Alderney-UK

alderney blond hedgehogIt all started two years ago before this trip, a few days preceding a birthday, the birthday! Alderney was visited once very shortly, for refueling, when en route for Saint Mary in the Scilly Islands, with the promise to come back for a longer stay.

Helped by a splendid and unexpected end of September mild and sunny weather forecast, you timidly propose a journey somewhere close to the sea, and bravely, why not to an island! Of course your aim is to try to enjoy flying, without losing too many credits with your partner, because in some case flying might well mean "staying blocked on a lousy airfield for thousands of different reasons but without even a single really good one". You have been told that several time, and you have endangered several times to loose all your credits, or even go below zero!

Location map AlderneyAlderney has a nice small airport (EGHA) which quite probably occupies 2/10th of the surface or at least 2/10th of the length of the island, the remaining part being occupied by the town, St Ann city, a golf court, and some free ground! Quite close to pilot dreams as you may leave at a walking distance from the airport and maybe your plane. Moreover, Alderney is a true aviation friendly airfield, with for example duty free fuel!  ald04

After some exchanges of opinions, you got the ok from your partner, and the very dangerous mission, to find a nice location to stay when reaching your destination. Feverous research, and finally you decide for a bed and breakfast, being attracted by some nice water paints hanging on the walls, visible from the accommodation pictures available on the website. It should be the house of an artist. You check once again that your partner is ok for this accommodation, and then book a room. ald27A short phone call with the owner begins to convince you that this might be the right choice, and allows you to learn that the bed and breakfast is at about 7 minutes walking time from the airport. Anything better?!

Flight from Valenciennes (LFAV) to Alderney (EGJA) is quite easy with the possibility to fly along the French coast for a large part of the journey. You may well also choose to do some radio navigation following the VORs and ADFs along the way. In that particular case, the journey then could be: LFAV  VS  ABB  DPE  LHP  Vauville  ALD  EGJA.

As for any flight, pre-flight check with the check list, around the plane, in the plane, etc... Contact, engine start, radios on, and after the run up you are flying to your destination, Alderney. The weather is clear and clean and the flight has no real difficulties.  The end of the journey is slightly trickier, requiring some attention for avoiding the P (prohibited) areas of the nuclear power plants, and Cherbourg, a French navy base. carte nav

French airspace control is a little bit busy that day, due to the nice and bright sun which has attracted a lot of mechanical birds in the sky. Once having left the coast, you switch to Channel Islands control, and, "as usual", the British controller immediately slows down the speed of his exchange with you, due to your impossible to hide French accent. In this area IFR or Special VFR is compulsory. SVFR do not present any peculiar difficulty, being a VFR flight with the obligation to follow airspace control instructions.

ald05 Alderney appears as a stone in the middle of the water and you do start to feel what it is about landing on a (huge - motionless) aircraft carrier. Approaching the island, you switch to Alderney Tower and you are instructed to land on runway 08. Nothing peculiar, but it is worth mentioning the threshold of 08 which is slightly higher than the rest of the strip.

 ald16Don't approach too high or too quick as a "plop" landing will invariably occur... but as it is not the first time you land here... you then succeed in avoiding the "plop landing"....

 

ald18Landed and parked on Alderney's green grass. Here we are! The welcome of the staff let you really feel the meaning of aviation friendly airport. Only a small, quite understandable restriction : ald18Formalities are quickly expedited and after having checked again 10 times that you did not forget something about or in the plane, you walk to your bed and breakfast. Quite easy to find it in principle, as it is located very close from the water reservoir, which was indeed a blockhouse and an observation tower build by the Germans during the 1939-1945 world wide war.ald21

After the theoretical 7 minutes walk, let's say 20 minutes indeed, because you are looking around to enjoy the environment and the bags are heavy (why did you took so many stuffs with you? the stay will only last two days); you reach your destination and start to wonder if you will successfully pass the chosen accommodation test!. She has to say yes or no to what you choose! You hear a “Hmmmm, what a lovely place”, and then you stop trembling and sweating. The day is almost saved!

ald22The accommodation is indeed very fine, with a lovely inner court garden and nicely arranged room(s). ald25

The visit planning is quickly arranged: today round the city and restaurant, tomorrow round the island (to lose the weight we will gain at the restaurant) and visit of the museum.

The city is relatively small and well maintained. Focal points are Victoria Street (which is the main street), and the harbour. Here and there, shops are advertising for their services with some English humour in some instances. The harbour is worth the visit, and with the nice weather and sunshine, a beer is most welcome.
After this exhausting walk (very very few miles), it is time to restore your energy with some local food and kitchen.ald29  After having asked to several people you met here and there which restaurant they would recommend you ends up at the Georgian House. The Georgian House Indeed highly recommendable with good service and courses. The ambiance is quiet as we are at the very end of the touristic season. Here again an inner garden, which seems to be the specialty of the island, is adding charm to the overall ambiance due to our nice waiter.ald31

With all these efforts your credit is going up, and probably your future trips proposals should get some more acceptance from your partner, or at least less suspicion of being suspected to only succeed in “staying blocked on a lousy airfield for thousands of different reasons, but without any single valid one !".

