Mike ‘Smiffie’ Smith visits France

I first started thinking about a visit to France about a year ago. I wanted to tour around & asked myself where to go. After some digging I noticed that there was a string of airfields around the coast of Brittany with the added bonus of visiting the Ile D’Ouessant, an island about 5km long & 3km wide & about 12nm off the west coast of Brittany


Dinard was always going to be the first port of call to clear customs and a circular tour of Brittany from there showed St Brieuc, Lannion, Morlaix, L’Ile D’Ouessant, Quimper, L’Orient Lann Behoe, Quiberon, Belle Ile, La Baule, Redon, Rennes, Avrange for Mont St |Michel, Granville & Cherbourg. Obviously visiting them all was not practical so I developed an itinerary as shown below

Date From To nm Brakes




Time Tel No Remarks
13 Sep Swansea




198 0900A 1230A 2:30 0299 16 38 02 +1hr time zone change. refuel
13 Sep Dinard




56 1315A 1400A 0:45 0296 54 56 50
13 Sep Lannion




65 1445A 1545A 1:00 0298 48 80 06
14 Sep Ouessant




51 1000A 1045A 0:45 0298 94 30 14  
14 Sep Quimper


L. Lann Behoe LFRH 32 1130AA 1200A 0:30 0297 12 90 00 Refuel
14 Sep L. Lann Behoe LFRH Quiberon LFEO 22 1300A 11330A 0:30 0297 5011 05
14 Sep Quiberon


Belle Ile


10 1415A 1430A 0:15 0297 31 53 19
14 Sep Belle Ile


La Baule


35 1530A 1600A 0:30 025175 06 80
15 Sep La Baule




90 1000A 1130A 1:30 0233 09 67 00  
15 Sep Avranche


Cherbourg LFRC 56 1300A 1345A 0:45 0296 54 56 50 Refuel at Cherbourg
15 Sep Cherbourg LFRC Swansea


220 1445A


1615A 2:30 01792 208 182 -1hr zone change


The original Tuesday 13th start date became impossible due to thunderstorms, hail, rain & cb clouds at Dinard, Rennes & Brest. Wednesday 14th promised to be much better, so I set off across the Bristol Channel at 0900Z. The North Devon coast was shrouded in mist which developed into cloud & I climbed to 4000 ft to get over the top of it. Strangely, I couldn’t get the BHD VOR, so had to get bearings from BCN & STU to know my position with where they intersected. I was passed from Cardiff to Exeter on 128.975 & he eventually told me that BHD was being serviced, but was 2nm ahead in my 12 o’clock position. Damn I’m good. Just then BHD came on line & the cloud cleared. I was able to navigate to Spery under Plymouth Military, then Guernsey GUR on 109.4 with N Channel Islands control, who passed me onto Jersey on 120.3, then Rennes on 126.95 & finally Dinard on 120.15 where I was directed to land on runway 17

OK, so now to clear customs & immigration, refuel & get off to Lannion on 288M. Navigation is really easy with plenty of coastline nearby & the help of the Dinard VOR on 114.3. The whole of this area of Britanny has military low level exercise corridors & they are controlled by Iroise, who are very helpful. Then as if to help even more, there’s a bigger golf ball than the one at Eaglesscott by the end of the runway. A very nice little airport with a good restaurant & friendly staff.

I called Ouessant as it was 1545 local time & They closed at 1600. They told me they would stay open till I arrived, so I set off & using the coastline was able to navigate easily to the point on the west coast to leave across the Atlantic for the 12 mile crossing to Ouessant. I couldn’t see the island until I was only 2 miles from it due to mist, but the runway was clearly visible & I landed & parked near the main building.

The local airport manager asked if I wanted a hotel. He then phoned every hotel & chambre d’Hote on the island, but there were no vacancies anywhere. Even the campsite was full. Oh dear. We called a taxi to take me the 3 km to town for a meal & the driver promised to collect me & bring me back to the airport, where they were going to leave the back door unlocked so I could sleep on the sofa in the passenger lounge. When the driver returned, he had managed to get me a room in s farmhouse & after collecting my bags from the aeroplane took me there. Fantastic.

