Summer is finally here !!!
Since our trip to the Isle of Wight earlier this month, the weather had been appalling considering that it was July, a supposedly summer month. But, with the promise of vast improvements and sunnier times, we planned a trip over to the East coast. Having not flown further than Breighton before, this would be a new experience for the both of us. Personally, I thought that it was a rather novel idea being able to see both the Irish Sea and the North Sea in the same afternoon. With an initial destination of Beverley in mind, followed by a brew stop at Sandtoft, the trip was planned for Saturday 28th July 2007.
Departing Barton’s RWY 27L just before lunch, we initiated a downwind departure and tracked around MCR Class D and proceeded to a reference point overhead Huddersfield Crossland Moor airstrip. I decided that I needed to practice my instrument skills, so for the flight, Jacqueline was the eyes of the operation, constantly looking out for other traffic. The Magnetic tracks and timings which I had drawn up before the flight all worked out well and very few of them did not match their predictions. Although we had been unable to gain PPR for Beverley due to a lack of telephone answering services on their end, we did manage to contact them on their A/G service. Unfortunately, the airfield was closed due to severe flood damage. Ok, a shock, but nothing too bad. After quickly switching frequencies to Humberside Radar, I decided that I still wanted to visit the sea, and chose North Coates as a diversion. North Coates airstrip is situated adjacent to Spurn head on the East Coast just near the mouth of the River Humber. With a RWY direction perpendicular to the sea, the approach and finals was very picturesque and beautiful with a Westerly wind. Coming in over the beach, was something which I had not done since my days at Woodvale, and to do it this low was spectacular. I found myself relying on the Altimeter a lot more than I do when I am over grass fields and roads, as it is a lot harder to judge vertical separation due to the constant.
Upon landing and paying our three pounds for a landing and two brews (wow), we decided to walk to the beach, a journey about half a mile in length and over dunes and dykes. We had brought a feast of a picnic with us. With the tide out, walking to the actual sea took a good hour, but it was worth it in the end. We even managed to get a bit of dancing and aeroplane manoeuvres in along the way! We ate our dinner lay in a field, before casually walking back to VA and departing to Sandtoft. We would defiantly be coming back to North Coates. Speaking to the lady at the desk, it became apparent that we could camp overnight at the airfield. We therefore earmarked Friday 24th August as an overnight flyaway, but that’s another story.
Departing North Coates with flaps set down to take off and a good headwind, we were airborne on the 650m RWY well before the half way mark. Switching quickly to Humberside APP, I notified them of our presence and also that we would like to transit the ILS via two marked VRP’s. With all the traffic on the frequency and an A330 inbound, I expected them to say no and therefore had a reserve plan drawn up. But, surprisingly they said yes and so we continued to fly at 1500ft perpendicular to the active RWY. We were also notified that their was a Spitfire and a Hurricane on route in the area, but we did not manage to gain an affirm on visual. The approach into Sandtoft was interesting to say the least, due to the fact that finals seemed to place you right over an industrial park, parallel to a road with some very high looking lampposts. In fact, the warnings to land past the numbers were well noted, and it soon made perfect sense, seeing as some of the closer lampposts clearly intruded well into any standard approach pattern. On short finals, we could have been driving down a road. I then decided that I would not be returning here. The quality of the RWY did not get many points either, as for a GA hub, I expected more. Anyway, after a free landing, a few cakes and a brew, we clambered back into VA and departed for Crossland Moor. Immediately after climbing to CCT height, we changed HDG and contacted Doncaster APP for an immediate transit through their ILS. Jackie was the nominated navigator for this leg of the trip, and she was very good at keeping us on our correct track over the ground. Within a short period of time, we were back on the ground and rolling to a stop in the pan at Crossland Moor. Surprisingly, we were the only visitors for the day, which is strange considering how it was a Saturday afternoon, and the first sunny day in short term memory. Perhaps it was the fact that it was slightly blustery which put people off.
After a pit stop, we were back in the air and heading home. Immediately after T/o, I handed over to Jackie, who piloted VA back to Barton. She was a natural, smooth and proficient. Not only did she do the flying, but also after a brief radio lesson, the R/T as well. Carrying out an overhead join, I merely took the controls about 300 ft above the ground on finals and executed a smooth touchdown and rolled back to the hanger via the fuel bay. Today had been amazing. A variety of places, one of which is now one of our favourite places to visit so far in my aviation memories.