Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Loads going on...

Oh Lordy Lordy, where has the time gone?  Since the last post, my mate Siobhain and I have done the London to Brighton bike ride (along with 27,000 others - bit busy en route), and I've been flying TWICE (count em).  The bike ride was good fun but dangerous at times.  All sorts of riders took part, from Sunday Cyclists to cycling teams clad in full lycra strip - and in fact it was the teams who were causing the problems, going far too fast and occasionally taking out your more run-of-the-millers (like us two).  Any cyclist wearing clips (you might not know, but if you ride a road bike you can clip yourself to the pedals so that you pull AND push) had problems as there was constant stop/starting, and when a clipped-in cyclist stops....down he or she goes.

Here we are safely at the finish.  Please note Siobhain in stewardess outfit and me as pilot, which is really false information as Siobhain was firmly in charge and even conquered the dreaded Ditching Beacon.  I'm afraid that when I realised people were walking faster than I was pedalling, I dismounted with a long face.

So that was the bike ride.  And my two flights this week and just now were fab - great weather and not too many scary moments.  I'm practising my circuits now; that's when you go around the airfield and make your preparations for landing.  There's LOADS to think about; flaps down, throttle off a bit, descend, nose up, nose down, bit to the left, GET YOUR NOSE UP, radio call, turn right, third stage flaps, coming in too steep, POWER ON, radio call, stick back, stick back, stick back, WILL YOU GET YOUR STICK BACK....bump...bump.

I think I'm getting there.  Today I got told off for taxi-ing too fast on the apron.  This is a massive step up for me, who is usually Mrs Slow McSlow.  Next time I'm going to see how fast I can go on the ground without actually taking off.  Then there'll be some real shouting.

B x

Friday, 17 June 2011


Well, now I'm working part time, it's harder to fit the flying in.  And the unsettled weather means that there will be days (like today) when I'm booked to fly but the 'cumulo says no'.  This, coupled with the fact that my little boy was up for half the night with a cough and I can barely say my own name, never mind fly a plane, means that the lesson is postponed :(

Never other news, The London to Brighton Bike Ride is on Sunday.  My friend and I are travelling down to Brighton on Saturday and getting up at 4am (YES! 4AM!!!) to catch a bus with our bikes up to Clapham...and then cycle all the way back.  I suspect I may need some recovery time after that.  Here's what I'll be wearing:

I need to find some way of affixing the pilot's cap to my bike helmet in a way which doesn't make me look like an eejit.  Any suggestions?

Ok, wish us luck.  Next blog update will be after the ride.  I will be typing standing up.


Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Holy Sh*t!

I said this phrase a lot today.  I don't know why I chose this particular one - it's not like I'm on a 1960s TV series of Batman or anything - it just seems to come out of my mouth whenever my plane does anything unexpected.  And there was a lot of unexpected today.

The first thing was that we were practising slow flight.  Slow flight is fine until it gets too slow and the plane stalls.  This too is fine if you know what to do...but today we talked about what happens if the plane starts to dive off to one side and, if that's not corrected, how it starts to spin downwards.  If this happens...all together now... HOLY SH*T!!

So we're not allowed to practise an actual spin in the plane I'm in (thank the Lord of holy microlights) but we can simulate the start of one.  Believe me, it is terrifying.  I never, ever want to ever do that without an instructor beside me who allows me to panic and say "Holy Sh*t" many times whilst he saves the day.

The other "HS" factor today was the wind.  Before you take off, you listen to this thing called an ATIS recording which tells you interesting stuff about the airfield, including how windy it is and where the wind is coming from.  The trouble is, this is recorded every half hour or so and things can change quite dramatically in that time.  Anyway, we listened to it and the wind didn't sound that bad so off we went.

