Having done a bit of local flying, including a first flight with passengers I was itching to get out of the local area and head to a different airfield, so set up a plan to fly to Turweston airfield in Oxfordshire.
The weather was looking good for a trip on Friday 1st December, so I booked one of the PA28 Archers the day before, the only issue with the weather would be a cross wind from the north, so it all depended on the strength of the wind.
Arriving at the airfield, I signed the aircraft out, contacted Turweston with the airplane details as they request inbound pilots obtain prior permission and was told they were using runway 27 Right.
A thorough check of the aircraft inline with the PA28 checklist and we were ready to set off. At Tatenhill the grass on the airfield is waterlogged at the moment so all the planes are parked on the tarmac which makes for a very crowded and complex environment and I had to wait a few minutes for one of the other aircraft to complete its run up and pre takeoff checks.
As Birmingham was on track and heading for the Daventry VOR made a nice kink I was planning to track the radial down to the VOR and turn direct to Turweston when passing Daventry town itself (about 5 miles short of the VOR) and do the reciprocal on the return journey.
Although there was almost a 90 degree crosswind it was fairly light so the take off and turn out of circuit was fairly comfortable. Although there were few clouds, the base was around 1900ft on the QNH so I stayed below my prefered altitude until around Daventry when they cleared more.
Heading south I set the radio to East Midlands and set up their listening squawk, which was something new to me but something that I think I will use in the future. Squawking the code for East Midlands allows them and other air traffic units that I am listening on that frequency, so they can give me a call if they need to.
Tracking the Daventry VOR did not go quite as planned on the journey south and I never really got on top of it.
Approaching Turweston I changed the squawk back to 7000 and called them up on the radio, where the joining instructions reiterated runway 27 RH. Silverstone stood out as a great landmark, but I was late spotting Turweston airfield and put in an orbit north of the airfield to settle myself down and plan the circuit. Joining downwind and heading down the circuit I heard someone joining for an overhead join.
The circuit at Turweston is odd in that the approach and departures are offset 20 degrees from the runway to avoid houses on the extended centreline, so this was a bit of a new challenge as the last time I had to contend with this was when I was training for my PPL back in the 90s.
My approach went quite well up until I ballooned the flare and so elected to go around and have another go. Heading back up to circuit height I could see the other aircraft in circuit heading across the upwind of the airfield to start the downwind. All through the circuit I was aware that it was going to be fairly tight as to whether he would still be on the runway when I arrived to land. Fortunately he must have had the same problem as I had off the first approach and he also went around for a second attempt leaving the runway clear for me to land. This attempt was a vast improvement on the first go and is probably one of the best landings since I restarted flying, definitely better than the landing at Tatenhill on the return flight.
Since I was last here there has been a large investment in the airfield and the airfield offices and control have moved out of their previous portacabins and into a nice shiny conference centre/tower complete with cafeteria. So it was up to the top floor to pay the landing fee and then back down to the first floor for a light lunch and had the chance to bump into some people that I had known when I was flying previously.
The flight back was a lot more relaxed, and I managed to follow the radial back out from Daventry to Tatenhill.
Following us back into Tatenhill we were followed by a student in one of the Cessna 152s as she returned from her qualifying cross country.
After parking the aircraft we tidied up, paid for the flying and headed for home.
This trip allowed me to practice some things that I had not used for so long, and the return leg was much smoother and relaxed as I learned from the issues of the outbound lag and put them into practice for the return.
All in all a successful day’s flying.