Thursday, 19 May 2011

First flight from our aeroplane's new home....

Our dH Chipmunk has been hangared at Keenair at Liverpool John Lennon for a few years now, but following her annual maintenance earlier this year she was moved into the care of Ravenair at the other end of the apron at John Lennon. The reason for the move was brought about by increased security on the General Aviation apron; high anti-terrorist fences with CCTV-controlled electrically locked and unlocked gates have been installed and any individuals who wish to access the apron have to have an airside pass, which is very expensive and quite inappropriate for the sort of limited flying we do.

The way around this is for our handling organisation to allow us through the gates, effectively 'signing' for us to have access to the apron under their authority. This means, of course, that they have to be there when we require such access. Keenair are a nine-to-five operation (often less at weekends) so would probably not be on site to allow us off the apron when we have 'put the aeroplane to bed' following flight and needing to leave the apron. Ravenair operate eight-to-eight, which should cover our requirements.

Our Chipmunk, G-BCSL, on the John Lennon GA apron this morning

Today was my first flight from Ravenair and I was off to Sleap, near Wem in Shropshire, to renew my passenger carrying qualification by doing three landings (to carry passengers a pilot must have carried out three landings in the previous ninety days), and for a spot of lunch. But the aeroplane had somehow missed the Esso refuelling tanker on its grounds this morning. The arrangement is that the aeroplane is wheeled out of the hangar when Ravenair open up their hangar, and it should then get fuelled by Esso on their rounds of the apron. I don't know why Esso missed it, but it took me about half an hour this morning to get them to come back round and fill her up.

I was soon on my way, despite Air Traffic not having received my booking-out details which Ravenair ops had entered on their computer. No matter; the Controller took the details over the air and I was cleared to line up and take off, Runway 27, with a left turnout.

This strange whale-shape in the sky is the Airbus Beluga transport aircraft, inbound from Toulouse to Hawarden as it passes through the Liverpool overhead. It will collect Airbus wings from the North Wales factory and transport them to the production line at Airbus Toulouse.

Soon after take off Chester sweeps under the right wing with the Dee estuary in the background as I leave the Liverpool Zone and head down over the Peckforton Hills into Shropshire. As with all pictures in the blog, click twice on it for a full-size image.

About twenty minutes after take off, Sleap airfield comes into view. It was built in WW2 for bomber crew training (again, click on it twice for a full-size image to see Sleap clearly).

I do a 'centreline join' overhead Sleap. The town of Wem is visible behind the left wing.

Sierra Lima viewed from the balcony outside the cafe in the old Control Tower at Sleap. Lunch at Sleap was well up to usual standard.

Ready for the off! On take off from Sleap I flew a circuit and landing before finally departing en-route. This gave me three landings - two at Sleap and the final one back at John Lennon - which makes me legal to carry passengers again (to do so, a pilot must have flown three landings in the last ninety days).

A low-level run home across Shropshire included a look at Rednal Airfield, near Oswestry, above.

Liverpool Approach was busy when I called them for re-join to John Lennon, but professional as ever they cleared me from the Zone boundary at Oulton Park to Helsby, then after half a revolution of a holding orbit south of the Mersey they cleared me to left base (an immediate steep right turn out of the left orbit ensured I took full advantage of this approach opportunity!) slotted me in nicely behind a preceding light aircraft and an Easy Jet Boeing on a visual approach.

Well done chaps!


No comments:

Post a Comment