Cornwall / Isles of Scilly 2010

PH-SVP at EGHE - Isles of Scilly

At the end of July 2010, Mike and I took PH-SVP, a Piper Archer III of the 'Vliegclub Rotterdam' for a trip to Cornwall. Since quite some time, Mike's friends Michael and Andrea own a cottage in Pendeen and we have considered this destination several times. This time, the long-term weather forecast seemed to support our ambitions.

In the morning of Day 1, we departed IFR to Lydd (EGMD). Our planned route was REFSO L980 JACKO M189 DVR at FL100. We entered the cloud layer at 1100 feet, only to break free from the clouds around FL085. When we reported reaching FL100 to ATC after a 20 minutes climb, Amsterdam Radar responded 'Congratulations!'

London Radar routed us to TANET and the DVR VOR. After our descent we picked up the ILS on Lydd and were visual around 2000 ft MSL.

A very friendly immigration officer checked our passports, after which we paid our landing fees and proceeded to the restaurant for some sandwiches.

South Coast of England
IoW in sight
Low clouds over England's south coast
Wight in sight

After lunch, we proceeded along the South coast of England towards our destination for the day: Bembridge [EGHJ]. We had an uneventful flight with few low clouds over land, but they cleared when we approached our destination.

After landing and preparing PH-SVP for the night, we fulfilled all formalities at the Aeroclub. We rang a taxi, which took us to a Bed and Breakfast in the north of Sandown that Mike had arranged before. We checked in and left for the seafront. After a couple of drinks and decent seafood dinner, we headed back to the B&B for a good night's sleep.

Final EGHH RWY30
Final EGHJ RWY30
Mike fills the logbook
Track day 1 - EHRD - EGMD - EGHJ
Mike fills PH-SVP's logbook
Track of Day 1: EHRD - EGMD - EGHJ

On Day 2, after a full English breakfast, we headed for the airport again. While I prepared my flight to Exeter [EGTE], Mike had the plane refueled. The weather to the west looked promising. We took off from RWY30, passed Cowes and picked up the English south coast again inbound Exeter.

View from our B&B
Refueling the plane
Morning view from our B&B in Sandown
Refueling PH-SVP

Exeter Tower offered us a straight-in landing for runway 26. After parking the plane, we headed for the terminal building to grab a sandwich. During lunch, Mike called Land's End airport, which is PPR, to obtain permission. The answer was very British: 'May I suggest that you fly somewhere else today'.

It appeared that Land's End airport suffered from dense fog. So, unfortunately, change of plan. We went to the information desk in the terminal building, where two very friendly ladies assisted us to make a hotel reservation in Exeter and provided us with a bus schedule. We learnt that the Skybus flights to the Isles of Scilly had to be cancelled due to fog as well for the last few days, their crew stranded in Exeter. However, the weather was expected to improve.

We went back to the plane to collect our luggage and just made it on time for the bus leaving for the centre of Exeter. From the bus terminal, it was a mere 10 minutes walk to the hotel. After checking in, we headed to the Exeter's historic Quayside and enjoyed a drink on a terrace.

After an excellent dinner in a nice winebar close to the hotel, we went back to sleep, hoping for better times

Rene at Exeter's Quayside
Rene at the Custom House
Sightseeing in Exeter
Track Day 2: EGHJ - EGTE
Mol's - AD 1596
Track of Day 2: EGHJ - EGTE

On Day 3, it looked like the weather over Cornwall would improve. We also developed a Plan B: IFR from Exeter to Newquay [EGHQ], and have our friends pick us there: it's a 1:15 hour drive. Not our favourite option, as we had our minds set on reaching Land's End by plane. We spent our time with sightseeing and window shopping in the nice city centre.

Newquay's TAF seemed promising: the fog would clear in the late afternoon for a broken cloud layer at 1200 ft and 6 km visibility. However, the expected improvement was delayed with every TAF update. Around 15:30 we concluded that it would not be happening today and went back to the hotel. Again, a drink in the walled garden and a nice dinner in the wine bar of the night before.


Day 4 seemed more promising. Most of the fog over the west of Cornwall had cleared, while the weather forecast for the next days looked good as well. After all, we didn't only want to reach Land's End, but also to return to Rotterdam afterwards.

We had breakfast at Starbucks and after calling Land's End airport for a status update, we took a taxi to Exeter Airport. After paying our parking fees, we checked PH-SVP and departed westbound.

The trip over Cornwall's wide moorlands and rough coastline was absolutely stunning. Approaching Land's end, we had to circumvent a few low clouds, but apart from that, the flight was uneventful.

Eden Project
Pendeen Lighthouse
The Eden Project
Pendeen Lighthouse

We reported Pendeen Lighthouse to Land's End Radio and proceeded to runway 34 for landing.

After landing, we were welcomed by Michael, Andrea and their dog Dante. Michael would join us for a sightseeing flight over West Cornwall, followed by a flight to St. Mary's on the Isles of Scilly.

