Getting back in the saddle so to speak...

Yesterday I learned that an engineer at Popham has bought Condor G AWEI and so I introduced myself as a previous owner of this aircraft, it was the second Condor I bought.
There's much discussion about the decline in General Aviation on a forum, and so it is always good to see someone young continuing his enjoyment of the air by learning to fly a tailwheel aeroplane he has bought.
I was 28 years old when I bought G AWEI in March 1983. It was my second Condor, and these aeroplanes formed the basis of the Condor Club which I formed at the end of 1982 to provide a means for pilots to gain tailwheel experience and flying hours in anticipation of flying the Tiger Club aeroplanes.


Ian Mills kindly posted this bit of my history to me recently.

Throughout my flying life I have encouraged people to fly, 'selling aviation' was perhaps my most valuable asset.

Visiting flying schools and flying clubs (some with aspirations to become schools), I am not impressed with the salesmanship exhibited by some of them. They do not go out of their ways to offer flying possibilities enthusiastically on the spot. "Hey, it's a nice day, we have an aeroplane available, let's go flying".
Even when I ran a flying school in Canada I made every effort to accommodate enthusiasm and get people flying.

I had hoped to use my CRI at one particular club/school that has a tailwheel aeroplane type in which I have done a lot of flying, and in the three schools I flew this type in I kept it very busy.
The club/school is happy enough with the business they have at the moment and so they don't need me... On the wall I noticed the particular aeroplane was not booked all day and it was a very nice day... I cannot guarantee that if I was there it would be booked and flying, nothing is definite in this life, but in the past I have been as good as my word on this.

Chipmunk 75th Anniversary at Old Warden (by road)



22nd May 2021, 34 Chipmunks attended even though the weather was not the best.

Seventy five years ago the de Havilland DHC1 Chipmunk took to the air for the first time from Downsview in Ontario.
Over the past years I have had the pleasure of flying Chipmunks, especially CF CXI which is based at Langley BC, and which sadly is suffering from not being flown while Covid does its damage to all of our plans.
So I took a drive up to Old Warden in my CR-V due to the threat of rain (the MX-5 leaks).
In the lavatory I met an old bloke who knew me... Roger used to fly with me back in the day. People look different after over thirty years, and I must admit I do not readily recognise people of my earlier aquaintance. I never want to offend, but I have flown with a lot of people in my life, and many of these flights were of significant importance to them. Their memories are usually much better than mine!
I have been forced to look through my logbooks (I have nine), and to recall flights and people from them.



Chipmunk number 11, made in Canada, and Chipmunk 21 G AMUF
Ian Mills used to own G AMUF and I was allowed to fly it from Redhill

My drive back took me to St Albans and a certain flower shop... I arrived bang on 16:00 as its owner stepped out to lock up and go home.
I asked her where we might go for tea? She was surprised at this question from some strange man! She is of course a cousin of mine and we haven't seen each other for at least twenty five years.
Driving through Hatfield I passed The Comet Hotel where I stayed at the end of 1982, I was tasked with inspecting the fuselages for the 146 airliners being built by BAe Hatfield. Unfortunately I got appendicitis and so I had an operation at the nearby QEII hospital.
My convalescence was in the back of the Tiger Club hangar covered in sleeping bags against the cold of November. Then as now there was no care for me when I was sick or injured. This was okay for the young Michael, but I am well aware of how dangerous this situation would be for the old me now.
After Christmas I went back to Hatfield, but then I received a summons to do Jury Duty and that scewed up my out-working for British Aerospace.
In the end, I gave up on British Aerospace as this company was going to pot at Weybridge while at the same time I was busy every evening restoring G AWEI, and obtaining a Public Transport Certificate of Airworthiness for it... I went into business for myself.
In those days I became somewhat attractive to women. I was over most of my PTSD, but I had little understanding of the ways of relationships. My upbringing had been anti women, and I should 'never ever get married'. Now I fully understand, but it's too late to comply with the importance of making money. Back then I truly became a religious follower of aviation, and as such; a monk perhaps!
Sadly there's no such thing as true love, you need to offer money and security to a woman, or at least offer her bullshit. I was so very naive!
Don't worry, when I have made money (I could actually do this!), I have spent plenty of it in the name of having a good heart! I am "jai dee".

