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My (first) flying lesson

September 13, 2014

At 68, the voucher was about the most unexpected birthday present Sue could possibly have bought me. It was valid for six months and the weather was rubbish earlier in the year but as the expiry date and house moving date got closer, eventually I decided I had to book it.
Blackbushe airfield is only 10 minutes up the road. When I worked at BCA their planes constantly took off or landed just over our heads. Now I would be reversing the situation.

Instructor Barry

It was a one hour lesson – with aerobatics which, to be honest, I really didn’t fancy despite the fact Sue had paid extra for it. As it turned out the only available instructor (Barry) for the day I chose wasn’t qualified to do it. He did do one ‘severe’ dip, swerve and climb, which was quite enough for my stomach. I never did enjoy most fairground rides.

Nice plane DadThis is the plane: A Cessna C-152.

Sue would try to watch my progress from the garden seating area to the cafe but, as it turned out, Kerry started pining the moment we moved to taxi in the plane, dragging Sue three times to check I wasn’t in the car and then hadn’t come back in the plane.

The moment we did land and began to taxi back to the place we had started from Kerry was lunging on the lead. She knew I was there.

Anyway, back to the flight:

BCA

Sue wouldn’t have seen much of us, as we headed off towards Bracknell, then back over Blackbushe towards Farnham, skirting to the east of the busier Farnborough airport, before eventually returning.
Surprisingly, I was in the pilot’s seat and Barry sat to the right. Barry got me to put my hands on the controls from the very start, to feel what was needed to take off and make the first turn. I had control for about 15% of the time, mostly on straight flight but also on gentle turns. He even got me to join him in folding my arms away from the controls for a while to show how stable the plane could be in level flight. I could rarely follow anything said between him and the control towers but that was his responsibility.
I did discover it wasn’t to difficult to hold a straight and level path while watching the horizon but a different matter altogether trying to do it on instruments alone.

The last photo is us coming in over BCA to land. He did a ‘hop’ the first time, which must have surprised Sue, then did a circuit to land normally.

If I was younger, a bit wealthier and likely to remain living close to an airport I might have been tempted to embark on a series of lessons, leading to a private pilot’s licence. But, with lessons (just in 2-seaters), landing fees, club membership and examination fees approaching £10,000, I thought better of it. That’s an expensive hobby.

I’d recommend it, though. If you know anyone you could treat on a birthday. Go for it.

Click to enlarge photos or see more on Flickr, as usual.

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