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Sim City

It's the middle of my peak flying season and it appears to be peak meetings time at the council too; perhaps it's something to do with the summer holidays or more likely the vigorous debate that surrounds the asset disposal programme which now lies partly within my own portfolio and is presently under a review.

This last week, I've been back in the 'Sim' again to prepare for my mandatory annual re-test. It's always a big leap back into a multi-engine, 'glass cockpit' with lots of 'whistles & bells' plus spoken warnings, from the single-engined aircraft which counts as my main office during the summer months. Tidying up my photo library this evening, I stumbled across this old photo of a Pitts S1 that I owned that was sponsored by Lotus Development. Remember them? They were bigger than Microsoft twenty years ago in a distant time before Windows.


The little 'S1' was a bit of a beast to fly. Weighing hardly anything, it felt like strapping a very powerful racing car engine into a very small go-kart with equivalent torque. It could take-off almost vertically and hang on the propeller. With no visibility over the engine and a high stall speed, landing was the most 'exciting' manoever and felt rather like throwing a bathtub on casters down a runway at 90 knots and praying it wouldn't bounce. You've got to be a little crazy to fly the Pitts S1 rather than the more popular two seat and heavier S2, because it's so twitchy with a bite to match. These days I prefer to fly something which is less likely to rearrange one's internal organs in under a second!

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Why stress you might ask. After all, it is Christmas Day.

True but I’ve just spent over two hours assembling the giant Playmobil ‘Pony Farm’ set when most other fathers should be asleep in front of the television.



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Median Saleh

I mentioned in the last post, the 1981 expedition that took in Median Saleh, the ruined Nabatean city in Saudi Arabia


A temple carved from the rock from Petra's sister city.

By coincidence, one of the most important train stations on the Hejaz railway sat next to the ruins and when Lawrence of Arabia blew the line in 1917, the trains were trapped there and are still there today, gathering dust and with "Krupp" on the engine casings.


One of the trains, sitting where T.E. Lawrence left themwith Dr Paul Garnett as the passenger

Below, you can see one of the fortified train stations that Lawrence attacked along the Hejaz railway between Damascus and Medina.



More photos Medain Saleh can be found on THIS Site - Apparently you can catch a tourist bus these days, rather different from risking life and limb to cross an unfriendly Saudi Arabia twenty years ago!