After a lengthy research, organisation and booking phase, I had finally succeeded in putting together another nice little regional aviation trip - there are plenty of those flights on the British Isles!



I started out in Geneva, where I caught an Easyjet flight to Manchester 


Au revoir Genève


Hello Manchester ! The building that can be seen next to the wing was my accomodation for the night, located directly at the runway. What a perfect place to stay! 


Next day: After a 90 minute train ride I arrive in Blackpool, one of the most popular holiday resorts in the country. There's not that much of summer holiday feeling though...! 


One of Blackpool's attractions are the double-decker trams - a sight they only share with Hong Kong, apparently!   


Oh, looks much more like holidays now! 

But I wasn't in Blackpool to relax on the beach, and I had a date with a Czech lady. Here she is, the Let L-410UVP-E, built in 1990. Her career started in Russia, then she flew for Air Polonia in Poland and Sky Express in Russia. And now she serves for Manx2, the carrier of the Isle of Man!




After a highspeed backtrack (note to self: those Let-Pilots must have the genetics of Formula 1 drivers!)we took off, and I had a nice view down on Blackpool's coast



After a short time enroute, I catch the first glimpse of my destination, the Isle of Man. Being a UK crown dependency, it is not part of the UK or even the EU, and therefore a very popular tax haven :)


Runway 26 identified!


Flaaaare! 

Cabin shot. As a unique feature, the cockpit wall is located in the middle of the isle, with two openings on the sides. Unfortunately, the cockpit floor lies about half a meter over the cabin floor, which makes photography quite tricky!



After some spotting I finally headed for my guesthouse in the town of Port Erin - the island's bus network is fantastic, and riding the double-deckers on those narrow roads is a lot of fun! 


The hotels on the cliffs are remnants of the island's heyday in the Victorian Era 


I like the view! 

The next day was spent with spotting and sightseeing - including a ride with this antique attraction, the Isle of Man Steam Railway built in 1873



The train took me to the city of Castletown, the former capital of the island 

Here's the island's flag, the Triskelion. It symbolizes the three legs of the God Manannán (hence the island's name: The Isle of Man[n]) as he strides accross the sea.

I have to get up early the next morning, as I'm scheduled for a trip to Belfast!


Another view at "Bradda Head", dominating the scenery of my village... 


...another entertaining double-decker ride... 


...und a little later I get the bird's-eye view again! 


While England was so extensively covered in clouds that it all but disappeared from the satellite image, there were perfect flying conditions out here!


It took only a few minutes to reach the Irish coast, which dished out more natural beauty 


Airport in sight! The George Best Belfast City Airport, home to many low-fare airlines 


On finals


Chased by our shadow :) 


Of course I was interested in Belfast's sights and culture, and so I embarked on a little sightseeing walk around town 


The pretty theatre 

Testament to Belfast's infamous past: The countless provocative and nationalist murals

After a nice day in Northern Ireland's capital, OK-TCA was awaiting me for the third time, again with the same German captain. Manx2's crews were pretty international anyway - besides the german guy, I met one from France as well as three Czech co-pilots. Their safety announcements with thick eastern accents were a delight for anyone on board :-)



Off we go!


Flying along the Irish coast 


Time for a look into the cockpit 


How nice! "Bradda Head" is welcoming me back on the island! 


Approaching the Isle of Man again! And while it had already started raining in Belfast, I could once again escape the approaching front for another few hours! 


A cockpit shot to mark the end of the Let trilogy, with the tower in the background 


Time to say the island goodbye... 

...because I continued my trip to another island first thing the next morning. This time, my ride was a Dornier-228 registered D-CMNX, operated for Manx2 by a german company called FLM Aviation. The plane, who is two years older than me, started out with Air Wales and Scot Airways, had a stint at Islandsflug, and is now flying for Manx2. Today's crew? 1 Dane, 1 English :)



The front had reached the Isle of Man overnight - high time to leave! 

Apparently we're not bothering anyone there on FL090, and so we get a direct clearence straight to our intermediate stop, the Gloucester Airport. Diving into a cloud layer (green area on the weather radar), the de-icing stuff is turned on and the engine ignition set to continuous (orange light). Seeing nothing but white for almost an hour in such a small plane is a special feeling!

Thanks to strong headwinds, the flight takes its time, and we need more than an hour to reach or destination. But here we are, on finals for the tiny Gloucester Airport, me sitting on seat 1A without any cockpit door obstructing my view. Isn't life great?



The turn around doesn't take long, and so we're back in the air and heading for Jersey pretty soon. Our destination (EGJJ) is already visible on the GPS, and our fight with the winds is pretty obvious, too... 


Plenty of time then for some more cockpit shots :) 


Approach briefing for Rwy 08, which meant good views for me!  

Just minutes before the Channel Islands the clouds start to disappear and I get some first great views! This one here's Alderney, which I should visit three days later...:)



Soon after, the island of Jersey comes into view, too - and the bright apron gives away the location of the airport :) 

What followed, was one of the most wonderful approaches I've ever had the pleasure to witness: A tight visual approach, turning finals just over the beautiful beach! Note: This one's still taken out of the side window!



Looks like the Caribbean!  


