Monday, 1 February 2010

The ship of the Fens

In the end none of the ground maintenance got done; it was just too cold this morning to contemplate. But when I saw the sun and realised that next weekend could be too windy, wet or even snowy to fly, I realised that I couldn't fail to get up today. So, rather late, I got going to Sutton Meadows, where I met Al, an ex-RAF aerial photographer who is about to start learning to fly - and he kept me company as we waited for Dave Broom to land and take up his new student.

I fitted G-CFKK with her red panels then pulled the trike out and found to my en
ormous gratification that the wing trolley pulling hook that I welded up when I got home last weekend worked a treat. I was able to pull the trolley out while steadying the wing...and was able to pull it easily over the gravel in the hangar, which may well mean that patio slabs are unnecessary. I may just use some well anchored wooden planks, prepped at home.

I took off on runway 28, this time without a camera, and flew a circuit and a touch-and-go before leaving the circuit for a bimble across to Witchford, up the ditches and then back down to the airfield. Total flight, 40mins, but even that is worth the drive each way. It is just pure pleasure.

Next week is the club's annual dinner and Lizzie and I have booked into a hotel within staggering distance of the venue so that we can both drink. Hopefully we will spend the day flying. She has a lesson booked and I plan
to fly to Ely.

As I come around the corner, approaching Ely from the south (when driving up on the A142), I am always staggered by the beauty of the cathedral and you can quite imagine the impact it must have had on people in the 12th century and for hundreds of years afterwards, when it was the awe-inspiring skyscraper of its time. It is a magnificent sight, bathed in sunlight. It will be good to see it from the air (sadly not as close as in the photo below), but Lizzie and I have decided that if it is unflyable, we will spend the day exploring it on the ground.

Ely Cathedral is known locally as "The ship of the Fens"
as it "towers above the surrounding flat and watery landscape" (to quote Wikipedia)

I had hoped to fly over the cathedral but its top is at 290ft amsl so, to overfly any part of Ely, I'd need to fly at a minimum of 1290ft amsl (because of the 1000' rule). The Mildenhall panhandle starts at 1033ft amsl, so I would be in controlled airspace. Thanks to Steve Wilson for keeping me out of the brown stuff with this one. He has suggested an alternative, which is to fly down the river beneath the pan-handle and keeping clear of any congested areas, which would mean being able to fly lower, provide I stay 500' clear of structures and 600m clear, horizontally. This will still afford a magnificent view of Ely and its cathedral from the east. Early enough and it will be bathed in sunlight....and that approach may even be better than what I originally had in mind.

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