned back towards the VOR we got one last shot of eachother before heading back to London.
I thought the view did this picture justice. Absolutely stunning and it doesn’t even put words into how elegant the scenery of the UK really is.
Stefan would make an orbit and give us some space before making his flight back to Biggin Hill. I made the sharp right turn back up towards Tonbridge and the short hop around the M25 to Stapleford.
It was pretty bumpy for the last phases of the flight, and with the temperatures soaring to over 34 °C it really was no surprise. Unfortunately the visibility associated with this high pressure was horrendous, but the shot is made special by the fact it’s London.
There was some moments were we got a 1,000ft per minute vertical speed increase with thermals. We strapped in tightly for landing and was gifted with these stunning views of London on the approach.
It really was a hot day and a great one to go flying.
I plan to do more of these trips once I’ve completed my instrument rating. The days of flying around the South East and visiting the local airports are just the start of my epic journey.
Flying with friends and sharing the beautiful passion that we all have for flight is one that is worth sharing. I brought James and Jeff simply because I knew they would enjoy this moment and remember it forever. Stefan brought his friend and we made a day out of it.
It’s once I’ve completed the Instrument Rating that the world opens up a bit more.
Oversight & YouTube –
I hope the route I am taking is going to make me a better pilot, and to share with you all the new skills that I hope to learn. Whilst this will be a long road to having the Instrument Rating; I hope I can provide you with an oversight of my progression and as I develop my skill set and airmanship in exclusive videos on my YouTube channel.
I hope to share with you guys in a unique editorial style with me breaking down thoroughly and honestly everything that went wrong from pre-flight, to landing to debrief, what I have learnt from it and what steps I am putting in place to make me a safer pilot in the future. I’ll be using the reference material above along with Standards Document 01 (A) to assist in my endeavours.
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