Where have you been? What have you seen?
During a recent holiday to the Scottish Highlands I booked onto a "Beach Landing" course through Highland Aviation, based at Inverness Airport. This was to be flying though the mountains, and landing at Barra, the only commercial beach airport in the world. Sadly, as is often the way with my flying, the weather precluded this, with winds on the Western Isles forecast to be gusting 50kts! We delayed until later in the week...

Later in the week came, and unfortunately the weather was still naff at Barra. Plans B and C (fly to Kirkwall, or to Oban) were also out due to bad weather. Highland Aviation also offer a 'Mountain Flying' course, so we went to Plan D, which was to go on an abridged Mountain Flying course (this is usually 3+ hours). Due to the incoming weather, and suspected turbulence due to high winds over the mountains, we played it by ear with the flying.

A quick trip out to nearby Dornoch airfield for a couple of touch & go's at somewhere new (and also my first ever clearance to enter a Danger Area!). Tain Range were active, but not dropping any bombs so more than happy to let us use Dornoch for a bit. After that, it was up Dornoch Firth and into the hills!

Having grown up in the flatlands of East Anglia, and the most mountainous terrain flown over to date being the southern part of the Peak District, it was quite hard to override my in-built GPWS, telling me to constantly pull up! Sometimes cloudbase prohibited this, with a few mountaintops being in the cloud.

We flew down Loch Ness, although didn't spot any monsters, and then over the Cairngorm mountains, and down the stunning Strath Nethy valley. The scenery up there cannot be described, and even the video doesn't do it justice. At times the ground seemed very close, although I never saw the shadow of the plane!

Having never experienced anything like this before, it was a great experience. Despite the weather, the flight was very smooth, with only one rough spot. It was certainly a worthwhile experience to do a completely different type of flying. Luckily, Highland Aviation have a Cessna 172, so I didn't have to worry about flying a type I'm not used to, or have the wing blocking the view (although sometimes with the terrain being above the wing this was the case!).

I have to thank Highland Aviation and the instructor, Simon, who were very friendly and accommodating, despite the weather trying its best to stop me flying!

Enjoy the video. Filmed on a GoPro Hero4, and I've added the GPS trace from my Skydemon log onto the video to show where we were going.

Tall_Guy_In_a_PA28 liked this
Fantastic video. Scenery much more dramatic than I thought Cairngorm was. It's now on the list as is Inverness airport. I flew up one of the west coast sea lochs recently, only to find it was a 'dead-end' and I was lower than comfort permitted.
Full throttle to gain some much needed height, high fiving some hillwalkers before maneuvering a tight left hand turn and back to comfort zone. I practiced the 'wing over'/knife edge turns a few times after that. Big lesson that day.

I enjoyed the video and I'm grateful you took the time to put together and post :thumright:
(Sorry for the slow response, all!).

Thanks for all the comments, glad you liked the video! Unfortunately the camera doesn't really do the scenery justice!

One thing that my instructor did mention quite often was to consider the aircraft performance in valleys - where the terrain out-climbs you, and you're in too narrow a valley to turn round. Always best to fly down one side, rather than the middle, more space to turn.

Fingers crossed next year I'll make it across to Barra!
Completely agree with the comments - the Cairngorms area offers some spectacular scenery and a great experience and is well worth a visit. I've had some wonderful flying up there as well some of the most "interesting" approaches I've ever experienced (at Aboyne)!

Have fun, but if anyone goes up there please keep in mind that this area can have intensive gliding use from Aboyne and Feshiebridge , with gliders operating OCAS at anything from below ridge top height up to FL195 using the strong lee-wave effects that form around here. If you have access to some sort of Flarm receiver then I'd recommend taking it with you - otherwise hopefully your local instructor can brief you where to keep a special look out.

PS: This is one of the areas where gliders are exempt from the requirement to carry Mode S above FL100, see ENR 6-3-0-1 and ORS4 No 1258.
mick w liked this