and tuned into Scottish Information, we heard a lone helicopter
Pilot with a worried tone of voice asking if the conditions were
any worse further North ?
“Standby” they replied.
1 minute later the ATC controller read off the latest TAFs (aerodrome
forecasts) and current conditions for every airfield in the local
area the helicopter pilot could have ever wished for. It was encouraging
to hear them go out on a limb to help him. It was also useful for
us, as diverting to East Fortune if it had got any hazier had not
completely left my list of options.
Wispy low-level mist had started to form in the valleys below as
we passed Bamburgh castle, rising dramatically above the coastline.
Brunton With 30 minutes of daylight left, we landed at Brunton to
nil wind, admiring the skydivers as they piled out of their plane
in formation for the last jump of the night.
George, the skydiving Chief Drop Zone instructor let me use his
Internet connection and the forecast for Saturday was not good.
The predictions on the Met Office site were for a windy 30 knots,
and it was already starting to get stronger as I read the report.
We were relieved to have tied the wing down in the lee of a portacabin.
TINGWALL – DORNOCH : 11:30 – 14:30
DORNOCH – INSCH : 15:00 – 16:00
INSCH – BRUNTON – 18:30 – 20:00
TOTAL FLYING: 5hr 30 mins
We deliberated for an hour before deciding to scrap flying
for the day and go and visit Alnwick Castle, staying in the town
for the night.
Blue skies smiled on us for what would be the last leg home. With
some battle scars from the trip including a small crack in the wheel
spat, we set off for Caunton in Nottingham, the home of my Pegasus
It was never going to be a smooth ride on the last leg home. We
had been extremely fortunate with the weather and it was a blustery
15-20 knots - but at least it was a tailwind. Heading south, we
were achieving a hands off trim speed of 96MPH as Newcastle airport
gave us permission to transit through their airspace.
Teeside also allowed us through, and asked me to call in sight of the field. 3 miles away it became visible out of the gloom.
“G-AZ, field in sight.”
“G-AZ, reporting passing river Tees”
We were asked to track west of the runway, and as we passed, an airliner took off heading east out over the sea.
A bumpy 2 ½ hours and just over 200 miles later, we arrived at Caunton with a motor glider hovering overhead ?????? of the newly
For the final 45 minutes to our home strip, we were still being
pushed along by the wind. The rape seed crop had grown noticeably
in the last week since we had left, and approached overhead. The ripples
on the local reservoir showed there was still some activity at ground
level and I took a final look at the cloud formations above.
It seemed difficult to imagine that we had arrived home, 550 miles
from Shetland. We covered over 1200 miles with only 3 non-flying
days. Looking back, three things stand out about the trip. Gigha,
the warm reception we received by everyone, and the inhospitable
BRUNTON – CAUNTON : 15:30–17:30
CAUNTON – NORTHAMPTON : 18:30–17:15
TOTAL FLYING: 20hr 35 mins
Don't forget... you can find a large selection of
pictures from the trip in the Pictures section.