I breathed a sigh of relief; it wasn't that difficult after all. It just takes a bit of bottle to call them. After all, it could save your butt. I did stumble a bit though, tongue twisting "064 degrees".. I had to stop and repeat….
"G-IZ, you have Fast jet traffic in your
3'o clock low, joining downwind for right base."
A quick reality check. Yes, here I was, flying directly overhead an active military airfield with Tornado jets flying around me! This was the real deal.
I peered over the side of G-IZ. Jet aircraft were parked up in perfect formation side by side on the ground, ready for their next sortie.
A sand-coloured jet took off below and turned right.
"G-IZ looking for traffic and maintaining 3000ft heading 064 degrees".
30 seconds passed and I was watching the altimeter like a 'hawk'. [pun intended].
"G-IZ, you have fast jet traffic in your
9'o clock 5,000ft under my control, descending for right base"
"G-IZ, looking for traffic and maintaining 3,000ft heading 064 degrees."
I was getting the hang of this and really starting to enjoy it now. I had finally stopping grinding my teeth in anxiety.
I looked left and two Tornados screamed past me in formation with what looked like no more than several hundred feet to spare. They turned sharply to descend, and I could smell the Jet A1 fuel drifting in their wake. I felt an instant rush of adrenaline and could almost taste the speed as their smoke trailers appeared.
I left the Marham Zone heading North-East. I was sure that my footprint on the controller's radar must have been the slowest moving he had seen all day.
"Marham, G-IZ request freecall to 129.825, and can you tell me if Coltishall is active please?"
"G-IZ... if you stay with me for now".
Stay with him I did, relieved that all those hours of lessons had paid off and that I could fly a heading, straight and level.
My next hurdle was RAF Coltishall, and it is only 'round the corner' in flying terms. It sits right next to the coast, and as I could see from the charts, it is a bombing range.
My dot on the Marham radar must have finally reached Coltishall's zone.
"G-IZ contact Coltishall on 125.900"
"G-IZ contacting Coltishall 125.900".
I dialled the frequency into the Radio and called them.
"G-IZ, Coltishall Flight information.
Yarmouth QNH is 1021"
I had hoped to be told if they were also as busy as Marham, but I wondered if Marham had already told them what I was doing - I decided to check.