Perranporth-UK

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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....

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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.


 

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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.


 

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 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.