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March 2009 - Posts

I'm not going to beg..., but I might if it'll help
Tue, Mar 17 2009 9:21 PM

I once spent a week working in what was once the factory of the Martin Aircraft Company. This was company responsible for great flying boats, including the mammoth Martin Mars. The site is just to the east of Baltimore, MD and is right on the shores of Chesapeake Bay. They don't make aircraft there any more, though they are still a major supplier of aircraft systems, but the buildings retain the large doors and you can see the ramp that leads down to the water. I stopped, looked and imagined the aircraft rolling off the production line, down the ramp and into the water for a first flight.

My wife and I once went on holiday in Prince Edward Island, Canada. While we were there I tracked down a pilot with a Cessna 172 on floats and we took a tour of the province starting and ending from Charlottetown Harbour. It was just fantastic.

I love aquatic aviation. My lottery winnings would go on something that once saw the inside of the Grumman works and my favourite possession is a 1930s book on aerodynamics with a full chapter on Flying Boat hull design.

Of course, none of this information is for your benefit. It's for the attention of Mary Kirby and the Flight International staff. I've never been to the US Virgin Islands. I've never been in a Tw-Otter on floats. Mary Kirby has. She wrote all about it in this week's Flight.

So, Mary and our friends at Flight.., if your next assignment is anything like your last... do you need extra help carrying your laptop or camera? It doesn't have to be somewhere warm, just let it involve the words "Amphibious" or "Float". I'd be happy to write about the experience and my family would willingly provide their perspective. What do you say?

Or have I missed the boat…, so to speak.

Come fly with me.... or not.
Thu, Mar 12 2009 1:55 PM

It amazes me how different an experience one can have trying to do the same thing at two locations.

The "thing" was trying to investigate the how to book a trial flying lesson that my wife (will have) got me for Christmas.

My first attempt was at Kiddlington Airport in Oxfordshire. It's a very professional airport with a big flight training school and a small school for private pilot training. Except, try turning up on a grey Saturday at 4pm (2 hour's daylight left) and you'll not get in. The security staff were courteous, well informed and helpful. But I stayed out outside the walls and left with nothing but a phone number. My little lad looked bemused when I pointed through a gap between hangars and said "Aeroplane".

OK, so my son is only 17 months old, but the baby-signing sign for Aeroplane is his favourite, helped by the fact that our village is under the climb-out from RAF Brize Norton so the C17s give him plenty of chance to practice (Point, Aeroplane sign, "whoosh", Point, "That!", stare). I digress....

So Monday evening after work I headed to Gloucestershire Airport (Staverton, Cheltenham) and what a great experience. The staff in the Terminal Building were welcoming and helpful. A very nice lady in the flight training school did just the perfect job of welcoming a potential new recruit. "Trial Lesson? Sure. Book when you like or just call on the day to see if an instructor is free. Want a specific aircraft type? No problem, here are the registrations and just ask when you phone us to see if it is free. Microlight? Yes, we have one of those as well and it would be cheaper for you".

Add to this a good view of the apron and the runway threshold being right next to the entrance gate and a really good airport cafe / bar with a good view over the field and you have a really pleasant experience.

Now all that's left to do is take my son to see the aeroplanes..., oh, and there's the small matter of that flight.


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