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A flight back in time. (Part 1 of 2)

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Given that I’ve been contentedly living my modest dream for the last 30 years, it is highly unlikely that I could ever be bothered compiling a Bucket List which might provide me with one or more of the following enrichments;

1. Being carjacked and mugged in Nairobi.
2. Accidentally discovering a ladyboy in Thailand.
3. Having my cranium dunked underwater whilst dangling upside down on the end of a bungee rope.
4. Experiencing little cannibal fish swimming up my penis or worms eating me from the inside out in the Amazon.
5. Learning Russian in order to completely satisfy the urgent needs of Hot Olga who keeps reappearing in my email spam folder no matter how many times I delete her.

No, when I’m ready to kick the bucket none of these things would bring the slightest smile to my pallid wizened face. 

Just one thing has been on my wish list for several years.
I wanted to fly a light aircraft one more time.

In 1983 I relinquished a perfectly good flying job along with my pilots licence, a company-supplied house and car and many other perks of civilisation including electricity and a flushing toilet.    Then I dragged Mrs GOF, the Infant Inga and a 10 foot caravan onto an abandoned 46 acre horse paddock in the middle of nowhere at the beginning of the tropical monsoon season.  All of this just to follow my lifetime dream of living sustainably from the land.

I never flew again.

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As the years went by, doing some circuits at the local aerodrome with a flight instructor always seemed to be nothing but a fanciful dream and a complete waste of our precious money.  Truth be told I seriously doubted whether I still had the courage or sufficient residual skills after 30 years to do it.
I no longer have the unbridled self-confidence of a thirty year old, but every time a little Cessna flew over our farm I felt nostalgic yearnings to relive the magic of flight and the unique sense of freedom and detachment from mundane events on earth which pilots feel.

Recent events in my life convinced me it was now time to cough up the cash, confront my fears and just DO IT.

Doing ‘circuits’ (touch and go’s) with an instructor is a demanding and stressful business which requires precise flying technique and intense concentration.

basic_circuit_profile

Pre-flight, the instructor sat me down for a half hour lecture in the classroom.  By the end of this time my head felt like exploding with all the instructions and numbers relating to altitudes, engine settings, flap extension, climb-out, approach and landing configurations. I very nearly aborted the entire exercise to go back into town with Mrs GOF for a quiet cup of tea instead.

Having come this far, I reluctantly, nervously and perfunctorily carried out the pre-flight inspection of the aircraft before buckling myself into the drivers seat.  Instructor next to me.  Mrs GOF in the back.

IMG_7982

IMG_8002

Then something quite magical and unexpected happened.

Suddenly it was 1977 all over again.  It was wonderful and exhilarating and no-one got killed and the aircraft came back in one piece, even though the first landing seriously tested the strength of Mr Cessna’s tricycle undercarriage.

IMG_8001

IMG_8004

Yep……in exchange for all my memories of flying I’ll give you my broadest jaundiced and toothless deathbed grin.

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With P2-WKD at Mindik airstrip, Papua New Guinea, 1977

With P2-WKD at Mindik airstrip, Papua New Guinea, 1977

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Mrs GOF’s video of recent events is here.

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About GOF

"Life is like a sewer. What you get out of it, depends upon what you put into it." (Tom Lehrer)

29 responses »

  1. My pilot hubby hasn’t flown in more than 10 years, and he keeps talking about renting a light plane (too much hassle & money), or buying/borrowing/stealing an ultralight. I do not encourage such talk, but it continues.

    (Video not found, BTW)

    Reply
    • I hope he will eventually get your approval to fly again if that is his dream…….(Preferably not in an ultralight) I think in Australia pilots lose their licences if they don’t fly a prescribed minimum number of hours every year.
      The video comes up by clicking the word ‘here’. I’ll see of I can fix the problem.

      Reply
      • You keep your currency by doing 3 landings every 90 days.

        Reply
      • Just watched the video. FUN!!! Hubby still has his license, but he’d have to take a flight check with an instructor first, of course. The problem is you can’t just rent an airplane for an hour here. You have to join a damn CLUB. Which means even more money, plus background checks and whatnot. He doesn’t want to have to jump through all those hoops just to take a plane up for an hour.

        Reply
        • Yep, all that messing around would put me off too. I stand to be corrected here, but I think it’s easy to rent planes by the hour in Australia so long as the charter company or Aero Club is satisfied with your credentials. That’s the way it used to be, but there’s an outside chance the world has changed during the last 30 years. 🙂

          Reply
          • Yeah, it’s $5,000 just to join the club, then $200 a month thereafter. ~erk~

            Reply
            • Holy Mother of Aviation!!!! You could maybe give him a hang glider for his birthday. No joining or recurrent fees and I believe the fuel costs are not excessive…..although maybe he too likes the idea of a floor beneath his feet and an engine up the front. 🙂

              Reply
  2. I just watched the video! Wondeful! Such a beautiful country-side and a perfect landing!
    How long were you in the air?
    It’s a strange thing, I do not like heights, but I love flying.

