Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Glenswinton and some all time firsts

Glenswinton is new private strip that has recently been completed and I was invited by its owner to fly in whenever I would like to. It's only about 35 minutes flying time from Carlisle and the weather on Monday was brilliant, so I decided to give it a go.

The strip nestles into the woodlands around Castle Douglas. It is 350m long orientated 03/21, with a pronounced up slope from the 03 threshold and some rather solid trees at the 21 end. Landing is therefore always on 03 and take off is from 21, regardless of what the wind might think. The runway is rolled gravel, which was a new experience for me.

Peter, the owner, helpfully provides 2 mile and 0.5 mile GPS coordinates to 03 and that is just as well: I am sure I would not have found the strip without them. The approach is over undulating ground, with plenty of higher ground around to keep the pilot on his toes.

My first approach was too high. By the time I saw the runway I was about 100ft above it and with no way to get down in time but at least I had found the strip! The go-around required full power and a fairly steep climbing turn due to high ground all around but it wasn't really any problem, other than the GPS continually bleating with terrain warnings.

Proof that I was there!
I returned to the 2 mile final coordinates and made my second approach. This time I was low enough to make it in but definitely in amongst the undulating terrain, making a straight-in approach more or less impossible. No big issue though and a half way decent landing followed, albeit a bit on the firm side due, I suspect, to the rising land.

The 21 end is "interesting"
After a cup of coffee kindly provided by Peter's staff, I was on my way back to Carlisle again. The take off was uneventful but a little weird, again due to the sloping terrain. It made it very hard to determine how much runway I needed to get airborne but I suspect it was only about half of the available length.

In an e-mail exchange, afterwards, Peter said:

Looking NE from half way
along the runway

...yes, you are definitely our first visitor and JONL is the first low-wing and first G-registered aeroplane to land. You are also the first to have successfully executed a missed approach - comforting to know it can be done!

The view from the 03 threshold

He didn't elaborate on whether there had been any unsuccessful missed approaches but I am content that I didn't add that as another first!

Peter has a nice little strip in Glenswinton but it's not for novices! I look forward to flying in there again some time.

Update, 17-Mar: Peter has uploaded a video of his landing at Glenswinton on YouTube.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

A Lake District Odyssey

I help out as a Civilian Instructor at Penrith Air Training Corps and from time to time take others of the leadership team flying. For some time I had been trying to get David, our Padre, flying but he's a busy fellow and we didn't manage to find a suitable date until last week.

When we did finally get flying the results were stunning. Early morning mist rose to a broken low cloud, with the summits of the Lake District peaking out above. We spent a magnificent hour flying over the mountains. Words aren't really sufficient to convey the splendid vista, so I'll let the excellent pictures taken by David tell the story.


Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Moving to Carlisle

For a while I have been considering the possibility of moving G-JONL to Carlisle. There's nothing wrong with Kirkbride as such but as I spend so much time at Carlisle that it makes sense to be based there. The journey to EGNC is slightly shorter and quite a lot easier too.

I made the move on 1st March 2011 and G-JONL is now comfortably ensconced in a nice new hangar with a number of other similar size aircraft. It's not necessary to move any other aircraft to extract my Sportcruiser from the hangar and one is straight out onto the main apron, where refuelling and preflight checks can be completed.

Another advantage of Carlisle is that it has a north/south runway in addition to the main east/west runway, so there will be fewer occasions when hairy crosswind landings will be called for! I've already made one trip that would probably not have been possible from Kirkbride due to strong crosswinds. I'm already finding that being at Carlisle means that I can get more flying in.

Naturally I was sad to leave Kirkbride, having finished the building of G-JONL there and then flown from there for nearly a year. But I think it's the right decision now that I am flying her regularly and want to maximise availability during the coming flying season.