As I came in to land my light aircraft one more time, I realised just how much I would miss this wonderful place. I got such a thrill every time I took off or landed.
I have been a flying instructor for thirty years and enjoyed every moment of it.
The people I teach are here because they want to be. They are here to learn to fly. But also to have a lot of fun at the same time.
Today I have been putting the new guy through his paces. He Has five years experience as an instructor at a little airfield. But although his reputation there has been very good, I need to make sure he has the experience needed for this place.
We have certain standards to maintain. Our customers need the best training as they have always got here.
Unfortunately he is very good at his job. So really there is no need for me to stay any longer. So it looks like I will be retiring at the end of the month.
My wife will be glad to have me at home on a regular basis. Also she worries every time I fly and always has. So that’s a lot of worrying over thirty years.
“Only two weeks to go old chap. Then you can put your feet up for good.” Said Charles the new instructor. ” How I envy you. Just think of all the things you can do at home.” He smiled as he said this.
I have a feeling he was enjoying this job as much as I always have. But I had only two weeks left. Yet he had so many wonderful years ahead of him. Lucky guy.
When we were safely on the ground, I noticed my wife’s car in one of the hangers. This was unusual as she just didn’t come here. “Planes are dangerous. They can crash.” She often said.
After the usual after flight checks etc I went to find her.
The airfield boss was in his office and my wife Lisa was there with him.
When I entered the office it went very quiet for a few moments. Until Lisa suddenly said. “So that’s Sorted then Barry (The Boss.)
” Yes, Yes,please do that Lisa. I will leave it in your hands.” But he seemed very uncomfortable with himself.
Lisa said she had some shopping to do as she rushed past me. “See you at home later dear.” Was all I got out of her.
“What was all that about Barry?” I asked politely. He sort of fluffed iffed and butted. Before saying.
“Oh ask Lisa when you get home. You know what these women are like.” And that was it. He wouldn’t or couldn’t say any more to me.
At home later I asked Lisa what was going on. Once again I felt I was not getting the full or true story. She told me that Barry’s wife was fixing up some do or another and she needed some help with it. That was all she knew at this time. But I was sure there was a lot more to it than this. But why should she be so secretive. I was missing something here.
A week later, just after I had landed my aircraft, I went to the control tower to see Barry. He was doing his stint as we all did when needed. There were many years of experience between us all here. And we always helped out if and when asked. Today was Barry’s turn once again. He had been qualified for many years now. As have I. The morning had been a bit misty. But not too bad for an experienced pilot to fly. Charles had decided to take one of his trainees up for an hours flight.
Barry thought it would be good practice for him. Unfortunately the weather took a turn for the worst. The mist started to get very bad. It seemed to be getting like a thick fog. Suddenly the room was filled with a loud message from one of the planes. I have lost one of my engines and I cant see the ground. S.O.S S.O.S.
Of course I was on to it straight away. I called the plane to try and get some idea of where he was.The pilot told me he lost sight of the ground several minutes ago. But he managed to give me an idea where he was.Fortunately I knew every inch of the local area, so I had a rough idea where he was. He told me his direction etc.
This helped a lot.”O.K. “I shouted. “Let’s get some help here. We need to get the runway lit up big time. And I thing this is a good time to try out the new emergency tail lights on my aircraft. Sure hope they work as well as they did on the trial run last week.” I had invented a set of lights that shone very bright and could be seen during misty and foggy weather. But I have only tested them out once so far. Everyone soon got to their feet and seemed to be rushing everywhere. Fortunately Barry was giving them all orders.
When I was sure they were all doing their jobs, I ran to my aircraft. I wasn’t sure if I could help. But I had to try. I was soon air Bourne and heading to where I thought the other plane would be by now.
Fortunately I flew in the right direction. I stayed as low as I could or dared in the hope of seeing the other plane.
But the mist was so thick that I had no chance at all and of course the other pilot was in the same situation.
I called him over the radio and he answered immediately.
“Loosing height, can’t see the ground. Still got one engine so far. Where are you buddy?” Came his reply.
“I must be very near as I can hear your engine. Sounds a bit ropey, so going to try to get you down as soon as possible.
I will switch on my tail lights and the new headlights. They are all extra bright, so you should be able to see them.
The tail lights are bright red, the headlights are blue. But also very bright. Tell me when you can see them.”
I just hoped this was going to work. Then I flicked both sets on.
He immediately called me. “I can see two blue lights coming towards me from the left. What do you want me to do?”
He called desperately. “I will turn so I am heading towards the airfield. Follow me if you can. Call me if you lose my lights.”
