This was an extremely satisfying flight, due mainly to it’s simplicity and accuracy. Biggin Hill was shrouded in low cloud, and so I departed the aerodrome IFR, soon climbing above the clouds. I surfed the clouds for 20 minutes, before ducking down through a gap, to arrive at Lydd VFR.
I was picking up a friend and his son, to take them on a sight-seeing trip, so had the aeroplane to myself for this leg of the journey. I routed out IFR through the Biggin Hill overhead, tracking 095 to Detling VOR, out for a further 10 miles, before intercepting the 172 track inbound to LZD NDB. This would have taken me to ROMTI, the initial instrument approach fix for Lydd’s ILS 21 approach. As I approached, it was obvious that Lydd was surrounded by visual meteorological conditions (VMC), and so I could break cloud, cancel IFR and join the circuit normally.
As it turned out, the rest of the adventure wasn’t so straightforward. I loaded the aircraft with my passengers, had completed a passenger brief, and started the engine. It was at this point I noticed that the ammeter was reading zero. This could be indicative of an alternator failure. I did some trouble shooting, which included hitting the ammeter with my knuckles, but this didn’t sort the problem. I offloaded the passengers and wondered what to do.
The weather had been IMC for 80% of my outbound flight, but had improved considerably since departing Biggin Hill. I looked at the METARS, and already had a good feel for the trend, and thought I had a chance of making it back to Biggin Hill in VMC. My backups were Headcorn, or Lydd. I then had to consider the possibility that if I did set off, the battery wouldn’t last the journey. I would soon find myself without radios, a turn coordinator and the electric fuel pump.
I re-started Oscar Romeo, at which point the ammeter decided to flick into life. Lydd warned Biggin Hill that I was having issues, and I set off. Soon after take off the ammeter fell to zero again!
I’ve made a bonus video, which charts this return trip in detail, and it’s available to my Patreon members. They very generously pledge a small sum each month, anything from $1, to help keep the channel going. If you’d like to sign up, and get the benefit of bonus videos like this, click here to find out more. I appreciate that it won’t be for everyone, and I promise I’ll keep making the same high quality content on YouTube for everyone to watch for free.
Video: Biggin Hill to Lydd, IFR to VFR