I have lots of exciting things to tell you. Firstly, my latest video comes out on YouTube this weekend. I finally fly from Redhill to Ostend in Belgium, and have lunch in the beautiful city of Bruges. It’s a fun watch, if I do say so myself.
How did that happen? The channel just reached 8000 subscribers on YouTube which is incredible. Thanks to each an every one of you for supporting what I do. Who’d have thought so many people would be interested in following the bimblings of an average 40-something private pilot? I don’t take any one of my followers for granted, and I’m grateful to each and every one of you for everything you do in support of what I do. Thank you so much.
Bosnia pilots’ briefing
Just a few days to go now until I set off for Bosnia and Croatia in Golf – Oscar Romeo. This week I attended a briefing with the instructors and pilots who will be joining me on this exciting excursion.
Adam, myself, Jamaal and Ali, pictured above, along with three other pilots, and three instructors should be setting off on Wednesday. Our first destination is Epinal in northeastern France. We’ll refuel, then continue on to Linz, a city in northern Austria. I shall be setting off from Redhill, the other three aircraft will depart from Stapleford. We will probably rendezvous in Epinal and then continue our travels as a loose group. At the moment, none of us is sure if weight and balance/performance will allow us to depart Redhill/Stapleford with full fuel. If there’s any doubt, we may refuel at Lydd before departing their long runway.
The trip is the brainchild of flying instructor James Lee. He served in the armed forces during the Balkan conflict, and wanted to return to the region. He specialises in hour building/fly-outs at Stapleford, and runs similar trips all around Europe.
The first day of flying looks pretty straight forward, apart from some French restricted airspace that we will probably need to route around. The trip becomes more interesting as we close in on the Swiss Alps, and as yet, until we’ve seen some detailed weather forecasts, we’re not completely sure of our routing. Of course, weather could stop the adventure altogether, but we’re sure that we should manage something, if not our intended targets.
I shall be posting regular updates on our travels, for paying subscribers on my website and on Patreon. Flight plans, route briefs, and daily blogs/vlogs will be available each day. So if you’re keen to follow our travels, please consider signing up for a paid membership. You’ll be able to access this content from as little as £1 or $1 a month. You can cancel your subscription at any time.
Bonus video: Pilots’ briefing
As an example, my paying subscribers are now able to watch a video of our pilots’ briefing for the Bosnia/Croatia trip, and an unedited video of my return flight from Ostend to Redhill.
Of course, I’m filming the Bosnia/Croatia trip from start to finish, and the adventure will be fully explored on my public YouTube channel very soon.
That’s all for now. Letite sigurno svojim prijateljima, which Google tells me is Croatian for ‘fly safely my friends’ !
Wow, it’s been a busy couple of weeks!
Day trip to Bruges
For me, one of the great things about being a private pilot, is the ability to jump in the aircraft, and get places quickly. Obviously, the scenery, the socialising, and the joy of flying are all up there too, but I just love that you can go and have a day out somewhere nice, without having to battle around the M25.
For a few weeks, I’ve been trying to get over the English Channel to Ostend, from where the Belgian city of Bruges is within easy reach. The week before last, the skies were clear, and I had a day off, so I gave it a go. Obviously, with a cross channel flight, there are a few extras you have to go through, but it really is very straight forward.
My companion for the flight was fellow YouTuber Tom McNicholas, AKA The Micro Pilot.
The landing fee at Ostend was a little steep for the PA28. In the region of 40 Euros, but for that you get a mahoosive runway, and very cheerful staff who look after you from the apron to the terminal. A 3 Euro bus ride got us to Ostend railway station within about 20 minutes, and then an 8.60 Euro return train ticket gets you to the beautiful city of Bruges within another 20 minutes or so.
Unless you’re really prepared, and get away early doors, it’s all quite a lot to achieve in a day, and we found ourselves with just 15 minutes to explore Bruges after the walk from the train station and an hour for lunch. Next time, I think I may just try and make a weekend of it.
Oscar Romeo goes ‘tech’
All aircraft, no matter how well maintained, will sometimes let you down. Sadly, my PA28 suffered a problem last weekend, and ended up grounded at Headcorn. Thankfully, I hadn’t been the one flying, so wasn’t overly inconvenienced, but myself and the group trustee had to repatriate the aircraft back to its new base at Redhill after a swift repair.
A cable from one of the magnetos to one of the spark plugs had come loose, which was causing the engine to run roughly.
New video out now!
My latest video is available to watch now. It’s my flight from Redhill to Gloucestershire in Golf-Oscar Romeo. As previously mentioned, it was my first attempt at a proper short field take off, as Redhill’s unlicensed runway 25 was in use. 498m is considerably shorter than Biggin Hill’s 1800m strip.
