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After a particularly poor round of golf at the course next to North Weald Airfield, my friend suggested that we go across the road to see his dad, who was setting up his stand in preparation for the forthcoming weekend.
It was a lovely warm Friday in July '97. So we went across to North Weald where his father, Frank Hargraves, was. Frank, who runs the 'Arnhem Flight', which is a 'tribute' to the famous skirmish, for want of a better word, is the man who was in command of the British Troops at the time. So the 'Flight' is a tribute to his leadership. Anyway, after talking to him for a couple of hours, and looking at his model Dakota and glider, I decided that I would go along the next day for a gander. My first Wings and Wheels.
So I went along and the god of model aircrafts reeled in another catch... .I was well and truly hooked. So I toddled along to Cohn Bliss and bought a Serenade glider. I built it and realised that I didn't have a clue what to do next. A few Sundays later, I was sitting at home wondering what to do. I vaguely remembered that about ten years previously, on my way to work, I used to pass a field where I remembered seeing a sign... something to do with model aircraft. I got in the car and went to look for it.
About half an hour later, I came across a group of men standing in a field with little aeroplanes. Gerry had an electric 'Junior' I think, buzzing around. I introduced myself to them and was invited to stay. that god of model aircrafts 'struck' his rod and the hook became even more firmly embedded. My training began. I was really useless worse than useless. But Steve stuck with me and I think he saw me as a challenge. He said that a cub was the plane for me, so I got one. I started building. Steve was right when he said. "Don't worry, you'll get it" Gradually his finger had to stay on the trainer switch for longer and longer until the day came when he said, "You're ready for your test" Well, I passed Then I started to learn how to fly a model aircraft! My first flight after I passed, rekindled that feeling I had when I drove the car on my own for the first time. Adrenalin? Wow! I felt as if I was up there myself looping, banking, swooping Yes!!!
It was then suggested to me by a member of great wisdom, that I should learn how to spin. A very wise move because, if the truth be known, every time I fly one of my planes, or even someone else's, I make mistakes. But now, I know how to correct them without fuss. In fact, colleagues often think I am working out a new manoeuvre, little do they know, I've lost control again. But we do it safely!! Some of the best looking stunts are when your fingers are going like the clappers trying to regain control. It has been twenty one months since I got my license. I believe I have progressed with the help of the more experienced flyers in the club. To me, one of the greatest pleasures in our hobby, is to watch the faces of the 'learners'. As Terry said, "I envy them" because they are experiencing for the first time, what we now tend to take for granted. The first take-off the first landing. Who can forget them? Have you noticed how you watch pigeons or sparrows to see how they manage to turn so well without the use of a rudder? No - one ever explained to them about tip - stalling!
Now, the planes I have are more advanced from those I had at the beginning. They do more. However, as I said to Vic once, "as long as I fly models, I will have a Cub" Perhaps it is because I like to keep hold of my first flight, in my mind. Each one of us should feel proud of our club when we see the youngsters flying. Soon, they will be showing us how it's done! We all have very different lives, jobs, ideas, expectations and values, but we are unanimous in our fascination for planes. To me, flying is about fun and achievement however it comes.
I look forward to all the flights ahead of me. GOODFLYING TO YOU ALL!!!!