Busman’s Holiday

In the day job I do “techy stuff” and teach IT and “basic skills” to a assortment of unemployed adults and young people who are, in the horrible parlance of the powers that be, “disengaged from education” and have left school with few or no qualifications for whatever reason.

I’ll take whatever I can to engage them – which ranges from flying paper aeroplanes around the maths classroom and working out the fraction of a Smarties tube which are hyperactive-blue, to getting them to create blogs and projects on anything like they like, to using “who wants to be a millionaire” style handsets for multichoice, on the the interactive whiteboard.

We also teach teachers how to use the IWBs and have started doing workshops for other training providers on best use of IT.

So when, I discovered the LAA and their Youth and Education Support bit had a IWB it seemed the logical place to offer my services.  We’ve taken it a few places like Splash where the Scouts were brilliant with it and more recently the Royal Berks Strut asked if they could borrow it for some stuff they do with Scout badges and for their open day, so I bounded up there to do a demo.

The original plan was to take TOMS, but a combination of mechanical problems and dreadful weather on the day put paid to that, and it was a train job.

What a gorgeous airfield White Waltham is.  Lovely club, lots of social side and enthusiasts of all types.  Grand evening.  I did my bit, then listened with pleasure to talks about the filming of “Dangerous Adventures for Boys” and the experiences of a Jaguar pilot in the first Gulf War.  (Who was also the first of the evening brave enough to get his hands on the IWB and collar it for use in his presentation!)  Must be that fighter pilot daring ;-))

I left for the overnight B&B full of ideas and enthusiasm.

In no hurry to get home the following day I wandered back over to the airfield, explored the hangars, drank lots of coffee and eventually met back up with Mike, who’d organised the talk and loan of the board.  He had with him John, the builder of a dropdown gorgeous RV6A he’d finished building late last year.

Lovely aeroplane! (Photo from RVUK)

Lovely aeroplane! (Photo from RVUK)

He asked if I want to go flying, and there’s only one answer to that isn’t there?

I love other people’s aeroplane and this one was especially attractive, beautifully built and finished and went like the clappers.

We bounced (rather solid steel undercarriage!) over the grass of Waltham’s ample runways and were up and climbing away. 

John handed control over to me one we were level and trimmed, and after checking we were quite clear the he was navigating (lots of airspace…) I happily stooged around getting the feel for it.

Lovely and light in roll, slightly disconcertingly light in pitch — my first few attempts at turns had me rocketing skywards!

As usual on the rare occasions I’ve flown this side of the country the difference in the scenery was striking.  Still pretty, but far more horizon than I’m used to — I’m lost without hills!

We overflew Greenham Common and admired the lovely little airfield at Brimpton. 

We flew over the “real life” Watership Down at Kingsclere, then a fantastic hillfort (Beacon Hill near Burghclere) that outdid my local favourite Hardings Down, and Highclere, the impressive stately home turned hotel, that had originally belonged to Lord Caernarvon.

It was about this point I realised we were really covering some ground — this was a fast aeroplane. 

I also realised that I needed for my own sanity to find out what “clere” meant in all those place names.  (This turned out trickier than expected when consulting Google back home — it’s either Middle-English for “clearing” or “claer” which is Welsh for “bright”, which seems a bit inexplicable but apparently might have been the name of a river or stream…)

John obviously knows his local landmarks well, perhaps this is a favourite route for taking flyers unfamiliar with the area.  Either way, I adored both the scenery and the handling of this fun little aeroplane.

John generously allowed me to fly all the way to final, talking me round the slightly convoluted noise abatement procedures as well as the join in place to deal with the fact that half the ATZ in inside the London TMA.

He took back control to put us down very tidily and taxy back in while I grinned and enthused.

Have I mentioned how I love other people’s aeroplanes…

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One thought on “Busman’s Holiday

  1. Pingback: White Waltham « Leia Airborne

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