Destination: North Weald
North Weald airfield was established in 1916 to protect London during the First World War and prides itself for being a frontline airfield in the Battle of Britain in 1940. The military abandoned the airfield in 1964 but the Essex Gliding Club has kept the now unlicensed airfield active since the 1970’s.
My quick reference notes:
EGSX North Weald
Arriving 12 May 2008
PPR: 01992 524510
Hours: 09:00-19:00 or sunset
Website: North Weald Airfield
Useful: Airfield layout
Runway: 02/20 1920×45 asphalt (unlicensed)
and 13/31 – 916 × 45m asphalt (unlicensed)
Circuit height: 800′ QFE / 1200′ QNH
Note: Do not rely on other people to gather information for you – and for the love of safety don’t rely on my notes being correct for your flight! Always verify all details yourself.
Arriving by car, you are advised to give way to aircraft at all times, a frightening thought. The airfield is a confusing mishmash of unlicensed asphalt runways and roads. Runway 13 is closed on Saturdays so as to host the local market but 31 remains in use. My copy of the plate has “do not go here on a market day” scrawled upon it, the idea of flying into a runway have covered with cars and market stalls is frightening.
However, North Weald also has some great advantages. The main runway (02/20) is 1,920 metres long and easily spotted – especially as you have to remain under 1,500 feet to keep out of of London Stansted’s Class D airspace. It is one of the friendliest airfields I’ve been to, with pilots, mechanics and students all smiling hello and often stopping to get a better look in the plane. And the Squadron has one of the best fried breakfasts in Essex.
The Saratoga is currently parked there, having undergone minor maintenance, leaving us to fly commercial in the meantime. I’m sure it’s lonely and dying to get off the ground and I want some practice before attempting the downsloping runway at Lausanne! I’ll be meeting up with Lee, one of my original instructors. Lee flies jets these days but fancies a bit of a spin in the Saratoga and wants to see how I’m flying these days. Masochist.
What is an unlicensed airfield?