Track for the day:
The next morning Mac wouldn’t hear of us getting a taxi and 15 minutes later we were back at the airfield starting to get ARAN out of the hangar.
It was another lovely morning and we were looking forward to the flight across to Northern Ireland. I re-packed the bags while Stevie Cliff untethered the plane and got her ready for flight. Soon afterwards we were in the air and waving at Mac stood on his driveway at the end of the airfield.
We travelled up Lough Swilly toward the North Atlantic and followed the coast round and back in toward Londonderry. We continued up the estuary being careful to miss the Magilligan danger area and dropped into Bellarena which is a lovely glider site which goes right up to the shoreline.
There was no-one around and we looked around for somewhere to deposit a landing donation but everywhere was locked up unfortunately.
We sat in the sunshine on the outside benches and determined the next steps of for route for the day. High on the list was to take a look around the giants causeway so we took off and headed out to the northern coast of Northern Ireland past the giants causeway and on up to Rathlin island, as we headed out a black storm cloud was hanging off the north east coastline so we cut the orbit of the island short and heading back inland, next stop Movenis.
As we approached Movenis we could see it looked deserted but it was a lovely clean strip of asphalt and it would be rude not to give it a go.
A quick look around once we were on the ground and it did indeed look deserted. However a a wander round the hangar revealed a door on the other side that was open, where we were warmly greeted by the owner and operator Maggie along with Judith.
Many pleasantries were exchanged and we took a look around their extensive and well managed para-drop operation.
As we were wandering round the chief pilot Drew arrived and invited us to take a look in the Cessna 208 caravan they use for the drops. The runway wasn’t that big and this thing get in and out with 15 on board, must have some STOL performance then 🙂
Once we had been refreshed with beverages and chocolate we were on our way to the next stop of the day…carrickmore
It was only a short 40 miles down to carrickmore but it had been recommended to us so that was all the excuse we needed! They operate mostly 3-axis microlights but there are a few jodel and small GA aircraft based there. An interesting approach down over the industrial area led to a fairy short but asphalt runway, where a couple of lads were awaiting the instructor for a lesson.
Again we had a fantastic welcome, ‘help yersel to tea and biscuits lads’ by the resident instructor Richard of C-More flying school
Suitably loaded with drinks and snacks we headed off again down south.
The plan was to take in Aughrim and Kilkeel but on route we decided the fuel was getting a bit low to be heading further from our destination so we turned north and made our way back up to Newtonards which was to be our destination for the evening anyway.
We headed up the south east of the Belfast area making sure we were clear of their airspace, even though we were talking to them anyway.
By the time we had landed at Newtonards they were closing up, so having tied the plan down we wandered over to talk to some of the locals who were performing some maintenance on their privately owner aircraft.
In a similar fashion to almost every destination on our trip, the welcome was resounding and it wasn’t long before we were being shown around the town and dropped off outside our hotel for the evening The Strangford arms hotel.
For some reason we’d taken a fancy for a curry, however we were to remain unsatisfied but found a lovely bistro and had our first wine of the trip :-).
The last thing to determine was the destination for the next day.
We had previously agreed that enniskillen wasn’t high on the agenda anymore due to the floatplane not being available. However, with the weather having been in our favour for the most part of the trip we were well ahead of schedule and it seemed churlish not to pay a visit while we were so close.
Decision made then….next stop enniskillen!