Egged on by my former instructor and now flying guru, Neill, I handed over a king's ransom to Classic Wings at Duxford (on a day out at the Imperial War Museum) and took a Tiger Moth for a spin. But Neill knows what I mean when I say that, while it was absolutely fantastic, it was not as good as flying. Only a flex-wing pilot can really know what I mean by that.
I flew from the front seat and was handed all the controls and did several turns abeam Cambridge. I am practically ab initio when it comes to three axis, so losing my virginity in a Tiger Moth (in the Chipmunk I had the stick but not the rudder) seems very appropriate and means that I have joined all those down the years who started their training in an Air Force trainer. Many Spitfire pilots started this way, and of course Duxford was the first station to have Spitfires, so I feel curiously connected to all that.
It was a wonderful experience (soon to be published on YouTube, once the DVD arrives) and the instructor, Stuart Luck has given me his number and said that we must arrange for me to fly down to him so that he can sign my logbook entry.
Have a look at this slideshow, photos by Neill Howarth
Once we had landed and as I took off my Irvin jacket, I heard the ground ops guys saying they were about to take off in the Dragon Rapide, but only had four seats occupied, so I offered that if we got a sizeable discount, we'd fill two more. I won't say what I paid, that wouldn't be fair to them, but it did mean that we flew at near 1930s prices. Have a look at this slideshow - photos, again, by Neill - and be sure to spot the Tiger Moth and a Catalina flying boat on the ground.
Dad tells me that his first flight in anything, circa 1953, when he was in Wellington College (Berkshire) CCF, was a Dragon Rapide. I am waiting for him to send me a scan of a photo of him flying a primary glider. Always fancied trying that, ever since I was at Clifton and saw boys flying one at Beggar's Bush. Dad can't remember, but I am pretty sure I saw them laying out sacking to reduce the impact of the skid on the grass...perhaps even to reduce friction?