Flying with Martin

in our Vintage Cessna 170B

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25 May 2011


Compton Abbas for Lunch and Popham for the Biennial Flight Review (BFR) 

Today was the dreaded BFR which was arranged for early evening at Popham, so decided to have a pleasant trip to Compton Abbas for lunch before this.  It was a reasonable day with a light South Westerly wind and good visibility.  We flew the usual route passing Chilbolton and South of Salisbury before a positioning for a straight in approach to 26 at Compton Abbas.  Compton was very quiet with no movements all the time we were listening but ironically we ended up being overtaken by another aircraft, also on a long final to the field.

The restaurant was very busy with many visitors coming in for lunch by road. We enjoyed our respective baguettes and sat for a while pondering the forthcoming BFR. 

The flight to Popham was pleasant although there were some quite rough thermals in the area South of Salisbury. We routed past Chilbolton and at Popham joined via a right hand circuit on 26. We took on fuel and were greatly pleased to find that the airfield had purchased a taller ladder for re-fuelling which makes it much easier to reach those high fuel caps on the 170. Then it was a short taxi to the clubhouse to await Martin's biennial fate. 

Thoughts on the BFR: Well its not supposed to be a test and there is apparently no standard specified as to who is good, bad or otherwise. However, if your instructor/examiner jumps out half way through you are probably not doing too well. For Martin the big decision was who to fly with and also if they are available to make the long trek to the airfield on a day when the weather is suitable. In addition a vital factor in the choice of instructor/examiner is, do they understand why people like Martin fly and do they also understand why we like ancient aeroplanes? 

Martin is instantly put off by young instructors at flying clubs who wear uniforms and are only there for a short period while they put in enough hours to branch out into the heavy metal airline world. Some of these individuals may also not be the most suitable candidate for practical reasons. The instructor/examiner is the pilot in charge during a BFR and many of our old aeroplanes have less than sparkling handling characteristics and may be of a type that they have never flown before. 

Given all these considerations to juggle the choice this year was sensible and very rewarding. Martin arranged to fly with Chris Thompson after he had been on duty at Popham. This way he did not have to travel anywhere and we were able to decide if the weather was suitable, well in advance. Chris clearly understands the attraction with older aircraft and he could not be described as a spotty youth in a uniform. 

The session was very rewarding and Martin managed to brush up on a number of topics. Although it was a very busy 1 hours flight he did not feel under pressure and found it easy to treat the time as a learning opportunity. 

When logbooks and forms had been signed we departed from 26 to our home strip. This had been a very productive day.