 

ald34Time has come to rent a bike and to visit the Island. Alderney is like a small rock with a lot of slopes and declivities, therefore be prepared to sweat with the bike unless you are becoming very very swifty again the champion you were, if ever. By the way during this ride you get some short and sweet remarks such as "maybe some loss of weight could be beneficial for the next bike ride, and eventually for the plane efficient pay load ...." 

ald41The coast is naturally gorgeous, with plenty of different small beaches and shores to see and to enjoy if you are not too sensitive to the not very warm water.

ald42Of course there are plenty of remains from formers disputes and wars, starting from old castles and forts from alternatively the Franco-English or Anglo-French competition to own this island and the other Channel Islands; till the remains of the German bunkers from the Second World War.

 ald44Defensive constructions are all around the island as “the enemies" were alternatively coming from the south, the north, the east,  the west, and again same history for several rounds.... We did not got time enough to visit all of these, and therefore we agreed to come back for a second visit.ald46 ald47   ald48Worth mentioning are Andy Goldsworthy's Stones that we found all around the island.

   harbour

The port is worth a walk or a bicycle ride as well as the rock wall of the breakwater which is about 870 meters long. A railway was build to bring the rocks and the stones from an adjacent carrier and the rails are still there. Needless to talk about the waves and the noise when the weather is windy. ald breakwater

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Tides are amongst if not the strongest worldwide and this certainly call for some attention when being close to the beaches, or in the sea.

ald54The museum is worth a visit for three main reasons : The surroundings, the content of the museum, and the gentleman who was taking care of the visitors. Although its size is proportional to the size of the island, the museum summarizes the history of Alderney and its inhabitants from the Stone Age till after the Second World War. In this museum , are exhibited the artefacts of the only known wreck of an English warship of the Elizabethan Period, the Elizabethan Wreck. The findings from this wreck appear to be crucial to understand why the union Jack ruled the seas for such a long time. It seems to be related to standardisation of the armament simplifying logistic. Old recipes still very valid for companies to remain competitive.

Maybe as noticeable as the exposition, was the gentleman, in charge of the museum that day. Extremely knowledgeable and prolix with a lot of humour on any subject about the past, present and future of this island. Thank you so much to you, Sir, for the detailed explanations we received.

ald50Time has gone in a snap and reluctantly you start your journey back. Conclusion: You feel the need to come back here to visit the remaining areas; you did not had time to visit and see everything, to enjoy some relaxing time and to spend your remaining locally printed pounds.ald57 You finally even got some bonus points, receiving a compliment for this trip from your forever co-pilot. (With the hope that this small description, will give you the wish to fly for, and to discover Alderney...).
ald58

avion signal  Pilots Technical info        avion signal  Fly to Alderney        accomodation  Farm Court Alderney Accommodation

iPad - e-iAIP countries list

 al   Albania

am  Armenia

at  Austria

az  Azerbaijan

by  Belarus

be  Belgium

bh  Bosnia and Herzegovina

bg  Bulgaria

hr  Croatia

cy  Cyprus

cz  Czech Republic

dk  Denmark

ee  Estonia

fo  Faroe Islands

fi  Finland

mk  Macedonia (FYROM)

fr  France

ge  Georgia

de  Germany

gr  Greece

gl  Greenland

hu  Hungary

is  Iceland

ie  Ireland

it  Italy

 kosovo  Kosovo

lv  Latvia

lt  Lithuania

lu  Luxembourg

mt  Malta

md  Moldova

nl  Netherlands

no  Norway

pl  Poland

pt  Portugal

ro  Romania

cs  Serbia / Montenegro

sk  Slovak Republic

si  Slovenia

es  Spain

se  Sweden

ch  Switzerland

tr  Turkey

ua  Ukraine

gb  United Kingdom

Perranporth-UK

perranporth11Everything started few days before a birthday. The birthday. Trying to go out of the classical destinations, and with the aim to avoid the typical " as long as you fly, you are even able to land and stay in the middle of a nowhere desert", an intensive thinking occurred.  The aim was to do a kind of surprise, for the birthday.... with a not too far away destination, but exotic enough to catch the attention of the happy birthday person who loves the sun and the sea. But when you are living in North of France, sun and warm water are easier to find in your bathroom with some spotlights, than in northern coast.

Scrutinising the map, looking around, remembering some far away lessons of geography, it pops up in your mind that maybe, the gulf stream could help there, at least as long as it is up and running.

