Le Touquet - June 2016
Le Touquet LFAT - June 2016
This year’s annual Le Touquet trip saw six Phoenix machines cross the channel in a glorious convoy.
Le Touquet Airport, located in northern France, is a popular destination for many GA aircraft. Every year the Phoenix boys & girls arrange a convoy trip open to PPL students and PPL pilots. The trip is a great opportunity to push students/ pilots flying just that little bit further with the added confidence of strength in numbers over the channel. The trip is always timed to go ahead during the Le Touquet Jazz festival for some added evening entertainment.
Saturday Morning – The Blackbushe crew got all their equipment and overnight bags together and made their way down to the south coast to join forces with the Goodwood crowd. In the meantime the Goodwood mob enjoyed coffee, tea and raided the office biscuit supplies.
Once the two crews where united, more tea and biscuits were enjoyed before the group pre-flight briefing. The briefing included the general flight plan, frequencies to be used, maps and emergency channel procedures. With everyone informed, briefed and raring to go, the crew made their way up to the Goodwood apron for start-up. “Goodwood information, this is Black Phoenix Helicopter formation, request information and rotor start for 6 helicopters!”
Six helicopters all rotors running on the apron was quite a sight to see! After departing the beautiful Goodwood aerodrome the convoy proceeded down the British coast-line via Shoreham, Brighton, Seaford and Eastbourne before finally coasting out over the Channel at Hastings. Many pilots on board were conducting their first Channel crossing. Even in good visibility crossing a large body of water, such as the English Channel, is a piloting challenge. Blue skies and blue seas often merge into one confusing blur, however all the Phoenix pilots did fantastically.
In no time at all, the Robinson formation had crossed the international boarder and had the French coastline in sight. The Le Touquet tower directed the formation into the circuit before turning final for runway 31!
Saturday Afternoon – After landing the six choppers on the Le Touquet apron, the crew swapped the helis for 16 bicycles at the airport reception. For some, riding the retro French bicycles proved to be more challenging than the flight itself! However ,after a few near misses, the bicycle formation made it safely to the stunning Le Touquet beach where they locked up their bikes and check into the hotel.
Saturday Evening – After a little freshen up in the hotel, the Phoenix pedestrian formation now headed into town for some French grub, French beer and French Jazz music. Some of the lads braved a ‘Rare’ French burger and chips, others went for the safer… cooked version.
Sunday Morning – The group split in the morning with some of the crew heading into town for a breakfast, others enjoying the beach in the glorious morning sunshine. After a quick check of the TAFs and general weather forecasts the decision was made to start making a move, heading back to the airfield.
Sunday Afternoon – With the Fuel, GAR and Flight Plan all sorted, it was time to take to the skies once more. The formation lifted out of Le Touquet airport and headed directly for the English coastline. Beautiful blue skies with the odd wispy low level cloud made for a scenic flight back over the channel. On reaching the coastline, the sky then changed again with stunning sunshine bursting through some bubbly candy floss fair weather cloud! On reaching Goodwood, the Blackbushe boys then continued onwards back to base just in time before the typical English summer drizzle arrived in the evening.
A massive thank you to all the airport staff at Le Touquet, Goodwood and Blackbushe, and of course an even bigger thank you to all the students and pilots who came along! See you all next year!!