Holy Sh*t!  Take off was ok but immediately after we left the ground we started to be shunted all over the place.  It's interesting - when you're driving along and buffeted by a side wind you feel as if you've been pushed sideways but, unless you're driving a very high sided vehicle, you generally feel pretty stable (as I guess cars are heavy and most of the weight is anchored low down).  Flippin' 'eck Tucker.  In a plane you're shoved sideways, up, down, rolling, yawing,'s very hard to keep the damn thing going in a straight line. 

So that was a challenge.  But the scary bit was coming into land.  The plane just wasn't going in the right direction.  And we were having to come in at a steep angle.  These two things in themselves were making me sweat.  But when Pilot Phil said, as we were about 50 feet from the runway, "I HAVE CONTROL!"... and was obviously having a bit of a struggle with the wind himself (although I have to say made an incredibly smooth landing), I didn't feel too bad in letting the odd swear word escape.

A bottle of coke and some chips later, the terror is fading and the joy of battling with the elements is rising.  I need to knuckle down and do some study now.  Air Law here we come!!!

Wishing you a less windy and very stable week,

Becky xx

Friday, 3 June 2011


After yesterday's debacle, I flew today.  The sun was out, the air was clear, the views were magical.  Unfortunately, the high temperature, coupled with the fact that today I was practicing stalling the plane, meant that I sweated like a pig.  Honestly, it was so hot, and I was concentrating so hard, and I was, admittedly, perhaps the tiniest bit scared...when we landed I realised that I was sweating from parts of me that I didn't know could sweat.  It was that bad.

I loved it.  I loved, in essence, breaking the plane, and then mending it again.  To stall it, you slow it right down and point the nose up until you feel it wobble....and before you know it, your sinking like a stone.  Bugger, you might think.    But all you do is point the nose down and give it some welly - you're off again!  You've saved the day!  You're a hero!!

I'm going to say night night now as being a hero seven times in one hour is absolutely knackering.  I don't know how the likes of Spiderman ever did it. 

Night all :-)


PS Tomorrow I will tell you about Sylvia. 

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Don't do it!

Someone was telling me not to fly today.  This is how it went...

Last night I had a headache and slept badly.  When I got up at 7am, I thought to myself... am I fit to fly?  Yes, I decided, take a couple of pills and I'd be able to get by.

My two sons got up, full of phlegm.  Are they too ill for holiday club?  No, I decided, I've bloody paid for it. 

I bundled them into the car and turned the ignition.  Our old and tatty Renault vibrated like a Rampant Rabbit (sorry, mother) and an orange warning light came on.  I shall not be beaten, thought I.  One taxi ride later, and the boys were dropped off.  I limped the car to the Renault Garage and pleaded with them to take a look at it while I waited.  Ok, they said.  £121 and an hour later, I drove back home to collect my piloty gear.

It takes an hour to get to the airfield but I usually leave an hour and a half.  I'm a bit anal about time.  So I set off in my usual way, far too early.  Then suddenly, the M4 stopped.  It just stopped.  Ten minutes, twenty minutes, thirty minutes went by, without moving.  Another 5 minutes, I thought, and I'll phone the flying club to say I can't make it.  And then the phone I dare answer it?  Am I breaking the law if I'm stationary?  So I answer it, but crouch really low to fool any police watching (see how clever I am?).  It's the flying school.  The plane has broken down.  So the flight's off.

So now I've been stuck in this jam for 40 minutes.  Now here comes the bit where I'm incredibly stupid.  When I eventually pass the accident, I'm vaguely aware that traffic has built up on the other side of the carriageway too.  Does that stop me from getting off at the next junction and turning round?  Of course not!  So 5 minutes later, I'm facing the other way, stuck for another hour.  What an eejit I am.  I was busy cursing myself, hitting my head on the steering wheel and shouting things you really wouldn't like to hear when I passed the cause of the accident.  A lorry, completely overturned, cab smashed to bits, all sorts of other wreckage strewn over the carriageway.

Ah, thought I.  Perhaps it is my lucky day, after all.

And to doubly cheer me up, here's a pic of my cockpit.  Hooray!

Enjoy the lovely weather :-)