Confessions of a Post Industrial Luddite

I should have been working but this afternoon I managed to escape briefly into the air on the way to my new home in Kent this afternoon.

It’s difficult to recall an autumn with colours as rich as this one. Today was quite remarkable and reminded me of the fall in Maine, the same vivid red and yellow hues and the harsh, November sunlight ,that I found so attractive in North America a quarter of a century ago.

Climbing out over the Kent coast at Herne Bay, there was a fine mist clinging to the hills to the west towards Ashford and a noticeable inversion layer, like rich cream on the top of an Irish coffee, which forced me up higher, to three thousand feet in order to maintain horizontal visibility as I turned towards Canterbury.

Below me, the gilding on the cathedral was reflecting the low afternoon sunlight and a little further on, the ferries were busy coming and going out of Dover but of France, there was no sign, lost in an impenetrable bank of milky whiteness that was rolling in from the English Channel.

I followed the coast around, past Deal and over the Royal St George’s Golf Course at Sandwich, transiting Manston’s extended runway centre line at Pegwell Bay and then gently left, with the North Foreland light house beneath me before passing over my old school, The Charles Dickens at Broadstairs.

Margate looked unusually quiet and I carried on checking to see if my mother was home in Westgate, before starting a slow descent back into the milky whiteness with a low sun right in my eyes as I struggled to make out the landing strip, finding myself too high and having to extend my downwind approach to lose more altitude before making a final curving turn and settling down on to the wet grass, past a field full of disinterested horses.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of flying as a hobby, is that email and the mobile phone haven’t quite made it into the small aircraft space, yet. Forty-five minutes of peace, with the only interruption coming from the friendly voice of the approach radar controller at Manston airport.

I sometimes wonder if one day, we will revolt against the communications society in a form of post-industrial ‘Luddism’. Probably not because I’m sure that someone will have said something similar about the telephone at the beginning of the last century.


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