The following morning after breakfast the taxi driver took me back to the airport. Bad news. The weather had closed in with a warm front & you couldn’t see the lighthouse 500 yards away. They closed the airport saying that the weather wouldn’t clear till the afternoon, but left the back door open for me with coffee & toilet facilities available.

Sure enough, the weather started to clear at 1430A, but after phoning Quimper, L’Orient Lann Behoe, Quiberon & La Baule it was obvious that it would not be possible to get to any of them that day. As there were no rooms available on the island I called Lannion & they had cloud at 500 ft, then I called Dinard & they had a few at 2500 ft. That settled it, I was going to go back to Dinard.

I checked out the avion, see I’m nearly French already, started up & took off. I went into cloud at 1200 feet & took a sensible heading towards Dinard. I changed frequency to Iroise, then the radio packed up. Damn. I tried switching it on & off several times to no avail. Only thing to do was squawk 7600 & keep going as there was better weather ahead. I was still in cloud & then the training kicked in, Aviate, Navigate, communicate, Get the aeroplane under proper control, check DI against compass, organise the VOR service to Dinard on 114.3, then try the radio again. I kept going for about 45 minutes, then started to clear cloud near Lannion. Suddenly through a gap in the cloud I saw that golf ball at Lannion. I kept going towards Dinard & called the tower on my mobile. They gave me priority landing & I was told to phone again when 10 miles from Dinard. Five minutes later, the radio kicked in again & I was able to communicate properly with Dinard. I cleared cloud abeam St Brieuc & landed at Dinard uneventfully.

As it was already nearly 1630A, so I decided to get a hotel for the night & start again next morning. I arrived at the airfield & about 1000A to find the wind at 70km/hr & I waited at the airport till 1430A when it was announced that the Ryanair flight was being diverted to Rennes & all passengers were bussed to meet it. That was enough for me, so I cancelled my GAR by fax & went to get a taxi back to the hotel & re-book. In the evening I went to the harbour & watched the waves crashing over the sea wall.

On Saturday morning I went to the airport early at 0900A, but nothing opened till 1000A. I waited around, then refaxed a new replacement GAR. I called 0228 00 25 70 & was able to file a flight plan (plan de vol) over the phone. I was passed through customs, refuelled the aeroplane , paid my fuel bill, landing fee & parking & set off for Swansea. Wow, did I dream all that, Suddenly, the cloud cleared, the sky was blue & after a non eventful flight arrived at Swansea relaxed & happy.

All the problems above were weather related & although I didn’t complete the tour as planned I’m really glad I went, as it showed how you can overcome problems if trained properly. Thank you France for your hospitality & help, & thank you Cambrian Flying Club for the training & allowing me the opportunity to attempt the tour. I really did enjoy the challenges


Friends of Cambrian Flying Club, Team Raven are a formation aerobatic display team based at Swansea Airport.

Visit their website at: www.ravendisplayteam.co.uk for news on their displays and fantastic video footage and photos.


A Day Out in Dinard (LFRD) for Smiffie and Denys!

Cambrian had intended a mass fly-out to Dinard on Thursday 23rd July, with an overnight stay in Dinan. Poor weather on Wednesday and an atrocious forecast for Friday meant that most felt it was not worth going for just one day, or staying over to Saturday for which the meteo looked OK! However, Mike and Denys decided, that with little over 2 hours each way, with an early start, several hours in Dinard, then a return to Swansea early evening, the trip was “on”, and so planned accordingly!

We both now had EASA licences. Mike had converted his former Full PPL(A) licence, with EU and IMC privileges. Denys had converted his former NPPL (limited to the UK) to a LAPL, which enabled him to fly in Europe for the first time. This was Denys’s first trip to exercise that capability!