    Keep on grinning! 😀

    Reply
    • It is a beautiful place when the weather is fine Lauri. The landing in the video is the final one of 6……on the first one we landed like a drunken kangaroo and the camera nearly fell out of Mrs GOFs hands so I wasn’t going to put that one up for public viewing.. 😉
      I hired the plane and instructor for a little more than one hour so we did 3 circuits then flew directly to our farm for some aerial photography (part 2 next week) before coming back for more circuits.

      I am also terrifed of heights. Get me 4 rungs up a stepladder and I start perspiring, but as long as I have a floor beneath me, wings above and an engine in front I’m fine.

      The grin is still on my face 3 weeks later.

      Reply
  3. Well, I’m glad you did it. Brave of your wife to do the ride along, lol.

    Watching the video now.

    Reply
    • So am I GOM, and Mrs GOF admits she was initially quite terrified but photography took her mind off the possibility of imminent death.

      Reply
  4. First thing’s first – where the heck was I not knowing you had a youtube channel? It’s magnificent! Anyway, great photos and film of the flight. The background noise was actually peaceful. And your landing seemed as smooth as a car turning a corner. Great. Congrats, love the PNG photo too.

    Reply
    • Thank you Emmy……in the interests of rewriting history the video didn’t include the first crap landing. Most of the stuff on my youtube channel is unlisted, but there are links on the ‘piano’ tab on my WP home page.

      Reply
  5. Oh me old mate GOF, I am bloody proud of you! I read your piece and knew exactly where your sentiments came from. That bit about always looking up when a little plane flew over… only non-current, winged pilots would understand the cock-tease that that really is! I trust you did more than 1 circuit and felt the thrill when the CFI said: “You have control.”

    Reply
    • I knew when writing this that you would know exactly how I was feeling Ninja. I had a very good, albeit young, instructor who sussed me out pretty well during the pre-flight briefing and knew that he was not dealing with an old aviator who had a superior know-it-all attitude. He gave me full control from go to whoa, except of course he did the radio calls, and he just reminded me occasionally about the correct rpm settings for various stages of flight.

      I did 6 circuits in all….first landing was a fairly bone jarring three-pointer as I was never used to doing the completely power-off landings which he required. In PNG we always had some power on for the uphill landings. All the other arrivals were quite reasonable after that. Midway through the circuits we flew up to our farm to take some aerial photographs…..hence Part 2 of the story next week.

      Reply
  6. Good for you, GOF. I’ll look forward to your next video.

    Reply
  7. How exciting! I love that Mrs. GOF got to go with you. Had she ever done the Driving Miss Daisy with you before?

    If I can ever make it to Australia and if I can brave the tropics (since us Lupacians don’t have internal cooling systems, we’re no Fun and may keel over, needing hospital), I want to FLYYYYYYYYYY. I’ve been in a little plane once but I was a toddler. Family says when asked what I thought of going up in the little plane, I said, ‘Lovely, just like Jack in the Beanstalk.’

    So, there you go, Jack!

    Reply
    • Thank you Lily. Mrs GOF flew with me a few times in PNG before we became an ‘item’, and also in the Queensland outback once or twice…..only this time she was seriously concerned about who was in control. 🙂

      Why don’t you take a trial flight with a local flying school…..in Australia they offer special deals for around $100 where the instructor allows you to take control during some phases of the flight.

      Come visit our tropics during winter….perfect weather for you.

      Reply
      • I don’t think they’d want me to fly the plane MYSELF. As with riding a bike (I can’t), I don’t have a focal point with my eyes. Maybe you don’t need one (I’m sure landing would need depth perception).

        People always ask how I manage to drive a car and I reply, ‘I’ve crashed plenty. You learn to fake it.’ Not sure if a plane crash is as easily recovered from!

        I love to ride in boats, too. Haven’t ever driven one.

        Reply
        • They would allow you to fly the plane once it was airborne to get a feeling of how it responds to the various controls. They probably wouldn’t expect you to land it on the first occasion unless the instructor had died from a heart attack mid-flight. 🙂

          ‘Crashing plenty’ is not generally acceptable in the aviation industry. 🙂

          Boats are fun too, except the ocean terrifies me and I sink faster than I swim.

          Reply
          • We have loads of rivers, streams, springs, ponds and lakes but it takes about 1,000mi to get to the nearest ocean. So far, oceans have been incredibly safe from me.

            To quote Brother, ‘What is it with you, alcohol and rivers?’

            Reply
  8. Good on you! Those little planes are so noisy you wouldn’t have heard Mrs GOF swearing… 🙂 The countryside is so green! so different to the red dirt of where I grew up which is beautiful in its own way.

    Reply
    • Thanks Emjay. Mrs GOF, being a lady, doesn’t swear. *choke* 🙂
      It’s a beautiful part of the world when it’s not pouring with rain.

      Reply

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