Wow! What a start to 2018 I’ve had so far. At the end of January I had the pleasure of joining Corporal Lauren Tidy from the RAF Flying Clubs’ Association (RAFFCA) in the cockpit of a Piper PA28 from RAF Brize Norton Flying Club, while she was training for her final steps towards becoming a qualified pilot.
I must say that RAF Brize Norton has some very big aircraft there… they reminded me of huge grey elephants – well I suppose Dumbo did fly didn’t he! Lucky enough to spend a few days with Lauren flying all across England I met lots of new aviators and visited different airfields as she prepared for her final test… we even had a nice slice of cake each at Sywell Aerodrome in Northampton but Lauren said I shouldn’t tell anyone that. Ooops!
I was nervous and excited as we both got ready for Lauren’s final flying skills test with a mean looking examiner who was called Squadron Leader Matthew Lane – but when I heard him speak I realised that he was all soft and squidgy inside just like me! So as I buttoned my flight suit and adjusted my goggles, Lauren got about planning the route which we were going to navigate and did lots of checking of things (not sure what those things were exactly but she did lots of it! I decided to do some checking myself… goggles (tick), flying jacket (tick), underpants (tick, thank goodness!)
Once in the air we pointed towards the sun and as we soared and swooped over the glorious Cotswolds, I got to see the world-famous Cheltenham Racecourse – Lauren said that lots of rich people go there to drink fizzy orange juice or something like that and I would like to go and try some myself one day. Hic!
I had to hold on tight as Lauren demonstrated all of her skills and drills to perfection, including having to land without the engine of the aeroplane turned on! I couldn’t believe what she was doing and closed my eyes for that part. Privileged and overwhelmed to be the first to congratulate Lauren on achieving her pilots licence when we returned to RAF Brize Norton. This truly was a unique adventure and a side of flying that I hadn’t seen before. Hip hip hurray for qualified pilot Corporal Lauren – she can be my wing man bear any day!
PS – I’m starting to enjoy flying an awful lot, maybe it’s my turn to take a go at a private pilots licence?!