The landing also gave me an opportunity to show you a ‘balloon’. This is a common landing error, and on this flight, because I flared a bit to aggressively, the aircraft began to climb again. Thankfully, it was only an extra foot or so and so it didn’t take much to rectify the situation, but it’s interesting to see it happening on film.
It was nice to be back at Gloucestershire airport again. It’s the second time I’ve landed there, and I always get a very warm welcome.
Big news – likely change of base
After being based at Biggin Hill for about 5 years, it looks as if I’ll be moving to Redhill this month. The move follows the recent decision by Biggin Hill’s management to give notice to all the flying schools. Evidence of an intolerant attitude to light aircraft pilots there also informed the decision. This is a real shame, as Biggin Hill has wonderful facilities that we’ve been happy to pay a premium for, but the airport management want to grow their business, and this means cutting light aircraft movements dramatically.
Redhill is a great alternative, but has its drawbacks. There is no instrument approach, night flying is restricted, and as it’s based partly in Gatwick’s Class D airspace, it’s governed by some restrictive SERA minimums at the moment. I’m sure I’ll quickly adapt, and I can always use Biggin Hill as an alternative if I get stuck in bad weather. On the positive side, Redhill has a great community feel, and is light GA friendly, so I’m looking forward to making new friends there.
25/10/17 I spent the day filming at Manchester Barton Aerodrome today with fellow aviation YouTuber Plane Old Ben. We challenged each other to helicopter flying. As you can see, it went well. But who was the best at it. Video, coming soon.
Hopefully you’re enjoying my night flight video which is out now. Wednesday 25 October, I’ll be at Manchester City Barton Airport to film a special feature with my fellow aviation YouTuber, Plane Old Ben.
Coming soon: My next video features a local night flight, when I regain my night passenger currency.
10/10/17 My latest video follows my first ever flight in a glider. I have several films in the pipeline, including one about night flying, and another where I take two 10 year olds on a sight seeing trip.
13/9/17 My latest video is now out. Behind the scenes scenes at Farnborough Radar. There’s also a write-up of my trip too. This video is extremely popular, and I hope to make more productions of this standard. Coming soon, I’m taking a friend and his son flying from Lydd at the weekend, and then I’m working on a film about glider operations. Watch this space!
28/8/17 I have a fantastic video coming soon. I go behind the scenes at Farnborough Radar, the biggest and busiest LARS unit in the UK. Meanwhile, my latest video, over Brighton Pride has some spectacular views of Brighton.
20/07/17 Gosh, I’ve been so busy lately. With work, childcare, and squeezing in a little flying too of course! At work I’ve been reporting from Maidstone Crown Court on a case against two people charged over the death of their 5 month old baby boy. Flying wise, I flew to Lydd with John Wildey (the passenger who had to land a plane when the pilot died), and I practised an RNAV approach at Shoreham.
25/5/17 Had a great flight this week down to the Sussex coast…my favourite sightseeing spot. Descended to 1300ft amsl to get the best view of Beachy Head. I’m hoping to take off on an epic flight (for me) to Scotland next week, so keeping a close eye on the weather.
Here are a few pics from this week’s flight.
24/04/17 My video of our return trip to Jersey has gone down very well. Since then, I’ve flown in a twin from Rochester and I’m planning a trip to Blackpool on Sunday 30 April. Looking further ahead, I’m hoping to get to Scotland in the PA28 at the end of May. At work, I’m on late shift this week.
3/4/17 Had an absolutely fantastic flight to Jersey last week. We returned into Biggin Hill night IFR. At work I’ve been reporting on the death of motorcycle racer Mick Whalley, and on a taxi driver let down by the justice system after being assaulted by a passenger.
Here’s a video of one of my night, touch and goes.
22/2/17 Last week, during school half term I took my son to North Wales for a couple of days. We flew from Biggin Hill to Hawarden. I enjoyed this IFR return trip. We then took a family break to Paris. I’m on annual leave from work this week too, and putting the latest flying videos together.
27/1/17 I managed to squeeze in a couple of flights so far this year. An IFR practise flight down to Lydd, and a return trip to Bournemouth. Videos of both flights are out now.
31/12/16 Some significant flying news – I now own 1/6th of an aeroplane. My previous share was non-equity. Looking forward to showing you around my new wings. See my latest video for more info. Back to work after the festive holiday on 3rd Jan for a week of lates.