Miracles happening all together,  you then remember some articles you rode, about an English island with subtropical vegetation due precisely to this marvellous warm water, which after having crossed the Atlantic Ocean for several thousand miles arrives there.

You might be saved for this birthday! Therefore, with a legitimate proud, you announces " i know where we will go for your birthday, i am sure at 99.99% you will love it".  The sight you get back clearly show you that you will need to do a lot to convince and to gain back some credit.

St_Mary_Old_Town_Bay-iCThe planned destination is in the Scilly Islands and more precisely St Mary Island, which might helps a lot as the happy birthday person is named Mary. Needless to say that St Mary Island do have an airfield; and a tropical vegetation with warm waters to splash in.

  You prepare and organise everything and then unveil your project. With all relevant information and documentation about the island, the hotel you have booked, pictures of what can be expected, etc.,...; you proudly describes the journey and the flight plan with a stop at Alderney for less expensive fuel before flying to the final destination, St Mary Island.  The sight you get back gives you some hope to save the birthday day and to win back some credits.

Day-1 from the birthday. Check list round the plane, in the plane, contact, engine start, radios on, and after the run up you are flying to the first destination, Alderney.

 French airspace control is very helpful, and when you switch to the English airspace with Guernsey approach en route to Alderney, the British controller immediately slows down the speed of his exchange with you, due to your impossible to hide French accent. He guides you to your destination like a baby. In this area IFR or Special VFR is compulsory but do not present any peculiar difficulty while following airspace control instructions.

In view of Alderney, you switch to Alderney Tower and you are instructed to land on runway 09. Nothing peculiar, but it is worth mentioning the threshold of 09 which is slightly higher than the remaining strip. Don't approach too high or too quick as a "plop" landing will invariably occur...

 

alderney1 Alderney is a nice island indeed, just slightly larger than the airport with an excellent service. Aviation Friendly Island, landing fees are reasonable and the staff charming. Indeed your stop is motivated today by the duty free fuel, information which is proudly written on the fuel tank "Duty Free - No VAT"; holy land....

fuel2

For those willing to buy a souvenir and to stay on the safe side, a towel with the airport diagram and the runways is available at the bar-shop-customs control,... all services in a lovely nutshell.

You even receive a compliment from your birthday passenger: "maybe we should consider coming here once and staying few days". Your credit level is up.

One hour later, after having refuelled, done your shopping, checked the weather and filled a new flight plan, you are back in the air to your final destination.

 

During the weather check you notice that a quite saturated with humidity warm air is coming from the south west and may reach the Cornwall. Nothing worrying but you will keep an eye on it.

From Alderney you cross the Channel flying to Berry Head, tracking the Berry Head VOR, and then to Land Ends before flying to St Mary.  Nice bright sun and your birthday person is happy. UK controllers continue to baby you, due to your impossible to hide accent.
 

But, there is always a but, when approaching Land ends, you start to see on the ground some layers of fog, here and there. Possibly the maritime entrance is coming slightly quicker and is slightly stronger than forecasted..... But apparently the fog is very scattered and not thick. No reason to worry, lets continue. Unfortunately, the more you fly, the more this fog layer becomes increasingly thick and continuous. And at a given time you may see below your wings a quasi magical vision were the land is covered with a white layer, thick enough to hide the ground, but from where, here and there a chimney, an antenna, or a church steeple emerge from this white carpet. Although not very comfortable in case of emergency, the view is magical.

Well well well, you are still on top of the cold land and maybe, these phenomena will disappear once on top of the water and at the Scilly Island, therefore you may still save the birthday.

Unfortunately your last inquiry for the weather at your destination airport, decreases your hope, even if you are told that this may evolve pretty quickly and give you a chance to land. You then explain that there is no worry, as you have more than enough fuel to wait in the air and eventually to go back to your departure point. The plane is flying like a charm. After few circles you have to admit and to confess that your final destination, for the time being, is not reachable with a reasonable safety margin. The sight you get tells you long about: Credit points sharply down.

Resigned you call again St Mawgan control and tell them you will divert your flight due to weather conditions, and that you plan to land at St Mawgan which is cavok, and to wait there for a possible improvement of the weather on St Mary.  Flying to your new destination, backward to east, the fog layer begins to break again with larger and larger holes. 

PerranporthAn airport appears in these large holes, and the map tells you: Perranporth-EGTP.  Why not, as it is closer to St Mary, than St Mawgan. You then inform St Mawgan of your intentions and start your descent while calling Perranporth, who confirm that the conditions are fine.

airfield5You are cleared to land on runway 09, approaching from the sea. The beginning of this runway is just about 100 meters on top of the sea. There you got a very nice view of the cliff just below you....