Bulldog


Paul S with his Bulldog which was flown to Thruxton for inspection; 25th May

Family tragedy and Covid restrictions meant the Bulldog being grounded for over a year, and so an inspection followed by the issue of a ferry permit was required before we could fly it to Thruxton for an annual inspection and permit renewal.

Going Stripping; Auster flying from Old Hay

The Auster landed gently, three points on the grass at Headcorn. "When was the last time you flew and Auster?" Bernie asked. It was back in 2004 when I flew Auster AOP6 C GCID from Boundary Bay BC to Hamilton Ontario where it is hanging out at the Canadian Warplane Heritage museum.


A CRI can fly with licenced pilots to give them recurrent training. Joey dog needs Mutt Muffs.


This was the first aeroplane I flew in Thailand, also in 2004

When Bernie and I arrived at Old Hay on Friday night we found the Terrifier needed fuel.
It was a lovely evening. The fuel gauges indicated 6 gallons or so, but I won't take a chance on this indicated quantity, and so we went out to get 20 litres more. No flying that evening.
Real Social Aviation has moved away from 'Airports' into 'The Sticks', and is a lot of fun in England's rural heaven.
Bernie and I were given a warm welcome by the many friendly people who had arrived to camp out in their caravans and vans... BBQs were on, and the smell of smoke, steaks and sausages, wafted around the strip.
Up in the mezzanine above the hangar floor a four seat Sling homebuild aeroplane project was well under way. We were given the tour.
In the far hangar we found a collection of aeroplanes including G ARUG of my early acquaintance.
In the main hangar the walls were covered in flying model aeroplanes. This is an enthusiasts heaven.

I went to sleep in the mobile clubhouse as a log fire filled it with heat.
On Saturday morning we flew the Auster to Headcorn.
Since I hadn't flown an Auster for a little while I took the opportunity to do some turns on the taxy out... There are no brakes on my side and I needed to get a measure of how far I could let the aeroplane deviate from the straight.
Airborne I did a few turns, and a couple of stalls, before approaching and landing. The Auster lands really slowly if you three point it and this is my preferred technique.
The landing was very gentle and power off of course.

Headcorn is a place in my history and so I met a few people I had known in the past, and of course the CAP10C that I did my first Thai flying in.
At Bang Phra I flew with Tom Claytor to train him in aerobatics, more specifically: how to recover when manoeuvres go wrong.

From Headcorn we returned to Old Hay to do a few circuits followed by a break after which we did a cross country flight to Popham where the aeroplane was topped up with fuel again.


David (in the red shirt) flew his Auster J5G G ARUG from Old Hay to Popham where we met him again

Our routing was via Frensham Ponds, staying south of and below the extensive Farnborough controlled airspace. Farnborough recently grabbed a lot of airspace for its VIP Bizjet clients.
I was surprised when we arrived back at Old Hay before 'RUG...
After their airspace grab, David had been bawled out by Farnborough ATC for being in the area without a transponder. He too had flown well below the controlled airspace, but at the time Farnborough ATC could be nasty even though they were in the wrong.

David had flown well south, and then south of Gatwick Zone back to Old Hay. This is not necessary, you can still legally fly well below Farnboroughs' controlled airspace and there is no requirement for the aircraft to have a working transponder.

