One of the events that marked me the most was the first time I went to England with a friend. One day, a friend who is an airline pilot offers me to go in England for a day specifically on the island of Alderney in the Manche between Saint Malo city in France and Exeter in England. Obviously, I was very motivated because I wanted to pass my English qualification for pilot (the FCL055) to be able to fly abroad alone. I thought it was a good opportunity to train.
On the eve of departure, we meet at the air club to browse the flight and file the mandatory VFR flight plan to go abroad. The next day, we take off from Lorient at 8 a.m to go to Alderney with the PA28 of the airclub. My friend decided to let me fly and radio. We have about one hour and twenty minutes flight to Alderney.The first part of the flight goes rather well, then we’re approaching the English area. That’s when the control asks us to leave the frequency and pass with Jersey control. My friend asked me if I feel able to speak in English with Jersey control. I’m telling him that yes because I had revised before. And then if I never managed to do it, I knew he was there to help me and take frequency for me. We’re passing with Jersey control and I’m sending my first message : « Jersey information F-GIEK, good day »,that’s when a lady answers me « F-GIEK Jersey control good day, pass your message ». That’s when I send my message so early : « F-GIEK, a PA28 from Lorient to Alderney with VFR flight plan, stable 5000FT 1014QNH ». The controller answers me as soon as possible « F-GIEK Roger, you are clear to enter in VFR Airspace not above 2000FT QNH 1015 and squawk, direct St Martins point » which is a VFR point in Guernsey.
We’re going down to 2000ft and we’re adjusting the course for a direct on the point.The controller was really nice and articulated rather well. English air traffic controllers often make articulation efforts when they speak to French Pilots.
The flight took place, we are stable at 1800FT and 135KT ground speed, the control gives us quite a lot of traffic information. We’re 5 minutes away from Guernsey Runway Axes when the control asks us to take a half round because there was an ATR72 of Aurigny on the initial climb to Exeter. At the end, the controller authorizes us to resume our navigation and gives us a direct heading to Alderney. The ATR 72 passes just in front of us about 1000FT above, it was really nice!
10 minutes later we see the island of Alderney and the control leads us to a long final on runway 08. The final goes smoothly, it’s rather nice because the start of the runway is at the edge of the cliff, all approach is over water. We land on runway 28 and then vacate by grass runway to the parking. We’re asking if the truck can come and refuel us. We pass through customs for routine checks and then leave the airport to discover the island. We’ll return to France at the end of the day.
It was really a superb experience! It’s really exotic and enriching!
Since then, I’ve obtained my English qualification and I’ve returned regularly with family and friends.