Isle of Man in a Eurostar
Written by David Woodward
Outbound Routing: City Airport Barton - Poulton - Ronaldsway
Inbound Routing: Ronaldsway - Andreas - Whitehaven - Preston - City Airport Barton
Departing Ronaldsways Runway 08 for Barton
Since gaining my NPPL in February 2012 I had longed to fly to the Isle of Man. Having family living on the island was an added incentive to head over and spend the day with them on quite possibly one of the most beautiful islands in the British Isles but the water crossing had always seemed a bit daunting to me and the prospect of flying into a controlled airport with a CTR just seemed to add the workload of a newly qualified pilot.
After gaining some more experience and flying to further away airfields I had finally decided that it was something I was going to do in 2013 and had been waiting for a day where the weather was both favourable and I had a day off work. That day seemed to elude me for a long time.
Fast forward to July 15th 2013 and a conversation between Nick and I led to us planning a day out in the aircraft the following day. The weather looked favourable, the aircraft was free all day and we were both itching to have a trip somewhere before summer was over. I decided on it, it was to be now or never and the Isle of Man was calling out to us. Flight planned, GAR form filed and Flight Plan ready to be submitted. This was it.
The next day we arrived bright and early. The sun was out, the aircraft was fuelled and ready and everything was in place. Precautions had to be taken, just like any flight so we donned our life jackets, popped an ELT onto our belts and fired up the GPS. I had asked if I could be pilot flying out to the Isle of Man and Nick could fly it back. I wanted to get the airport into my logbook and since Nick had already visited there before he kindly allowed me to take the controls for the flight over.
Once in the air I set course for Poulton and Nick took the radio communications so we could share the workload. The coast slowly sailed by underneath us and the Irish Sea was all that lay ahead. The cruise was as smooth as you could ask for as we headed up to 7000 feet and before we knew it the island was in site. Descending into the control zone was very easy and I flew it down to a nice touchdown on Runway 08 at Ronaldsway. The sense of achievement was great and after parking we were driven to the terminal to meet my family who were going to give us a tour of this gorgeous island.
Trying to pack a lot into such a short day we quickly headed to Subway for a sandwich and a coffee before going to Peel Castle for a walk around the cliffs in the hope of spotting some whales and seals...we didn't.
A short drive around the mountain to Andreas and then back to Ronaldsway was next on the cards. After booking out and filing our flight plan it was time to head back to the aircraft. A quick call to Chris from Rendezvous handling and he came to collect us to take us to our aircraft. Again, lifejackets on, ELT on and PLOG ready for the route back. Nick was to be pilot flying this leg with myself taking the radio and navigation. Clearance copied, squawk set and we had clearance for takeoff. We were up in no time using hardly any of 6,000ft that Ronaldsway Runway 08 has to offer. A turn to the north and we set course for Andreas to overfly my auntie and uncles house. After a few orbits at 5,000ft we set course for Whitehaven and climbed to FL70 giving London Information a call for a Basic Service along the way.
The earlier haze layer had cleared and you could see for miles. Whitehaven was soon in site and the turn to south around a large convective cloud bank allowed me to take some fantastic photographs of the Isle of Man some 20 miles away. London advised that the Danger Zone was inactive so we flew through cutting about 20 miles off our track.
Next was Morecambe Bay and Walney Island where we stayed at higher altitude to avoid some Search and Rescue operations that were ongoing on the coast. Lets hope the outcome of that was a positive one.
We descended to avoid the airways near Preston and changed to Blackpool Radar for a Basic Service. They were very quiet that evening and there was no traffic around to affect us apart from a Cessna carrying out some ILS approaches over Preston. He was well below us so we didn't worry about him too much.
After passing the Reebok Stadium we gave Barton a call and subsequently joined on left base for an approach to Runway 09. Nick flew us down and rounded the aircraft out for a very smooth landing; a greaser as some would say!
That was it, we had visited the Isle of Man for the day. What better way to spend a Friday evening?