Good heavens, this weekend was a warm one! And what terrific flying conditions it was too, although a little sticky in the cockpit! Following a flight around the Isle of Wight on Friday which was accompanied by rain most the way around and back to Popham, on Saturday I took my wife and my favourite AirBourne mistress, G-VI, on a trip to a new airfield, as suggested in a recent post, Charlton Park in Wiltshire.
The flight out took around 30 minutes and the flight back was around the same. You will need to get PPR direct from the Earl of Suffolk. The phone was not answered the first few times I called so I left a message and he did call back which I thought was very kind. He provided lots of information on the phone including runway in use, taxi instructions and where we can and cannot freely explore. Runway 02 was suggested on the PPR phone call but I suspected 07 would favour wind direction. Upon arrival at Charlton Park 07 was indeed being used by another aviator and it did favour the wind. The Earl was active on a handheld radio and was happy with me using 07, again, providing taxi instructions.
The runways are narrow by very long and beautifully well kept. On landing, we taxied to the hanger on the north side and parked up. Unfortunately, there was no food or drink (so don’t take the reviews on SkyDemon at face value) available, but the Earl was kind enough to open the hanger and let us drink from a hose in there! It was extremely hot after all!
There were a few other aircraft coming in and out and the radio is on the safety comm frequency so remember to be clear on which airfield you are addressing. There’s no QFE available so you’ll need to do that manually. I dialled into Brize Norton (listening squawk) on the way there and used their QNH. I simply checked the map to look at Charlton Park’s elevation and took that off the QNH to get the QFE. This worked out perfectly as you can see below:
We enjoyed a short look around and realised that the best idea would have been to bring a picnic (highly recommended) although the only piece of shade we could easily access was being taken up by another, very beautiful character:
The Earl was out and about with a friend and was very keen on ensuring he said hello to everyone and welcomed you. He seemed very grateful for us coming along and genuinely interested in who we were and where we had come from. The landing fee is paid on the right-hand side of the hanger in cash and is a bit pricey (£20 at the time) considering there are no facilities. Fuel is available but you have to call someone and wait for it to arrive.
Vacating the airfield was straightforward, we were parked in front of the hanger with nothing behind so power checks were done following start-up in the same position. Keep a very good lookout; the Tiger Moth above was about but took off in the opposite direction (runway 25) and I didn’t hear it on the radio. We didn’t need all that runway so we taxied down 20 to just past the halfway point on 07. This also gave us a good view of the Earl’s house on the way past!
On the way back I took a more direct route, again listening to Brize Radar with a listening squawk. Rivar Hill was active, so I kept clear to the north. Otherwise, a stunning view and uneventful all the way back to Popham.
Definitely a recommended one to visit chaps and chapettes! Pricey landing fee, no facilities but a very warm welcome, interesting approach and delightful surroundings.
Disclaimer: This article was written for information 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.