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Dodgems

Saturday on the coast proved a great deal sunnier in the end than Saturday in London.

It’s been a day of close shaves. Three separate women drivers attempted to knock me off my motorcycle in the Westwood shopping centre’s car park nothing unusual; wrong side of the road and looking in the opposite direction. Car parks are always dangerous places at the best of times, people can’t cope with the twin pressures of driving and searching for parking spaces at the same time.



Having risked the weather to take a ride down to the coast, I attempted a quick sortie from the airfield at lunchtime for a better impression of the cloud-base. Within about thirty seconds of leaving the ground, it became obvious that the best place to be was back on the grass again and so a couple of tight descending spirals avoided the low cloud and put my aircraft back on the deck.

By five O’clock, the spring sunshine had returned and with it, the perfect flying weather I was hoping for. I ran up the engine at the end of the grass runway at Maypole Farm, announced that I was “rolling two zero” and pushed in the throttle.

Half way into my take-off roll, I suddenly spotted a tractor trundling along the runway in front of me. I hadn’t seen him in the low sunshine from the threshold and he obviously wasn’t expecting to see me either. Fortunately, I was airborne a good 100 yards behind him but there was a distinctly surprised expression on the driver’s face as I passed over his head. Next time, he may take a good long look towards the end of the runway before he starts driving along it.

Above the North Kent coast and under the contol of Manston Approach, the world appeared as an artist's canvass. Brightest of all were the fields of rape flowers, a brilliant yellow that reflected the sunlight. Over Margate, another aircraft passed below me at low altitude. Now he wouldn’t have seen me at all with late afternoon Sun in his eyes and I had received no warning of his presence from Manston Radar, four miles to my right.

Manston, is the aircraft that just passed underneath me working your frequency”, I asked. “We’re not aware of any other aircraft in the area”, came the reply.

So it seems that a total idiot was flying at low-level, into the Sun, just outside the Kent International (Manston) airport circuit. If I had been flying at my normal sightseeing level of around 1000 feet just off the coast, my course and that of the other aircraft would have been within hundreds of yards of each other. Unfortunately, when you fly long enough, you very soon learn that there are almost as many idiots in the air as there are on the roads. A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, particularly when you happen to be a low hours private pilot joy riding in someone else's airspace

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