UK Points of Departure
UK Points of Departure
For Channel crossings via the Dover overhead to Cap Gris Nez (the shortest distance) there are three basic possibilities. Other crossing points involve much greater distances over the open sea.
The first is to depart from Lashenden Headcorn EGKH, which is about 25 miles from the mast west of Dover, the usual point for coasting out. Headcorn is good for meeting up with people prior to a channel crossing as it is so much easier than trying to rendezvous in the air. Headcorn offers several advantages, especially to those who are embarking on their first crossing(s). The airfield staff are friendly and will help with assessing the channel weather, they will also be prepared to help you with filing a flight plan (which is dealt with in a later section) and they do have customs clearance, so you will not have to observe other formalities. AvGas is available at Headcorn and there is a very good cafe. The main downsides are that stopping there will add an hour to your overall journey (as opposed to making the crossing from your home field, assuming that it's within range) and there is a landing fee of £10.
Some people prefer to depart from Lydd EGMD, which is on the coast to the west of Dover. Lydd is a more formal airport than Headcorn and has a higher landing fee (£12 we think at the time of writing). Again, there is a customs clearance there and a decent airfield cafe. They do not offer the same personal service for filing flight plans though, and you will need to be able to do this unassisted.
Many seasoned travellers, whose home base is within flying range of the French coasts, prefer to fly direct from their home fields, which cuts out a stop at Headcorn or Lydd and saves the costs of landing fees there. There is no requirement, when flying from a private strip to Continental Europe, to obtain any outbound customs clearances but you will need to file a flight plan and activate it when airborne. This is explained further in the Customs Requirements section.
Members of the Club flying from the West Country sometimes prefer to enter France through Cherbourg Maupertus LFRC by coasting out either from or to the west of the Isle of Wight. This is a much longer sea crossing and is described in the entry to the airfield guide for Cherbourg LFRC.
It's worth noting that when returning to the UK four hours prior notice is required to be given, by sending in a General Aviation Report form, generally known as a GAR form. This applies regardless of the status of the airfield or airport of arrival. This rule has recently changed and it is now seriously enforced by our Border Agency. There is more information about the rules and processes to follow in the Customs Requirements section of Flight Planning.
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