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Night Flight to Reading (not Night boat to Cairo!)

I had an early morning flight from Heathrow on Sunday but I wasn’t able to organise any sensibly timed connecting flights from\ to Manchester. This isn’t too much of a problem when you own a Jet Ranger so I decided that I would fly down south myself. My only slight concern was whether I would encounter early morning fog or some other poor weather on the morning of my transatlantic flight. Travelling down the day before and staying over night was to be the safest solution, but as I had loaned out the JetBox for the day, I was going to have to fly down at night. Continue reading

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Just get on with it!!!

G-EWAW at the Devonshire ArmsI’ve flown every day for the last 10 days which has been great. I’ve been all over the country including trips up to Cumbria and down to Buckinghamshire twice. Along the way I’ve encountered some pretty poor weather but I’m pleased to say that I’ve managed to get all my trips done safely with the minimum of delay. As I reported a few posts ago, I like to do lots of continuation training. Poor weather training plays a large part of that extra tuition.

Our weather system is shocking, and Manchester is particularly crap. If you believe the forecasts, I sincerely doubt any of us would ever fly. I find that the most important decision to take when flying in (or towards) poor weather/deteriorating conditions is when to actually give up and land. There is a strong argument that says that you shouldn’t begin the flight in the first place, but you really wouldn’t get airborne half the time and this was a particular gripe of mine. TAF’s/METARS would often containg Prob 30’s or TEMPO’s containing some real crud. Low cloud, poor vis, rain etc etc. I found myself postponing trips only to get to the end of the day and find that the weather had been perfectly (and safely) flyable. To me, Steve H and Mike B this was getting ridiculous and I hunted out someone who could teach us how to actually get going and critically get back (or at the very least down on the ground) safely. Continue reading

Safe landing for the lads in G-LADZ!!

g-ladz_01G-LADZ, my first chopper, was involved in a precautionary landing just south of Biggin Hill over the weekend after it suddenly developed severe vibration, accompanied by not very healthy sounding banging noises, whilst in the climb.

I wasn’t in the aircraft, an Enstrom 480, but three of my closest mates were and I’m obviously pleased to report that they got the machine down safely into a field.

LADZ had been on a continuation training exercise, navigating the London Heli Routes, with Steve and Mike (two of the owners) and JJ. They had completed one trip and then popped into a pre-arranged helicopter fly in for lunch before setting out on their return trip. The lads had just received clearance from Thames radar to enter there area and were approximately 4 miles south of H4 (the route that takes them along the Thames river) when their problem presented itself. Continue reading

It’s Dave’s Fault!!!

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I’m not one for apportioning blame, because it often achieves nothing, but today was Dave’s fault! It matters not, because we all got back safe and we had a laugh. But it was Dave’s fault!!

Let me explain…………

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London Heli Routes and HLS Vanguard (Part 1)

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Editors note – I’m going to split this post into two separate posts. Firstly because it’s a long one and there’s a lot to take in. Secondly because I need to pack to go to New York and I haven’t done a thing and thirdly because it will keep you interested!!!

The purpose of my trip on Monday was to navigate through the London Heli Routes again for some practise, but ultimately so that I could land at HLS Vanguard on the bank of the River Thames, near the Isle of Dogs. This was a requirement of the CAA before granting me permission to do it solo. With this in mind, JJ (my mate and esteemed instructor blessed be his name, oh holy one, etc etc etc…) and my personal pilot (and mate), Dave ,set off from EGCB to get the job done.

If you haven’t done the London Helicopter Routes, it’s a definite must do trip. I’ve done them a few times before and It’s a great challenge. You really have to be on your game and you really need someone who knows them well to be with you the first few times.

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Barton to the Isle of Man

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If you’ve been following my Tweets this week you would know that I had been planning a trip to the Isle of Man.

I’ve been many times before Fixed wing, but never in a helicopter, and not for well over 10 years, so I knew that it was slightly more complex than the old days when you simply rang Special Branch and notified them of your intentions and usually that was it. I’d posted on Pprune and got some advice and tips and struck up a friendship with a resident on the island who proved to be very helpful and met up with us when we eventually landed.

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Poor WX and Precautionary Landings

On Thursday the weather was pretty poor and I took the opportunity to go out and fly through it. Dave H also wanted to see what it was like flying through rain and therefore it would serve as a double purpose.

The cloud base was about 1000ft and the VIS was down to 6k in light rain in places so it wasn’t actually too drastic  (and I’ve definitely found myself flying in worse in my career!)

The trip was pretty uneventful but it proved that often there are ways to fly around the weather safely. But just in case we simulated becoming “trapped in” with no exit route but down and into a field. We chose a field and then practised entering into a spiralling descent into it so as to avoid a bank of cloud.

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