In this month’s edition:
- Palmers Farm Fly-in Pictures
- Bastille Day trip to Quiberon – Richard Lyon
- Bognor Airfield Reopened – Don Lord
Palmers Farm Fly-in, Saturday 5th August 2017
Bastille Day trip to Quiberon
This short French trip, in Eurofox taildragger G-XFOX out of Swanborough Farm mid-July, was planned at short-notice by my partner, Sally, with the brief: customs at both ends, grass strips preferable, fuel if possible, and interesting overnight stays. As she had sailed a few years ago to Belle Isle and Sainte Nazaire, and seafood had been exceptional, we agreed on Quiberon as final destination.
The Eurofox cruises at 95kts, with around 5hrs endurance; navigation was mainly with Sky Demon on an iPad (backed up on iPhone), and we had the IGN 1/500mill charts (useful) and the Air Million 1/1000mill charts (not so useful). Airfield plates were the French National plates off Sky Demon, and French aviation phrases on a 28-page brief from an instructor friend based in France. Having been told that roaming charges in the EU were now based on UK tariffs, we had an EE Hotspot (mini-router?) to give us WiFi for our gadgets – it worked fine throughout the trip, and invaluable for flight plans, GAR, weather etc. (see https://goo.gl/JGgrqN )
First stop was Le Touquet (interesting tail-wind on duty runway – they weren’t keen to change as it would have messed up IFR traffic); landing fee a welcome €5 – I was expecting the dreaded €30; excellent airfield restaurant lunch – fuelling closed.
It was around 2 hours to our nightstop at Lessay (south of Cherbourg, about 15nm east of Jersey – see above). The strip was quiet, the clubhouse deserted, and no-one to help negotiate the fuel pump (Air Total card only). We walked into town, which seemed totally closed, but probably due to being Bastille Day Eve. We were given the last room in the town’s hotel, though we never came across any other visitors. Next morning, early to the airfield, hoping to find an aeroclub member to negotiate fuel. No sign of anyone; Sally had seen a GoKart track en route, so was despatched for 2 jerrycans of Mogas. We found a step ladder, but a funnel would have helped for overwing fuelling…
We set off south for another 2 hr leg, routing just east of Mt St Michel. Weather wasn’t great, so we were below 2,500’ for most of the flight. Brest and Rennes FIS were helpful with traffic advice, and we felt confident that we were being tracked on radar. The approach into Quiberon wasn’t planned too thoroughly in advance (see above) and we couldn’t ascertain whether LFD 18A was live or not (Sky Demon didn’t help, but we later found out from the IGN chart that info on those danger areas was from Armor on 124.75 which monitors all the west coast restricted areas). So this resulted in a cautionary tight dog leg to arrive downwind right-hand on 29 at Quiberon (see below). Comms with ATC were good, but we weren’t prepared on touch-down to have several parachutists arriving around us…
No problem with fuel (credit card accepted) and an ATC guy drove us into town to find the only room left. Quiberon was packed, being Bastille Day, and we had a seriously impressive fireworks display in the harbour that evening.
A couple of nights in Quiberon (good food, economical hotel by the harbour, interesting markets) but then we realised getting back to the UK could be a challenge due to forecast weather along the French north coast, and of course we needed customs. After an airfield lunch, we set off to Bernay (30nm south-east of Deauville – see below) for our last night. One of the aeroclub members helped us negotiate the Air Total fuel (credit card taken by the club) and gave us a ride into town. Bernay is a historic medieval town – well worth a visit, with dozens of restaurants and shops open until early Saturday evening.
The next morning there was no chance of flying anywhere until either Deauville or Le Touquet’s fog cleared – same along the coast. Sally had to get back to work, so she jumped ship, and hitched to Dieppe, and took the ferry. I hung around the airfield at Bernay, waiting for a weather clearance, and talking to both Deauville and Le Touquet, updating flight plans/GAR. Mid-afternoon Deauville was OK, so I dropped in for customs (€8 landing fee), and then routed up the coast via overhead Le Touquet across the Channel (I managed to pick up Sally at Newhaven, as she stepped off the ferry).
I’d strongly recommend an Air Total card if you’re planning arriving at smaller French airfields, so you can fuel 24/7 without having to depend on an open aeroclub. Total need a € deposit, and a bunch of documents to prove who you are, but interestingly under the SEPA (?) scheme, can debit your Sterling account for fuel purchases (well, at least with Lloyds). Downside is it’s for Avgas only. (See: https://goo.gl/DSkRmN ).
We were really impressed by French aeroclubs – their members went out of their way to give us advice, and help with transport; ATC at Quiberon as well.
I’d really welcome any tips on interesting places to visit in France (or Belgium), and particularly the finer points of negotiating French-only airfields.
Bognor Airfield Reopened
We all know that there is life once again at the LEC Refrigeration site in Bognor. Well it’s a bit more than just active! There are powered aeroplanes operating there, as well as gliders. These will be self powered or aero-tow. There is no winching. [Though they do mention it on their website. Ed.]
They have actually got a page in the latest Pooleys Guide. It is advertised as ‘Bognor Regis Gliding Club’, and they will be training new pilots in addition to giving air experience flights.
This offers yet another hazard for us as we fly South to IOW or along the coast. It will also conflict with the very busy Goodwwood circuit. So everyone, keep a good lookout as you fly near Bognor. In the ANO it says that powered aircraft gives way to gliders. Well what about self powered gliders? I will be watching for them, but will not be giving them a wide birth.
How the hell did they get permission to open up for business so close to a town? I guess the history is the provenance?
If you want to pop in there and say Hi, you can PPR and land for a modest £20! Google BGC, it’s all there to read.
Be safe guys.
For the latest list of events, go to the Events page on the Strut website.
Please suggest/volunteer to organize some more.