 

Once landed, you park the plane in the most convenient position for a quick start and go, and you rush on your mobile to call St Mary airport for the wheather. Visibility varies very quickly up and down, but for the time being not good enough for a landing there. Incidentally it is Saturday, and on Sunday landing at St Mary is not allowed to keep pace on the isle.....

 

220px-EGTP_Tower Small rest at the control tower (build during WW2), and discussion with those who knows about the local weather. Their experience clearly tells you that the probability to get a clearance for St Mary is almost nil, as the weather will more probably deteriorate rather than improve for today. By the way, the weather on top of Perranporth is also deteriorating with some light fog rising up, and clouds coming in...

After one and half hour of phone calls and weather reviews, having refuelled just in case of, you need to admit that St Mary idea should be abandoned, and you better do to stay here, or choose an other destination.  No need to speak about the sight of your birthday person " all included". Credits very very down.
 

 

"Ok then, we will stay here, once again in the middle of nowhere, and decide tomorrow, what to do!”

The ruling is final. You lost plenty of points, if not all of them, right now.

Plane parked, the gentlemen at the tower do their best to help you to find a room at a reasonable rate and call a taxi.  The birthday is destroyed, as in the meantime you have announced to your birthday passenger that due to the forecasted weather tomorrow, it will be impossible to escape from this hole. No comments and no more credits to lose; maybe you may get some negative ones from now on.


 

The taxi takes you through small roads, almost desert, and your passenger birthday is now installed in a deep silence, which is not a good sign.


 

Bollena_court_accomodation

Fortunately the taxi journey takes 10 minutes only and brings you to the bead and breakfast accommodation Bolenna Court which appears to be far more than acceptable.  Indeed once you get your room and get acquainted with the owners Patricia and John, it clearly appears it is a must to go there. Coincidence, the gentleman is a former RAF pilot.... and the conversation, as usual with pilots, very quickly slips to planes....and after a while we agree to go to dinner together the next day, if we are still here.

Due to the quality of the exchanges, as fortunately not only aviation is spoken, you win some credits back, not too much but enough to put some distance from the zero line. By the way the fog is here and no way now to leave tomorrow. The Birthday will have to be celebrated somewhere in the surroundings.

 

perranporth31perranporth6 Let's visit the surroundings. And the charm operates: wide sandy beach, cliffs and caves carved by the sea.

The walk along the footpads on top of the cliffs is gorgeous, the pleasure being enhanced by the light fog. The beach too, at low tide, is worth a walk, while taking care of not being trapped by the sea. You get some more points and some words. Good sign, hope is restored.


 

 

 

 

Birthday day is here!  Nice walks and City turn to buy some souvenirs.

The City is not huge and here and there you do some nice encounters, which say long about the quiet and peaceful atmosphere.  You are gaining points, and the attitude of the birthday lady, clearly shows you, you are rescuing the day, or better the environment is doing the job for you.


 

perranporth10perranporth9 

 

 Time for the dinner, our Amphitryon is not well and therefore cannot come with us.  Really sorry! The taxi arrives and the dinner occurs in a nice inn. By the way, the taxi refuses any payment, having being instructed by our Amphitryon! Gentleman did you say ?! 

 

perranporth_dinner The pub-restaurant has excellent dishes and wines and a nice lively atmosphere. The birthday is saved and your credits are rising again...

You will never thank enough your Amphitryon for the recommendation. 

Finally having being helped a little bit, you saved the birthday, your aviation and probably slightly more. A great Thanks to Patricia and her Husband.

And of course the day after the fog disappear, with a nice bright sun, time to go back has arrived, but you saved the day.

By the way, King's Arthur castle is not far away from here and probably worth a next trip to visit it.

 

 

 
 

 


 

 

Spitfire and Hurricane at LFLU

Photo-0005It  happened the first of october 2005 at Valence-Chabeuil airport in France (LFLU).

That day was a bad day for VFR flight.  We were there, having arrived few moments ago with yet VFR conditions, but becoming closer and closer to marginal conditions.

And suddenly we heard some quite harmonious noise of a merlin engine !.  It was simply the Duxford flying legends Spitifre "U2" and Hurricane "HAC" landing for fuel on their way back from Malta to Duxford.

 

Photo-0008They were in Malta for the 60th commemoration of the Battle of Brittain thanks to the project "Merlins over Malta - The Defenders return".

Nice surprise indeed, and what a pleasure to have a close encounter with these aircrafts.

The story did not stop there.  After having refuelled,  they took off  for the next step to Duxford, but the meteo became really adverse and few minutes later they came back to stay overnight.

Of course, we turned around the planes like mosquitoes, and we had some chat with the team, while giving them a lift to an hotel.

Unfortunately, we had only our phone cameras , and pictures were of average quality, but anyway what an unforgottable souvenir for those who were there.- including some kids who are now dreaming Sptifire and Hurricane quite often!.