Last time I went to Gloucester was 2009 on a weather diversion from Project Propellor so it was overdue a revisit – and with my other possible – Welshpool – out through cloud (again) Gloucester also had the advantage of having the option of tracking the lower ground along the M4 and up the Severn.
Steve was along for the ride again today and there was no one booked after us in ‘KY so we dawdled for a cuppa before I gave Gloucester a call to book in and get some details. 09 was the runway (though it had changed by the time I got there!) so I had a look at the newly installed Pooley’s plate which cleverly overlay the charts in RunwayHD.
Gloucester still looks complicated at first glance to me though their habit of wanting overhead joins does present a useful opportunity to get everything oriented in your head before getting into the circuit.
Swansea was on 22, with the parchutists landing beside 28/10 and I needed to turn out in the opposite direction to the circuit so made sure we were at the coast before picking up our track.
Or, not in fact picking up the track as it turned out, because it became quickly apparent that we were indeed going to need the M4 route, and even that was only just manageable, to the point I considering asking Cardiff for a coastal transit.
I was put off that idea by the U/S transponder, so wound our way between and under and around the clouds and airspace until we were past Cardiff and could pick up the coast and clearer air.
Cardiff were giving a very keen ‘basic’ service today with traffic notifications right left and centre! The great vis and still air must have lured everyone up in spite of the scattered low cloud. I spotted one of the two ❤ mile contacts they called us and the other one said he’d spotted us, though I never saw him!
It was one of those days where the clouds were behaving like the weather textbook – building as the moist air from the sea moving inland.
Cardiff handed us over to Bristol, as I handed over to control to Steve to fly for a spell as we tracked the river north, taking the aircraft back again to get set up for the join, into a fairly busy circuit.
For a while the workload was fairly high with lots of requests to report at frequent points through the join and circuit in the company of at least 4 other aeroplanes.
The runway had changed to 18 since we’d left and I did more or less a complete circle overhead before descending deadside and eventually finding myself number two to a little red Cub.
One of the nice things about Gloucester which hasn’t changed is the helpful, precise ATC, and we were directed to parking where there was someone waiting to wave us to our spot and we were greeted at the door to ‘C’ with cheerful hellos and encouragement to go and get lunch and settle up everything afterwards.
Somehow Gloucester has found the perfect balance between business aviation and GA – and come down on the side of treating the lighter end with the same great facilities and and courtesy as the expensive end, instead of the peasant relation who’s a bit of a nuisance!
Coffee and cracking egg and chips / breakfast in the Aviator, then a bit of window shopping in Transair before heading back out. I checked the ATIS but then forgot to let Tower know I’d done so on first contact so went through the readback again – daft – not used to all this luxury!
Wove my way out to runway with the mixture leaned well back, although it’s one of the shorter taxys to 18 – the first time I was here I had terrible plug fouling from a long slow taxy!
Back in the air and the cloud had lifted enough to also tempt me the short way back across the hills. Gloucester certainly thought I was going that way, giving me Ross on Wye as a reporting point, but in the end I decided to head to the bridges and west from there – not quite the M4-hugging route we’d taken out but still away from the highest of the hills.
Again Steve took the flying for the second half of the flight and I looked around with interest, wondering as usual how much I still haven’t seen before despite doing this leg on almost every flight away from home.
I took the aeroplane again at Mumbles to skirt outside the ATZ and drop zone until Three Cliffs from where it’s easy to slot in downwind.
Unfortunately I was on my own in the downwind with the drop aircraft joining on base and another returning Tomahawk on a long straight in. With a bit of juggling of the length of my downwind leg I got in between them, landing as deep as I dared to clear off out of the way for the one behind me.
Parked up and drank more coffee in the club…
Nice to go somewhere! Availability is good at the club at the moment for solo hire so I’ not feeling too pinched for time on these sort of trips. I do try and look the other way from the bill though!