Home > The Monday Musings Column > on a return to flying

on a return to flying

Later this week I will be flying for the first time since October 2019. I’m not counting my simulator time flying a B737-800, or, more accurately, failing to land said airliner, other than my one and only attempt at Kai Tak from a chequerboard approach (enthusiasts will understand).

Anyway, I’m off on a big silver bird again for the first time in ages and, for reasons that I do not comprehend, am more than a bit anxious. Why? I’ve flown more than 300 times, including crossing the Atlantic on almost 100 occasions and flying into places like Columbia and Libya, so a short run up the M4 to LHR, as we call it in the trade (or, correctly, EGLL) to board my ‘plane should not bother me unduly.

But, somehow, it does. I’m not afraid of flying, nor crashing actually, so to be feeling any sort of anxiety is strange. We are all set to go, apart from some form that we have to fill out on-line no earlier than 72 hours before we fly, we have tickets and seats booked and parking at the airport is sorted. All we have to do is drive up, park and walk across the road to check-in. Piece of cake.

Since the Berkshire Belle and I got together nearly thirty four years ago, whenever we have flown together, I have always had a bit of a twitch until the wheels leave the ground. Nothing much, but, for me, that is the moment that signals that I am on my way. My lady is precious cargo, and I like to take care of her, so getting her safely into the air and on our way means a lot to me.

I love flying as a passenger, and I have also flown a number of single engined aircraft. I fell in love with aircraft as a small boy and, for a time as I came up to leaving school, was hoping to train as a commercial pilot. I had a potential sponsor, but not parental approval, and so that dream died. I was in my mid-thirties before I got to fly (if you don’t count the time I got knocked off my motorbike and flew 30 feet over a hedge into a cabbage field). That first flight, on business from Heathrow to Aberdeen, was to open the floodgates, and, at one point I was flying so often to Scotland and Northern Ireland that I was on first name terms with some of the cabin crews.

Then we discovered America, and no, we weren’t the first, but we loved it from the start, switching seamlessly from Francophiles to Yankophiles. Thus began our transatlantic voyages, sometimes going three times a year, but normally at least twice a year. I was still flitting around the UK on business flights, then took up lessons flying various single engined aircraft. Later still, I began flying long haul on business after going freelance and took in Europe, the Americas, North and South, Africa and Asia.

At six foot three I have had a few bad flights sat down the back in steerage, but generally I have loved flying and airports, especially since I started to turn left on entering the aircraft. All of this makes it more baffling as to why I have the yips about this trip.

I think that the last three years have had such an impact on our lives. Something that, for me, was little more than like catching a ‘bus, is now a bit alien. Things are changing and there is some uncertainty as to what will happen when we get to the airport here, and then again over the other side. At our destination there will, apparently, be another change whilst we are there so that the protocols at the airport on the way back will be different to our arrival.

Despite the twitch I am looking forward to flying again, although it is a shame that the glamour has gone out of flying. We do our best, but, even down the front, we find ourselves amongst a bunch of scruffy oiks who we would not want to invite into our home. We do make an effort to look presentable, and I certainly feel more comfortable that way: We like a bit of style, and, perhaps, we would have been happier flying in the 50s, but then it would have taken twice as long. Anyway, you can’t go back and we will have to put up with what we get in 2023.

So, onwards and upwards. Hopefully I will relax as we start the take-off roll.

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