13/12/16 Not been doing much flying recently. Partly due to the weather, but also busy getting ready for Christmas. At work, I continue to report on the industrial dispute involving Southern Trains, and recently covered the closure of an Eastbourne commercial laundry firm, that went into administration, with the loss of more than 100 jobs.
14/11/16 Recently at work, I filmed at Redhill Aerodrome, where they are drawing up proposals to close the airfield and build 4500 new homes. I also filmed an Armistice day service at Bluewater shopping centre. While flying, I returned the PA28 from Hawarden to Biggin Hill. The PA28 is now having its annual maintenance inspection.
13/10/16 On Monday, had a rather interesting flight – the alternator in the PA28 failed in-flight, prompting a return to Biggin Hill’s runway. On Tuesday I was filming at Gatwick Airport for a BBC news piece I’m doing on the airport expansion debate.
06/10/16 My last two flights were to practice my instrument skills, an ILS approach into Lydd, and a non precision approach into Biggin Hill. I’m planning another flight, most probably VFR on Monday 10th Oct. At work, I’ve continued to report on the Southern Trains dispute, and for a change, reported on sport – the British Touring Car Championship at Brands Hatch.
10/9/16 It’s been an extremely busy few months, with flying, working, holidays and looking after a lively 9 year old. I took a YouTube subscriber up for a flight on Thursday, and practiced some crosswind landings. At work, I’ve invariably been reporting on the Southern Trains industrial dispute.
26/7/16 I’m due to fly to Wellesbourne near Coventry on Saturday 30 July. I’ll be teaming up with a fellow journalist to help make a short aerial video about the local canal scenery there. Hoping to meet up with a couple of my followers too.
16/7/16 I’ve been extremely busy at work…now working 3 days a week. Recently, I’ve either been reporting on the Southern Trains chaos, or rogue Gatwick parking companies. Flying wise, I’ve had a couple of training flights in the last week – my next trip is planned for 30 July.
17/6/16 This week I was hard at work, reporting on the dismal performance of Southern Trains, caused by a bitter dispute with the unions. I had a special report, including an exclusive interview with the rail minister. My journalism was leading bulletins across the South of England.
I haven’t flown since mid-May. Partly to save a bit of money, and partly because I’ve been so busy at home and at work. I’m next due to fly on 23rd June. This is a training flight with an instructor.
24/5/16 On Sunday I flew from Biggin Hill to Old Buckenham Aerodrome in Norfolk. The first of two videos from this trip is out this coming Friday afternoon. I’m back at work on Wednesday 25th and Friday 27th May.
16/06/16 I was back in India Zulu today, practicing simulated engine failure procedures, steep turns, diversion, and I ended the flight with a glide approach to land. I was at work over the weekend, reporting on a portrait of Bishop George Bell, and an attack on a football fan with Down’s Syndrome.
12/5/16 Yesterday I worked a late shift, which involved interviewing a contributor for the 1830 programme. At 2225 I was live from Gatwick Airport reporting on the Mayor of London’s views about future airport capacity. I’m back at work Friday, Saturday and Sunday, then plan to fly next Wednesday.
10/5/16 I’m working Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday this week. I was due to fly today, but with very low cloud bases I won’t be risking it. On Sunday, I did 2 hours of intense training/practice. Flying the ILS05 approach at Southend, and running through engine failure procedures. I’m next due to fly next Wednesday.
07/05/16 Yesterday I reported on Brighton & Hove Albion’s crucial game against Middlesbrough, and how the city was hoping they’d gain automatic promotion to the Premier League. Tomorrow, I’m hoping to do some IFR practice/training with an instructor, taking off from Headcorn.
27/4/16 I’m back at work after 9 months parental leave. I’m catching up with mandatory law and impartiality refresher training before going back on the road as a reporter.
On Good Friday, I flew with a friend to Le Touquet – my first cross channel flight. I’ll be editing the video soon. At work on 24th March I reported on the investigation into the killing of Roy Blackman in Biddenden, Kent.
11/3/16 I was due to fly today, but fog and mist put paid to that! I have the aircraft booked again on Monday, and I’ll see if I can do a little trip. Over Easter, I’m hoping to fly to Jersey, but that really does depend on the weather for the channel crossing of course. I did a shift at the BBC yesterday, and reported on the lead story about the AAIB investigation into the Shoreham airshow crash.
23/2/16 I Flew a return trip between Biggin Hill & Gloucestershire Airport today. Was tricky navigating around the odd shower. Video and trip report here. Stay tuned for the full report from the return journey. On Thursday I reported on the closure of the CAA aeromedical centre at Gatwick. Next in work on Thursday 3rd March.