Meeting up on Thursday, comparing notes and agreeing strategy, and liaising with Angela and Chris Gray, who were flying out of Cardiff to the same destination in their 182. Mike flew the outbound leg, and set up and took off from Swansea, climbing out and setting course for Berry Head VOR 170 soon after take off. We had elected to route direct via Skery, Guernsey and then direct into Dinard. We were soon with Cardiff Radar, kindly set up by Swansea ATC, coasting in over Lynton, before Cardiff passed us onto Exeter Radar (We were to pass through 6 separate services and squawks before arrival at Dinard!!). Both Chris and us were chatting to the same providers on the way across, so had a good idea of each other’s progress!

Dinard 01


Dinard 02

Cloud was manageable, with some banks, to be expected, at the Devon coast. We decided on “under” rather than “over” and were able to transit to the south Devon coast without going below 2,500 feet. South Devon had good visibility, with Exeter, Newton Abbott and (for Denys as a civil engineer!) the new South Devon Link Road, under construction, carving its gouge across the countryside!

Before coasting out, Exeter had handed us onto Plymouth Military (a new experience, as previously, we had been handed on direct to Jersey!). We set up for Skery reporting point, and were duly handed over to Jersey Control. Once given a chosen altitude, it is expected that this is maintained throughout the Jersey Zone transit.

After exactly one hour’s flying from Swansea, we were 5 miles beyond Berry Head. At Skery reporting point, it was reassuring to be able to “clock” no less than 11 ships and reasonably size boats, not that ditching was remotely on the cards!!!! G-BOMO was behaving beautifully – leaned out for a level cruise.

Dinard 04


Dinard 03

15 miles shy of Guernsey, Jersey passed us across for the transit to the other side of the island. Guernsey wished us to avoid their overhead and to instead cross the NE tip of the island. The reason for this became apparent with the incessant radio traffic of landing and taking off aircraft at Guernsey as we passed. We quickly re-assumed our original line after Guernsey to avoid the banned airspace over Sark, and set course direct to Dinard. Here we hit our only out-bound patch of really rotten weather – a fog bank right down to sea level and drizzle. Mike’s IMC rating saw us through that, which disappeared after 5 miles almost as mysteriously as it has arisen, and we then enjoyed a clear view of the French coast, and were able to spot out St Malo, the estuary, and Dinard Pleurtit St Malo Airport from circa 6 miles out. We contacted Rennes Radar (another squawk!) and were vectored in to join the approach for Dinard runway 35L – which, at 2200 metres should be just about enough for a PA38!!!!! We were number two to land with Dinard Approach, and commenced our base leg as soon as we had “clocked number 1”.

A silky landing by Mike, and ATC guidance to the grass GA park. We were the fourth GA visitor that morning, and we parked up next to a very posh 182 from Cardiff!!! The trip had taken 2 hour 20 minutes of most enjoyable flying. Then just a brief “hello” to Customs (they were not really fussed – the first Ryanair was not due until the afternoon!!!), and into the terminal to meet up with Angela and Chris, waiting for a taxi which the kind Ryanair man had called up for us (there being none at the airport!!)

Dinard 05

We had a walk around Dinard centre and seafront, then settled down to a pavement restaurant light lunch and coffee – all very continental!! A few minor purchases, but then we had to wait some time for a telephoned taxi to turn up (French time!!) to return us to Pleurtit.

Managed to get through customs and security just before a phalanx of Ryanair punters bound for Stansted – phew!!! Being cleared was a very simple process with cursory glances at EASA licenses and passports, through the scanner, and we were released onto the apron. Unfortunately, there was then further frustration as the firemen, who deal with landing fees and fuel, were nowhere to be seen. Eventually, they surfaced (French time again!!) and we fuelled up, paid the landing fee and checked out for our return journey.

Denys was flying the return leg. Runway in use was still 35L and, after one ahead at hold was cleared and took off, we were cleared to line up and wait, and then cleared for take off. We climbed out, more or less on route heading, staying under 2,500 feet until clear of Dinard Zone and passing on to Rennes Radar. Chris had started up shortly afterwards, and we earwigged on his departure from Dinard!

