A little personal post about my dream of learning how to fly a plane…
“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.” ― Leonardo da Vinci.
Learning how to fly a plane has been one of my life goals for a really long time. Having visited several air shows with my parents, as well as watching my mum cross stitch several planes to hang around the house, the obsession with both vintage and modern combat aircrafts has never gone away. I am always rushing to stick my head out of the studio window when I hear the rumble of an old engine overhead in the chance of spotting a Spitfire – which actually happens more often than you’d think considering we live pretty near Duxford. Attending airshows and battle proms every year, I’ve always wanted to earn my wings.
Back in the summer whilst at Farnborough Air Show to see the Red Arrows and the first UK F-35B Joint Strike Fighter (Lightning II), James bought me my first flight session as an early 30th birthday present. Presenting me with my log book and booking confirmation in a metal tin autographed by the entire Red Arrows team (I got to meet Red 1, David Montenegro and fan-girted on an epic scale), I couldn’t wait to get up in the clouds and start learning how to fly.
The training session was booked with Flight Training London, who are based out of London Elstree Aerodrome. It was the perfect location as it meant I could fly over areas I know really well, including our flat! I was keen to get up in the air before my birthday so booked a session in for November. The weather had other plans though, with heavy rain on the original booked date and severe winds for the rescheduled flight. Eventually, on November 29th, conditions were perfect and I headed down to the aerodrome in warm clothes ready for the runway.
After a brief chat about the plane controls and what everything did, it was time to check the plane – a two seater Cessna 152 – before take off and then taxi over to the runway. It was about this point that it suddenly dawned on me that I was leaving the ground with only one qualified pilot sat next to me and really hoping he was of good health! I’m not sure there ware words to describe how I felt on take off, but here goes… You know that feeling you get when the plane leaves the runway as you take off on holiday? Well imagine that awesome stomach flip, but you’re in control of making it happen. Epic.
Once we were in the air, flying got comfortable pretty quickly. Having looked up the aviation charts before the flight, we had worked out the we could fly over the flat, as well as heading almost all the way down to Stanmore to fly over my childhood home too. Keeping track of whats below is a skill I definitely need a little more practise in as it was hard to recognise some areas from a bird’s eye view, although I’m sure that will come with time.
Time went so quickly during the flight and before I knew it it was time to radio in for landing. It think this was actually the part that made me most nervous, as turning the throttle down on the plane made for a much quieter engine on descent. With guidance and help from instructor Mikey, I managed to land safely on the runway with more adrenaline running through me than that one and only time I braved Oblivion at Alton Towers!
Learning how to fly was the most incredible experience and I cannot wait to get back into a plane and continue with the training with the intention of eventually passing my private pilot’s licence. Only another 44 hours of flying and 8 exams to go…