Tuesday 21 May 2013 22:31 UTC
Where have you been? What have you seen?
We have wanted to do a longer trip in our new aeroplane for some time, and had arranged a couple of weeks off at the end of August and beginning of September. We had also bought a pair of folding bicycles, and checked (on a flight to Skegness) that they would fit comfortably into the luggage compartment of our Cherokee 180. The bikes, together with our tent, camp beds, sleeping bags, rucksacks, holdall and my flying bag barely fitted into the back of our Land Rover, and it seemed quite amazing that they would fit into the plane; however, weight and balance was duly done, and, at least on paper, everything seemed okay!
And so, on a slightly mixed Sunday lunchtime weatherwise, everything was carefully loaded and strapped down, some in the luggage bay, some on the backseat, of G-AVSA. We set off from Sherburn for Jersey. Our initial routing was via the EME then onward to DTY, CPT and Bembridge. We passed some slightly mixed weather through the Midlands, flying IMC for a short while, before emerging into glorious sunshine in the south of the country. The sky was full of general aviation and glider pilots through the Brize and Southhampton areas.
After Bembridge, we followed the recommended VFR corridor, talking to London information. Our routing at this stage was KATHY to MP reaching flight level 100 before descending again into Brest airspace. From here we descended towards the coast, and were cleared into Jersey Zone not above 1000 feet. We were asked to circle north of the television mast at the north eastern corner of the island, as we were number 5 to land. Finally, our clearance came. "Can you see a 737 on the ILS to the South of your current position at 2000 feet?"
"G-SA, you are number two. Follow the 737 in to land, leaving sufficient separation for wake turbulence; 3 min minimum is suggested".
And so we arrived in Jersey. The very helpful people of the flight desk at Jersey Aero Club helped us with re-fuelling and finding a pleasant Bed & Breakfast for a couple of nights, within 10 min cycling distance of the airfield. It was the first occasion we had truly tested the bicycles, and they proved to be great fun.
The next day we cycled into St Helier,
and then onwards to the Jersey wildlife preservation trust, where we had a fascinating afternoon seeing the endangered species and the breeding programme. If you're ever in Jersey, it is well worth a visit - http://www.Durrell.org
After two pleasant evenings in Jersey, and two excellent dinners, we packed bag baggage and bicycles back into G-AVSA and made the short 20 min hop across to Dinard to clear French customs. We then found a campsite, and tried out our tent. The lap of luxury!
Fitting the tent, sleeping bags and our rucksacks onto our folding bicycles however proved something of a challenge!
The next day we managed to escape Dinard just as a weather front swept in. We made our way southward, mostly at flight level 85 and dodging the tops of some CBs, to arrive in Perigueux late afternoon.
The airfield operators could not have been more helpful, the nice air-traffic control lady in the tower, where we went to pay our landing fee, helped us with finding a hotel and printing out Google maps so that we knew where to go. We were also given the code to the gate to get back in again!
Perigueux turned out to be a delightful small city, with a charming mediaeval quarter, extraordinary mediaeval Byzantine-style cathedral (on which the Sacre Coeur in Paris was later based) and a satellite ancient Roman city, with significant Roman remains, including a temple tower and amphitheatre. We were also able to use Perigueux as a base for exploring the local area on our bicycles. We visited Chateaux L'eveque and cycled onward to visit the beautiful chateaux and ancient bastide town of Bourdeilles.
After three pleasant nights in Perigueux we repacked the plane to continue to Sarlat. We took "local knowledge" advice from the pilot of a glorious Stearman before setting off.
By this time it was evident that our DI had become inoperative, however the GPS and vertical card compass were still working well, so this was not a real problem. Moreover, the problem was almost certainly with the instrument itself, as both suction and attitude indicator were still functioning normally. The short flight to Sarlat (about 20 min) was in hot bumpy conditions over hilly to rain and that relatively low level (3000 feet). As we did this in the peak heat of the day, the flying was less than comfortable. However, all the luggage was well strapped down, and so were we! The aerodrome at Sarlat (LFDS) is a tarmac strip on top of the highest hill for miles around. There is a French military installation with radio telescopes immediately to the south of the field, which must not be overflown on pain of arrest! We approached from the North and took a right base join.
After parking up, we were offered fuel (which we didn't need) and were given a help with the tiedowns. The local pilots also offered to help us finding a hotel, and, if we did not have bicycles, would have driven us there. It was one of the most friendly reception to had at any airfield. When it came to the landing fee and parking, the chief pilot frowned apologetically and asked us for two euros. "But" he said "it is all right, because we will give you a receipt for that. That way, the French government is happy". If only it were like that here!
The local bastide town of Domme was an interesting stopping off point for the late afternoon, before we cycled into Sarlat and booked into our hotel.
Sarlat is the most extraordinary and complete mediaeval town imaginable. However, it is largely populated by tourists (such as ourselves) enjoying the fantastic views and sumptuous restaurants.
We discovered after a short time that the menu in each of these restaurants is virtually identical, featuring duck and foie gras very heavily. We also dubbed the place "the soup-less city of Sarlat" for reasons that became apparent after a few days, when we had eaten enough foie gras starters.
Sarlat proved an excellent base for visiting the chateaux of the Dordogne Valley.
We also took a day out to hire a canoe and explore the river.
Last edited by A le Ron on Mon Sep 24, 2012 11:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.
All roads roam to Leeds.
Good write up.
I need to find a time when the weather and my free time coincide and follow in your footsteps.
Guaranteed 100% iFree
Quite possibly sent from my Nexus 7 which cost 400 quid less than your iPad.
Capitalisation is the difference between helping your Uncle Jack off a horse and helping your uncle jack off a horse
You should - it's a great GA airfield!
All roads roam to Leeds.
Great trip report, sounds a fab trip and routing!
Your photo at La Rochelle airport is rather similar to ours in my trip report (just a different person). It is a lovely place.
They really must get that gate fixed..
PPL + Night qualification + IMC Rating
The image in my report has now been now beautified to emulate your excellent example !
All roads roam to Leeds.
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