Unlike me, my brother (who lives in the UK) has his PPL and actually flies himself about the place, instead of relying on Air NZ
or Qantas. This has its advantages and disadvantages, he never experiences "no understand syndrome" or "anti-reclining nazis" which are good things but on the other hand, if he has to do the Brighton equivalent of a WLG
landing he doesn't have the luxury of just sitting there waiting for NZ
's finest to pull it all out of the hat...oh no...he has to do it himself and suffer the consequences.
Our uncle was a WW2 fighter pilot and flew Blenheims and Tempests, he survived a "shot to pieces - wing and a prayer" landing in the Blenheim (as did the crew) and got commended for it. This fact made the trip to France all the more meaningful for Ross, he has met our uncle at various now-defunct fighter bases in Norfolk, Ross flying up and Roy meeting him there by car usually. So now to fly to France and cross the channel he has completely followed in Roy's footsteps....and on this occasion also had to deal with the loss of a brave pilot in a Hurricane.
Read on, these are my brothers words......
Anyway, I was well glad I was with an instructor (as I have to be abroad).
He did all the radio and beacon stuff and it was a great help. Especially at
Le Touquet where everybody turned up for lunch at the same time and the
circuit was chaos. The poor ATC chap there was a bit whelmed-over and at one
point the radio was just filled with gabbling French as he tried to deal
with everyone and everyone tried to talk to him. I didn't like it very much
even with help because there was a nasty cross wind and another plane coming
up behind us, so I really would have been whelmed-over myself had I been
Lined up ready to go as Shoreham Airshow gets started in the background.
Le Touquet ATC
In fact I probably would have buggered off for a half an hour or so
until it all calmed down. My co-pilot was a young bloke called Colin who
referred to unidentified traffic as 'bogeys' and pretended to shoot at them
so he was alright. Bogeys, over France. What a larf.
We had a trip down the coast near Dieppe in the morning with a couple of
other planes and the banter on the radio in that lovely uncontrolled French
airspace was all very squadron-like. ("Tony, where are you?", "right below
you on your 12 o clock", "Ok you have a bogey on your 3 o clock". "OK
We had a club fly out this weekend as Shoreham airshow was on and our planes
don't make a living while being moved over to Goodwood, so they now clear
off for the w/end to France with paying pilots in them, like me. I know it's
expensive and the credit card will take a good pasting but the experience is
worth every penny and I don't care.
lurking around by my aircraft - Romeo Victor - at Amiens while we
wait for the Beech Duchess to turn up with the CFI - our glorious leader -
After the little French aircraft in the foreground, the rest are all
ours. At Amiens after everyone had arrived.
What wasn't so good though was the news that while we were away one of our
country's few lovely Hurricanes ploughed into the ground while in a mock
dogfight with a Messerschimitt 109 Bouchon (of Battle Of Britain film fame)
just west of Lancing college. It went in so fast it left nothing but a large
burnt patch, a few bits and a mushroom cloud. The poor pilot augured in
after stalling in a tight turn and didn't really know a lot about it
apparently - apart from that 'oh shit' moment as a Sussex field came up at
him way too fast....
Who'd have thought there would still be Hurricanes
crashing into Sussex fields in 2007? His Spitfire colleagues even overflew
the airfield in a 'missing man' formation just afterwards. Spooky. On top of
all that, none other than Colin McCrae got to meet his maker a tad too early
after crashing in his helicopter in the same w/end.
Anyway, I tried not to dwell on all this too much as I fought a bucking
Cessna all the way back across the Channel at only a thousand feet. Then
flew back down the coast via Lydd in and out of cloud all the way, putting
down at Shoreham just as the rain came in. As we landed we had to leave the
runway quickly to make way for the Yak display team, who sat at the hold
with their strobes flashing merrily in the murk and a dear old Catalina that
lumbered off into the clag just as we taxied to our spot. And as we trudged
back to the club in our fleeces we walked past the grinning Messerschmitt
109, sitting on the apron with it's cockpit cover on, like a muzzled dog.
But it was a great couple of days. Amiens airfield was wonderfully relaxed,
complete with sheep penned in beside the runway. Le Touquet was very pretty
too with beaches like Holkham on steroids. And I like the French as well,
who despite popular myth are very friendly and helpful, as long as you say
'bonjour' and not hello. And who can blame them?
Looking for lunch in Le Touquet
Well. A good hot bath and beddy-byes methinks. Speak to you all later.
[Edited 2007-09-29 11:24:03]
[Edited 2007-09-29 11:32:22]