We both had itchy wings this Wednesday afternoon, having been unable to get up in the air at the weekend due to icing. We have been meaning to visit Lee-on-Solent (also known as Daedalus) airfield for a while now.
Built in 1917 and used initially by the RAF, the airfield became a CAA-licensed aerodrome in April 2015. We’ve heard great things since – principally that it’s really friendly and in a great location. After visiting today, we wholeheartedly agree!
The airfield couldn’t really be closer to the beach without actually being in the sea – it is a 2-minute walk at best, and that’s if you dawdle.
Approach to runway 05 is across the water, and with short final positioned directly over the beach it called to mind Princess Juliana Airport at St Maarten, although most of the visitors to Daedalus are a little smaller 😉
There was a lot going on – quite a few GA visitors and also glider towing in operation, but it was really well organised by the team at Lee Radio and everyone knew where everyone else was. Once we had vacated the runway, they were exceptionally helpful and directed us around to the parking area when they realised we were visiting for the first time.
The control tower has briefing rooms, a pilots’ lounge, toilets and a coffee machine for visitors. When we went upstairs to pay our landing fee we were given a great welcome by the team, who are justifiably proud of the airfield and all it has to offer. They were keen that we return and bring others, which we most certainly will – it’s ten minutes’ walk from a pub and seafront bistro so would be great for a day trip or a fly-out. We’re told that the nearby hovercraft museum is also worth a visit…
The outer fence in front of the security gate to get back in is quite amusing – you’d never know there was an airport behind it, we felt a bit like we were breaking into someone’s garden…!
I am normally up for a swim in all weathers, but I was not even remotely tempted today. Air temperatures were barely hovering around 3 degrees, having been down well below zero overnight. With the winter sun low in the sky, the light on the sea was beautiful, so we had plenty to look at during a lovely walk along the beach.
The flight back was stunning – we timed it just right so the sun was sinking down, giving some beautiful changes in the light. Lovely views over the Isle of Wight as we climbed out, and then a gorgeous sunset on the way back inland.
Having just passed my Meteorology exam for PPL this week, I am now very aware that anticyclonic conditions over the UK in winter will likely lead to a strong inversion layer. In an inversion layer, the usual pattern of decreasing temperature with altitude is reversed from the surface up to a certain point, beyond which the normal rules apply and the temperatures start to drop again. It’s often easy to spot when flying as the visibility within the inversion layer can be poor (due to smoke, dust and other particles becoming trapped), but on top it’s surprisingly good so there is a marked transition point from one to the other.
Today we were treated to a perfect example – you can see the boundary of the inversion layer really clearly:
Both J and I have to confess to a certain amount of Schadenfreude as we cruised across the M25, which did not look like it was moving particularly fast…this smug feeling lasted about as long as it took us to realise that we still needed to join the rush hour traffic to get home from the airport!
Always great to discover a new airfield, and a gorgeous evening for flying back.
- ICAO code: EGHF
- Elevation AMSL: 32ft
- Runway direction & length: 05/23 (1,025m)
- Runway surface: Tarmac
- Landing fee (at time of visiting): £15.75
- Facilities: Toilets, briefing rooms & tea/coffee at the tower.
- Transport links: 2-minute walk to the beach and a short walk into the town of Lee-on-the-Solent.