Category Archives for "Flying"

Jan 21

“Propellerhead” by Antony Woodward, reviewed by Mark Attwood

By Mark Attwood | Flying

This book is all about a young man who starts learning to fly purely because he thinks it will help him pull the girls.

What follows is a wonderfully entertaining biography of London Ad Agency copywriter Antony Woodward’s adventures as he moves from novice to fully-qualified Thruster owner.

You don’t have to have been through the trials and tribulations of learning to fly yourself to appreciate this witty tome, although if you have you will certainly be nodding a lot and laughing out loud as you read.

Woodward is a truly gifted writer, managing to weave the plot of his life with high comedy and drama, whilst also managing to give you a historical tour of the wartime airfields of East Anglia.

The story of his bizarre partners in the ownership of the Thruster are very amusing, as is his wooing of the beautiful but elusive “Lift Girl” at work. I particularly enjoyed his retelling of the journey from Salsingham in Norfolk to Barton Aerodrome in Manchester for the start of a round Britain race, especially how his great “airmanship” wound up the locals.

Two chapters that will really wow anyone are the description of his very-lucky-to-survive crash followed by the simply beautiful description of how he fell back in love with flying. I had to re-read it many times, it was that good.

This book has been compared by more illustrious reviewers to the works of Nick Hornby, mainly because of the way he adheres to the passion he develops for flying in a similar way to the way music is used as a coathanger for the story in Hornby’s High Fidelity.

Bottom line: if you like a good read and love flying, this is a must-have for your shelves:

Jan 12

Bad landing… A bad day at the office!

By Mark Attwood | Flying

Should raise a chuckle… somebody sent me this photo of one poor pilot’s bad day in the office…:

Bad day at the office...

"OK I was a little over the kerb..."

Flying that even a young Mark Attwood would be ashamed to admit to…

This is one of those pictures that you’re not exactly sure how it could have even happened… Was the pilot trying to land on that road? Did he slip off the grass verge after leaving the handbrake off??

Haha.. shouldn’t laugh though… pilot solidarity and all that…

Dec 15

100% Human Performance

By Mark Attwood | Flying

No, I’m not saying how great I am in the sack.

This blog post relates to a gold star, 100% rating in last night’s Human Performance & Limitations (HPL) Exam.

It wasn’t just me, about half the room got the same result. Which was almost as nice as the celebratory curry we had afterwards (which will no doubt contribute to everyone’s barotrauma today).

For anyone doing PPL ground school and facing this daunting exam, I can summarise it’s contents thus:

1. Stop smoking
2. Stop drinking
3. Stop flying above 10,000′ without oxygen
4. Start believing in God or some other higher purpose to make you calmer in situations when you face certain death (according to Cosgrove)
5. Stop scuba diving before you fly (Jame Bond might have something to say about this one).
6. Stop catching colds.
7. Stop flying into 400kt RAF Tornados (that you won’t see anyway and they won’t see you either so this one is really out of your hands. It’s either death or airprox).

1 out of 7 ain’t bad, I suppose.

Dec 10

PPL iPhone Apps

By Mark Attwood | Flying

Learning to fly? Got an iPhone? Then you need to get yer mitts on these apps from a company called The Great Circle or get them from the iPhone apps store here.

Very cool and very useful, especially for revising when you’re sat around in the dentists looking for something more interesting to read than Hello! or Cosmopolitan (there are only so many ways to have an orgasm one can read about before it gets very boring).

Careful though – I got my copy of the Air Law app to help me with my NPPL(M) exams and was horrified when I opened the app to find there were loads of questions I did not know the answer to. Only later did I realise this was for the Airline Transport Pilot Licence and waaaay beyond what I need for my exam. That’s what happens when one gets too excited to actually bother reading the title of what it is you are buying. ATPL should have given the game away!

Still, it’s got me reading up on stuff I didn’t know about. I have yet to try the other apps out, but shall be reporting back on them when I have. They’ve got apps for all the other exam subjects. If you do download any, let us know what you think to them.

