Keeping a promise

Well as promised, Troy got his flight on Sunday.

He has been up before in the club Cessna but never in TOMS and as he reached six and professed his promise not to beep buttons, I was running out of reasons to delay him!

So off I went to Haverfordwest, slightly hesitantly in the slightly gusty crosswind, promising myself we’d only go if the weather lived up to the phone reports of it being fine there and not the rather showery sight here at Swansea

Haverfordwest was indeed much sunnier and more clement though and greeted me with a cheery, “Runway is… Take your pick really!  Wind’s straight between them.”

Since I was already on what could be called an outraegeously long final for 27 I opted for that one.

I have a slightly masochistic enjoyment of the challenge of a decent crosswind landing and having learned at a field with a single runway, spent a lot of my initial circuit time dealing with them, so I grinned my way down final to a fairly pleasing touchdown.

I had time for a coffee before Kari and Troy turned up, the latter kitted out with his mini high-vis jacket and shrill with excitement.

We had five minutes on “The Rules”, which included the aforementioned No Beeping Buttons, along with No Talking While the Radio is Talking, and “Quiet While Leia is Landing”.  He already knows the ones about No Touching Propellers and Sensible Walking Feet on the Airfield.

We gathered up his booster seat and headed out to TOMS to get him strapped in with help from Mum.  Since I’d also rashly gone ahead previously and blithely assured him that he could have a go flying I had him show me exactly how gently he’d move the controls…

Time for the off, I headed off down the taxyway to the accompaniment of a running commentary on what we were doing and what everything was.  He ‘helped’ with the checks and engine runup by adding in his own loud, clear “Check!” to each item I read out.

“Ready?” I asked.

A grinning thumbs up was my answer and off we went.

As the wheels left the ground and shot him a quick glance to see a dazzling wide eyed beaming face.  “We’re going so high!”

I’d planned to amble towards Fishguard and around the coast a bit there staying relatively local in case of any problems.  It’s a pretty spot and there’s plenty to see with the ferry port, beaches, lighthouses and Brawdy.

As we levelled off around 1500′ and Troy pointed out the cars below he announced, “This is what being a giant is like!  The cars are so tiny!”

I pointed out the altimeter to show him how high up we were.

“And what does that one say?” he asked, pointing at the ASI.

“That says how fast we’re going.”

His eyes widened.

“One hundred!”

I grinned back, at least in part because our galloping around the place during the engine break-in amuses me too.  “Yep.”

We flew north towards the coast.  “So, do you want to fly?” I asked.

He looked at me, I think not entirely certain whether I was serious.

“I’ll help if you want,” I assured him.

“They move together,” he said, pointing at the yoke as I adjusted course slightly.

“That’s right.”

He took the controls and I slackened my own grip to let him feel the aeroplane respond.

“Which way shall we go?” I asked.

“Left!” he said definitely.

I kept a wary hand lightly touching my own controls as he started to turn but I really only needed to give a bit of back pressure to stop us descending, as he carefully then more confidently swung us into the turn.

“Cool!” he grinned.

“Isn’t it just!” I agreed.

We turned again as we reached Fishguard to circle round and look at the boats.

“I can see right down now,” Troy commented as we banked again.

His attention was taken from the boats in the next instant as a small, fluffy cloud passed us by.

“We’re right up by the clouds!”

He then began pointing out each one.  “Look at that one!  That’s a huge one!”

I looked up, at the scattered cloud cover a few hundred feet above us.

“Do you want to see the top of them?”

“Higher than the clouds?”

“If you like.”

He liked.  “Up is pull!”


With me giving it some throttle and acting as a cautious backstop on the yoke Troy raised the nose and up we went.  I took over to miss some of the larger clouds and weave us a VFR-friendly path between and over the fluffy heaps, and peek down at the green coastline in between them.

“Don’t go in the sticky ones,” Troy warned.

“I’m not going in any of them!” I assured him.

After ten minutes of so of playing around up there I took notice of the time and decided we’d better head back.  I’d told Mum we’d be about 20 minutes and we’d already gone over that.

I spiralled back down through the open sky just offshore and Troy helped look out for the airfield, spotting Brawdy before Haverfordwest!

Apropos of nothing much he commented.  “What if aeroplanes were alive?”

And because I’m soppy about flying machines I answered, “I think this one is a bit.  I talk to her anyway.”

“Does she talk back?”

I smiled.  “Sort of.”

Too soon, we were downwind and it was time to slow down and get ready to land.  Troy watched keenly but didn’t need reminding that he’d agreed to be quiet for that bit.

As the wheels met the ground and we rolled along to the turn off I asked, “So, how was that?”

Troy spread all his fingers and raised both hands in front of his grinning face.  “Ten out of ten!”

How lucky we are to be able to fly.  To be able to share this!

What magic!


3 thoughts on “Keeping a promise

  1. Andy Hawkins

    Too cool.

    I hope Catrin is as enthusiastic as and when we get her up in the air. Hopefully she’ll have been flying for a long time before she really becomes aware that it’s ‘unusual’ though!


  2. Paul Price

    Sooo brilliant to be ‘Back In The Air’ with you again, Leia!!! I’ve been a bit too much under the weather the last couple of months to follow your (and Toms'(!)) exploits- since he had a ‘bard’ camshaft- and too many iron filings in his oil as I remember!.
    And Troy!! He’s a SUPER-star! Going to be a natural pilot- it’s so obvious!
    I loved that he remembered his ‘Grown-up’ promises- while doubtless grinning his face off with the awesome pleasure of floating on thin air!!
    And as an adult child (ask the wife!), just as he did, I particularly loved the ‘over the wing’ views in a bank over Tenby (in Whiskey Golf if I remember right!)- AND the G-forces! Of course, I was looking through a camera viewfinder at the same time… which DID rob the experience of some of its magic, though.
    And it was so nice to learn that you ‘Had to’ give it some welly to bed in the new engine… such sweet sorrow!!!
    Thanks so much again for posting.
    Keep them coming-and please don’t change- even by a smidgeon(!) your usual inimitable style!!!

    PS. please re-send me your e-address. My PC lost it- but I’ve bought an Apple-Mac now so all my problems are over!!!!!! Yeah, right!! P.

  3. WIll

    Another fantastic write-up Leia. I get just as much satisfaction reading about others’ experiences as I do my own.

    I’ve got roughly 12 hours until the completion of my PPL in Guernsey, and I can’t wait to share the experience with others – hopefully then I’ll be able to justify why I willingly burn so much money!

    Keep the updates coming!



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