Where have you been? What have you seen?
2nd May and my second time flying after lockdown. The original plan was to complete my first solo landaway down to Lee On Solent, however with the weather being what it was I decided to abandon that idea.
Rather than abandoning all hope for the day, I looked around at other airfields that I could add to my list in preparation for the inevitable cross country. Kemble has been on my bucket list for awhile, but due to its current opening times it was closed. However, a not so little airfield stuck out on the 1:500,000 and only 14 nautical miles from Kemble or just an extra 10 minutes flying time in the PA28 I am learning to fly.

Gloucester, a place I can't recall I have ever been too, but one that most people have heard of. With the use of Sky Demon I had a look at the airfield charts and checked out their website. The planning was straight forward as two legs was all that was needed, and it meant I would also overfly Kemble, gaining access to two airfields in a single flight for my solo landaways and giving more options for the cross country.

Thankfully I have a flexible instructor and he had no problem with the change in plans. A quick call to Gloucester to get PPR which was not a problem, we did a brief of the flight, and it quickly became apparent that this would be a much more interesting trip than normal. After departing Blackbushe we would get a basic service from Farnborough, then Brize. Approaching Kemble ATZ we would announce that we would be flying overhead. Once leaving the Kemble ATZ we would pick up that ATIS, and then check in with Gloucester Approach, and expect to be handed over to Gloucester Tower. This would mean constantly trying to stay ahead of the flight and more frequency changes in a short time than I have had to deal with before. Briefing done, it's time to go.

A check of the aircraft, grab some fuel, and we were off. Taking off on 25 and proceding direct on route, climbing up to an initial 2000 feet. Checking in with Farnborough took a little while as they had a controller change, and we also decided to climb higher to see if we could find some smoother air, which was unfortunately unsuccessful. Stopping at 3000 feet due to cloud cover we continued direct to Kemble, hitting most of the marks I had made on the map, although I needed to make a small correction at Firs farm. After leaving Farnboroughs airspace we listened in on Brize and heard lots of chatter about gliders, with Brize doing a great job informing those receiving a service where the gliders could be found, which helped us with our situational awareness, and as we were extra vigilant with the look out we passed well clear of a glider passing from right to left. As we approached Kemble we switched over to their frequency and announced we would be arriving from the south east, passing overhead to the north towards Gloucester. Even though we were flying at 2500 feet and not strictly in the ATZ, it made us aware of any other inbound and outbound traffic.

Now that we were turning overhead Kemble towards Gloucester things started to heat up. We tuned in to Gloucester ATIS and noted down all the information needed. We then had 7nm to run to Gloucester so we checked in with Gloucester Approach, passing our message and getting cleared for the overhead join for 27, setting up the transponder and then being passed over to the tower. We checked in with the tower and started to descend on the dead side and report when downwind. Turning final to 27 also gave us an impresive view of the GCHQ building. Having full ATC meant that for the first time I was given clearance to land. The landing was nothing special to write home about, however, another first for me, I was given instructions to back track. We requested progressive taxi instructions and the controller gave use perfect step by step instructions to our parking area, which was as close as you could get to the terminal (VIP treatment :D ). We paid the landing free and grabbed a coffee and a bite to eat, and thankfully the restaurant had put up a tent so we managed to stay dry.

In summary what could have been a washed out day, turned out to be a great flying and learning experience, and I would recommend any other students doing NAV training to have a look at Gloucester or similar airfield where your workload is going to be higher than normal.

Final 27:
Dave W, T6Harvard, Morten and 10 others liked this
Great! This is exactly the kind of flying that you'll be doing later on, so a good experience. I guess it taught you to stay as far ahead as possible in your head: then everything becomes much easier.

I'd had my PPL for about a year when I flew solo from Popham to Gloucester, a place I'd never been. I had mentally prepared for an overhead join for all six runways (first time I'd been anywhere with that many options) but was caught off guard when told to join 27 in a right-hand circuit. I had to make a mirror image of my approach in a hurry. :D But all went well: lunch, a local bimble with a Forumite in his aircraft and then back to Popham. A very enjoyable day that still, after another sixteen years of flying, is one of my best.
T6Harvard liked this
Fellsteruk wrote:Gloucester is a nice place but that view of GCHQ on final for 27 is epic. However I think they could do with a few liters of paint on the runway the markings are shocking.

Well of course you're having difficulty making out the runway markings: what the hell are you doing all the way out there on final??!! :D

(To be fair, sometimes some of the circuits flown at Staverton are truly enormous. I was doing some instructing there last week and I told the student to break away to the north from downwind on 27 RH and re-join overhead. I wasn't prepared to fly way-over the town at circuit height to fit in with other huge circuits being flown).

PS. litres
Fellsteruk, Iceman, TopCat and 1 others liked this
Fellsteruk wrote:Lol doughnut makes me hungry. They need a Krispy Kreme stand next to that fancy costa machine they have :)

How do you know 'they' don't ? :)

https://www.gloucestershirelive.co.uk/w ... fee-416372
Great report - Gloucester was on my qualifying cross country (Henlow-Gloucester-Leicester-Henlow). It was my first real experience of checking ATIS and then 'proper ATC' - there was something about being cleared to land for the first time. Great airfield and can't wait to get back there. Your report got me reminiscing about a great (and exhausting!) day.
kanga, Iceman, CAllen liked this