Nice report! Personally I quite like the adventure of not knowing whether you’ll make your destination and having to land somewhere unplanned, find accommodation and wait it out but Mrs Stick doesn’t share that view!
A very enjoyable read. Also being a pilot at Panshanger, and agreeably not being able to afford a flight into Luton myself in 2014, it made interesting reading. Nowadays you have multiple means of getting weather information (some reliable, some unrealiable, some conflicting at times), but back in ‘86, on the whole the weather was largely what you saw with your own eyes at the time. Making the go or no-go decision these days you would think would be a lot easier, but you still have your PROB30’s and PROB40’s, and its still a bit of a gamble.
What’s weird is how GA silently moved away from Luton without much fuss when they started hiking their prices.
A complete lack of representation and forward thinking.
That has happened at a lot of places, not just Luton. It seems that once the customs requirements changed, GA started getting pushed out. Not so long ago landing fees at some major airports were waived if it was just a customs stop. Nowadays, GA is unwelcome at those same airports.
Isn’t the real issue that the “management” of Luton, Stansted and Gatwick gave exclusive rights to bizjet-only handling companies (presumably in exchange for guaranteed fat rents which only bizjet clients are capable of supporting) like Signature, Harrods, etc, and these companies have set up a cartel which keeps the the pricing structure at uniform silly levels?
You can fly to these airports today, in a C152, no problem at all. You just get charged somewhere upwards of €500. Same at Frankfurt, Munich, and many others. I think they are 24hrs PPR but I am sure the handler will take care of that.
I think it is a common scenario where an airport manager gets approached by a wide boy who promises the earth in terms of traffic and fuel sales, sometimes even promising fuel sales to traffic which the runway is too short for, and wants exclusive handling rights for a large chunk of the traffic. I have seen that not a million miles away from where I am based. The “experiment” was only recently terminated but not before it almost totally killed all traffic between 2499kg and a TBM and, given the way the UK internet airport-lynching rumour mill works, that traffic isn’t going to come back for years.
I have no idea if UK AOPA tried to stop the rot at these previously accessible airports, but they would not have had any power to prevent such a deal being done. AOPA has no control over pricing set by privately owned airports. Nor would the CAA – supporting aviation in such a direct sense is not their remit.
Nor would the CAA
And herein lies another problem:
Ofcom regulates telecoms prices.
Ofgem regulates gas and electiricy prices.
The CAA regulates Heathrow and Gatwick and NATS en-route prices, and presumably no more.
The same thing could happen at ‘(miles outside of) London Southend’. Take in a well known orange low cost airline, introduce some airspace, put up some prices… Or do what Cambridge seem to be doing and making people fill out some kind of web form some hours in advance to get PPR – very discouraging (though an opportunity for SkyDemon to use their magic and integrate the ‘special’ form into their tool :-) Suddenly what were nice big airfields for GA to use, become exclusive.
Enjoyed the trip report – a mini Flight of Passage.
That brings back some memories…. I did a similar trip, with less than 50hrs P1, inspired by some of Peters trip reports. Flying out was beautiful, the return, less so… but thanks to the IMC/IR two people are alive to tell the tale!