Continuing to take advantage of the recent nice weather, I took a flight across from Hampshire to Kent to visit Headcorn. Headcorn is a large(ish) grass based airfield with their own ‘Aero Legends’ consisting of a Spitfire, Tiger Moth and Harvard. So I was clearly drawn for this reason too!
Headcorn aerodrome is located 15 miles west of Ashford. As well as hosting some large events throughout the year, it also has a very active parachute service, the landing area of which is located around 300 metres to the north east of the threshold of runway 21. So overhead joins are forbidden. They have plenty of useful information for pilots visiting on the website and when I got there everyone was very friendly, although apparently the ‘Aero Legend’ lot aren’t keen on anyone coming near them unless you are visiting to fly their aircraft.
PPR is requested in the usual way, I did so by phone and it was all very straight-forward. The café was open for drink and food, landing fee (£15) and café also accepted card for payment too. They were also great at giving information on what was happening that day regards parachuting and expected circuit traffic.
I had planned the route to be as direct as possible but remaining clear of the Gatwick CTA to the south. I could have dived under the 1,500 foot airspace but it wouldn’t have given me much room for decision making in an emergency so I kept outside between 2,000 and 2,500 feet. The flight to Headcorn was very simple. Taking off from Popham I switched over to Farnborough West for a service and they efficiently swapped me over to Farnborough East crossing around Billingshurst. I then stayed with them all the way to Headcorn. I approached the aerodrome ATZ from the south, announcing that I was doing so and I was advised to position for a crosswind join. The service provided is A/G radio.
The circuit was busy and I was also keeping a watchful eye on the Cessna Caravan (I think) doing the parachuting trips taking off from runway 10. There are some clear areas to avoid overflying due to noise abatement and they are very hot on it so make sure you are careful to avoid these by making sure you do a tidy downwind and base leg. Getting on the ground was easy and I with the help of SkyDemon, finding a parking space was simple too. I did see an available space directly behind the Spitfire but wasn’t quite brave enough! So I parked another line behind, although I would still class it as close and behind!
I wasn’t too sure which direction to go when getting out of the aircraft, so I asked for some help from a nearby aviator. Facing the Aero Legends lot, this was off to the left where you can then see a shallow building with typical yellow and black ‘C’. I made my way over there to a lovely chap who took some details and some money. I then used my nose to navigate to the café where a bacon and sausage sandwich with an accompanying cup of coffee was ordered. The usual one-way, social distanced, masks on system was in place. The sandwich was very good and the coffee much better than expected. I perched myself on a picnic bench for 20 minutes outside while watching the public enjoying the atmosphere and keeping a watchful eye on the weather which was turning darker and darker.
I had 45 litres of fuel when I left Popham and 25 on arriving at Headcorn. Taking another look at my groundspeed on the way there, the wind and what I had left in the tank I decided against my original plan of heading south from Headcorn, down to Eastbourne and along the coast as a more interesting route back to Popham. I have to admit anxiety levels did increase on the way back due to the fuel level but I landed back at Popham with 10 litres so no need for worry! Trust the calculations! Although, it is worth mentioning that Headcorn do have UL91 available. I will keep that in mind for future trips further afield in that direction.
The journey back was fine and uneventful with a service again being provided by Farnborough East and then West. Once around Four Marks I requested a frequency change to Popham and the usual process came into play.
Leaving the airfield wasn’t that dissimilar to Popham. There was plenty of space to circumvent the Taxiing Tiger Moth and find a place to do my engine checks. Once off the ground, I exited the ATZ and headed back off to the west.
I had originally planned to head north, perhaps to Duxford or Old Warden but the weather was supposed to be much worse north and west so I stuck with south and east. However, at Headcorn the cloud level did come down and there was a light spattering of rain leaving the Kent countryside and heading west, although it brightened up again over Sussex. The cloud base was around 3,000 for most of the journey, around to about 2,000 feet further inland at Popham though.
The flight overall took around 2 hours and 40 minutes. An enjoyable jaunt over the countryside and Headcorn/Lashenden was a pleasure to fly into.
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.