Friday, 21 November 2008

if you don't grin from ear to ear, you don't "get it"

Chatting with Cath, Stew and Neill the other day it became apparent that my attitude to the solo is unusual - that while I regarded it as a massive and looming landmark, which made me increasingly anxious, for them it was something that came upon them all of a sudden without them having really given it any thought. For me, the number of hours to solo was a matter of pride and the growing anxiety about not doing my solo early, as I imagined I would, made me tense and my flying erratic.

Having read about flying all my adult life, I have always seen the first solo as something akin to the loss of ones virginity... a huge big deal. Maybe the pride around solo comes from a GA/light aircraft frame of mind. Most of my reading over the years has been about what lay-people call "real aeroplanes".....the type that only the well heeled can afford to fly.

I never want to lose the sense of awe at having got this far. I am lucky that there are many more firsts ahead: I have my two hours alone in the circuit, my first hours venturing alone out of the circuit, my first time alone in a Quantum and my first out-landing.

I know there isn't a limited amount of flying to be shared out. Everyone can have as much as they want (or can afford), but it irks me that some people are just doing it because it is there, rather than that they are passionate about it. People have too much money if they fly because they can or because they think it makes them sexy.

And I know people can be smiling on the inside, but what is it with pilots who go round grimacing, like it is all just too much bother. I don't think I have ever seen a GA pilot based at Sywell smile...and the blokes who fly the Harvard look like they are serving some kind of sentence. I hate pilots like that - pilots who can afford to fly some of the really great aeroplanes but don't seem to care much for it. Flying something magnificent like a Harvard is a privilege wasted on people who are not passionate about flying.

If you aren't grinning from ear to ear, you don't get it. That's one of the reasons I like Neill - he's been doing it yonks, but he still gets it in spades. He will say, "You have to be a Spitfire pilot now, no hanging about, we only have an hour of daylight left" - and we scramble, while GA pilots are no doubt wandering over to the Aviator for a bevvy. It is why I like just hanging round Flylight, even when there is no flying to be had. People there get it. I think, generally speaking, microlight people get it.....and the flexwing pilots, the more so....because flexwingers are flyers, not aeroplane drivers.

I am not going to beat myself up if I seem "frantic", as Cath called it. Maybe I seem like an excited kid about flying, but is there any other way to be?

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