I sat in the Wellesbourne Aviation waiting area, flicking through the various pilot’s magazines lying around. I was reading ’50 ways to be professional’ when I heard:
Want to go flying?
I looked up and I swear it was Captain Jack, without the accent. If ever there was somebody who looked like an all-action-hero pilot, it was this guy. Not too long ago I’d have immediately felt inferior (yes, I was really that insecure) but my self-esteem has come on leaps and bounds in the last couple of months, so I took it as a challenge. That’d be great, I said.
We headed out of the small building towards the Robin 200 that would be my first experience flying a small aircraft. It was a single-propeller, two seater plane with a large sticker inside saying ‘no spins’. After an introduction to the various controls we taxied around the airfield and lined up with the runway. The instructor asked if I wanted to take off, at which I laughed, assuming it was a joke. Turned out he was serious, though, so I did.
Hmm, how do I say this without betraying my cool, detached-blogger exterior? It was bloody brilliant! The skies were clear and it wasn’t too windy. I flew for pretty much the entire 25mins we were in the sky, only handing over control for the landing. We couldn’t go find my house as it’s within BHX’s airspace, but we took a look at Stratford and the various surrounding villages as well as spotting the gliding field I took off from on Thursday. I learnt how to alter the pitch and banking angle, as well as the rudder and throttle. There were even in-flight refreshments provided (polos); I expressed disappointment at there not being a waitress service and was told she’d ‘foxtrot-oscared’. After a good few turns, rises and falls I was told to head back to the airfield. After a second’s thought I pointed and said “it’s that way, right?”, to which he said “bloody maths and physics students”. So I was quite proud of myself 🙂
The only big mistake I made came right at the end, when I stepped out of the plane, onto the wing and jumped forward onto the ground. The first thing I’d been told was to always enter and exit the plane from the rear due to the presence of a rather large propeller at the front. Even when the power’s off there’s the potential for it to start spinning, apparently, so I must remember not to do that again!
I received a certificate and extremely scary brochure detailing the costs of training for a Private Pilot’s License. It’s pretty much a minimum of