With unseasonably sunny weather arriving on Easter Sunday and forecast for the week ahead I decided to book G-BXXK, a flying school C172 (ZV is still at Dundee having a new Engine ftted) for Monday 6 April to do a NaveX over the Cairngorms AND TO GIVE Iain a trip at the same time (all photos were taken by Iain).
This would be the 1st of 2 flights I would do this evening as I also had G-CCTT booked from 1930 for a refresher session of Night and Instrument work (3 x ILS approaches)
Monday, like Sunday was blessed with excellent weather, even if it was a little hazy looking into sun. I arrived at the flying club after work at about 1630 and knew that Iain was on his way in via Scotrail. Whilst I waited for Iain to turn up I pre-flighted XK which was tucked away in the most inaccessible corner of the pan. I certainly wouldn’t risk moving her without assistance so checked the TAFs and filed my flight plan by phone as the terminal in Signature wasn’t accessing AFPEX. The weather looked a little problematical to the East for my planned route (which was Inverurie Lane – Ben Avon – Lochnagar – Montrose – Stonehaven Lane – Aberdeen) as there was quite a thick band of Haar over the coast South of Aberdeen. Given the wind direction (light but Westerly) I was pretty sure that we could change the inbound leg to route back to Aberdeen via the Loch of Skene rather than up the coast if required.
We got Airborne at 1705 just behind a student pilot under instruction in G-CCTT. As they were only just ahead of us on the Inverurie Lane I made sure I kept them in sight until we were clear of Insch. Routing out via the Inverurie lane we were given clearance to climb whilst still in controlled airspace as this being a holiday down south there was less traffic about. Our route to Ben Avon was clear with Iain able to see the roads we had driven on just the afternoon before as we had visited ‘The Old Fire Station’ at Tomintoul for a bacon roll. Approaching Lochnagar ATC warned us to look out for a SAR Helicopter on a reciprocal heading – we saw him I plenty of time about 1000 feet below.
At Lochnagar we circled to allow Iain to take photos before routing out over Glen Clova and Loch Brandy (sic) towards Montrose. As we approached the coast the Haar was obvious so we turned early to return via Loch Skenewhich was now becoming a veritable honey pot for returning light aircraft so we need to keep a good look out for Cessnas all around. Iain was shocked as we flew towards Aberdeen by the number of wind turbines visible.
On reaching Loch of Skene we were asked to orbit for separation from other returners and after 3 orbits cleared to join left hand for RW 34 (having changed over from 16). The landing was greased on at 1830 – made easier by almost a complete lack of wind.
Ninety minutes later we were airborne again. Iain was in the back this time as I was doing some refresher ILS approaches in the superbly well-equipped G-CCTT. These were all radar directed but as we got airborne there seemed to be a sudden increase in commercial traffic meaning I had to orbit again for separation – though this time under the hood with no external references. Alex (instructing) and Iain said the view outside, particularly the effect of the Haar was excellent.
My initial IF was a little inaccurate though within limits (lack of practice) though the ILS itself was pretty much crosshairs all the way down and on looking up I would have landed easily. As TT had just had an engine change I needed to keep the revs up and the speed higher than normal throughout the flight to help run-in the engine so our approaches were all faster than usual. Annoyingly ATC didn’t give go around instruction so I had to ask for it (increasing workload) and even more annoyingly they changed it when I was at about 700ft with just 200 ft to go until DH. Still I managed and with a low approach and go-around as directed was soon outbound on the 2nd approach.
This time the IF was more accurate and again the approach was crosshaired all the way down. Again I asked for go-around instructions and this time they were not changed. This approach was pretty much perfect though it was done on the approach frequency all the way down. The 3rd and final approach was reasonably high workload as the radar directions were very tight. I ended up turning sharply onto the localizer and starting on the descent with the glidepath at the same time as chopping to Tower frequency. Again I was keeping the revs up for Engine Management so bleeding of speed in the last 200ft having looked up meant even with flap we were coming in quicker than I liked but I did land OK though not greasing her this time around.
Afterwards I asked Iain how much he had enjoyed the flights he was beaming from ear to ear and said he had ‘loved it’.