Sunday and the Cessna 185A


Trevor preflights the Cessna 185A at Hinton in the Hedges

Trevor invited me to go flying with him in the Cessna 185A and we decided to fly down to Eggesford in Devon via Combe Martin where his daughter works at the local zoo.
Like Farnborough, Brize Norton ATC controllers have acquired a bad reputation with pilots who fly in their areas, and so Trevor's prefered routing would have avoided their airspace... But I have not had personal experience of 'bad ATC', and so I said I would ask for a clearance through the Brize Zone down to Lyneham and then we'd fly west to the north Devon coastline in uncontrolled airspace.
It was not a problem.


Passing Fairford while talking to Brize Norton Radar

Above and south of the nuclear power station Restricted zone.

It was a very pleasant flight, 1 hour 28 minutes in the air, and finished with a gentle landing on the upslope at Eggesford. Like the Auster, the Cessna 185 has a very slow landing speed if you three point it.
Martin and Jan had arrived by road from their nearby cottage well before we did, and Jan had brought a really nice picnic for us.
Strip owner Nigel offered us tea which we willingly accepted. Like Old Hay, Eggesford is all about enjoying flying and the social company of people.
This is something I am seeking in life.


80 year old Richard Webber about to go flying in the Chrislea SkyJeep
Martin and Jan prepare a picnic at their CR-V behind

Richard Webber restores Auster aircraft at Eggesford. He learned to fly at Exeter Flying Club in 1973/74, and so did I!
Richard turned around and levelled an accusation at me... If I hadn't suggested he build an aeroplane, and join the PFA, he said he wouldn't be restoring Austers... I don't think this is true, but nevertheless I have been frequently accused of being the source of some people's aviation activity.


I flew this Turbulent once at Redhill, it was once eaten by another rampant Terrifier at full throttle with no-one on board,
its remains thrown aside in preference to eating into the port wing of the Mew Gull.

Even shortly after flying on a nice day we can feel sick at times and so we should sometimes decide not to fly.
"I'M SAFE", illness, medication, stress, alcohol, fatigue, eating; any of these can preclude flying.
And so poor Trevor did not feel well enough to eat our picnic or to fly back to Hinton in the Hedges. He gave me the left seat to fly us back while he took a rest.

The flight was very nice in the clear air while I flew, navigated, and communicated our way back. This was actually good practice for me; it's too easy to teach while not actually being in current practice oneself.
Trimmed out I was able to take some pictures of the beautiful and historic places we are able to fly over. The flight was a little bumpy in places but I managed to keep the aeroplane smooth enough for the one hour twelve minute flight.
The woman controller at Brize Norton cheerfully gave me a clearance through her airspace. It was an easy no stress flight that culminated with a nice smooth three point landing.

Off to Wales by car

It was my turn to suffer on Monday as a couple of emotional triggers meant I could not sleep the night before.
It's always a problem for me when I know I have to be up at 05:30 the next morning, and the day before's events meant getting home hungry and late.
Usually I still manage five hours or so... But there was something else.
I drove to Cranleigh to pick up Paul K, arriving on time just before 07:00. That was alright, but by the time we got to the motorway I had to hand the driving over to him.
In the car I still could not doze off and so I meditated a while. Meditation puts you in touch with your subconscious and the reality of what is affecting your being. There I faced the triggers that were the cause of my emotional unease.
Events and words sometimes trigger memories and feelings from the past, and these can repeat the pain from long ago. I let it flow out, after which I managed the day through to the evening followed by a good sleep.


I'm left seat in the CR-V and so not in control. I can take pictures with my phone.

We drove to Haverfordwest Airport in Withybush, West Wales, to pick up a UL Power engine for Paul K's Sling 2 project.
Paul S who owns the house I am staying in in Guildford also has a house he recently inherited in Maerdy, Wales, and so we drove there for the night.
A good dinner was had in Cardiff that evening, and I slept very well that night.

After tea and porridge in the morning I was able to drive us back to Cranleigh via a stop at Popham. At Cranleigh we lifted the engine out to be placed in the garage next to the advancing Sling project.
We had added 550 miles to the CR-V's odometer.
I purchased this vehicle for its ability to move stuff that will not fit in the MX-5.

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