After landing, here's a cabin shot :) 

Spending the afternoon spotting from the terrace of the local flying club, I finally took a bus to my guesthouse in the village of St. Aubin. At low tide, this was what the harbour looked like - the water level at high tide can easily be guessed by looking at the stone walls in the back



Two hours later, the water was back, making for a much more idyllic feel!


Sea of Colours

On the evening of the next day I hopped to the next island, Guernsey - and the plane to take me there was one of the famous Trislanders - G-FTSE, built in 1977...going strong for 32 years now!

While the ticket said "free seating", the seats are actually assigned according to Weight & Balance restrictions - at the aircraft, people are called by name and given their exact seat. I got the one right next to the prop - could've been worse!



Departing over the same area I'd already seen on finals the day before  

Cruising along on 1'000ft...as you can see, this is single pilot operation!



Turning Finals


Looking at Guernsey's eastern coast, including its capital, St. Peter Port 

Next day, next island! A tiny one though, called Sark. And since there's no airfield there, I'm forced to take a boat.

Looking back at the skyline of St. Peter Port on Guernsey - simply called "town" by the locals

We were chugging over to Sark pretty slow, yet the tiring trip paid off: The island is a beautiful, car-free haven of tranquility!

Looking over to the island of Brecqhou - home to the wealthy owners of the Daily Telegraph, who like to operate helicopters and cars on their own island, much to the dismay of Sark's inhabitants. The island way in the back is Guernsey, St. Peter Port being the white area

...aaaaand, another day, another island! Finally it was time for Alderney, and for the next two flights! Today's Trislander of competitor Blue Islands is even one year older than the Aurigny one before, and had begun its life in 1976 in New Zealand

Being aware of the boarding procedures now, I started asking every official I bumped into if there was any way to place me in the first row - after all, this one flight to the special airport of Aldernay was the only occasion for great light *and* great views on approach! While the answer had been a constant "no" from everyone I'd asked, when the time came, I was placed right where I wanted. How nice!

So, ready for takeoff!



Here we go, leaving Guernsey! 


Nice! 

Three gauges showing three different powersettings - perfect! According to that white snippet there, the "left and rear tacho overread by 50RPM" - but to me it seems more that the right one is on steroids!



Alderney's coming into view!  

And here's the photo I'd dreamed of - so great how everything panned out! Note how the pilot's fighting the strong crosswinds!

I had six hours to explore the island - which isn't much of a problem, even on foot. Half an hour after my landing I'd already reached the beach on the opposite side of the island :)



Ouch?  

The main village, called St. Anne, is home to most of the island's 2'500 inhabitants, and rather cute!

After some planespotting in the afternoon (no airport to small for it, right?) I returned to the petite terminal for the flight back to Guernsey. Since there's no equipment to screen baggage, all bags and suitcases were searched manually!

Just moments after I'd entered the terminal, a fierce downpour started. How lucky I was once again! Imagine the passengers standing around the plane in that weather for minutes, awaiting their seat assignments! And of course, Mr. Meyer in the rear row was the very last one to enter the dry plane...!

Well, and it wasn't even dry in there, and water was seeping through the ceiling. And it was quite cramped, too!

Visibility was crap during the whole flight, and I was wondering how the pilot found his way - but he apparently did, because suddendly we splashed down on Guernsey's runway again!

But this wouldn't be England, if the weather didn't look like that again just two hours (and a warm shower) later!

Standing there at that lighthouse, I enjoyed my last evening on the British Isles, until the fierce wind finally pushed me back into my warm and cosy room :)

Early the next morning I departed Guernsey heading for London Gatwick - even though the wake-up call I'd asked for never came *g*. Anyway, I made it to the airport in time to catch what felt like a widebody now, the ATR-72 of Aurigny :)



The window was a photographer's nightmare, and so this one here's the only shot from that flight 

What followed was a short dash into downtown London to raid the New Zealand Shop there. Returning to Gatwick with lots of goods from down under, I didn't believe what I saw: More people queueing for check-in than there are on the whole island of Sark, for example!

This would never have worked out in time - but thankfully, the passengers for Zurich were soon called to a special counter...and the same thing again for the security control. It still wasn't over there, because our Airbus was parked somewhere in the very back of the terminal! After running for 10 minutes, I finally reached my gate just in time before it was closed!

There was plenty of time to regain my breath once on board - because many peole didn't make it in time, all their baggage had to be unloaded again. Very well planned! I think I'll go for Speedy Boarding next time!

Finally, we're ready for departure at 26L



And after a lengthy flight chugging along on FL270 at max, we're approaching my homebase in the most beautiful evening light. What a nice way to end this trip!  

Wrapping it up, I can say that I truly liked all of the islands visited, and can recommend them to anyone - be it nature lovers who're looking for the islands' special charms and tranquility, or plane geeks wanting to try out the special aircraft on offer there for some real flying experiences!

By the way, here's a list of all GPS tracks, in case you want to have a closer look at one...

 

- GVA-MAN
- BLK-IOM
- IOM-BHD
- BHD-IOM
- IOM-GLO-JER
- JER-GCI
- GCI-ACI
- ACI-GCI
- GCI-LGW
- LGW-ZRH

I hope you enjoyed the read, and maybe even find some inspiration in my report! Cheers!

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