Skip to main content
Forever Wendy

Don’t say it with flowers, use a banner!

Twelve flights on Wednesday with Captain Bob and the Airads Cessna 172 culminated with a grand finale, a banner tow around the town of Kidwelly in Wales, bearing the message, ‘Wendy, I love you forever.

"So how do you spell Kidwelly"

The day had started early in Kent, with a refuelling stop at Headcorn, before taking in ‘Glorious’ Goodwood, Compton Abbas, Dunkeswell, Pembury, Swansea and then home again to Maypole, just as the dark and the sea mist were descending. In between, the Airads aircraft took in Weymouth, Bognor Regis and it felt, much of the South coast on one of the warmest days of the year, which made towing a banner in the thin air a challenge, as the engine strained to keep the Cessna 172 at height at very low speeds.

Going up... just!

Having never visited Goodwood before, one of the first things I noticed beyond the race track around the airfield perimeter, was a second motor-racing track, with Porsches hammering around at speeds that can’t have been much higher than the average motorway. Perhaps the owners didn’t want to damage their expensive toys on their track day out?

Goodwood airfield reminds me of the last days of the British Raj, and going into the clubhouse with its tented veranda I felt we should have been wearing shirts and ties and not shorts and t-shirts. Charming and polite, nobody actually asked us ‘Can you afford to land here’ and there was no painted sign with ‘No Riff-Raff’ anywhere to be seen but £52 for two landings suggested that working pilots, ‘Tradesman’ in shorts should keep well clear.

Glorious Goodwood

Off to a more relaxed Compton Abbas then, with its wonderful view and from there, we finally made our way towards South Wales, in a desperate attempt to reach Kidwelly by 18:00 to tell Wendy how much her boyfriend loved her and then hit Swansea by 18:30 to take on fuel for the long ride home before the airport closed.

The nearest airfield to Kidwelly is Pembrey, within sight of the town and its castle. We popped-in there at around 17:45 and it looks very much like a disused, deserted and overgrown military airfield with a single control building and a fire engine. Captain Bob asked the single resident if we could use the airfield and was promptly charged an outrageous £40 for an ‘extension’, which from our point of view was a complete ‘rip-off’ as no obvious service or control facility was being offered and it felt very much as if we were being taken for a ride!

Back over Kidwelly, all the world could see that Wendy’s boyfriend ‘loved her forever’ which was very sweet and very expensive, given that he had asked us to fly the width of Britain to give her his little message. Apparently, the boyfriend was off to Iraq the next day and this was his way of saying goodbye. Mind you, there’s a twist to the story. As we were on our way, we heard that the couple had had an argument and split-up the night before but the gallant young soldier decided to go ahead with the banner anyway. Who said romance was dead? In Kidwelly however, I suspect he’ll never live it down!

A quick dash to Swansea then to refuel and cadge some chocolate – our late lunch – from the very friendly firemen before setting course for Bristol, Farnborough, Ockham, Brockham, Biggin Hill and finally Maypole. A fantastic evening with the Sun setting behind the aircraft and a stunning view of South West England and Wales before we found the beginnings of a damp and rapidly thickening mist as we approached Biggin Hill and then felt or way down to the runway at Maypole as darkness closed in at 21:00.

The moral of this story? Well, if you want to tell your girlfriend you love her, then don’t say it with flowers, use a one hundred foot banner from Airads.


Popular posts from this blog

Mainframe to Mobile

Not one of us has a clue what the world will look like in five years’ time, yet we are all preparing for that future – As  computing power has become embedded in everything from our cars and our telephones to our financial markets, technological complexity has eclipsed our ability to comprehend it’s bigger picture impact on the shape of tomorrow.

Our intuition has been formed by a set of experiences and ideas about how things worked during a time when changes were incremental and somewhat predictable. In March 1953. there were only 53 kilobytes of high-speed RAM on the entire planet.

Today, more than 80 per cent of the value of FTSE 500* firms is ‘now dark matter’: the intangible secret recipe of success; the physical stuff companies own and their wages bill accounts for less than 20 per cent: a reversal of the pattern that once prevailed in the 1970s. Very soon, Everything at scale in this world will be managed by algorithms and data and there’s a need for effective platforms for ma…

Civilisational Data Mining

It’s a new expression I haven’t heard before. ‘Civilisational data mining.’

Let me start by putting it in some context. Every character, you or I have typed into the Google search engine or Facebook over the last decade, means something, to someone or perhaps ‘something,’ if it’s an algorithm.

In May 2014, journalists revealed that the United States National Security Agency, the NSA, was recording and archiving every single cell-phone conversation that took place in the Bahamas. In the process they managed to transform a significant proportion of a society’s day to day interactions into unstructured data; valuable information which can of course be analysed, correlated and transformed for whatever purpose the intelligence agency deems fit.

And today, I read that a GOP-hired data company in the United States has ‘leaked’ personal information, preferences and voting intentions on… wait for it… 198 million US citizens.

Within another decade or so, the cost of sequencing the human genome …

The Big Steal

I’m not here to predict the future;” quipped the novelist, Ray Bradbury. “I’m here to prevent it.” And the future looks much like one where giant corporations who hold the most data, the fastest servers, and the greatest processing power will drive all economic growth into the second half of the century.

We live in an unprecedented time. This in the sense that nobody knows what the world will look like in twenty years; one where making confident forecasts in the face of new technologies becomes a real challenge. Before this decade is over, business leaders will face regular and complex decisions about protecting their critical information and systems as more of the existing solutions they have relied upon are exposed as inadequate.

The few real certainties we have available surround the uninterrupted march of Moore’s Law - the notion that the number of transistors in the top-of-the-line processors doubles approximately every two years - and the unpredictability of human nature. Exper…