Asked for our preferred transit height, we requested, and were given, 5000 feet, at which level we were passed over to Jersey Control. This time I transitted Guernsey through the airport overhead, and we had a unique view of take-offs and landings 4000 feet below! The earlier rotten band of weather had disappeared, and the return journey across the “big water” was delightful. Further west and east it was clearly not so good, but on our route heading it was very satisfactory.

By Skery reporting point Chris in his 182 greyhound had gradually overhauled we poor slowcoaches  in a PA38! He was given a direct routing to Cardiff, whilst we continued on course direct for Swansea. I coasted in between Teignmouth and Dawlish (must remember the Air Show there on August 22-23) having been transferred from Jersey to Exeter Radar before the coast. As the weather over Devon was particularly mucky, I descended to 3000 feet which proved to be quite OK on our heading, although either side looked increasingly dodgy.

We were transferred over to Cardiff for the Bristol Channel crossing, coasting out at Lynton. The visibility over the Channel improved, there just being a solid bank of cloud apparently on the Welsh coast. When we got closer, this proved to be off shore and the visibility over Wales was absolutely fine – full visibility from circa Tenby to east of Cardiff IA!

I set up some distance out for the Swansea approach, onto 28L this time, and landed without problems after another 2 hours and 20 minutes. The prevailing winds were approximately 90 degrees to track, both outbound and inbound, explaining the parity of times! Taxying in, we were met by Derek, parked, tied up, completed logs, paid up, had a cup of tea, and went home for a good night’s sleep!

Another excellent day’s flying!

Most enjoyable, and roll on the next Club Trip. Hope some other club members can join us


Denys Morgan     EASA LAPL

Mike Smith           EASA PPL(A)

A New Year Foray to Newquay

A New Year Foray to Newquay

Friday 2nd January 2015!

To kick off 2015 in the right way, Derek organized an away-day to Newquay. With a trip length of circa one hour, that was just about right to get there, have lunch and a look around and return before the early dusk inflicting this time of the year!! The weather on Thursday had been atrocious – a non-flying day, and the wind rain and mist on Saturday meant no flying then either. We have therefore concluded that Derek must have divine influence and/or can choose the days well, as our Friday trip was in almost perfect conditions!


Fly-out underway 6 Aircraft lineup Destination, Newquay.

In the event, the Club’s Warrior and 2 Tomahawks, lined up with a Taylorcraft and a Zen Zodiac, to make the trip. After a short briefing by “Group Captain” Dave Jones and “Wing Commander” Dave Turner, we were fuelled up and off, using runway 28L, immediately departing the circuit, and commencing the Channel crossing.

Leaving Swansea Gower

Leaving Swansea Gower.

An early call to Cardiff Radar gave us a squawk and radar cover for the crossing, always reassuring! We could have told each of the following aircraft what their squawk was to be, as the Cardiff ATC numbers were all sequential!!! After the third “basic service” request, Cardiff inquired – “is there a fly-in at Newquay/a Swansea Day Out today?” We explained our trip, which was useful, as Cardiff kindly then retained all our details and were primed to expect us returning mid afternoon.

Bude aerials

Bude aerials.

Frank and I in BOMO elected to take the direct line, and “coasted” abeam Woolacombe, but staying off shore, and passing just inland of Hartland Point, inspecting Clovelly, Bude, Bude Aerials along the way, and landing strip spotting en route by me! An eventless passage seaward of the coast, past Boscastle, Tintagel and Port Isaac, pointing towards Padstow and the Camel Estuary, all visible from way out! Cardiff Radar were very good and helpful, and stayed with us well down the coast, only handing us all across to Newquay Approach beyond Bude once they had agreed squawks for us with Newquay, and passed on our details. The frequency change to Newquay was hence simplicity itself!

Sky demon

Sky Demon Overhead Bodmin to join at Newquay.

