Last week I flew to Cambridge, an exciting trip! The goal was to visit my aunt who lives downtown Cambridge, and celebrate her birthday (somewhat belated). I planned for this trip already in July, but in that weekend the weathergods prevented any (VFR) trip between the UK and the continent.
We arrived at 9.30 at the club, and start to collect the neccessary items: life jackets, tie-downs, aircraft papers, etc. We brought some drinks and food for during the trip, next to the overnight suitcases.
I had updated my navigation plan from the one I created in July already at home. The customs form was faxed to Cambridge airport operations the day before, and on my way to Rotterdam I had called dutch customs, which is needed for any direct non-Schengen flight.
The weather forecast was fine for Saturday (disregarding some scattered showers and isolated CBs), but Sunday would be tricky as some front was crossing UK from west to east. However, if we would leave early there should be no problem.
Whoaaa! What way to better spend a part of the holidays than up in the air (except for the beach when it is really hot, and mediteranian restaurants at night)?
I contacted the Real Aeroclub de Baleares yesterday if a flight (with instructor or safety pilot) was possible..... and it was! In their fleet they have Pipers, Warriors and Archers, as well as a Cessna 152. I have experience on the Warrior and on the 152, so no problem. A piper Warrior was available, the EC-FXS!
In the early morning (hey, getting up at 7.30 is early during this holiday), I drove to Son Bonet airport (LESB). This field used to be the main airport for Mallorca untill 1959, and is now a General Aviation field for mainly flight schools and helicopters. Also the local forestrial watch aircraft and resque helicopters are based here.
Unconsiously I skipped multiple layers of security, but when I arrived at the Aeroclub the lady told me I really needed the accreditation of the security company. So back to the main entrance of the airport (where the gate openend automatically when I arrived), and with my accreditation (yellow sticker with name and date) back through the gates of the Guardia Civil to the club.
I had to wait a bit before my instructor and aircraft returned from a previous instruction flight, so I spend some time looking at the maps and VFR corridors. This airport is located in the vicinity of the very busy main airport, so special procedures are needed to separate the traffic.
Together with the very friendly instructor, Xisca, we set the route to fly: after take-off to the west over the mountainous area of the Serra de Tamuntana.
Then to the south, passing the Dragonera island, and after an orbit over Port Andratx (the place I am staying).
Now east passing some beaches, and then back over the hills to the airfield, carefully not invading the airspace of Palma de Mallorca airport (LEPA). I did 2 circuits, with the first landing (on the 24) being completely crap (crosswind, heat turbulence, low approach over a road with trucks). The second one (on the 06) was OK, and once again low over the buildings of the outskirts of the city of Palma.
The weather was hot (31 degr.AGL) and humid (70%), which impacts the performance tremendously. I seldomly saw these climbrates in a Warrior when flying 75 knots.
Son Bonet is a nice airport (landingfee EUR 8.06 for a Warrior, with up to 2 touch and go's and a landing). The aeroclub is a nice place, with sufficient english to overcome communication problems. Xisca did radio, for which I was glad. I speak spanish, though have not all the aviation lingo in spanish available. Xisca talked to me in (speedy) spanish, and when I didn't understand I askd her to repeat!
Learned a lot lot today, on moutain flying, on hot weather turbulence and aircraft performance. Great! Hopefully I will fly one day from Rotterdam to this field!