Today I fell, not among thieves but into the hands of the aircraft engineers. As an experience, it was similar to a feeling of being shipwrecked with the cast of 'Treasure Island' with me in the leading role of Parrot.

Around noon, I received a call that my aircraft would be ready for collection later in the afternoon, so I persuaded another friendly pilot to ferry me across to a well-known but isolated airport, in the middle of nowhere, where the engineers were holding my Cessna.

He dropped me off , waved farewell and turned straight around for home, leaving me alone to wander over to the engineering hangar to find my aircraft. When I did, it was to find it still in pieces, which came as a bit of a shock.

The remainder of my afternoon was spent pleading with the different groups of engineers responsible for the insides of my aeroplane – avionics and mechanics – to put it back together again so that I could at least fly home, as I was rather a long way from a hotel or a railway line, had my car keys in my pocket and my car too far away to even think about.

Finally, everyone pulled together magnificently and I'm pleased to say that they even put the seats back in the aircraft, although as the magic hour of five O'clock approached, there was every danger they would finish for the day and leave me holding a passenger seat, two floor panels and a Philips screwdriver.

In the end, I just made it. I say just, because having filled-up and paid for the fuel, it was 17:37 when I asked the tower for taxi instructions. My reply came as a stern reminder that the airport closes at 17:30 and without prior permission, there was a charge of £200 for ‘after hours’ movements. “But I’m only late because I bought fuel from you to fill-up my aircraft” I said.

“Alright, I’ll let you go this time” came the magnanimous reply and the controller cleared me to the runway and home along the hazy South coast of England.

So now, I’m finally home and too tired to write anything remotely interesting about technology, Iraq or anything else come to that. A good result for everyone I suspect!


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