I spoke to Ben yesterday and so my trip to the “British Mainland” is now confirmed.
I’ll start in Oxford and do circuits there until I’m dizzy (circuit: take off, fly in a circle, “touch” the run way and “go” again, ad infinitum) and then head off to local airfields and do the same there.
Ben will make me go to Enstone, his home airport, and no flight training from Oxford is complete without Hinton in the Hedges, a small airfield now full of gliders and parachuters, just to keep things interesting.
One reason (as I understand it, I better go research this) that there are so many airfields in Southern England is that the military requisitioned a lot of farm land during World War 2 to make landing strips for the RAF. These airfields were in heavy use for four or five years and then abandoned. Some of these got picked up by the local council or even privately and remain in use: Hinton in the Hedges with its original Control Tower in ruins is one of these.
With the exception of Oxford, I know nothing of any of these places except their runways. When possible, you book over the phone to avoid having to stop your training and land to pay fees etc. This time, though, I will try to convince Ben to do a photograph and coffee tour, stopping at each one to test out their cafes (where possible) and get a look around.
We’ll also be doing some navigation to a destination which will no doubt be sprung on me the night before, leaving me sleepless in a small hotel poring over maps wondering if I can find my way without the aid of the GPS. If Ben is feeling confident, we’ll carry on to do shortfield landings. Last time we went to Stapleford, where I smiled as I landed with runway to spare and Ben shivered as he told me he’d never been that close to the hedges before.
I’m not sure if he’ll take me there again.
Then there’s the standard refreshers: recovering from a stall, practice forced landings, steep turns. We can’t do spins in the Saratoga, thank goodness.
I’m nervous now.