Adventures

Flying in lockdown

Flying general aviation in lockdown

Since we’ve been allowed back in the air, I’ve taken as many opportunities as I can to get my feet back into the air. Unfortunately, the weather has been less than amicable since restrictions began lifting which means I’ve cancelled more than I’ve participated. If it’s not the rain it’s the cloud if it’s not the cloud it’s the wind. Welcome to Britain.

None the less, I have managed a few trips. We’re are living in unusual times at the moment and there is some adaptation required. So, I wanted to write about flying in lockdown, especially with the current PPE (personal protective equipment) requirement as I appreciate this may put some off wanting to fly. I’m here to tell you, it’s not as uncomfortable or daunting as perhaps you may think.

PPE for flying in lockdown

The repercussions of wearing PPE

For the club’s aircraft we have to wear gloves and a mask, understandably. I brought along my own mask but Matt kindly provided the gloves. Matt’s checking in process is incredibly efficient and swift. Before I knew it, I was outside, looking at the aircraft ready to go and the process is not at all uncomfortable. Usually, I turn up to the airfield and have to account for 30 minutes of office ‘chit chat’ before I can even contemplate doing the pre-flight inspection. During the lockdown, nope, straight out to the aeroplane! If you are keen to get to what you came for then this is ideal. Of course, Matt is also wearing a mask which means I miss out on seeing his beautiful face but as they say, that’s what the Internet is for.

Taking everything

Everything that goes into the office comes out the other side. Like a bad curry. So anything you don’t want, leave it in the car. I take my whole flight case which I strap in the spare seat. No drama at all. Obviously, if you are within the 90-day restriction and can bring along someone for the flight, remember to leave your non-essentials in the car.

Speak up

With your mouth covered by the mask, I did find I had to speak up on the radio. For the first time ever I had Farnborough Radar asking me to repeat, rather than the other way around! Again, no bother, you quickly get used to speaking up a little and in fact, it’s great practice for ensuring your transmissions are spot on, clear and concise.

It gets warm but not overly so

On both occasions, I went flying when it was the warmest. Wonderful for the view but it does get warm with the gloves and mask on. Plus, I had a hat, sunglasses and a camera strapped to my head! However, as is the case with flying, you quickly forget it is all there. I can genuinely say that throughout my flight, I didn’t pay very much attention to my PPE at all. Grip through my gloves were not an issue and the straps on my ears were not either. Having vents open were adequate to keep me cool and I wasn’t a walking drip when I once again parked up at Popham after the flight.

For my first flight, I stayed local and played around within 10 nm to the north and south of Popham. It was wonderful getting back into the air and it was so incredibly quiet! I was extremely chuffed to have my feet back off the ground again!

Celebrating being back in the air
Very happy pilot

On my second flight, I went a little further, down to the south coast where I reside and decided to check out how the social distancing along the south coast’ beaches was going! All I can say is, well done Bognor, shame on you Witterings! I could not believe how beautifully clear the water looked.

Bognor beach from the air
East of Bognor beach and pier

Even after some time since I last flew I was very pleased to find that I wasn’t the least bit rusty, problem is, you always do your best landings when no bugger is looking!

Landing back at Popham on runway 21

The second visit to the airfield was just as slick as the first. It is strange getting used to the new routine but Matt and the team make it ever so easy. So if you’re thinking of taking some air time, you absolutely should. The process is simple, you feel safe and well-taken care and you can still comfortably enjoy your favourite hobby. I have another flight booked tomorrow and I’m planning on going west!