Come fly with me.... or not.
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.