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It’s a Small World – Aviation

In September 2005 I decided that I needed a new flying challenge. I was stale. I completed my Instrument Rating a few years prior, together with my Multi Engine Rating, and Night Rating. I needed to rejuvenate my flying mojo. To do that I required a new challenge.

I was fortunate that I had been able to put some of the more interesting types of aeroplane into my logbook since getting my licence in 1989.

Through both training schools and friends, I had been privileged to sample the delights of many different aeroplanes. Reviewing my logbooks, I see many different types, from 1930s biplanes to Modern Hot ships.

Whilst I had flown a good number of tailwheel aircraft, and had handled them, I hadn’t completed formalised differences training which is required in the United Kingdom to fly one.

The necessary training was a short course consisting of a minimum of 5 hours flying time. Naturally, this was open-ended, and the number of hours required to complete the training is dependent upon flying ability and aptitude.

I flogged round the circuit at Redhill Airfield in G-BMKB, a Piper PA-18 Super Cub under the guidance of my instructor, Jim. Jim was a highly experienced tailwheel pilot, despite him being in his early twenties.

I hate heel brakes!

My general handling abilites seemed to be fine. Take offs were, shall we say, interesting in the early days, but with practice I could get the tail up and correct the swing nicely.

Landings however, were a different matter. My early attempt saw the little aeroplane leap back into the air like a startled Kangaroo, or slalom left and right as I wrestled with the rudder pedals to stop it chasing its own tail.

Jim normally sorted things out, and it wasn’t long before I could land the aircraft nicely in a three point attitude. I didn’t like wheeler landings – and still don’t, but I regarded them as a necessary evil.

I see that I completed my training in the minimum hours required, and have a nice sticker in my logbook proclaiming that I was comptent to fly more interesting types.

Towards the end of August in 2007, I decided that I would invest in a group-owned aircraft. A colleague at British Airways said that he wanted to get rid of his share in a Super Cub based at Redhill, and the price was right.

On a Sunny Saturday, I arranged to meet him and he would let me fly it prior to the sale.

I arrived at Redhill to find the aircraft sitting on the ramp outside the hangar.

Betty Boo…

I was walking towards the aircraft when I received a text message telling me that the seller was delayed by half an hour and that I should “Have a poke about and see what you think”

I did just that.

I opened the window and door, and had a good nose round the cockpit, which looked well kept, clean and tidy. It also had a radio and a VOR. Luxury!

VOR, Transponder and a Garmin GPS. Basic but fun. The only aircraft I have called two maydays in…

I unclipped the cowling, and took a dekko at the engine, and whilst I was peering intently into the void I heard a voice say “Good Morning, are you interested in buying a share in Betty Boo?”

“Betty Boo?”

He looking meaningfully at the registration – G-BTBU

“She’s known by everyone on the field as Betty Boo”

I guess he was in his early sixties, with a mop of grey hair, and oil on his hands.

After a bit of general chit chat, he finally cut to the chase, and asked me about my flying background.

“Are you a shareholder in the group?” I asked. I wasn’t about to give my background without good reason.

“Yes” he replied, “I am. Been in the group for years”

“Well, if you must know, I learned to fly as an Air Cadet about six miles from here at RAF Kenley, back in the seventies”

The Kirby Cadet Mk III – Would love to get my hands on one again…

He fixed me with a steady look, saying “I used to instruct at Kenley in the seventies.”

“What’s your name?” I asked

“I’m Stewart Rhodes.”

“Bloody Hell!” I exclaimed. “Dusty Rhodes! You sent me solo in 1976”

I shook his hand, but I could see that he was not convinced.

Anyway, I ended up buying a share in Betty Boo, and enjoyed flying her, after I had been checked out by Dusty Rhodes.

How weird. Small world?

Yes. The same man taught me in 1976 in a Kirby Cadet MkIII glider, and then sent me off again 31 years later in my own aeroplane.

How cool is that?

Go Well…

Types I have flown – In no particular order.

Eclipse 500 Twinjet, Slingsby T67 Firefly Aerobatic Trainer (as used by the Royal Air Force), De Havilland DHC-1 Chipmunk, Citabria, Grob 109 Vigilant T1, Grob G-103A Viking T1, Variants of Cessna C150, 152, 172, Variants of the venerable Piper PA-28 Cherokee (Warriors, Archers, Cadets, Arrows) Piper Commanche 6, Piper PA-44 Seminole, Piper PA-34 Seneca, Mooney M-20C, DH Tiger Moth, Piper J-3 Cub, Diamond DA20 Katana, PZL Wilga, Stolp Starduster Too, Bucker Jungmann, Cessna C-152 Texan (Tailwheel Conversion), Super Emeraude, Gyro-sport Gyro Copter, Piper J4 Cub, Varga Kachina Naval Trainer, Sleicher K-17 Sailplane, Blanik Sailplane, Sedburgh Sailplane, Sky Ranger, Ikarus C-42, Mainair Blade, Schweitzer Helicopter, Experimental Amphibian,

By The Flying Wordsmith

A highly qualified aviation professional who is able to write cogent and professional articles on a wide variety of subjects. Also interested in general articles covering travel, politics, social commentary and prose. Poetry and Lyrics also an interest.

2 replies on “It’s a Small World – Aviation”

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