One glorious Sunday in late December everything was in place to plan my first navigation exercise into EINN with Peter. With a 30kt wind virtually parallel to track the groundspeed was going to vary a lot over the two legs. Combining the considerations of terrain, semi-circular rule and the weather that day the idea was to fly at 4500ft to Shannon and 3500ft coming back in an effort to combat the strong headwind on the return leg.
As the club airfield remained waterlogged my flight from Waterford to Shannon was going to make for an interesting sightseeing route. There were only a few small smudges of cloud but there was an inversion making the slant view across to mountain ranges sometimes appear as if we were on top of cloud with mountains peeking through. The Galtees and Comeraghs looked magnificent with Clonmel, Cahir and Tipperary Town all making for excellent reference points. The route also flew near other easy to spot landmarks like the Rock of Cashel and Bunratty Castle.
Once inside Shannon CTA clearances were given to report overhead Limerick City. It was quiet traffic-wise but what makes Shannon a little different from other places we fly to was the frequency hopping needed – Shannon, Shannon Approach, Shannon Tower and Shannon Ground. The highlight for me on the outward leg was the sight of first Limerick City, followed by routing over Shannon estuary with the best moment being staring down finals at a runway that can land the Space Shuttle!
For anyone uninitiated with full-stop landings at Shannon the following information may prove useful. You can expect to be routed to the light aircraft parking if landing on 06/24 via taxiway Alpha from 06 or Delta 1 & 2 from 24. It is possible to arrange over the radio to be picked up from the light aircraft parking and brought directly to the airside operations building where you can pay parking and landing fees, plan your return leg and I expect grab a cup of coffee. You can reach operations on 061 71 2274. The fees for this trip were €8.40 (€4.20 per tonne per movement) landing fee and €5 for parking.
If you have other intentions or end up being dropped off in the terminal building you could be asked for ID passing the immigration office and you will need to pay a visit to the information desk in the airport on the ground floor. You may be asked who your handling agent is in which case it is easiest to say you don’t have one. We had filed a return flight plan with ATC and I don’t know if this helped with getting back airside but we were instructed to dial ext 2240 which pre-informed the airport police to let us through without a boarding pass. We then went through security and were picked up by operations and brought over to their office and paid the landing fee.
We had a quick bite to eat in a cafe but perhaps unnecessary for many pilots once they realise they can request to be brought direct to ops from their aircraft by ATC. However it was quiet in Shannon at the time and it took less than 10 minutes for us to get from the information desk to Gate 1 to the operations office. During busier periods it is easy to see that going through to the terminal could lead to much longer delays than 10 minutes.