manny Posted November 18, 2016 Share Posted November 18, 2016 So, it is finally happening. I am going to fly again!. Since I believe others might be in a similar situation, I thought I would document my journey as I go along. A short introduction and history: I am now 57 years old, and the wish to fly is nearly as old as that. I remember as a boy, I was given a cartoon magazine, which had a story in it, about an Indian (read=native American) boy who fashioned for himself a glider. It was something like Leonardo Da Vinci's / Otto Lilienthal's flying machines. A sailplane with a seat in the centre of gravity, covered in canvas and painted like a bird of prey. I WAS HOOKED. The idea of flying like a bird has never left me. It took until my early twenties, until I could do anything about it, though. Living in rural northern Germany, with a distinct lack of hills, there was no gliding or flying to be had anywhere for miles and miles. But, eventually my urge to fly took over and I booked myself on a 1 week course to learn to fly a hang-glider. The week was awesome, even though the weather did, what it always does to us: Not play ball - at all. Having done many, many short hops down a little hill, eventually the instructors took us to a ski slope and allowed those of us, brave enough, to "go solo", down a ski slope with about 200 m height difference, to make the required flight to get the German Hang-Glider EP certificate. The first man to fly went over to the left and met with some tall fern trees. Since he had ignored all frantic shouts from the instructor: "weight shift right - LEAN RIGHT!!!" I was not too worried. This was clearly pilot error - I could do better, I thought. With all the signs of over - confidence, I did hook in next and ... YES! I made it, all the way down the hill, across a paddock, over the next fence, and landed the glider right next to the car-park. RESULT. With my instructors suitably impressed, I got my Hang-glider EP certificate. What an elation! I was totally enthralled and for the next twenty years, I was secretly hatching plans to get airborne - somehow. Unfortunately, I still lived, where I lived, and there were still no hills. Fast forward a couple of decades, Cupid's arrow had hit me and I had gotten married to an English Rose and moved to... Scotland? Wales? Devon? ANYWHERE near hills? NOPE! To Chertsey, in Surrey, right next to London's Heathrow Airport. Lot's of aviation, but no flying, gliding or such like. Bad planning on my part, maybe, but that is where the job market took me. The dream was not dead though! After a few years in the country, I came across some rumours that, down towards Basingstoke, there was some private flying, gliding etc. going on. I looked into it and found the Microlight Club in Popham, down the A303. Awesome! I went down there, met with Mac, the chief instructor and, having paid a mere £5.5 grand for the privilege (and including a mandatory club-share in a Thruster T600N), I embarked on training for a PPL/Microlight. I just found my old log-book; I got to about 16 hours as PuT, but never went solo. I loved the flying those little birds, just an aluminium-tube frame, with some Tarpaulin wrapped around it. But, eventually, life got in the way again. And also the hour long drive to and from Popham, the time to ready, fuel, and pre-flight the Thruster, file a flight plan, etc., etc., did the rest to convince me, that this was not the way forward. Even one hour's flying would inevitably take me away from the family for the whole day. Don't tell anyone, but the fact that I got sick as a dog, during the mandatory stall recovery training, may have plaid a role, too! So, the dream when 'sub' again, for a while at least. Then it resurfaced, when I heard about para-motoring! Now THAT was a more feasible way to fly! Affordable, transportable and possible even when there are no hills! All the boxes ticked!. It did not take me long to make my move. From a forum, it may have even been this one, I found a private instructor, who was teaching from a field near Basingstoke (Crabtree). Crap = still an hour's drive away, but I was keen and went through the ground-handling, short hops, pulled by a rope, and, having bought some second hand gear (Fresh-Breeze Simonini and a Silex wing), he got me flying for the first time. I could finally call myself a pilot! Having had some problems with the radios, to be used on my first flight, the instructor hooked his mobile phone into the headphones and I could hear him during my first flight. Flakey, I guess, but it did the trick. It never occurred to me, that the line could drop and I would have been on my own, up there! Well such is the adrenaline rush, when someone with the urge to fly, gets a chance to do so! Caution to the wind! Quite literally! So, we are nearly up to speed. I flew only three more times, after that. The next two were shortly after my first flight, but I had the engine stop on me twice, just after take-off. I never found out what caused it. My instructor flew the engine after the first incident, shook and rattled it, but nothing odd came to light. So, I hooked in again and off I went, only to have the donkey die on me again, in the first right hand turn on climb-out. Good training, though! I shall not worry about engine failure ever again. I landed safely and felt totally relaxed. The last flight for a few years came when I travelled down to the coast, to meet with my instructor at home, to fly there. Things got a bit later than the intended "early morning" -take off. By about 7:30am we were trussed up in this local football field. Nose into the wind, glider laid out, wind a little swirly, but nothing that worried my instructor. Then, the classic newbie mistake: The wing did not come up straight, but I tried to force it. Nobody actually said "full power - power - power" but that is what I did! Woops! A VERY short hop, followed by a sharp 180 turn and slam into the ground. Fortunately the wing was OK, but the frame took a beating and the prop was a gonner. A friend, who had watched me in the field, doing my first flight, and who is a very able engineer, helped me, (read = he did everything) to repair the frame. My instructor had a spare, ready balanced, prop and so I would have been ready to try again. Only, a) my confidence was dented and b) my instructor moved jobs back to the coast, so I had no help close by, to get me flying again. I tried some re-training with Steve Haze, at Barry's field in Guildford, but that did not get me airborne again, either. Then life got in the way again; family trouble and a divorce followed. So, a break of nearly four years, but the dream still lives! I still have my motor, and my wing has only been out of the bag a couple of times a year, when I tried my hand with ground-handling. Eventually, spurred on, by hearing that a friend, whom I had told about my flying experiences, had gone and got his EP and CP as a paraglider pilot, I decided to take another run at it. I found that I have fellow PPG enthusiasts very close to me, here in Feltham, where I now live. Massive kudos to Cas Whitmore, who spent a lovely Sunday morning (in flyable weather!) giving my Simonini the once over and got it purring again. He made all the right noises, about it being a good engine, sounding nice and generally being air-worthy, rather than ready to be replaced. So, I booked myself onto a re-training / paraglider to motor conversion - course with FlySpain in Algodonales, near Malaga. The flight is booked, the course confirmed, rental car added for the week (for a mere £45 pounds, fully 'no risk' insured - thank you MSE), I am ready to roll. I am flying out on the 3rd of Dec., returning on the 10th, hopefully a fully fledged BHPA CP, or not far off. Cas encouraged me to write up my experiences. So, stay tuned... I hope you'll come back to read the next chapter of the story. Stay safe! Manfred 2 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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