Whilst Air Law dictates that a Private Pilot Licence (PPL) holder, whether fixed-wing or rotary, must take-off and land three times every three months in order to remain ‘current’, most Aerodromes (and Pilots) believe that a three-month gap is too long and so Aircraft Owners that offer Self-Fly Hire (SFH) agreements insist on a take-off and landing every month for insurance purposes.
Having last flown on 22nd Aug 2014 with my friend Nikki, I was due a ‘currency’ flight around 20th Sept just as G-WIZR (the Robinson R22 resident at Peterborough Conington Aerodrome for which I have a Type-Rating to fly) was due for its 2,000-hour overhaul and so I fell ‘out of currency’ – until yesterday!
Yesterday I flew a single circuit at Conington with my Chief Flying Instructor (CFI), Mick Horrell in his new R22 G-DHGS (pictured). Whilst the machine is just starting it’s 2nd reincarnation having been rebuilt at 2,000 hours and again recently at 4,000 hours, it still looks, feels and performs as new and still has the ‘paper’ covers in the foot-wells!
…privileged, relieved, excited, you name it, simply chuffed to be flying again.
Footprints in the sand have strong emotional connotations.
They represent the ephemeral nature of the human journey through life by not only indicating where we’ve come from but also by demonstrating how quickly and easily the visual evidence is washed away daily with each tide…
For me though, a stronger mental image of the human journey through life is that generated by time-lapse photography of cars at night.
The red tail-light trails not only highlight where we’ve been, but equally the white headlight trails show where we’re heading too.
Sometimes I wonder what our own personal red-trails would show if we all were able to plot them since birth? all the journeys we’ve made? the places we’ve visited? and of course how our own individual “redlines” have crossed from time to time with others’ resulting in shared memories.
This same analogy makes me wonder about our individual futures too and how interesting and exciting it might be to see into the future by being able to plot our individual white headlight trails too? where we’re heading? including occasions where and when paths will cross the “redlines” and “white-lines” of others?
On Friday 14th March 2014, I was reminded of this concept in very stark terms.
The day before, at around 3:30pm, I’d visited Conington Airfield for my 28-day currency-flight in an R22 Helicopter.
As I walked into the building, a guy came out and although we didn’t know each other we shared a “hello” in recognition, I guess, of our shared interest in flying.
Shortly after, as I went through my start-up procedures in the R22, I saw the same guy was standing along with two or three others next to a large and very impressive 12-seater Augusta Westland Helicopter which was being refueled.
I lifted to start a single circuit of the Airfiled which would only take around five minutes and during the short flight, I heard the Augusta Westland Pilot open up communication with the Tower. Indeed, as I landed just a couple of minutes later, its rotors were spinning and the Pilot was given the go ahead to depart.
That was the first time I had seen the magnificent machine and heard the voice of the pilot… and sadly it was to be the last too.
Just three hours later, for reasons which are unlikely to be known for another 12 months, the Agusta Westland AW139 Helicopter crashed near Lord Ballyedmond’s stately home in Gillingham, near Beccles.
If only we’d known… if only I could have seen into the future and somehow prevented the dreadful outcome… if only.