Day 2, Flight 1 – Dunkeswell to Lands End (Captain: Paul)
Day 2 starts with a fantastic breakfast (one of the best of our trip). Weather-wise the forecasts were right, we were faced with thick low clouds and a very dark grey horizon. Our struggle with the weather had begun!
After a 9:30 taxi ride to Dunkerswell airfield, we were kindly offered the club briefing room to study the weather forecast in closer detail. The long-term forecast showed that there may be some improvement in the afternoon.
We spend a few hours chatting over coffee, then lunch, and by 2pm we decide that it’s time to prep the aircraft (removing the tie-downs etc…)
Simon stays in the dry whilst Paul and I get this done.
By 2:45 the weather had lifted and we were en-route. At this point we were all undecided about what to do about the planned 3 legs ahead of us for that day. None of us wanted to push a decision and decided to take the day, leg-by-leg, and review at each destination whether to continue. This was a good plan for UK touring outside of school holidays. Time-pressure for the next arrival point/accommodation is just added stress that you don’t need in unfamiliar airspace!
For our transit along the Plymouth coastline we were given the instruction to stay south of Plymouth Sound and the breakwater, but were unable to see the breakwater until we were almost upon it! It’s not marked on the chart. We got the impression that ATC were so used to talking to local GA aircraft that were familiar with local landmarks that they ask GA aircraft to report when these landmarks are in sight, regardless of whether or not they are on any chart.
We learned to roll with this though as we flew along. We were also instructed not to overfly any large ships, which were easier to spot! We route inland from Fowey across St Austell to orbit the Eden Project (on my wish-list of sight to see en-route). Tick in the box!
En-route to Lands end we transited Culdrose MATZ. It was a terrible radio reception (like the ATC guy was wearing a WW2 Spitfire breathing mask) so MATZ penetration was requested twice as our clearance was very hard to make out. At this juncture our P2 transmission switch decided to operate intermittently on this leg! More pressure on Paul as we rule out the P2 switch and spot a RAF Merlin Helicopter which appears to be tracking our route through the MATZ!
The helicopter appears to be using us for target practice, just off our right wing. The helicopter moves around behind us and drops down into our blind spot and for all we know is tracking us for a few miles along our coastal route around Culdrose.
Before arriving at Lands End the cloud builds and obscures the airfield, but clears just before we make our final descent.
We arrive safely and taxi in behind a SkyBus plane that is running a ferry route to the Scilly Isles. A quick pit-stop at the new modern terminal for water, loo, fuel and go…