October 30th, 2017


Friends in High Places

One of the other participants on my Bike Normandy weekend in August was an Airbus pilot, and we spent much of our off-bike time happily geeking about aviation topics.

He turned out to have a part share in a Tri-Pacer based at Shoreham Airport, and very generously offered to take me up in it at a time when dates, weather and aircraft serviceability all lined up.

That time was Saturday, a beautiful, bright, cold morning. I rode down to Shoreham and met Tim at Hangar 4 just after 11. An alarmingly short time later we were knee to knee in the tiny dual-control 1950s cockpit, going through the startup checklist.

I was allowed to sit in the left-hand seat and pretend to be the captain. This put me in charge of the parking brake and other vital equipment.

I had also been promised that I could do 'as much or as little of the flying as you want'. For the first leg I was more than happy to sit and watch the world go by, but on our homeward journey I got more adventurous, by which I mean I did some incredibly gentle turns and followed the instructions I was given.

We flew along the coast to the Isle of Wight, landed at Sandown for a sausage sandwich, then returned to base via a coffee stop at Goodwood.

I hang out at a lot of airfields, because they're convenient, friendly places for a biker to get a coffee, and I always envy the mystique surrounding the people taking off and landing. It was wonderful to be part of it for once.

Still grinning.

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