Introduction to bad weather circuits at Dunkeswell

What is quite common during my PPL training is getting cancellations or not being able to fly due to bad weather, driving to the flying club today I was expecting to not be able to fly but Bristol Airport being over 600 feet above sea level the weather can be different to back home in the centre of the city allowing for a flying lesson to go ahead as normal.

Todays lesson was an introduction to bad weather circuits and to practice some more PFL’s (practice forced landings) and we were to do this by heading south to Dunkeswell airfield situated North East of Exeter.

As usual and something I’m very comfortable with by now is carrying out the aircraft A check ensuring there is enough fuel and oil for the flight, I then briefly planned a route to Dunkeswell heading out via Cheddar reservoir and near enough following the M5 to Taunton before heading towards Dunkeswell.

After all the usual checks were completed the takeoff was performed on runway 27 before heading south to Cheddar, once over Cheddar and outside controlled airspace we climbed up to 2500ft and set heading directly to Dunkeswell. This session also allowed for some further navigation practice using map to ground waypoints.

The weather leaving Bristol was somewhat overcast with good visibility, after leaving Cheddar the sun broke through to near clear blue skies for the flight nearly to Taunton but ahead was dark clouds approaching from the south, we continued on our heading getting closer to the weather which by this time was getting lower, ensuring our MSA I decided to descend below the cloud to continue the flight. At this point I will add my GoPro decided to detach itself from the window so the video below is cut short.

The visibility now was a lot lower than we had behind us but it was still perfectly safe to continue and was ideal conditions to practice bad weather circuits on reaching the airfield. A straight in approach isn’t allowed here so we joined from the North East completing a normal touch and go landing before climbing away to 500ft AAL, it was at this point I carried out the bad weather circuit procedure which is to first make a rate 1 turn until you are parallel with the runway, once abeam to the end of the runway count to 20 seconds before doing another rate 1 turn, allowing for any wind drift, which should bring you onto final to land. A few of these were completed before departing back to the North to return to Bristol with some more navigation along the route as well as the well needed PFL practice which on the Somerset levels can be tricky to find suitable locations away from built up areas or livestock.

Another great flying lesson working towards completion, you can watch the GoPro video for this session on Youtube which is embedded below: