Le Touquet, France, 2001
                 Photo: Bill Manley

I think I'd always wanted to fly. Certainly I'd always looked up at aeroplanes whenever they passed overhead, and something had always stirred in me. And if the plane happened to be Concorde ... well, we all know the emotions she invoked. But financially, learning to fly was always quite out of the question, so my thoughts never even went there. Until ...

Until I finally decided I could afford it. I trained for my Private Pilot's Licence (PPL) at Litle Gransden, over an eight month period in 1997. I did my first solo in August 1997 (an unforgettable experience!), and passed my final flight test on New Year's Eve.

Later the next year, I trained for and gained the UK IMC Rating at RAF Henlow, giving me extra privileges such as being permitted to fly in cloud, and to make full instrument approaches in poor weather at most major airports.

First solo, 22 Aug 97
My flying club is Skyline School of Flying, based at Little Gransden in Cambridgeshire. But I've also often flown out of Bourn, Duxford and Henlow. I hold a Ground Radio Operator's certificate, and I'm a trained firefighter and first-aider, so I often help out with Operations at Little Gransden, especially when the club owners are away.

I fly Piper Cherokees, mostly, but I have also flown Piper Warriors and Archers (see photos above and below), and Cessnas (150, 150 Aerobat, 152, and 172). But best of all, so far, has been an amazing aerobatic flight in a Slingsby Firefly T67M, which I won in a raffle at our airfield's annual airshow. What an experience! Read all about it here.

I equally enjoy flying solo or with other pilots, and I love taking passengers, especially those who've never been up in a light aircraft before. In one busy four-hour session at Henlow in 2001, I took up ten people (including five virgins!) in four separate flights. I needed a beer after that, as you can see from this photo at the end of the last flight!

Henlow, 2001, after four passenger flights in four hours!     
Photo: David Jarman


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