Bodmin Moors

Bodmin Moors

By the time we were over the Camel Estuary, we had agreed a base join for runway 30R at Newquay, so set course to fly past Wadebridge hence lining up for base leg. Ahead, there was St Dennis (that just had to be part of navigation!!!!), and we spotted the A39 and turning point at St Colomb Major and set up for finals. As we were first to be ready to land, with only the Zen Zodiac shortly behind us, so we were “cleared to land” circa 5 miles out! As “anorak” passenger, I undertook my usual ‘abandoned airfield spotting’ (St Eval, St Merryn etc.) then enjoying a smooth greased landing by Frank! Not surprisingly, not much of Newquay’s 2744 meters were required, and we exited by taxiway C to the GA park where we were requested to park alongside a well-covered and tied down Tobago! We were followed in by the others, including the Warrior on an ILS approach – training even during a day out, eh??

J Davidson

Captain J Davidson Lining up final approach into Newquay G-BRTX, PA28.

Finals at Newquay

G-BRTX, PA28 Cleared to land at Newquay.

The flying was excellent, with less than 18 knot winds from 3-4 o’clock, giving a very smooth forward ride. Our estimated journey time was 58 minutes, with actual (taking into account positioning for landing) of 62 minutes. Pleased with that!!!

Ground at Newquay

All planes on the ground at Newquay.

After landing, we tidied up, completed logs, and walked around to the Weston Office just land-side, to sort out landing fees. We also, when joined by the others, organized a taxi to take us all down to Watergate Bay, where we lunched, before strolling along the beach. One of our number, Yvonne, even elected to go for a swim. There was no shortage of male “greyheads” offering to hold her towel, but NO offers to join her!!!!

We met our friendly taxi driver to transport us back to the airport, and concluded all our dealings with Weston, after which we were clear to go! It is good to see increasing commercial traffic at Newquay every time we visit, with more destinations – clearly the “plan” is working!

BOMO takeoff

G-BOMO, PA38 takeoff, return to Swansea.

Y Clarke

Captain Y Clarke Pre-flight checks before departure from Newquay G-BRTX, PA28.

We were cleared quickly, and taxied to hold – we were third away – about 10 minutes after the Taylorcraft and the Zen Zodiac! Then – great indignity! After power checks, we were held for some minutes at C2 hold whilst an RAF BAC146 landed and backtracked to park adjacent to the Museum and discharge its passengers. The Prime Minister, apparently – returning to his family holiday having broken off for a political event in Yorkshire! However, this delay notwithstanding, we were soon away, climbing directly, as per AIS notes, to 1000 feet QFE before turning north onto track for Swansea, where, again, we took the direct line, rather than inland.

Newquay beaches

Newquay beaches after takeoff.

Newquay ATC were very helpful, and stayed with us to circa Bude when we went to squawk 7000 and free called Cardiff Radar, who had retained our details, had been notified by Newquay that we were en route, and so again the transition was smoothness itself. Thanks to all ATC helpful staff!!

We “coasted” again abeam Woolacombe, and did some “real” navigation across the Channel as the horizon had disappeared in mist, although visibility was still well within VFR limits. Two bulk containers seemed to be exactly where they were when we flew out – clearly at anchor – but were the only notable “views”!!

Cloud 4k

Cloud at 4,000ft

We flew parallel to the Taylorcraft over some of the Channel, gently overhauling it, and ensuring that sufficient separation existed between us. We coasted west of Caswell, and set up for a base join for runway 28L.

Finals Swansea

Nearly home final approach at Swansea

Home - Swansea

And were home thanks for flying Cambrian Airways!

 We were met by Derek and two “volunteer” ground crew who efficiently met and tied up all incoming planes, which saved us a task!!! Then a welcome cuppa and off home!!

Journey time was 5 minutes quicker than the outward trip, with a slightly beneficial crosswind factor.


G-BRTX back on home soil.

 A marvelous day out and excellent start to 2015.

Roll on the next Club excursion.


Denys Morgan

​​​​​Cambrian FC/Airplane Anorak/Greyhead!