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Reluctant Tiger

I’ve just been trying to start a reluctant Tiger Moth. This one was built in 1939 and has been around the block a few times, Angola, Rhodesia and of course the sea wall at Clacton, where it last crashed before it was rebuilt from its various component pieces. This one, I’m assured is the only one flying with an engine of its size in its current configuration. All the others have crashed at one time or another, which is reassuring and I’m sure concentrates the pilot’s mind wonderfully.

That said, she’s a beautiful old aircraft, even if she doesn’t want to start. Of course, installing and electric starter like that in the replica Stampe which is now almost finished would be cheating. After all, they didn’t have electric starters in 1939, so you simply have to hang on to the propeller and keep pulling until the engine explodes into life or simply continues to sulk like a spoiled and temperamental old lady.

The Stampe – a cousin of the Tiger Moth – is almost ready for its maiden flight. It’s taken over a year to build and I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s a beautiful piece of engineering that anybody can admire regardless of whether they share my love of aviation or not.

Not much to see over Kent this afternoon, with a thick misty haze spoiling the view in stark contrast with yesterday, when Bob and I went searching for a village near rugby, to tow a banner around a wedding service. We had to be there at five O’clock on the dot and we were, finally spotting the tiny village church and the bride outside at five hundred feet, with a two hundred foot banner streaming a romantic message behind us. The funniest thing was dropping into a short farm strip at Rothwell to set-up the banner. Just in front of the McDonalds on the motorway, the airstrip is below the level of the road, so we must have filled the windscreens of the traffic as we dropped over the dual carriageway onto the grass. At which point we left the aircraft where it was and collected a chicken sandwich. Pity they didn’t have a drive thru!

It’s the Abingdon airshow next Sunday. This is a nice little event with displays, rides, stalls and much more, including an aerobatic display from Denny Dobson in his Extra 300. See you there I hope!


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