The prompt for this post was that I was again asked the other day why I’d wanted to learn to fly and I again resisted simply saying “why not”.
I had a lovely day on Saturday: I flew to France for lunch, Le Touquet to be precise, with a very good friend Sue and two of her friends. Sue and I jokingly call ourselves the “ladies who fly to lunch” although we don’t get to do that terribly often. Quite often we are “ladies who wait around at the airfield hoping the weather will improve”.
Saturday was one of the good days, a “bit” of a crosswind at each end but within limits. And truly wonderful visibility.
So, after the usual faffing around at the airfield, checking three times that we had filed the flight plans, notified customs and had all the documents, we refueled and off we went.
And then a perfect example of why I like flying: throttle forward, a little bit of right rudder, gently back on the control column and off we go. Blue, blue sky, a gentle left turn at 1,000 ft and we’re heading over Essex (over the Thames to St Mary’s Marsh and the Isle of Sheppy) and then Kent and then to France. It was a little bumpy at 2,000 ft so we climbed up as soon as airspace permitted, to 3,500ft. Dover came into sight before we passed Canterbury (a brief turn to get a good view of the Cathedral), and fairly soon we were heading over the channel with the French coast on the horizon.
It was a busy day for the guys on the radio, and Sue had been unable to get a response from London Info as they were overloaded, so she called the lovely radar controller at Manston who looked after us until we got to the IFR boundary. (I am a huge fan of Manston airfield and the people who work there, they never fail to impress).
And over to the melliflous tones of Lille Information once we reached the IFR boundary. Transit approved through their zone and we joined the traffic heading down the French coast to Le Touquet. The clouds were lower over France so I descended to 1,500 feet and flew over the sea until we reached the estuary next to Le Touquet airfield.
Then into the circuit and an “interesting” but extremely smooth crosswind landing at Le Touquet. Then parking and in to hire the bikes to take us to lunch.
But what is it that makes me love flying so much? True, the fabulous lunch in Etaples is an incentive, as is the fun of the bike ride from the airfield to the restaurant. But what really does it for me is the feeling of being in a completely different medium, not being bound by gravity to the surface of the earth, not having to follow a road that’s been mapped out by someone else, and being able to see the world for a while from a different perspective.
Flying wasn’t something I found easy to learn – I took a long time to get my licence – so there’s also the constant amazement that I can do it, that it’s really me flying and that I’m really in control. That feeling is strongest during aerobatics by the way 😉
Then there’s the camaraderie combined with true friendship. Flying with another pilot (when I fly, Sue does the radio and vice versa) means working together, supporting each other, gentle reminders and hints – there’s so much to remember – all whilst being in an extremely confined space together. It means trusting the person next to you and knowing you can rely absolutely on that person if something goes wrong. And that is a pretty big deal.
This post was obviously mainly for my benefit, I’ve really enjoyed writing it. So I’ll finish with one of my favourite quotes: ”
There is an art……to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss” – Douglas Adams