Sunday, January 12, 2014

On One Leg

CAA Recommends
I had my annual CAA medical this morning and having stood on one leg with my eyes closed, touching the tip of my nose with the opposite hand, I have successfully been declared fit for flight, if nothing else.

The truth be told, it does go into a little more detail; think of a complete MOT lasting over an hour with an ECG, sight, sound, blood tests, you name it and my index finger remains sore while typing. Christmas is an official disaster, having put on some weight, which now has to go and I'm looking forward to several weeks of not eating all those things I like best.

In fact, the medical should have been yesterday, so my apologies for missing the Blessing of the Sea in Margate this morning. It's been a hectic couple of days.

On Friday morning, I was up very early to take advantage of the good weather and catch a train up to Leeds Bradford Airport, to collect a replacement aircraft (pictured) for the one wrecked at Manston by the small hurricane on Christmas Eve. It needs a complete refit in order to be fit for purpose and so on Saturday morning, another day of fabulous sunshine, I flew this from Manston down to the maintenance facility near Hastings, where it will be about four weeks being fiddled-with and serviced, until I'm back in business flying banners again.

New Boy
From Kent through Sussex there are now enormous patches of water; large lakes that never existed before and landing on a grass strip was tricky, my new clean aircraft looking as if it had suffered a severe bout of dysentery by the time it left the runway into the hangar.

I caught the train back from Hastings to Margate, via Ashford and was interrupted by a local pilot friend, calling me from Devon, asking if I had an aircraft available. Apparently, he and the aircraft owner of a very nice Mooney, only recently imported into this country, had a narrow escape while landing this little beast and had wrecked the aircraft but both walked away unscathed. Could I come and retrieve them back to Manston before the airport closed?

So, I called TG Aviation at Manston, who very kindly hired me their quick Piper Arrow and started preparing it while I was still on the train. Thanks to the wonders of technology, I was able to do all my flight-planning work on my iPad, before I reached Margate and another good friend, an instructor at Manston, came along with me for the ride, which helps reduce the workload.

In bright sunshine, we left Manston at 2pm and were down near Exeter by 3:30pm, transiting over the top of Southampton airport. Visibility at 4,000 feet was outstanding and the extent of the flooding in Dorset and across the Somerset Levels is so dramatic, it has to be seen to be believed.

Dashing Down to Devon
Fifteen minutes to have a coffee, pick-up the other two pilots and then climbing back into the air again, with a glorious sunset behind us and a following wind, which bought the ground speed up to 130 knots as we headed back into the darkness.

The view over the south of the country last evening was almost as good as the daytime and the lights of Ramsgate were easily visible to the naked-eye from as far away as Ashford. We arrived home on Manston's runway just before 6pm and by then I was feeling a little fatigued.

I was sorry to read yesterday that the 2014 Manston Airshow has been cancelled, as it appears the new owner isn't as enthused over the idea as many local people might be. Without doubt, with both bad weather and traffic, 2013 had its problems but a huge following. I had hoped that 2014 would have been a watershed moment for the project but it's not to be. At this time, I have no idea if the present Labour administration have any plans for a Margate event instead.

Tomorrow, the wreck of my Cessna G-CFSM, will finally be removed from the hangar at Manston, now the insurance company have joined-up all the dots. It was a very good aircraft and I will be sad to see it go to scrap. It just goes to show that even three large concrete tie-downs are no match for nature at its most violent.


Anonymous said...

just had a quick check of FOI and Thanet, and bastard is there FOIing on a weekly basis about guns, bullets etc. I've also noticed people on Palm Bay's seafront wearing pyjamas recently. This place is full of nutjobs Simon.

Simon Moores said...

Spotted one lady shopping in her pajamas in Westgate over Xmas.

Anonymous said...

Saw a man drinking in the Railway Tavern by the station in his pyjamas one evening a few years ago.