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89


Torquay After a nervous comfort break,


it was time to meet my flying instructor, Mark.


He issued us with a headset each and asked me where I would like to fly. Down the coast to Totnes and then follow the River Dart southwards as it winds its way down to Dartmouth, I replied. With clear skies and the promise of a tailwind wind for the first leg of the trip, Mark agreed the flight plan and led us over to our plane – the one we had just watched land. He checked over the Cessna 172 in time honoured and essential manner. The rivets looked fine to me. Taking my seat on the port side, with Ginny in the rear seat, Mark explained that he would be taking off and landing, but that I would be handling the rest. Sat there waiting for take-off you are faced with a myriad of dials,


knobs and yoke (the steering stick). I had a quiet moment of


reflection thinking of my great uncle Harry, an ace First World War pilot who pranged a similar sized light aircraft when the great battle was over. There is a saying about flying


Dartmouth and Kingswear came into


view, forming a charming model village display.


by the seat of your pants and in such a small aircraft you really do feel at one with the plane as the engine revs roar into life, the brake releases and you whoosh down the runway…which suddenly seems awfully short.


Looking up to Totnes But no sooner do you think you


have reached the end than you find you are in the air, rising steadily above the solid earth. Mark settled the Cessna,


straightened her up, then pointed at the yoke and said ‘It’s your turn to take control of the aircraft’. He gave me a heading to fly, I


grasped the yoke with both hands, the plane trembled and I heard a small squeal from the rear seat. Mark advised me to relax, un-


whiten my knuckles and fly the craft with just one hand. With the adrenalin flowing, it was impossible to be totally nonchalant in such a novel and exciting situation, but I did discover that for some reason I really felt fully at home flying the aircraft. I realised the plane’s navigation instruments are similar to those of a chart plotter on a boat.


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