I return to you after a lengthy period of silence. Call it what you will but I've been suffering from a real dearth of writing inspiration and would rather post nothing than some mindless drivel to fill in the space.
Having said that, I'm still stuck so I'm going to give the drivel a go in the hope it will spark off some creative energy. I really need to write.
So, what's news with me? Well, after a couple of years out of it I've revalidated my pilot's license and gotten back up there in a big way. Part of me thought that flying as a hobby, which in the UK is prohibitively expensive, was something I can't afford at the moment and that there would be some maturity in being able to give it up. That's turned out to be a load of nonsense. I really missed it and whether I want to call it a lack of maturity or not it turns out that being a pilot is a really important part of me.
I was flying again on Sunday with my favourite instructor of all time to practise my forced landings and just generally polish things up. During the flight he suggested to me that we practise recovering from a spiral dive. Reheheally I thought, sounds intriguing. Dear G-d it was fun! I once did a little aerobatics and thoroughly enjoyed it, those memories were awakened by this little experience and the urge to get more into aerobatics grabbed me by the...hand and hasn't really let go. Something to hold onto for a time when I'm earning a decent wage.
Banking the aircraft over into a 60 degree turn and then pulling G in an attempt to pull the nose up...this is what leads to a spiral dive. The airspeed goes through the roof and altimeter crashes through the floor. Left unchecked you'll soon be a smoking hole in the ground. So, throttle back, level the wings, then pull the nose up gently. Let the speed drop below 100 knots then throttle up and climb away. Simple and straightforward, but to someone who generally navigates from A to B, straight and level, it was tremendous fun. By the time we landed I was asking him to show me how to recover from a spin! Another time perhaps...
At the end of our flight on Sunday (after only two hours together, turns out it's a lot like riding a bike) he pronounced me ready to go! I've got my wings back and it really feels great. Many before me have waxed lyrical about the joys of flying, I know why. There's something profound about strapping a plane to your back (the planes are pretty small) and flying wherever the fancy takes you. There's a tremendous sense of peace to be gotten from looking down at the rolling British countryside from 2400ft with all your worries back on the ground with all the earthbound people. The rumble of the engine through my headset, the familiar smell of the cockpit, the comforting sound of other pilots on the radio. It's an intoxicating place to be.
Say hello to my little friend,
I've spent some truly happy times in that little plane and have developed a real attachment to old 'Zulu Oscar'. Here's to many more years of happy flying in her!
Oh, and one more picture that I took from the cockpit. This is the mouth of the river Thames on the east coast. I'm at around 2,200ft flying in from the East and the town to the right, through the clouds, is Southend.
...Wow! Would you bleedin' credit it? Just rambling led somewhere meaningful. Time to change the title from 'Various and Sundry' to something more appropriate.