Capt White’s final instalment of our EPIC UK trip 2019 : Cruising the East Coast at 2,000ft; Beaches, Beccles and back home
DAY FIVE – Distance approx. 360 nautical miles (4 hours flying time)
Day 5 – The Finale! We woke up to a beautiful day at Eshott Hall, the sun was shining with blue, blue sky as far as the eye could see! Couldn’t be more different to yesterday’s dismal start. Capt. Storey was up at crazy o’clock as usual for his run so once he returned, we had breakfast and finalised our flight plan.
We all needed to refuel for the final leg of the trip. As we had been lucky enough to land at Eshott Hall (which was great confined area practise by the way) everyone except Frank and I headed to Eshott airport by taxi. Unfortunately, even though we were flying we didn’t save much time as there was a bit of a delay at the airport as the jet fuel wasn’t ready. So, the others were able to depart ahead of us.
Once fuelled we headed directly East towards the coast from Eshott Airport flying passed Bothal Castle which is near the town of Ashington. Then along the coastline to Blythe, Whitley Bay, passed North Shields and then of course South Shields. We flew right over the Stadium of Light in Sunderland, on to Hartlepool and Teeside Bay and over Redcar Racecourse known as the ‘Seaside Racecourse’ and is one of the most popular horse racing venues in the UK. At Whitby and we were treated to some great views of the harbour and the pier and and more of the same at Scarborough. Further South to a little place called Flanborough Head and Bridlington. My student on the trip had spent some time there as a boy so we circled around for a while to reminisce and the white cliffs could revival Dover!
Passed Hornsey, across the mouth of The Humber to Grimsby! No helipad near a fish and chip shop unfortunately… Down to Cadwell park famous for bike racing (Team G-FPEH were lucky enough to capture a cycle race in progress when they flew over). Slightly inland at this point now heading south east out to Skegness home to the 1st Butlins! Across the Wash over to North Norfolk to the beautiful beaches of Hunstanton, Wells-Next-the-Sea, Waybourne, Sheringham, Cromer. Landscape really levelling out now. Continuing round to Caister-on-Sea, North Dean where the heliport is for the helis flying to the North Sea oil rigs, was great to fly alongside one heading out to sea.
Time for lunch! So along Great Yarmouth, Lowerstoft and inbound to Beccles Aerodrome where we had planned our lunch stop as had Team 44. The other 2 helis had planned a stop at Connington slightly further North but Team G-RJVH had plenty of fuel at that point and decided to head into Beccles instead.
Team 44 had reached Beccles around 11.30 so were well ahead of us, work commitments beckoned, and they decided to fly across country back to Elstree. We arrived at Beccles just after Team G-RJVH and refuelled both the helicopter and ourselves. The ploughman’s was delicious and by chance were treated to an incredible sky diving display.
“Biggest lesson learnt – back to basics, aviate, navigate and communicate. In some areas the radio traffic was very busy and it was easy to be distracted from the vital necessity of flying at the right height and clear of controlled airspace.” Capt. Langdon
We wanted to make the most of the glorious sunshine, so we departed Beccles in a south, south easterly direction towards Southwold along the Suffolk coastline and into Essex. Walton-on-the-Naze, Frinton-on-sea and of course Clacton-on-Sea. At this point it was time to, rather reluctantly, to head home to Elstree westbound via Chelmsford, Northweald under London Stansted control zone marrying up with the M25 and into Elstree.
Most noticeable during this leg of the trip was how few aircraft there were on our departure and all the way to Beccles we pretty much had the skies to ourselves, so we were all able to talk to each other on the same frequency. The further South we flew the skies became increasingly busy with lots of traffic to navigate.
Team 44 were first home, landing at Elstree around 13:15 Capt. Smyth still maintains he only popped out to do a couple of circuits….
“To see so much natural beauty, so many historic landmarks with such a great group of likeminded helicopter enthusiasts, was the bucket list experience of a lifetime!” – Capt. Smyth
“Home at Elstree safe and sound. Thank-you everyone for an amazing fantastic time!!!” – Capt. Storey
Next to land were Team G-RJVH around 15:30 at Denham for scheduled maintenance. After 5 days of flying the Uber back to Elstree seemed a little unceremonious.
“Just landed at Denham, our final destination. What a great trip and holiday! Lots more to follow. Thanks to everyone at Elstree Helicopters for organising the trip of a lifetime, and to the other pilots for your excellent company. A great trip!” – Capt. Langdon
“I would pick out the trip round the Machynlleth loop in Wales that Chris and I flew as the best part of my trip. Most challenging was Scotland and the weather in some of the Valleys near Ben Nevis… Sorry no picture of the bad stuff – was too busy flying to be taking photos!!”
We landed back at Elstree around 16:00
“I’m glad you all had a fantastic time and were kept safe, straight and level. It’s been an absolute pleasure sharing the experience with such a lovely group of people TY” – Capt. White
Last to arrive at Elstree was Team G-FPEH at around 18:00
“Very happy! Trip will take some days to sink in. Thank-you Paul and the gang for thinking this incredible trip up, and esp. to my instructor for tolerating me for seven hours flying a day.” – Phillip Hahn
A couple of weeks later Capt. Langdon was kind enough to send us an amazing account of his adventure…
“So what was my biggest achievement on the trip? Besides managing to cope with a lot of flying (in one week I did more flying than I do in a year!), flying up the Settle and Carlisle railway, it was locating the other highlight, the Mach Loop and flying round it. Sadly no other traffic and no photographers. This was a wonderful, once in a lifetime trip, and I would like to thank everyone at Elstree Helicopters for making it possible, and the other pilots and safety pilots for an unbelievable trip. I cannot express how much I enjoyed it, even though I was exhausted by the time I got back to Elstree”
Must have been the uber that took it out of him! Having organised many student trips and excursions before this was truly epic trip and as with all the best series finales this has most certainly left me wanting more!
Due to COVID-19 we had to postpone our 2020 Tour trips to France, UK & Ireland, but we look forward to more settled times ahead and to next year’s adventures. Why not join us… The sky’s the limit!