Thursday, 20 November 2008

2008/06 VFR Isle of Wight

click on the title to see the video on DailyMotion

A controlled flight IFR on itself is one of the most relaxed things you can do. You just enter the flight plan, if you want including a SID, STAR and expected approach into the FMS, activate the autopilot on the cleared level or altitude and the Diamond DA40 will basically fly you to your destination. I have heard that the Diamond D-Jet might even get an autoland function.

So the only thing you have to do en-route is switch frequncy now and then, and depending on the route you might get (or request) a direct shortcut.

VFR, most of the times you can choose for a higher flight level as well. Most local VFR flights fly between 1000 and 1500ft. A few a bit higher but if you fly FL55 or FL65 you won't encounter a lot of other traffic, even in Holland. VFR traffic is pretty heavy in Holland especially around airports like Lelystad and the populair local summer day trip locations. In addition the traffic guidance in Holland is the worst out of all the European countries we have been to until know. It depends a bit on the individual controller but only at Dutch Mill they seem to be to busy to give the support even close to what is normal in countries like Germany, UK, Spain, Portugal and even France.

Apart from having to stay out of the clouds and depending on the weather naturally you can program the FMS and autopilot exactly in the same way. On the trip to the UK you have an additional argument to fly a bit higher. Depending on the route you follow it offers a bit more comfort when crossing the water. You have to respect the altitude limit for VFR, which changes a bit along the road; the turbo diesel of the DA40 is no practical limit, i can easily fly to 13.000ft where you don't want to go higher without oxygene.

The first time we went to the UK it was in an IFR training to Lydd, just on the other side (see separate blog). There ATC gave us an airway directly over the North Sea, this means you are during about half an hour in a situation that you can't reach either side in case of an engine failure.
There are a lot of boats on the north sea and the plane is supposed to stay floating for quite a while, but when flying VFR there is a fine alternative to the South of England by asking Oostende to follow the Belgian coast line for a while (depending on the activation of the danger area's you can already fly further from the coast) and then crossing a bit before the real Channel to the other side.

Depending on the destination, route and total flight time flying at a very low altitude gives you a totally different experience. When flying to the UK it is really worthwhile to combine an initial higher altitude with a descend to much lower altitudes when flying in sight of the beautiful white cliffs.

Our trip to Isle of Wight was fantastic. Perhaps not as impressive as our recent flights over the Alps but a super destination for a short break. Total flight time from Lelystad to Bembridge (one of the two airports next to eachother on the north-east corner of the island is less than 3 hours. Low level passes of the cliffs provide a super picture (be aware of possible down drafts from the cliffs) but also Isle of Wight itself is an ideal destination. We stayed over night in the Crab & Lobster, worthy of its name, we can recommend it.

The next day we planned to go the channel islands. All packed we arrived at the airport again just to find out that you have to file any flight to the islands at least 12 hours before (except if you make the transfer direct out of Cherbourg). We put our things in the plane and ordered a taxi to Cow's. Not bad either I must say, with its harbour, shops etcetera. Take a look at the video to get an impression of this HQ of sailing as well.

For the afternoon we filed a flight plan back to Holland but after taking off we did not head in that direction before circling the whole Isle of Wight following its coast. The whole coast is beautiful, a view of our lunch location in Cow's was nice but the best images come from the Needles on the south-west end of the island.

Pancake Airlines Crew is trained by Dwarf Powered Gliders ( and Wings over Holland ( Information on the PH-PCA Diamond DA40 can be found on You can click on the title link to see the HD video on DailyMotion.

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