Final Approach

An early start to buy flowers for my wife but a disappointingly overcast and damp today, which put an end to my plans for a day’s flying. At least yesterday, I managed to find the time to fly over to Rochester for lunch and found myself temporarily stuck there while they towed another aircraft off the runway where it had become stuck.

One thing I’ve learned about flying is that it’s not unlike driving, in that the idiots, the aged and the acutely inexperienced can be found on the road and in the air as well. How the old duffer managed to skid his aircraft off the runway as he taxied, did rather baffle the rescue crew and the tower but fortunately, no damage was done except to the pilot’s pride.

Local airfields can be ‘interesting’ at times and you’ll find other pilots occasionally ‘cutting-in’ on your approach instead of waiting their turn in the pattern. Clearly against the strict rules of the air, it’s dangerous and rather like undertaking on a motorway and yet it’s not uncommon.

Another flying irritation, as happened yesterday, is the pilot ahead who travels miles downwind before making his or her turn onto final approach. In my case, it was a microlight, capable of tuning on a pin, which forced me to extend a long way out to avoid overtaking him on the landing approach.

On a good day in the area of Kent between Herne Bay and Dover you really have to keep your eyes on the sky. Lots of aircraft fly across the Thames Estuary and off towards the Dover VOR beacon on the way to France for lunch. This brings them straight into Manston’s airspace, which can be busy with cargo 747’s coming and going, so in principle and for the sake of common sense, they should be working the Manston approach frequency. Many in fact don’t bother and stay with the overworked and distant London Information instead and so, as a consequence, seeing an unexpected aircraft zip past you that Manston knows nothing about isn’t unusual.

Anyway, it’s Valentine’s Day and I’m reminded that I was in Budapest on an eGovernment visit three years ago. A beautiful city, that looks very much like Paris with its grand architecture and worth visiting if you can on Valentine’s Day or at any other time come to that.


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