I’m sure, like many of us, you have taken the odd trip across the water to the Isle of Wight to visit the very excellent Sandown Airport for a coffee and a bit of cake. So have I, quite a few times. On most of those occasions I have flown around or near the airfield of Bembridge too.
While perusing Sky Demon of a morning trying to decide on where to go for a jaunt on a very stunning late September afternoon, I realised that I had never dropped into Bembridge before. I had also heard of the unique approach to runway 30 as it meant flying over some cliffs which sounded quite interesting.
The wind was from the north west, ideal for a 30 approach and after some reading of the very good Bembridge airport website their on-airfield restaurant had reopened too. It seemed I had all the reasons I needed to pay a visit.
I had wanted to extend my flight for some more airtime so I chose a route down to the south coast turning west at Littlehampton. My return flight would simply take me over Ryde, Portsmouth and back north toward Popham.
The flight from Popham to Bembridge took pretty much bang-on an hour and the trip back took around 40 minutes. Due to the wind, progress was obviously slower moving east to west.
Planning my arrival at Bembridge
Bembridge has a superb system for pilot information, check-in and landing fee processing. Their website really is fantastic with exactly the information you need to form a good idea in your mind about what things will look like on approach, circuit, landing and what happens when you park (the bit that a lot of pilot information from airfields tends to miss I find).
It was likely that due to my flight being on a Friday, there was not going to be any ground radio assistance and therefore all calls are for ‘traffic’. Circuits were at 1,000 feet AGL, right hand to the north of Bembridge village for runway 30. I was going to approach the circuit to position for a downwind join over Ryde as an easy point of reference to announce myself.
PPR is done via an online system which worked great. The email confirming my booking also had a handy copy of the pilot’s notes too. Make sure you read them thoroughly.
I was also impressed by the very lovely digital welcome I received as a result of my PPR booking:
On the website they do state that they prefer 24 hours notice, however mine was done with much less and that seemed to be fine for a weekday.
Parking was on the north side of the runway and there was a very specific route to walk to get to the pilot check-in on the south side. They have a great video that explains everything and made it super easy once I had parked to get to where I needed to be safely, pay my fee and just enjoy my stay.
Arrival at Bembridge
Upon leaving Popham I hooked up with Farnborough radar for a basic service. They stayed with me all the way down to Littlehampton where he asked me to call Bembridge. At that point I was happy, bid my farewell, set 7000 on the transponder and switched over to Bembridge to start listening. There was a lot more going on then I expected!
Once over Portsmouth I announced my intentions addressing ‘Bembridge traffic’. Another couple of chaps approaching the airfield conversed with me sharing our positions regularly which made things much easier. Unfortunately one individual announced they were ‘east of Ryde’ in a C172 and positioning for downwind just as I was joining downwind west of Bembridge village. They actually shot past left to right just under me by at about 200ft and made a downwind leg on the south side of the village. I simply kept an eye on him and pulled back the airspeed a touch to allow him room to remain well clear ahead and land before me.
The point being – keep a bloody look out! Not everyone is exactly where they say they, neither are they exactly where you think they might be either.
Landing at Bembridge
After landing a quick backtrack down 30 to the parking area was a breeze. Based on the great video, I easily made my way to the check-in point which was near the restaurant due to their being no ATC that day. The whole place is well looked after with a clear path to follow around the runway to the check-in point.
The restaurant was buzzing with customers which was great to see. After paying my £8 landing fee via BACS (they accept cash or cheque) I popped into the restaurant to order cake and coffee. Unfortunately, they don’t do cake on it’s own so after consulting the dessert menu I settled on Banoffee Pie and ice cream. Quick service, even quicker consumption, I relaxed for 20 mins before heading back to the aircraft. It looked and tasted amazing, I’m keen to sample a few of their other offerings now!
Yes, the pie did beat me 🙂 but my gosh was it good.
Heading back to Popham
The trip back was super easy and straightforward. The usual calls were made to a now quiet Bembridge traffic before changing to Solent radar. Rather than request a service I simply used the listening squawk.
I sat listening until I reached New Alresford and switched back to 7000 and made my initial call to Popham. The landing was uneventful with an easy join of 26R from dead side.
I highly recommend paying a visit to this lovely little airport. It’s easy to get to, easy to get into and the information they have is great too. They provide taxi numbers if required and there’s a few pubs nearby. Of course the coast just a stone’s throw away. I however will most certainly be back to enjoy the flight, the airfield and The Propeller Inn.
If you enjoyed this post and found it useful, take a look at our other trip reports.
Disclaimer: This article was written for information and entertainment only and was up to date at the time of writing. Please always ask a qualified instructor for more information and discuss airfield operations and the use of aircraft equipment with a suitably qualified person.