Posted by andyreohorn on October 10, 2007 at 8:00 PM
OK, so it was only half an hour of flying. The
cloud base was 1100', the visibility was 5k and it was damp and gloomy.
Not normally the sort of day one would expect to have enormous fun
Taking off we were advised of an inbound helichopper approaching from the NW so eyes were peeled as we headed off that way.
Flirting with the base of the grey foreboding cloud, we soon
arrived overhead our destination. Nobody in, not surprising really, we
pulled those lovely red wingtips around in a steep right hand turn
before skipping over the ridge and running down the grass strip before
pulling the nose skyward and rolling to the left.
The instructor friend sat next to me then took control and eased us
skyward, explaining the unusual approach pattern as we went... over the
ridge, follow the straight hedge with the tin hut at the end. When
reaching said tin hut, ease left over the farm ensuring all is settled
at 70 knots, full flap...then aim to the left of that row of trees, but
to the right of those others, over the hillock using that to slow us to
60 knots and then remove all the power and nose well back, stick in the
gut for landing. The hump halfway along looks more like a mountain, but
we are slowed by then and the next demo is a take off.
It is now clear why this is a one way strip other than in very
stiff headwinds. Power checks carried out, we hold the 'Dog on the
brakes until she starts slipping on the damp long grass and we release
to accelerate rapidly, airspeed increasing, launched by the hump, stick
in the belly as she drops almost gracefully back onto the runway before
we pull off, nose forward, keep her in ground effect, trees getting
larger, then pull up and turn, right hand this time before the words I
want to hear are uttered...'you have control'.
Left base join this time, head due south, left at the solitary oak
tree, through the gap in the trees at the end of the ploughed field and
then descend as the ground falls away, turning quite steeply, ground
looking very close, but wings straightened in time for the stick back
in the belly and a rather good landing, much to my pleasure.
Back up to the top of the hill, we turn right around, my turn to
fly it off, we bounce over the hump, nose down and watch those trees
become larger, then it is up and away, stall warner bleating, power and
revs back for the neighbours and climb her away...
...to find another red wing tipped, roundel adorned aeroplane, game
for a play, circling round right above us. Not being of the nature to
disappoint we aim for his flanks, he tags on opposite us and we play
tag in the sky for a wonderful couple of minutes. He started to gain,
we weren't pulling tight enough, so I gave back control and one steep
wingover later he shot right on past us. 'Must tell Janie about our
game with the Chippy' I thought, as he admitted defeat and circled to
watch me land from the tin hut approach. A low pass and a waggle and we
were alone yet again.
A stretch of the legs and a wander around the patch, it was a lovely
place that is sure, a perfect place on a summer day one would imagine
and one I would hope to be back at soon.
A pheasant clearing taxy along the strip and back saw us perched at
the top of the hill, ready for our 4 minute transit flight back to
base. I even managed to pull off one of my best landings ever there
too, so a wide grin was assured as we stepped out and reminded each
other that fun can be had in even seemingly lousy weather.
I flew with this particular instructor when I had done 17 hours. He
did the recovery from unusual attitudes with me. He moved on to the
airlines but has continued to fly (mainly tailwheel/warbird stuff) and
instruct and we have, I would like to think, stayed in touch and become
friends through our love of flying because it is such damn good
wholesome fun. It has taken nearly 4 years and 450 odd hours to fly
with him again, but it won't be so long next time.
It never ceases to amaze me that so much fun can be had on a simple
half hours worth of flying. Big grin and a happy heart tonight. Plus a
realisation that I have so much more to fit into this year and beyond...