Final RWY34 EGHC Land's End
Land's End Airport
EGHC final RWY34
Safely arrived

After settling our landing fees, the airport authorities handed us a binder with rules and regulations for flights to the Isles of Scilly. We read it thoroughly and proceeded to PH-SVP again. Time for the safety briefing, which included putting on our life jackets.

Michael and Rene
Land's End
Michael and Rene
Land's End Landmark

We started with our sightseeing part of the flight. Andrea had returned home and was waving at us from their cottage's garden. Then we followed the corridor to the Isles of Scilly, climbing to 3000 ft as there were some low clouds enroute. However, the Scilly Isles were completely clear.

Approaching the Isles of Scilly

We were cleared for runway 27, which is quite short (523 m). Further to that, only the first half is paved, which looks quite awkward. Notwithstanding that, Mike made a smooth landing and we parked the plane on the grass slope.

Following the road downhill, the Old Town Cafe served us an excellent baguette with fresh crab meat.

After lunch, we left St. Mary's again for Land's End. Departure runway was RWY33, which is slightly longer than RWY27 (600 m), completely paved, but has an uphill slope. Happily, our takeoff run calculation proved to be correct. With only 3 persons on board and 2 hours of fuel left, PH-SVP's 180 hp had no problem getting us up again at two thirds of the runway.

Final EGHE RWY27
Final EGHE RWY27

The clouds had cleared. We followed the corridor back to Land's End on 1500 ft: from St. Mary's to Tresco and then radial 256 inbound to LND VOR. After landing, we parked the plane for the night. Andrea picked us up from the airport and we drove to their cottage in Pendeen.

Coppermines close to Pendeen
Time to relax
Pendeen tin and copper mines

After a relaxing beer in the garden, we took a stroll to the (now redundant) tin and copper mines close to Pendeen. In the evening, we went to a pub and had a good meal. Fog came in, with visibility less than 100 m, but we had good hopes it would clear in the early morning.

We had a nightcap at Michael and Andrea's place and had a good sleep.

In the early morning of Day 5, last night's fog had cleared indeed. Michael prepared us a healthy English breakfast. We packed our things, said goodbye to Andrea and Michael brought us to Land's End Airport.

Mike refueled PH-SVP and we left for Eaglescott - EGHU, following the North coastline of Cornwall.

Refueling PH-SVP
St. Ives
Topping up PH-SVP
St. Ives
Track of Day 5: EGHC - EGHU - EGHJ

There was not much activity on Eaglescott, so after a pilot change we left for Bembridge on the Isle of Wight. We made a small sightseeing detour to the Needles.

Using the Aeroclub's wireless LAN, we booked a hotel in Ryde on the IoW. After checking in, we went downtown for a walk, a beer and some food. We found a nice Italian restaurant close to the waterfront. The weather was nice enough to have our after dinner coffee on the terrace in front of the restaurant.

Track of Day 5: EGHC - EGHU - EGHJ
Isle of Wight - the Needles
The Needles - Isle of Wight

After returning to Bembridge airport on Day 6, it appeared that the fuel bowser would not be available for the next 4 days. No mention of this in the NOTAMs, though. We called TG Aviation, responsible for handling GA traffic on Manston, and learned that refueling there would not be a problem. We still had sufficient fuel plus reserves for the flight to Manston, so after checking the plane we left.

We followed the southern coastline to Dover and then northbound to Ramsgate.

In spite of the long runway and excellent weather conditions, my landing was less than optimal. Oh well, one keeps learning.

White Cliffs of Dover
Vera Lynn sings about them

After arriving at TG Aviation, the plane was refueled and we went to the terminal building to get something to eat. Our IFR flightplan back to Rotterdam had been filed and approved in the morning, so no need to worry about that.

Taxiing out, it took ATC a while to get our enroute clearance to Rotterdam. It turned out that our approved and shorter route had been replaced by a different one: DVR - KOK - COA - STD (Dover - Koksijde - Knokke - Stad aan het Haringvliet), which would take us to the south first. Quickly, the NAV setup was changed, the GPS reprogrammed with the first waypoints and the departure procedure rebriefed.

When switching to Brussels Radar about mid Channel inbound KOK, the Belgian air traffic controller offered us direct COA and later direct STD, which were nice shortcuts. We flew almost parallel to the Belgian coast at FL090.

Belgian Coastline
Belgian coastline

After passing abeam COA, we were handed over to Amsterdam Radar and some 5 minutes later we started our descent inbound ROT. Rotterdam Approach provided us with radar vectors for an ILS approach on RWY24. Another very enjoyable trip had come to an end.


  • Total Distance: 1042 nm (1930 km)
  • Net Flying time: 10:38 h
  • Average Ground Speed: 97.7 kts (181 km/h)
Track of Day 6: EGHJ - EGMD - EHRD
Track of Day 6: EGHJ - EGMH - EHRD

Valid HTML 4.01 Strict