Flying

Just after lift off at LAC's field at Kenyon Hall Farm. Click on the image to fully enlarge it, and see the sheer joy of flight!

Just after engine start at the de Havilland Moth rally, Woburn. Chipmunks are 'honourary Moths' for this event as long as their pilots are members of the Moth Club. It's an interesting approach between the trees and over the lake to the grass strip in the Woburn deer park. 

I have always been interested in flying and aviation. I started gliding in the glorious summer of 1976 on a course at Nympsfield, in the Cotswolds. On returning home, I joined the Derbyshire and Lancashire Gliding Club at Great Hucklow in the Derbyshire Peak District.

Gliding was OK, but powered flying beckoned. In late 1978 I joined the Lancashire Aero Club at the delightful grass airfield of Barton, near Manchester to start the course to gain my Private Pilot's Licence. By the middle of 1979 I had my PPL, and I've been flying ever since.

 I learned to fly in prosaic Cessna 150s. This is G-AYGC, the one I first went solo on in 1978.

A youthful Vince with a lovely L4 Cub I flew a lot in the early 80s

The picture second from top of the page is of me in the front seat of our group-owned dH Chipmunk, having just started up to return from the dH moth rally in Woburn deer park to return to our base at Liverpool's John Lennon Airport.

When we first bought G-BCSL in 1979 she was blue. We later had her re-painted in red, and in 2009 she was re-covered and painted black. Our group is now 30 years old, something of a record. And I am the only one of the original group members from 1979 who is still a group member.

I bought a share in this aeroplane just after I obtained my licence in 1979. A few years ago I sold my share to buy into a Yak52 group.

 Our Yak getting fuel (which it often needed!) at Sleap. 360hp, variable pitch prop, retractable u/c, 9 cylinder supercharged radial engine, cowl flaps - unlimited handling. Out-fly a Harvard. Quite a beast; a warbird rather than a light aircraft. Staggeringly good fun, but very thirsty!

Our Yak's front cockpit. Note the white handle on the left - a hand rudder for our paraplegic member (who didn't let that stop him becoming a UK aerobatic champion in this aeroplane)

After a couple of years, that group broke up and I bought into the Chipmunk group again.

Here's a video of one of my landings at Liverpool, taken by my elder daughter from the Chipmunk's rear seat:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpBQeA0nmIs

Overhead Bardsey Island - back when SL was red!

On top!

 Cessna 172 G-ATGO in front of Terminal One at the lovely Sherlowe Strip near High Ercall, Shropshire. I had dropped in for a cuppa while ferrying her from Sleap to Barton. I later had a share in this aeroplane.

 Star-spangled Citabria I once had a share in

 Final approach, Clearwater Air Park, Florida, from a Waco biplane

 Descending towards Abersoch, past Llanbedrog Head, June 2nd 2009

Overhead Abersoch, 2nd June 2009


Here's me at RAF Woodvale in our Chipmunk, now painted black.

A while ago I became disillusioned at the increasing bureaucracy in flying small aeroplanes, and the restriction in access brought about by tightening up of security arrangements at John Lennon Airport. It got to the point where the hassle was seriously degrading the fun, and having received an offer for my share in G-BCSL I decided that after 30+ years, the best years when we had the freedom of the skies, it might be time to hang up my headset.

I'm still a licensed pilot, and maybe one day, if the right opportunity comes along, I'll consider going back to flight. But hey, it was privilege to have been able to do it in those more laid back times of the '70s, '80s, and '90s.