Sequel to You Fly Like a Woman

I’ve been working on a sequel to You Fly Like a Woman (available at and if you would like to support my writing habit). The new book will be about learning to fly without an instructor (not as easy as it sounds) with a focus on European travel.

Here’s a small excerpt just for you:

After a few more days of waving my shiny new pilot’s license and logbook at everyone, I felt I had done my bit. Cliff rudely interrupted my moment of glory by pointing out that I could actually use it to fly rather than for getting free drinks at the Pilot’s bar.

“We’ll just fly the Saratoga home to Spain,” Cliff said. “It’ll be simple.”

I had some issue with his view of simple. Flying the plane home involved departing England, flying through France, refuel and then coming into land at Málaga International Airport. Like most new PPLs, I’d only flown from a handful of small airfields, always with an instructor to tell me the local idiosyncrasies before sending me off to try it solo. I was sure I could fly on my own from Granada to Almería, for example, or even from Oxford to Enstone. I wasn’t so sure about flying off into the great unknown; it sounded like an easy way to screw everything up. And on top of that, he wanted to stop in France. France was completely foreign!

“That’s great news,” chimed in Tom. “So many new pilots don’t bother to use their PPLs. They do a couple of circuit sessions and that’s it.” He gave me a warm smile. “You shouldn’t do that, it’d be a waste.”

Right. So I was going to fly foreign. But how did that work?

The first thing I did was head to the bar. Not just for a stiff drink but also to ask what to watch out for. Are the flying rules different?

Everyone was more than happy to help. “The local shop sells a ‘Flight Rules for France’ book but you don’t need it,” said one large chap near the door. I gave him a dubious look but everyone nodded in agreement.

“It’s not that big a deal,” said George, an instructor from a rival flying school. I considered briefly that he might be looking to get me killed: then he could tell students how much safer they were training under him. I managed to rein in my paranoia and listen.

“File a flight plan. Watch for military airspace. Use the semi-circular rule throughout, forget the quadrangle rule. It’s a doddle. And you can do VFR on top.”

I nodded sagely, as if I had taken it all in and was ready to race for the cockpit.

Luckily, an hour with Google was all that was needed to rid me of confusion. A standard flight plan was all the paperwork that was required for the flight to France. My stop had to be at a customs airfield: I chose Biarritz near the Spanish border.

Pre-planning the flight in detail meant that I could leaf through the books to find out details like the semi-circular rule. I could plot my altitude sitting at a desk rather than panicking in the air. Flying on a clear day meant I could ignore VFR on top. I then looked up “doddle,” found it was “something easily done or achieved” and decided that I agreed with George in full: a doddle it would be.

I spent a few hours with the map and my books. I wrote out the navigation as if I didn’t have GPS and then wrote it out again for plugging into the machine and automating it all. I made myself a cheat-sheet with all the different radio calls and every possible frequency I might need en route.

I was ready to take on my first real flight: Biarritz or bust!

When I saw Kickstarter, a funding platform for creative projects, was launching in the UK, I realised it opened new opportunities for publishing. Kickstarter allows people like me to describe a project and request pledges up to a minimum amount needed to complete it. If the minimum amount is reached, then the money goes to the creator and the project takes place. If not, no money changes hands.

I’m planning on selling this book using Kickstarter, which will allow me to distribute it DRM free in all formats and offer a full-colour version with photography. It will also mean that I can afford the cover artist again and look into additional extras for readers. I’ll post more about the campaign soon.

In any case, I’ll be working through my notes all summer. The sequel will include France, of course, but also the Channel Islands, Scotland, and the first flight with my mother on board. I’m still working on a title so if you have any bright ideas, please let me know in the comments!

Categories: Excerpts, Writing,

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