It was a clear and cold December day, the sun low to the south west with visibility around 30 miles. A quick briefing and external check of the aircraft and it was time to start the engine. The fuel primer was pumped and then the engine turned over. It didn't catch immediately so another couple of pumps on the primer and the engine coughed into life, surprising me with the amount of noise and vibration felt in the cockpit. A radio check with intentions given to the tower we taxied out to a holding area where the engine was ramped up allowing it to warm up and some more checks carried out. Another aircraft was already turning onto final so we were asked to expedite our departure as we had to do a backtrack part way down the runway and then turn for takeoff. We didn't use any flap and the aircraft lifted off with minimum fuss, maintaining around 600 feet per minute and turning left as instructed by Carlisle tower.
I took over soon after takeoff and we flew a course of 240 which took us over Caldbeck, the TV transmitters clearly visible below. I got the camera out after the instructor took over as we passed over Bassenthwaite with Keswick and Derwent Water visible and then on to Ennerdale (see the Google Earth placemarks below!). The mountains looked cold in the watery sunlight with frost still glistening where the sun was beginning to touch it. With steam from Sellafield visible in the distance I regained control and turned us right towards the coast.
Approaching Whitehaven the instructor took over and did some steep left turns; we flew out over the piers and then back inland allowing me to shoot the town below. I was surprised how disorientating it was - although I'm a good map reader the constatly changing landscape directly below was difficult to recognise. A couple of circuits later and we were heading back on a direct route to Carlisle. Again I flew most of the way handing over only for the occasional photo. Just before we asked for clearance we were enjoying listening to a microlight pilot who's radio was only transmitting carrier wave - the tower adopted a “once for yes twice for no” system and he landed in front of us.
We flew downwind parallel to the runway and the instructor turned left then dropped full flaps and asked me to turn to final and bring it to the runway. I watched for the turn point and banked left looking for the runway centreline. The plane really handled differently now feeling very sluggish, very ‘wallowy’ with full flaps . I was surprised at how much a slight crosswind made me crab as we neared the runway threshold. The instructor had his hands on the controls but was letting me fly - he controlled the throttle too. I brought the plane down, crabbing relative to the runway, we flared and touched down with a small bounce before settling onto the runway. The instructor said I'd all but brought it down myself! After taxi, shutting the engine down proved more difficult than I’d imagined as when the mixture was leaned out it kept spluttering away - a quick burst of full throttle was needed to stop it completely.
As usual, click each thumbnail below for a bigger version.
Notice the pictures with "SIM" tagged to the filename - When I got home I fired up Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004 and flew the same route
in the same aircraft taking screenshots to coincide with my real-world pictures. The degree of accuracy was more than I expected!
At various points on the route I took photos and some have Google Earth placemarks!