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The Return Journey

It was following an incredibly enthusiastic welcome and farewell from Kirkwall airport that we made our way south again in the morning. As Wick was still closed, we followed virtually a reciprocal track back to Inverness. We had contemplated continuing all the way from Kirkwall to Oban in one hop, but with a fairly strong headwind, our flight time was becoming long enough that a midway stop for a leg stretch and toilet stop was absolutely necessary. Joining into a right hand circuit at Inverness gave us that opportunity to have a sneak peak down the Great Glen, and seeing that it was clear of cloud, confirmed that it would be the best route for us to take down to Oban.

We didn’t linger for long at Inverness, but were glad of the hospitality offered by the flying school while we were there, then continued our journey south. The Great Glen was beautiful, though despite our best efforts we didn’t manage to spot the Loch Ness Monster.

Oban was friendly and welcoming lending us a couple of bikes so that we could escape from the aeroplane for a short time to go to the nearby pub for lunch. Over lunch, which was an impressively large meal, we had to make a decision about the next leg of the route. Originally we had thought of continuing our trip over to Newtownards and Prestwick before routing back home to Dundee for the end of the tour, but with the weather forecast for the next few days looking decidedly unflyable, we considered heading back towards Dundee, having a few days with our heads in the textbooks for upcoming exams, before flying back out towards Newtownards once the weather had picked up.

Although there was a little reluctance to have to do the latter, it did seem the more sensible, if a little frustrating option, but the decision was only confirmed when I went to do the walk around on G-EVIE, and discovered that her oil leak of the other day had made a reappearance.

We sought the advice of one of the chaps at Oban airfield, as well as our engineers over the phone, and consented to topping up the oil and taking the aircraft back to Dundee for maintenance. We amended our route such that we would be tracking over lower ground with more diversion alternatives if necessary, than flying through the bleak and remote valleys of the highlands.

Thankfully the oil temperature and pressure stabilised shortly after reaching top of climb, and remained stable throughout the flight home. Nevertheless, it was a certain amount of relief that we spotted the Tay River which leads directly towards Dundee’s runway. It felt a little unbelievable that we had left Orkney that morning, and in fact had now been on tour for 10 days. We’d certainly covered a lot of ground and had been met with overwhelming friendliness and generosity throughout the country on our travels. It certainly won’t be the end of our flying adventures, but for now, standby while we hang up the aircraft keys, put away the banangrams and open our textbooks instead.

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