I understand that flight plans are necessary for flight to regional/international airports. Does that also include flights entering controlled airspace?
Flight plans are required for any flight that will enter controlled airspace at any stage during it's flight, and for any flight entering/leaving the Republic. As all the regionals are surrounded in controlled airspace, this effectively means that you need a flight plan for going into or out of any regional airport.
How do you file flight plans at towered and non towered airfields?
At a controlled airfield you can file it with the tower. The alternative is to call Shannon AIS on +353-61-703750 and they will take it over the phone. This must be filed one hour before departure.
If you are leaving a controlled airport, and will be closing the flight plan once outside their airspace (because you're not going to enter any more controlled airspace), then often you can file the flight plan with the tower, and avoid the 1 hour prefiling requirement.
A very important thing to remember is that unlike in the UK, ALL flight plans in Ireland MUST be closed. If you are landing at a controlled airfield then the flight plan will be automatically closed. If you are landing at an airfield with an a/g service, or a AFIS (like many of the regionals are during certain parts of the day) then it is your responsibility to close it. An AFIS may be nice to you and close it for you, but make sure.
To close it, before you leave their frequency simply ask the last ATC you will be dealing with to close it for you.
If you forget to do that before leaving their frequency, you can close it by telephone by calling Shannon Low Level on +353-61-471233.
Not closing flight plans will not make you popular!
On our return flight to the UK can we depart from any airfield providing we?ve filed a flight plan or do we need a customs airfield?
No need to leave from a customs airfield in Ireland. You will have to send your GAR form to Special Branch & Customs in the UK for your return their, but nothing needs to be done for Irish Authorities purposes.
Any recommendations for good B&B?s, hotels, restaurants close to ? we?ll probably stick to local transport/taxis:
For Sligo, "The Venue does a lovely lunch"
Walk out of the airport, and follow the road to the T junction at the end. (About 7 minutes walk?)
(If you turn right here, you will come across the Strand Pub which has been recommended to me for lunch, but which I haven't visited, and can't vouch for.)
Instead turn left at this T junction, and follow the road until you come to the church on your right.
Leave the main road, keeping the church on your right, and walk up the hill.
At the top of the road, you will come to another T junction. Turn right.
After a short walk, you will see "The Venue" on your right hand side.
Don't be put off, it doesn't look much from the outside. Walk in through the bar, into the restaurant in the back.
Sunday lunch main courses are between ?10-?15 if I remember correctly, and while not 5* standard, are quite pleasant. Total walking time from the airport will be about 15, maybe 20 minutes.
I've only ever been to this place at the weekend, so can't vouch for it's opening times during the week!
You might want to have a look at this thread for other suggestions.
Galway, Sligo & Waterford are all nice cities. Abbeyshrule is a nice airport, but there's not a lot around it. It's not a city airport.
The Aran Islands are nice, particularly Inish Mor, but it's only 530m (or there abouts, I don't have my guide to hand) of hard runway. Lots of little stones there too.......might be a bit short for you.
If you would like to visit Dublin, Weston is the place to go to.
Another option might be Kerry (EIKY). Close to Killarney or Tralee, both of which would provide an interesting break.
Kilkenny is a grass strip of appx 900m. (Again I don't have my guide to hand, so won't be exact.) Kilkenny city is a lovely city, and very popular on the weekends. It can be hard to find accomodation on the weekends if you haven't it booked. There was a recent fatal accident there, and the airfield closed for a short time. I'm assuming it has reopened now, but if you want to go, best to give them a call and make sure it's open.
All airports in Ireland are PPR.
One thing to watch for, is that the airspace around Weston airport has changed since 3 August. The Dublin CTR has extended the Class C to cover Weston & incorporate the previous R15.
All 'current' charts are out of date, and do not show this.
Have a look here for the new layout. 3.69mb
I hope that's of some help to you!