The weekend and monday had been dull and overcast, but Tuesday dawned with a patchy sky and warmth. And very windy. As my beloved son (in whom I am well pleased) was off at work I had a day to spend and a yen to fly. So I went down to Moorabbin airport to the Aviation Museum. I had intended to go afterward to Lilydale to a little flying club from from which I had hired an aircraft before a few years ago. But first I wanted to see what was new at the museum. Hahaha.
They did have new mugs so I bought one for the bar.
They had some new displays too.
It is well worth a visit.
But instead of going to Lilydale I decided to check out the places around the airport. And I luckily found a helpful mob willing to overlook my size and age. They exchanged a small purse of gold for a pilot and a plane for a modest while. And what a charming, competent pilot she was. The plane was good too.
A Warrior 111 for a Knackered old warrior.
There is much one can say about pilots. There are old pilots and bold pilots, but no old, bold pilots. There are those that have landed with their wheels up, and those that are going to. There are ugly ones and pretty ones. I was given a young, bold, pretty one by the name of Jessica Hall. A fine gal.
At 23 she has been flying for 6 years and has quite a sound log book of hours. A ten minute chat established both our credentials to one another. Not that I told her I was a King though, or a Knight, twice over. It was enough that she was confident that I could fly her steed.
After a map briefing and her approval of what I wanted to do (Hah !, What else could I have asked for? Hahaha) we pulled her beast clear of the others, checked for flat tires and bird's nests, and climbed aboard.
I did say before that I have some 'girth' these days but she insisted that I squeezed my bulk into the left hand seat from the right side door; the PIC seat. She was going to ride shotgun.
As I was not checked out on type and had not flown in a while I declined her offer to take off but took over at 200' climbing.
The instruments were very different to what I have been used to. Modern 'glass cockpit' tech, and so very easy to read.
The wind was strong but almost down the runway and from the north-west: at our cruising height of 2500' it was blowing every which way at 70kts. We bucketed around like a racing car going flat chat through a ploughed field.
I had a ball !
I have flown faster. Of course. I have flown jets. Very fast. And did aerobatics at 16,000' over the Lleyne Penninsula in Wales, hitting 600kts. Light aircraft are a different and calmer beast. 120kts in a strong, thumping wind is 'different'. Not calm though !
And many's the time in years long past that I had flown out of and into Melbourne on business. One gets a fine view on some approaches but not such that one can determine for oneself. This time I could fly around the city at close quarters. I descended to 1500' for a lazy circuit of the skyscrapers. Jessica was accommodating in taking control while I took some snaps. (She even took one of me, but by the Lord Harry I am not as pretty as she is close up).
We overflew some impressive landmarks: Albert Park Lake, where the F1 Grand Prix is held, and the MCG, Melbourne's premier sports arena.
And we flew down the coast of Port Phillip Bay.
It crossed my mind that the Southern Gal's fine aviator husband would have enjoyed the ride. I am pretty sure he could have made the Warrior do some fine and fancy moves even in the strong winds. Maybe one day he can take the controls next to me and show me a thing or two.
Meanwhile I had a pretty girl to show me the ropes. I wanted to do a roller (a 'touch and go') and considered the wind, which was likely to be lighter at ground level. Jess offered me to chance, but ever the cautious one I declined and asked her to do it. She took over on appraoch at a responsible height and executed a perfect touchdown after some expected side slip. Away we roared again.
All too soon my money ran out and we made our way back down and to the hangars. I had another memorable experience for my life log book.
Now, sink that pint and consider dropping by Moorabbin Flying Services next time you are on the southern bit of the big island. Ask for Jessica. Young women need the encouragement and the flying hours to make it in a career.
Tell her that a Knackered Old Knight, a King, a Tavern Keeper, sent you.
Oh, you wanted some video?
OK. Not me though. Watch a few hairy moments at the same spot.