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    A 'Flying Visit' to Le Touquet


    David Archer

    One of the benefits of holding a private pilot’s licence (PPL) is the ability to make day trips to the near Continent for lunch.   And so it was that on Sunday 16th April, 8 pilots and friends assembled at Wellesbourne Mountfield Airfield in anticipation of their first club outing of the year to Le Touquet on the northern coast of France.

    Four aircraft were scheduled to make the trip, two 2-seater Cessna 152’s, and two 4 seat Piper PA28’s.  I was flying in one of the PA28’s with a delightful young lady pilot called Doreen, and we had previously agreed that Doreen would be pilot-in-command (PIC) for the outward flight, with me taking charge for the return trip.

    Our route to Le TouquetThe most direct route from Wellesbourne to Le Touquet would have taken us directly over the top of London Heathrow airport, something which, for obvious reasons, is actively discouraged (a gross under-statement). 

    Consequently, we were obliged to take a longer route, tracking almost south towards Portsmouth, coasting out near Worthing, then heading east just off the south coast of England, finally striking out across the channel after passing Beachy Head. 

    Our departure from Wellesbourne was delayed as the weather reports for Le Touquet were showing an early morning sea-mist.   Only when we were confident that it was starting to lift did we finally depart, and consequently did not become airborne until 9 am, a full hour after our planned departure time.   Part of the reason for such an early start is that French time is one hour ahead of UK time.

    Our flight proceeded without incident, although a lowish cloud-base required us to cross the approach path into RAF Brize Norton, something that can only be done with the blessing and approval of the Brize Approach Controller.   Sometimes this can be quite difficult, as incoming RAF flights are naturally given precedence but, on a quiet Sunday morning, one got the impression that they were only too pleased for someone to talk to on the radio, and we were given permission to cross via our planned route without altitude restriction.

    Doreen and David

    Our flight to Le Touquet took about 2 hours, which is about the absolute limit of our endurance due to bladder constraints, not fuel capacity.   The PA28’s fly at an average speed of about 110 knots (approx. 125 mph) which is significantly faster than the Cessna 152’s which trundle along at a mere 90 knots (103 mph), consequently we arrived about 15 minutes earlier than our tardy colleagues.   Since leaving the EU, the immigration procedure is more strictly enforced than before Brexit, nevertheless it was a relatively quick and painless procedure.   After paying our landing fee and arranging for a fuel upload, we had a welcome cup of coffee whilst waiting for our colleagues to arrive.

    The full name for our destination is Le Touquet Paris Plage (Parisian beach resort) as this, in a previous age, is where Parisians traditionally took their summer vacations.   Consequently, it is an extremely elegant town with some stunning architecture.  One other attractive feature is that the airport is only about 1.5 miles out of town, therefore we were able to enjoy a very leisurely stroll into town along the leafy boulevards.

    Le Touquet

    Lunch was planned to be taken outdoors in true Parisian style at a typical street café, but although the sun was shining brightly, the air was still very cold, and we soon retreated indoors into the warmth for a very enjoyable 3-course lunch (no alcohol, of course).

    Lunch at La Taverne Royale 

    After lunch we continued our stroll around the town and beach area, until it was time to head back to the airport for our return flight to Wellesbourne.  

    Le Touquet town and beach

    On the way back we were treated to a stunning view of Beachy Head in the late afternoon sunshine, finally landing at our home base at about 7pm, after a fabulous day out.

    Beachy Head from 5000ft