Here’s a video review I’ve knocked up for you:

Dec 06

Microlighting over the Bae de Somme brings thoughts of WWI pilots and poetry

By Mark Attwood | Flying

It ain’t easy flying a microlight whilst also trying to get footage of the spectacular views of the Bae de Somme from 2000 feet, especially when your camera has one of those flap out doors that the wind just loves blowing shut, but here’s my best effort…

I definitely want to fly there again – take a bit more time to take in the first world war battlefields from above. Made me think of Biggles in his Sopwith Camel as this was the very sky he flew in…

Of course, Biggles was fictional, but the stories of him flying through the “pea-soupers” for battles in the sky had me gripped as a child. And then a thought occurred to me that I had never read any first world war poetry from any pilots – thinking of the first world war always makes me instantly think of poetry, white feathers and Blackadder Goes Forth.

After a little research, I did find this work by one Jeffrey Day, (1896 – 1918) – an English war poet, killed in an air battle towards the end of World War I over the sea. He was commissioned in 1914 in the Royal Naval Air Service, and rose to an acting rank of flight-commander. He was awarded the D. S. C.. and it is said that he wrote poetry whilst in the air!

On the Wings of the Morning

A sudden roar, a mighty rushing sound,
A jolt or two, a smoothly sliding rise,
A tumbled blur of disappearing ground,
And then all sense of motion slowly dies,
Quiet and calm, the earth slips past below,
As underneath a bridge still waters flow.

My turning wing inclines toward the ground;
The ground itself glides up with graceful swing
And at lane’s far tip twirls slowly round,
Then drops from sight again beneath the wing
To slip away serenely as before,
A cubist-patterned carpet on the floor.

Hills gently sink and valleys gently fill.
The flattened fields grow ludicrously small;
Slowly they pass beneath and slower still
Until they hardly seem to move at all.
Then suddenly they disappear from sight
Hidden by fleeting wisps of faded white.

The wing-tips, faint and dripping, dimly show
Blurred by the wreaths of mist that intervene.
Weird, half-seen shadows flicker to and fro
Across the pallid fog-bank’s blinding screen.
At last the choking mists release their hold,
And all the world is silver, blue and gold.

The air is clear, more clear than sparkling wine;
Compared with this wine is a turgid brew.
The far horizon makes a clean-cut line
Between the silver and depthless blue.
Out of the snow-white level reared on high
Glittering hills surge up to meet the sky.

Outside the wind screen’s shelter gales may race;
But in the seat a cool and gentle breeze
Blows steadily upon my grateful face.
As I sit motionless and at my ease,
Contented just to loiter in the sun
And gaze around me till the day is done.

And so I sit half sleeping, half awake,
Dreaming a happy dream of golden days
Until at last, with a reluctant shake
I rouse myself and with lingering gaze
At all the splendour of the shining plain
Make ready to come down to earth again.

The engine stops; a pleasant silence reigns-
Silence, not broken, but intensified
By the soft, sleepy wire’ insistent strains,
That rise and fall as with a sweeping glide
I slither down the well-oiled sides of space,
Towards a lower, less enchanted place.

The clouds draw nearer, changing as they come.
Now, like a flash, fog grips me by the throat.
Down goes the nose: at once the wire’s low hum
Begins to rise in volume and in note,
Till, as I hurtle from the choking cloud
It swells into a scream, high pitched, and loud.

The scattered hues and shades of green and brown
Fashion themselves into the land I know,
Turning and twisting, as I spiral down
Towards the landing-ground; till, skimming low
I glide with slackening speed across the ground,
And come to rest with lightly grating sound.

If anyone finds a picture of Jeffrey Day, do let me know. Thanks.

And now, just to lighten the mood, are Baldrick’s war poems…

Dec 02

Microlight Crash and Rescue: Glenshee, Scotland

By Mark Attwood | Flying

This is a marvellous video. Although it’s about a potentially horrific crash at 3800′ in the snow covered mountain-tops of Scotland, it’s also about bravery, camaraderie, friendship, teamwork. Plus, every pilot needs to study crashes to help improve your skills. So, watch and learn…

Dec 02

“Microlight Pilot’s Handbook” by Brian Cosgrove, reviewed by Mark Attwood

By Mark Attwood | Flying

What words describe this book? Definitive? Superlative?

Brian Cosgrove is not someone I had the pleasure of meeting (he passed away last year aged 84), but you can simply do nothing but bow down before him as a true aviation pioneer and legend. One cannot underestimate what it takes to have lived through the early years of the development of the microlight and to develop a book of this stature.

His flying career is incredible, daunting, inspiring. Anyone thinking about learning to fly microlights simply has to read this “Cossy”.

A classic.