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Above & Beyond

The Barclays Bank email scam passed me by this morning. BBC Breakfast News called and offered to send a car the ninety miles to my house on the coast but I mumbled excuses about distance and flying; enough for me to duck out gracefully. Next time maybe.

After three months I’m a pilot again. My aircraft that was in pieces spread over a converted barn now proudly reflects the sunlight and even managed to pass its flight test without the wings falling off over Margate.

The CAA has some interesting tests that need to be conducted before they grant the renewal of an airworthiness certificate. One has the aircraft dived to what is called VNE – Velocity Never Exceed – and the other is a spin and recovery. In both cases we are talking about an old aircraft and so the logic of bureaucracy, rather than insisting on gentle handling, says instead, “Treat the aircraft as if it were a Stuka dive-bomber first and then if that works, throw it out of control in a spin. If in both cases the wings stay on and nothing stops or falls off, then the aircraft is considered to have satisfied the requirments of its flight test”.

It’s a mystery to me but as I failed to make a large splash off the coast at Herne Bay, I guess the aircraft passed its ‘Star Annual’ with flying colours.

My grateful thanks to Brian Mayo, veteran pilot, engineer, who sat in the right-hand seat and took the notes, recording the necessary in-flight data, without losing his nerve beyond a dry “Better pull up now or we’ll be in the sea” as we hurtled seawards in a 160 mph dive.

Brian, I owe you a pint for service above and beyond and not quite below.


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