I work long and bloody hard so feel no guilt at being sat in what is regarded as a privileged seat. I just hope I never lose that wow factor in a job that took me so many years to attain. I hear too many moans and whinges from others sat in everything from light twins to airliners and often wonder why they bothered in the first place. It’s a special world I inhabit and though may be ‘lucky’ (through hard work & sacrifice & grim determination), it pains me when I see and hear so many clearly unhappy in their work.
I have been so immersed in work this year that I’ve had little time to satisfy my yearning for a simple bimble in a light aircraft. Neither have I managed to find the time to attend ‘fly-ins’, those events where you rock up in your aeroplane, chat about aviation, drinking coffee and indulging in a slice of airfield cafe cake (of which there are some awesomely tasty ones) and then bimble off back home, taking in the views and deviating from your chosen track to have a look at something of interest from the air.
I have access to a pretty little 1944 vintage Cub and to date have managed a whole forty minutes or so with it this year, reminding myself how to land it. When I read on one of the aviation forums (www.forums.flyer.co.uk) that there was a fly-in being organised at Compton Abbas, a beautiful grass airfield on top of the rolling Downs near Shaftesbury, I was determined I was going to make it.
The idea was to take along a student, to give them an idea of the type of flying they could expect to do after passing their skill test and gaining their private pilot licence. To give them an insight into what lay in wait for them and inspire them onwards and upwards.
Sadly the Cub decided to develop a misfire the previous week, so not wanting to let the student who had been allocated to me down, I decided to hire the Super Decathlon that I do some instructing on when not wrapped up in my day job.
My student turned out to be a 3000 hour plus ex Army helicopter pilot, who was working towards his fixed wing licence, rather than a totally green novice, but I’d like to think he gained something from the trip and was certainly keen to meet some fellow flyers.
We stopped at a small farm strip en route to meet up with a pal of mine. He has a beautiful yellow Cub, the colour favoured by many, which was waiting on the ground for us and made spotting the farm strip rather easier than it could have been. We were at low level and dodging some almighty big showers, but the yellow Cub beckoned us and I was happy with my landing on what was a beautifully smooth though short grass strip. Especially considering the calm wind conditions.
A fiver in the landing fee box and a briefing with the other pilot and we were soon airborne again for the short hop to Compton. The Cub went first and with the excess power available to me I slotted in quickly on his left hand side. Always a great opportunity for a bit of photography.
An enormous black cumulus shedding copious quantities of rain was approaching the overhead at our destination and I was glad to be down before the aeroplane received a free wash.
Shaking the rain soaked grass from our footwear we enjoyed a couple of hours chin wagging with fellow aviators and their guest studes before setting off home. Even throttled back I was getting a most respectable 139 knots groundspeed with the tailwind that had picked up over the lunchtime period, so we were back at base before we knew it, dodging some very hefty showers on the return leg.
The last fly-in I attended was a trip to Italy in the early summer of 2012 so I had almost forgotten how much I enjoyed these days out.
Must do more!