I replied immediately.
Then my plane was heading home with the other one at a safe distance behind.
“I can see your rear lights and am following them the best I can. Don’t go any faster or I will lose you.” He pleaded.
Very soon I saw the lights from the airfield. The emergency lights on the runway stood out. The staff there had done a good job.
“I can see the airfield.” The pilot shouted down the radio. “But can’t judge the ground from this height. Can you help me somehow.”
I told him to get as close to me as was possible. I slowed as much as I dare. Didn’t want him to hit me.
Charles (The pilot of the damaged plane.) seemed to be doing very well so far. But landing would be the most dangerous part
and I wasn’t sure how he was going to cope with this.
“O.K. Charles, we are going in to land. Get your speed as near to mine as you possibly can. I will tell you when I am going to touch down.
When you do so just stop as you always do. I will go a bit further to give you room.
I may need to go up again if I get too near the end of the runway. So don’t worry about me.Understood Buddy.”
Charles told me he would do as I asked.
Then bump, I touched down five seconds after I called Charles. I could see his lights. They were a bit bumpy but steady.
I watched as he stopped, but then realised I may not be able to as I was very close to the boundary.
All systems stop please, I thought as I applied all of the brakes steadily but firmly. I wasn’t sure if the fence would stop me or I would
miss it altogether. The only other option was to take off again and hope I could get up in time to miss it.
Too late to take off so keep those brakes on. I was saying under my breath. Then suddenly I realised I had come to a stop just feet away from
There was an awful lot of commotion all around both planes. Sirens, lights and lots of other noises.
I was soon out of the pilots seat and firmly on the ground. Such a wonderful feeling. I ran to the other plane to find Charles and his pupil
walking towards me. Then we hugged as he thanked me. His pupil was too shaken to speak. I am not surprised
We all went to the cafeteria for a cup of tea and a debriefing. Apparently the plane had been serviced the day before. So it should
have been in very good condition. So there would have to be an investigation.
Barry was very impressed when he realised my special lights helped guide the other plane to safety. He would be looking at ways to
fit and improve these on all of our planes. With my permission of course as it was my idea.
Soon everything was sorted out and we went home. It had been a very exciting but dangerous day.
A couple of days later we had a phone call from Barry. “Can you come over to the airfield at about four today?” He asked in a matter of fact
sort of way. “Oh, best bring the wife along.” He said as an afterthought.
“What’s it for?” I asked.
He replied very casually and said, “We just want to have a few drinks and some food to thank you for all your help the other day.
Nothing formal of course.”
So at three o’clock we showered and were getting ready to go, when Lisa made a comment on what I was putting on.
“You can’t wear jeans and a tee shirt. For goodness sake smarten yourself up a bit. I don’t want you to show me up.”
I then noticed Lisa was dressing rather smart for a beer and bit of food.
No point arguing, I thought to myself. So I opted for a smart shirt and decent trousers. Then to be posh I put on a blazer.
Now I felt I would not let Lisa down. Yes she gave me the thumbs up. Brilliant!
Off we went to the airfield as asked. On the approach I could see lots of cars parked by the main hanger.
“How many people are expected? “I asked. “There seems an awful lot of cars here today”.
Lisa just looked at me and smiled. So I thought it best to stay quiet. I knew something was going on. But just couldn’t figure out
We parked up and went into the main hanger. And to my amazement, the place was full of people.
Barry came over to us and said he had to come clean. This was a celebration, partially for saving the day and secondly as a special leaving present
There was a silence when Barry rang the bell and then he gave an amazing speech. My eyes were full of water, but I managed to control my emotions
but only just.
Then it was my turn to speak. How I hate this. I am no speaker, but it had to be done.
I told them all that I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to stay around, to be part of this wonderful place that had been so much of my life.
Then a chap that I didn’t know stood up and said. “Well old chap, you can’t leave completely as we need you to carry on with you’r work here.
You have so many ideas that can possibly work to help that we want you to have your own workshop and help us all. How does that sound to you.
I couldn’t believe my luck. At least I could stay here and be useful. So now it was time for fun and relaxation. We went and followed our noses.
The cooking food smelled so brilliant that I was drawn to it. Apparently Barry had organised The Hog Roast Catering company to do all of the food as well as the bar and the
music. I can only praise this company so much as the food was out of this world. Also the whole evening was wonderful. The music was the best we could ask for.
The food was so good that I am going to have them for my daughters wedding next year. I will also hire a marquee from them just in case of bad weather.
Their prices are very reasonable and the services are fantastic.
Have a lovely life. Be happy and help those that need you.