Have you ever wondered what our expansive length of Norfolk coastline looks like from above? From the port of Great Yarmouth around to Kings Lynn, flying a modest few hundred feet above ‘Our Norfolk’ in a light aircraft, a gently changing but absorbing vista unfolds; of North Sea shipping traffic, sand dunes, 200ft cliffs, golden beaches, stately homes and deep blue depths of water. Flying from Little Snoring Airfield near Fakenham for the last 40 years, I have never tired of this view.
The panoramic nature of the cockpit of course also provides a spectacular 360 degree view of ever-changing weather phenomena; curtains of rain hanging across a mottled brown landscape, an ethereal world of candyfloss cloud canyons, playing in and out of cauliflower-head clouds.
Weather observations from a late January outing:
‘One of those days with a fairly low cloud base (about 1100 feet) but with sufficient holes in it to pop up into another world of silvery hills and valleys where you could chase round the edges of the cumulus and break up little puffy bits floating free, with the sunshine bouncing off everything around – really magical. Then it was back down through a hole to what almost seemed a subterranean, bumpy, murky world, with visibility acceptable, but not good, to land in a stiff cross wind. The former refreshed the soul and the latter provided a challenge that was satisfying to achieve – what a privilege!’
Curious to understand how you are kept aloft on outstretched wings? What is needed to manage the engine, fuel consumption, radio contacts, how is passenger comfort ensured, what issues surround orientation, where are you at a given point in time, how do you navigate this craft of the air and which instruments will tell you how far you have travelled at what height and speed? There is a lot take in.
Article contributed by Norfolk pilot Jonathan Betts.
It’s not an everyday opportunity to be able to enjoy the spectacular and ever-changing aerial views of our county, but possible. A number of organisations exist in Norfolk that can facilitate this experience.
Broadland Balloon Flights
(various launch sites around Norwich)
Flying over our historic provincial capital then off over the countryside.
McAully Flying Group
Established in 1957 to provide licenced pilots with affordable flying to encourage aviation in North Norfolk. You don’t need to hold a pilot’s licence, however, to join in social events and activities of the Group, just become an associate member.
Norfolk Gliding Club
(Tibenham, South Norfolk)
Offers scenic glider flights, lessons, courses, hosts national gliding competitions.
For scenic aeroplane flights or to enroll for lessons, I suggest searching the web – Norwich Airport has an operator or two.
For those wondering where our aerial shots portray;
our story image is of Halfway House, halfway up Blakeney Point from Cley
the top image is Blakeney, its harbour and the winding channels to the sea
next comes the plane I pilot, a Cessna 172
lastly ‘marsh shapes’, highlighting the photogenic hinterland of the Coast
Shooting through perspex is a problem so please bear with the slightly milky views!
English Heritage has launched ‘Britain from Above’
Aeorfilms collection from 1919-1953
type in Norfolk and see our past sepia county – great images there of Cromer Pier
and Hunstanton Pier, didn’t know it had one!