Monday, 22 July 2013

Tiger Moth Trial Flight : Did I dream that ?

I don't think I could have written about this yesterday, because my head kept spinning all day. It was like I remained high on an adrenaline rush. I could not have articulated anywhere near the sense of magnificence I had felt flying such a historic and beautiful aircraft as G-ACDC - the worlds oldest surviving Tiger Moth.

I had booked myself a 40 minute trial flight at The Tiger Club based down at Headcorn aerodrome and what a time I had. What a lovely club and what a wonderful aircraft. I knew it was going to be special. Manufactured in 1933, I believe G-ACDC was one of the first batch of ten made and is the only survivor making it the oldest Tiger Moth in the world. To be given the opportunity to take her for a spin (obviously with one of her amazing custodian pilots) was not just a privilege but an absolute honour.

My pilot for my trip was Bruce Abbott, a top guy who put me at ease from the second I walked into the Tiger Moth club room. After completing the necessary paperwork, completing payment and a chat about what I might like to cover it was outside for an aircraft briefing. At all times I was made to feel like a VIP, as the personal attention was second to none. 

I was shown into the front seat and how to buckle in tightly and then a description of the cockpit controls and various instruments followed. We were to do some general handling and some basic aerobatics. Looking at my cockpit and the basic controls and instruments I had nothing but awe for all those nervous young men that had climbed aboard for their flight training all those years ago.

The Tiger has no electrical system so the prop is hand swung and thats what happened. A great spectacle when for the first time, you are wearing a leather flying helmet siting right behind it as I was. 

Within 4 minutes of the engine being warmed up we were trundling along runway 03 into wind and were off. I was asked to take the controls and manage the climb out. This was done around the 60 knot mark and it was the first time I had used a stick. What struck me was how natural it felt and how the Tiger responded. She flew beautifully.

For the majority of the next forty minutes I had the controls whereupon I did some general handling. She handled beautifully and is such a lovely plane to fly. 

Of course unlike the C152 I learned to fly in, this has proper adverse yaw to manage. Almost in recognition of that there is a lovely slip indicator front and centre of the cockpit. This all contributed to a good rudder appreciation session.

I love doing aerobatics and so imagine my thrill when we performed an inside loop, wing over and two spins. I was in heaven! Dancing around the clouds, she looked magnificent. 

Coming back to Headcorn it all felt unreal really, I couldn't believe what I was doing - flying a Tiger Moth.

At the end as we landed and shut down it felt emotional. I had danced around the sky in a little piece of history. It was like a thunderous dream except that the sights and sounds I had just experienced were very real and would live with me for the rest of my life. 

Brakes Off 11:00, Brakes On 11:40. The Tiger Moth (G-ACDC) and The Tiger Club are unique indeed. Long may they continue!

HOURS = 49:15 DUAL + 20:00 PIC [P1]
Total Time = 69:15

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