EGFP TOC PCS WAL MONTY RETSI TOD PERUP ERNOK EGGD
When calling for my clearance, the tower gave me the Dean Cross SID (Standard Instrument Departure) which didn't look too complicated. After takeoff, though, Glasgow Radar (what we would call Approach or Departure in the US) gave me direct WAL so I was quickly out of Glasgow airspace and on my way. Typically IFR flying conditions in and out of clouds, a little bumpy at times. I was surprised to hear several commercial flights asking for diversions to avoid weather - I don't know what they were seeing, they must have been well north of me
. The cloud layers limited my views of some places I really wanted to see from the air, like the Lake District, but there was nothing for but to fly the clearance and get to Bristol. On this flight there were numerous radio handoffs, changes in squawk codes, and being told I was entering or leaving controlled airspace (CAS), with a corresponding change in radar services. I had been forewarned that the UK handles IFR flights differently than in the US, that it is possible for your flight plan to be canceled upon exiting CAS and then you have to re-negotiate a new flight plan where you re-enter CAS. Because of this, every time I was told I was exiting CAS, I asked them if my flight plan to Bristol was still intact. It was. I have to say I never really understood all this airspace transitions vis-a-vis ATC - I did what they told me and I got where I was going without any screw ups I am aware of. Once in contact with Bristol Radar, everything played the way I was used to. They gave me vectors to the approach course for the ILS on runway 27, though the weather was good enough (3000 feet scattered), I didn't need the ILS but flew it anyway just for practice.
I parked at the Bristol Air Centre, the only GA FBO on the field. I was gratified to finally see some small planes - they have a flight school using Piper Cherokee-type planes - very familiar to me since I flew about 1100 hours in Cherokees (Warrior, Archer, Arrow, Seminole), including an Archer II I owned, before buying the Columbia 300
Fees at Bristol:
Landing fee= 59 pounds, ATC fee=31.20 pounds, handling fee=57.50 pounds, parking fee=17 pounds/night. I had been warned Europe was expensive for things like this so I wasn't really surprised, but the contrast with a US airport of similar size is dramatic. In the US I would expect to pay only for parking and maybe a small handling fee at the FBO if I didn't buy fuel.
I was very
happy to be in Bristol - the first major milestone for my flight, and about 25% along my route around the world. I lived in Bristol for 2 1/2 years (1992-1994) while completing my Ph.D. in electrical engineering (wireless communications) at the University of Bristol. I have fond memories of the place and still have friends in the area that took jobs at local high tech companies. I also liked my first floor flat in an old Victorian building in Clifton on Victoria Square, a flat that was used for a few scenes in the short-lived BBC mini-series The House of Elliot
while I was living there.
I spent the next 10 days in Bristol at the Marriott Royal Hotel on College Green, with some side trips and a short flight out and back to Dunkeswell (next post)
. I visited with old friends and went by the old flat, enjoyed dinner again at my favorite restaurants. But I spend a lot of time re-calibrating and re-planning my trip. I had originally planned to just fly to Europe and back, but the intermittent volcanic activity in Iceland motivated me to install the ferry tank so that I could take the southern route via the Azores to Europe if necessary. The ferry tank also gave me enough range to hop between the islands of the south Pacific so I could complete a flight around the world if I chose. I finally decided to commit to this plan, but by crossing to Europe in early July (perfect for a trip only to Europe) I had not reckoned on the weather I would encounter further along the line; in particular, the monsoon that rages in India during the summer months and doesn't really subside until late September, early October. The net result is that I am in Europe too soon - I need to delay a couple of months, at least, to arrive in India during better weather. Certainly I could cross India now, but it would be harder IFR flying and not really the pleasure trip with sight-seeing I had in mind. Moreover, I really don't have a time schedule to finish this trip. I finally decided that I would park the plane for a few months, return to the US, get electronic charts and so forth re-organized for the longer flight and return the first week of October to pick up the plane and carry on.
I started asking around for possible hangar options where I could park the plane and finally found Skypark in Gloucester (EGBJ), not far from Bristol, where Steve Williams has a new hangar with room for the Columbia. I'd fly N788W up to Gloucester when I was done with my stay in Bristol.
The weather was not great when I left Glasgow (EGFP) Sunday morning, ceilings about 1500 feet, but better weather at Bristol (EGGD). I was anxious to get to Bristol and hang out with old friends so I filed IFR to Bristol at FL070; the route was