Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Oh For the Wings of a Dove ...

Or any other bird ...
We took a drive on Sunday to a place near Lincoln: Wickenby Airfield. This used to be a WWII RAF bomber station but is now a privately owned airfield. It was a gloriously sunny day and there were quite a few small aircraft and microlights enjoying the freedom of the skies.
We parked the car (free) and headed for the old control tower, which is now a small café and, up a small staircase, a museum of RAF and aviation relics.
Pat had a delicious fresh-brewed coffee and I had a good cup of black tea. It was a delightful, if a bit shabby, environment. Reminded me of a small NAAFI but with no uniformed Brylcreem Boys having chips with everything meals.
I nipped upstairs to view the museum room: some really great uniforms of long gone pilots, books containing names of all the RAF types who were once stationed here and other interesting items. I spent about fifteen minutes in this old room, which was quite small, and exceedingly nostalgic.
Rejoined Pat in the "NAAFI" area and met some wonderfully interesting chaps there. One was waiting for his 15-year-old-son to touch down from his flying lesson. This lad is hoping to get his private pilot's licence (PPL) in the months to come and, eventually, join the RAF. His dad is paying for all this, and it's not cheap!
I mentioned to this guy that my first trip in a biplane was in 1947 at RAF Kenley, which was on a Sunday, and courtesy of the ATC, to which I belonged in those days. It was only a short 'flip' around the airfield at Kenley but so exciting.
He said he was in the ATC and dearly wanted to join the RAF, but failed the eyesight tests and was rejected. I can understand why he wants his lad to succeed in his mission. Good luck to them both; I sincerely hope everything goes tickety-boo in the months and years to come.
An even more interesting chat was with two middle-aged men who were about to leave the NAAFI-Café. I collared them as they were about to open the door - asking the taller of the two if he was ex-RAF. "No, I'm a lawyer" he said. "We've just flown in from Ipswich, about twenty minutes ago!" I was impressed, and exceedingly envious.
"That's our plane, over there..." he said, pointing to a smart mono-plane about twenty yards away. "We built it ourselves, from a kit we bought in the USA. Took us three years. Our wives restricted us to three days a week on the project! Otherwise we'd have finished it somewhat quicker." I was now immensely interested and doubly impressed.
"Where is the fuel tank?" I asked. 
"Oh, in the wings; holds enough fuel for over six hours flying."
"Have you been far in it?" I enquired (interrogated might be a better word!).
"Well, the Arctic was one interesting voyage" he said. He also mentioned a couple of other far-flung countries, including Africa. "We had to stop half-way to Africa; needed to pee you see..."
Honestly, I could have spent a day or two chatting to these two guys. They too seemed happy to talk about their wonderful hobby but said they had to see somebody in Norfolk in twenty minutes or so and they had to (literally) fly!
Had to say cheerio to them as I followed them outside and walked to within a few yards of their aircraft. They hopped in the side-by-side cockpit, and the engine started perfectly. They taxied away and soon climbed smoothly into the bright sunny skies. Soon they'd be having a cuppa in Norfolk - in less than half-an-hour!!!!!
What a simply wonderful way to spend one's free time. Zooming into the blue yonder. Hopping from one city to another. Free as a bird.
I can think of NOTHING better. Perfick, as The Darling Buds of May would say.
Must close. Bit of a flap on. Chocks away, bandits at twelve o'clock high.
Wizard prang. Over and out!