Day 1, Flight 1 – Earls Colne to Shoreham (Captain: Trevor)
So off we went on our first leg – grateful that we could take an extra “run-up” – which turned out to be surplus to requirements as less than half way down the runway, before our pre-determined abort-point we were airborne and climbing well. AK had plenty of horses. Weighing socks was not in vain!
Two minutes out and a debate ensued about our tours official starting point on the coast. It had been pre-selected and quickly forgotten! On leaving Earls Colne’s circuit, Paul was convinced that we were going in the wrong direction, thinking we were starting at Clacton, Essex. Whereas I had selected and planned the start point to be overhead the port of Harwich. As the Captain is always right – Harwich it was!
Simon was surprised that we were cleared to transit through Southends’ extended runway centreline as we routed around the Essex coastline.
As part of our plan we had each listed a few key locations that each of us really wanted to fly across. For example, Paul wanted to fly the Jurassic Coast and I wanted to fly across the Eden Project. Simon wanted to fly over Kirkcaldy in Fife, having grown up there. Somehow though we all managed to forget the White Cliffs of Dover until were past them! Oh well, we had all seen them before! From that point forward our coastline tour was mostly conducted just across the water’s edge so that we had a better view of the coast, and saw as much as possible.
Inbound to Shoreham, ATC requested that we turn right after the second set of tunnels on the A27. Simons reply was “Wilco” safe in the knowledge that we we’re clueless about the location of any road tunnels! A mumbled comment about using an aviation chart and not a road map was not transmitted and was quickly followed by a call to ATC to inform them we could see the field, as we made our approach.
I bounced us into Shoreham, with a bumpy landing. The grass surface of Runway 07 was one the worst any of us had experienced in a while. I was lucky my fellow pilots did not enquire whether we had landed, or been shot down! Fortunately the nice weather and the prospect of lunch distracted them!
Our arrival at Shoreham was just in time for lunch, and we were delighted to see our registration listed on the arrivals board in the main airport building! “G-ECAK from Earls Colne, Landed 12:06”. This would be the last time we saw ourselves on an arrivals board until the last day.
A quick lunch at the Hummingbird restaurant, then re-fuel and buy oil for topping up along the way. Yet another quick check of the weather and Notams for Leg 2 and we were ready to go.