Tuesday, 12 September 2006

Time to Spare

Curses this morning as I discovered I couldn’t get into White Waltham airfield for a meeting with Microsoft.

The journey had started without any problems and as I passed Biggin Hill, I asked London Information for the latest Heathrow weather, which was reasonable.

Fifteen minutes later on reaching Ockham and having received a Special VFR clearance from Heathrow Director on the descent via Woodley into White Waltham, the weather decided to throw a surprise, with a menacing and thick fog-like cloud rolling in from the West, leaving me quite unable to continue on to land. Worse still, there were very few options in terms of other places to go with an instrument approach facility, other than Farnborough, so now getting low on fuel, I had to divert into Biggin Hill and pay the penalty of a whacking great landing fee for the privilege.

Many airfields waive their landing fees when an aircraft has to divert and this strikes me as eminently sensible. Not Biggin though. You see, when the fuel gauge is starting to hover in the red and you think “It’s only 12 minutes to Rochester”, there’s a temptation to save a little money and press on and that’s never a good idea from a safety perspective.

So Biggin Hill had its landing fee and a full tank of petrol out of me, before I pushed on towards home. An expensive outing which proves the adage: “Time to spare, go by air.”

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