Thursday, 27 June 2013

Book Review: The Last Torpedo Flyers

For me this is up there with Sagittarius Rising. What a story. This is a true story about a Bristol Beaufort pilot in the second world war, his name Arthur Aldridge. It chronicles his time flying into the face of extreme danger, losing his friends and somehow coming out of it all - in tact, body and mind. You can't help but feel sad at the end, as you realise the world will never witness stories nor see men like this again. The sacrifice people made during these times are just so alien to the lives we live today. And yet today we all still moan about our lives. These guys were resigned to their death. They faced it every day. 1 in 3 aircraft never came back from their attacks on German naval targets. Arthur was awarded the DFC (Distinguished Flying Cross) for his attack on the SS Madrid. His story of when he was in Malta really portrays how desperate the situation was and the strength and courage of all those on that under siege island. For me the remarkable thing was there is a kind of closing epilogue by Arthur himself dated March 2013. A kind of message for the current younger generation. I think Arthur Aldridge and his fellow crew were amazing. I don't think I could ever find words that could do justice to how much we truly owe them, nor the awe in which I hold them all. My verdict? Simple.... go buy this book tomorrow, and immerse yourself into a truly remarkable and thought provoking story. 

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Aviation Museum Krakow Poland

Forgot to mention on a recent trip to Krakow I took some time out and went to see the aviation museum there. Glad I did, what a place! There are so many aircraft parked around the place and its unique that you have the opportunity to go and stand right up next to these beasts. The day I went with the family it was a public holiday and free entry as well! Happy days! There was loads of people milling about, they had a fairground and a massive BBQ going on. I think entry normally is 14 PLN which is about .... £3! 

If you go to the city (highly recommended as well I might add) it is just a short taxi ride away (5 minutes) and well worth a visit. The official website is here. Check out the collection page. That is a lot of aircraft!

Monday, 24 June 2013

A Sunday afternoon's jolly (Headcorn, Shoreham, Rochester)

Sunday was quite gusty and overcast but I managed to get up in the air albeit as a passenger in a Robin with my friend. It was a bit of dash around actually. Headcorn to Shoreham, Shoreham to Rochester and then Rochester back to Headcorn.

Getting Ready to depart Headcorn
Coming down from Headcorn into Shoreham we were given a straight in approach for Runway 25. The wind was right down the runway at 22 Knots! 

Approaching Shoreham (Straight In Runway 25)

Departing Shoreham (Left Turn from Runway 25)

Departing Shoreham (Left Turn from Runway 25)

Coming back to Rochester we landed in a crosswind on Runway 20, stopping briefly to pay the landing fee of £12 (which is very inexpensive compared to many places). 

Overhead Rochester (Crosswind Runway 20)
Rochester (Right Base Runway 20)

Few aircraft were out and about yesterday no doubt put off by the weather.

It was my first trip into Shoreham and I loved the feel of the place. Hopefully I will pop back there over the summer.

I took a few snaps from the right hand seat as you can see. Although the weather wasn't the best it was still really good to be out and about enjoying the joys of a light aircraft!

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Rochester Airport Circuit Photos June 13, 2013

My friend Pete took these 4 snaps on Sunday as we entered the circuit pattern at Rochester.  I think they are great. When he emailed them over to me this afternoon,  I just wanted to leave work and go flying!

I think they show Rochester airfield looking very nice indeed! Naturally, one of the advantages of a high wind aircraft like a Cessna 152 is the great view you get below! Rochester Airports website is here by the way, check it out!

Overhead (1000ft QFE)

Late Downwind for runway 20

Base Leg for runway 20

Final Approach for runway 20

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Hired Aeroplane and my First Passenger!

A great fathers day, not only did I spend a lovely afternoon with my family, but in the morning I hired my first aeroplane as a Private Pilot and also took my first passenger up for a trip around Kent. It felt amazing to do this and I feel very fortunate I have had the opportunity to learn to fly.

So today's milestone? Well, nothing too adventurous I might add but a C-152 (G-BNKV) from Rochester. Essentially I went from Rochester to Bewl Reservoir, to Rye in Sussex and over to Canterbury before heading back to Rochester. It took about an hour and the weather was good. Nothing like the gusts of yesterday which were quite challenging I'm told. One person in the circuit said they dropped 300 ft at Rochester. Cloud base this morning was about 2,500 ft down towards Rye but quite higher everywhere else.

The circuit of Kent was lovely, undeniably it is a beautiful part of the world from the air. My passenger (Pete) took some pictures which I hope he emails me this week so I can add them to my blog. Today I used a manual pilots log to chart my course but I also took an iPad and had the same course loaded in SkyDemon. I have to say it's very reassuring to look down at the iPad for a second opinion to see you are right on track. Yesterday, I ordered an iPad knee board accessory which should be interesting. Hopefully it arrives before next weekend. Next weekend I'm a passenger. Pete wants to do Shoreham, Rochester and Headcorn!

Today was a just fantastic day. I couldn't ask for anything more.

16/06/13 C152 G-BNKV EGTO EGTO 10:00 11:00 1:00 1-1

HOURS = 46:35 DUAL + 17:30 PILOT IN COMMAND [P1]

Sunday, 9 June 2013

28 Day Check Ride - Circuits

With the cloud base down to 1500ft this afternoon I was back in the circuit in G-BNKV for a check ride with Stuart. Rochester Airport was operating from runway 02 and what with the gusty conditions the approach into land was quite choppy to say the least! Basically the 02 approach has a ridge to negotiate which you need to clear at 500ft but then you need to descend over the trees over Buckmore park and then cross the motorway before reaching the runway threshold. Over the trees you can get thrown about and get ballooned up as I did today, and then when you clear the trees you hit the M2 and can receive quite a sink (as I did today). All went well considering the conditions though. 

I did five circuits in total, two standard 2 stage flag configurations followed by a full flap and then a flap less and then I finished off the session with a glide approach. I remarked to Stuart I was glad I was not a student learning circuits on a day like today!

Anyway it was so great to be back in the seat of an aeroplane again. I have to say, Rochester was looking lovely with its recently cut grass.

09/06/13 C152 G-BNKV EGTO EGTO 13:50 14:30 0:40 5-5 FL, FF, Glide Approach

HOURS = 46:35 DUAL + 16:30 PILOT IN COMMAND [P1]