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It seems a long time since my last flight

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  • It seems a long time since my last flight

    Not the first this year, but it seemed a long time since the last.

    In Essex we have been better favoured with weather than many other places, but the battering winds seemed unrelenting and we were grateful that we still had a hangar roof. There have been odd days when the wind had ceased to howl and at times this even co-incided with a forecast that it would. Unfortunately there appeared to be almost a malevelance about the timing that ensured that I was fully commited to be doing something else, somewhere else whenever that happened.

    Yesterday though the weather was as they foretold and we were available so we went to the airfield. This time, unlike the other recent attempts, the timing was correct as well and the calm bit didn't slip back until after dark. The runway was in good shape, just with long grass, and not for the first time I thanked the memory of Dave, the farmer who laid out the field many years ago. You can trust a proper farmer to know where the best drained land is and to lay his runway along it.

    A good careful DI and we wheeled our trusty mount out into the weak sunlight as it fluctuated between to clouds. Clouds that were plenty high enough for today's plans as the charts showed that temps dropped below freezing at height. My old bones tolerate freezing conditions less that they used to and I limit my time in the very open TST cockpit to flights less than an hour at this time of year. Call me soft if you like, but I find that there comes a time when the pain outweighs the pleasure. It's called getting old.

    I had the first flight as Joan, the wife, had had the last one, and she pulled the starter of the 503 for me. The trusty little thing started second pull, so fairly normal. The missus moved around and strapped in the R/H seat.

    I gave a call to the empty skies and taxied down the runway, unbelievably the windsock stirred gently not far off the runway direction. The longer grass called for a few more revs than normal but almost miraculously no mud splats appeared on the underside of the wings. Turn into wind, check that all is well and ease the throttle forward and we're away. Lift the tail as soon as it will and as speed gathers ease back a little on the stick and some of the weight come off the wheels. Now we are entering a short but well loved part of the takeoff as the wheels are doing little more that brushing the grass, "tickling the daisies" as I often refer to it. Then we are away, speed building quickly and we soar upwards.

    I turn north and east cutting back to cruise power while we pass a village before climing away again. The air is remarkably smooth and I scan the surrounding areas for the scattered showers that we may expect. All looking well and I reduce power to cruise again so as to avoid Mr O'Leary's airspace. I spot some curious marks on a couple of fields and go to them and orbit for a better look; odd brown circular marks on nice green pastures that seem randomly dotted about with no appearance of pattern, strange. Puzzled I go on my way, the controls feel wonderful with just fingertips needed on the stick and as expected the winds aloft are far more those on the ground so I ease the speed back to 45kts to revel in the sensations of flight and the sights around us. Out to the south the Thames Valley looks a bit misty and the little whaleback shape of Langdon Hills stands clearly defined against it. Also to the south I notice the first of the showers, just dark misty streaks decending from a darker portion of cloud, and far to the north a sunlit shower showing the reverse making it look as if a a bright white cloud was going gently downwards.

    I turn back towards the airfield and start to ease downwards, still marvelling at the smoothness of the air. I enter the circuit, still very empty, the tailwind on the downwind catchs me a bit and I'm a bit high when I turn base. Still, losing height in a TST is seldom a problem, just a reminder that I am out of practice. I ease into a landing so smooth I don't really believe it, I'll have to make certain it dosn't make me cocky, that way leads to embarrassment at the very least.

    Then swap over and sit back to enjoy another flight with Joan doing the flying. Then we put the aircraft away just as the light is turning golden with the evening. That was a day well spent!

  • #2
    Not flown since September here and just over an inch of rain this week so still waterlogged. Seriously thinking of giving it all up as I need a reval flight in the next fortnight and that looks unlikely too.

    The brown circular marks could be where cattle feeders are or have been.
    Sean McDonald


    • #3
      Ouch, it must feel like forever. We are very lucky I have never known the strip to be shut even when all the others around have been. I even recall one time when every grass strip in the area was closed and we had a twin engined Apache operating.

      This year though is exceptionaly wet in many places and folks are grounded everywhere. Being retired gives me an advantage of being more likely to be able to pounce when the weather makes it possible. About your situation all I can say is that the reval by test, so I'm told, is much easier than the original test. More a re-affirmation of your skills than a check to see if you possess them yet.

      You could well be right about the cattle feeders, I'd not thought of that.


      • #4
        Sean, get yourself airborne - somehow, anyhow - you'll feel much better.

        PM sent.
        The pilot formerly posting as MadamBreakneck
        R examiner and TST pilot.
        and now a Tai Chi instructor


        • #5
          Thank you Joan.

          PM replied to.
          Sean McDonald