Manchester EGCC - Fife (Glenrothes) EGPJ
Time En-route: 2hrs 25mins
The previous evening at about 11pm, I decided on a whim to take my shared aircraft for a spin. After checking the booking system to ensure it was available, I made a booking and set about deciding where to go. Initially I was tempted by Oxford, as I had a free landing voucher, but then decided that I needed to fly in a different direction and considered Scotland. My dad has been asking me for a while to take aerial photos of his businesses in the Edinburgh area for some time, so I checked the weather and decided it would be possible to fly north. I chose to land at Fife as it was convenient after the photo mission, and wouldn't charge me a second mortgage for handling as EDI does.
My planned route had me leaving the MAN class D zone towards Preston, climbing above the Warton zone before routing direct to Carlise; from there I'd route to Hawick, St Abbs VOR and then up the coast over the business interests before dropping below the EDI class D airspace to cross the Firth of Forth. All planned, I made sure my camera was charged and that I had everything in my flight case before bed, my flight now planned less than 45 minutes after the initial brainwave!
Next morning I got up and arranged slots at MAN, and called for PPR for Fife. The weather was looking good, and so I set off to MAN. Upon arrival I did the usual pre-flight checks, before calling for departure clearance. ATC were helpful as usual, giving me a direct exit to the north rather than insisting I did the published procedure which would add about 45 minutes to my flight.
I chose a good time to taxi, with nothing ahead of me in the queue and only one aircraft on approach. I called ready for deaprture and was cleared for immediate departure with a right turn to the north.
The north routing took me overhead Salford Quays and a certain Manchester based football team, at which point I left the zone and called up Warton Radar for a service as I flew towards Carlise, overhead Preston as well as my home area of Morecambe and Lancaster. Later on I passed Kendal and Penrith, where my radar service was terminated and I was handed over to Scottish Information. This is a non-radar service which is based on procedural VFR position reports; the one controller was looking after the whole of Scotland below 5500'; and so while he was talking to me, overhead Carlisle, he was also talking to aircraft throughout Scotland in Aberdeen and Inverness.
Views of the Lake District
After Carlisle, I flew parallel to the RAF Spadeadam danger area. Spadeadam is the largest RAF base by area, and is used for weapons testing so it is worth avoiding!
The scenery from 4500' was stunning, with forest covered mountains and very little civilisation. Eventually, St Abbs Head and the North Sea came into view. To the north I could just make out the Firth of Forth and Leith dockyard through the haze. St Abbs, for all you VOR fans:
I turned to track the coast at this point, and to take photos of a couple of caravan parks, after which I changed frequency to Leuchars Radar for a service crossing the Forth.
Pease Bay (Top) and Thurston Manor (Lower)
East Fortune, home of the Scottish Aviation Museum and one of the BA Concordes, which was famously floated down the Thames on a barge,
The town of Kirkaldy came into view, behind which I could just make out the airfield.
I made my joining call, and elected to join downwind for runway 25 to avoid a lot of positioning over noise-sensitive villages. One of these villages lies on the extended centreline for runway 25, which means that a 30º offset is required on final approach! Other than that, the approach was fairly standard to a 700m tarmac runway. I landed on the numbers and used about a third of the runway to come to a stop; before backtracking and taxiing to the apron for fuel. Once the plane was fuelled, I decided to fuel myself so got a sandwich and Irn Bru from the restaurant on site. Finally, I dug my credit card out to pay for the fuel - undoubtedly the worst part of the day!
Fife (Glenrothes) EGPJ - Manchester EGCC
Time En-route: 1hr 55mins
After my lunch, it was time to depart. Nothing special here; only one aircraft ahead and nothing in the circuit! After departure I decided to chance my luck with Edinburgh approach and see if I could get a zone transit overhead the city. I fortunately called at a quiet time, and so to my delight was assigned a squawk code and told to transit the zone on my own navigation not above 3000'.
Forth Rail and Road bridges in the distance
Edinburgh with most landmarks visible.
Once past Edinburgh, and clear of their TMA, I climbed to 3500' and routed direct to the TLA VOR, from where I would retrace my route via Carlisle to MAN. The scenery was much the same, although I took a more easterly track north of MAN so got some different views of Lancashire and the 'dark, satanic mills'; most of which are now converted!
Looking towards Northumberland
Towards the Yorkshire Dales
Reebok Stadium, home of Bolton Wanderers FC
MAN were having a busy time, so rather than giving me a direct zone entry, asked me to route to Thelwall and from there I would be given a further clearance.
At Thelwall I was cleared into the zone towards the Alderley Edge VRP, a routing which took me through the runway centrelines. Approaching the VRP, I was given a downwind join to land on 23L, which had just opened for the afternoon, meaning I became its first movement. Again, nothing too unusual about the approach other than the fact a circuit to a 3km runway seems to take an age in comparison to my earlier one in Fife! A bmi baby 737 was ready for departure, but was told to wait while I landed.
Passing through the extended centrelines
Landing on 23L is a little unusual, as under normal circumstances it is departures only, however the performance of a PA28 permits us to land and exit via an entry taxiway!
I then was cleared to cross 23R, the landing runway, and from there to the light aircraft parking area TATON where I shut down and filled in the tech-log, before getting a lift back to my car after an excellent day of flying.
[Edited 2011-07-15 02:06:36]