Having worked out our route on the map and chosen landmarks to look out for along the way, it was time to leave. I nearly managed the take-off (damned plane veers to the right every time I sit in it!) and away we went. The radio work was new to me and interesting. A ten-mile circle around Waterford is a no-fly zone unless you contact the tower for permission to enter. Once we'd been cleared there were a few minutes glorious flying over the city, lakes, and estuary - all within sight of the sea at Tramore. Then it was time to land. Again, I was able to line up but not bring it in - yet.
A tarmac strip is much smoother than our grass field and we were soon following the yellow line around to the parking apron. The motor glider looked, well, tiny, against the other bigger aircraft and small private jets already there. Once through customs and security (one guy at a desk who just waved us by) we paid our landing fee (€15) and collected two cups of coffee (staff rates!) over which the flight was discussed.
Although we left via the flight crew channel (moment of pride here) the security checks were the same as any passenger airport: trays, belts, metal detector arch etc. Again a smile and a few pleasant words with the staff and we were walking back across the hot tarmac apron to the glider. Tighter regulations meant asking the tower for permission even to start up, detailing our flight plan (how many on board, our destination, maximum flight endurance [about 3 hours]), and following the yellow line back to the start of the runway. Once cleared for take-off I tried again to put everything I've been learning into practice. My attempt was less than perfect but with a little correction from Peter we lifted off in much less distance (another advantage of tarmac) and headed out over the coast a little before turning back for Kilkenny. Waterford airport must be one of the most scenic in Ireland!
An uneventful flight back during which navigation matters featured was followed by a bit of excitement at the airport. The parachutists were almost finished. We were told there were two still in the air so we circled at a safe distance. I made the approach as usual but at the last minute Peter suggested we go around as the last people on the ground were too close to the runway. By our second attempt they had taken off their parachutes and were well clear. Moral: examine the landing strip carefully and be prepared to abort a landing if anything - people, animals, vehicles - is too near the runway. A wise precaution when your flying is as wobbly as mine is!