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Barrow Voice is published by Barrow upon Soar Community Association. Opinions expressed are not necessarily endorsed by the editorial committee or the Community Association.

Barrow Community Association is a registered Charity No: 505692.
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Feature

The joy of flight
Nowadays you can launch yourself into the air in many ways. Micro lights, balloons para-cending, power chuting to mention a few.
I started flying in the early 70s at Husbands Bosworth in a Slingsby t 49 glider. The t 49 was by then old fashioned, made of wood with side by side seating which was good from an instructional point of view but did not help its aerodynamics. We were towed into the air by a tiger moth and released at 2000 feet. When the tow rope was released there was virtually no noise and one was presented with stunning views of south Leicestershire farmland.
In January of 1976 I joined the Oxford flying training school at Kidlington. At that time Kidlington was one of only two flying schools that trained commercial pilots and therefore was busy with up to date aircraft and equipment. Kidlington operated Piper p28 140 aircraft; they had four seats but the 140hp engine was underpowered for its job and best used as a 2 seater. I spent a few hours flying the 140 and with it gained my licence.
In august 1977 I was in Rhodesia [as it was called then] with my wife. We hired a Cessna 210 and flew down the Zambezi River. We had to be a little careful because the Zambians at that time were not friendly and quite happy to take pot shots at anyone on the Rhodesian side. The trip though was well worthwhile. At about 500 feet above the river you could see hippo under the water grazing on the river bed. You would not have been able to see them from the bank. We circled over the Victoria Falls and got some stunning views. At that point the river is about half a mile wide and although at that time not in full peak there was a substantial amount of water going over it. When we got back I did check for bullet holes but there weren’t any.

Periodically taking students flying gave me an opportunity to go to Russia and fly the Antonov 2. This is the largest single engine bi plane made with a huge 1000 hp radial engine up front.
The an2 has a very large cockpit but the passenger compartment is very cramped for the 12 people it carries. Flying along at only 60 kilometres per hour gives you ample time to enjoy the Russian countryside. We flew from Dubrovitsy to Pacomova, to a cadet training school; spent the night there then did some gliding in a blanik sports glider the next day. The cadets were only about 16 years old both boys and girls. They had to live in very basic accommodation, just wooden huts with a wood-burning stove in the middle. Must have been pretty hard in the winter. At eight am they all came out for parade in front of the huts and stood to attention while given a lecture on Russian philosophy before the day began. Despite this they were very cheerful. I remember one young girl cadet helping me into my parachute then giving me a lovely smile as she straightened my tie and strapped me into the blanik. Clearly dress code is very important out there.

I joined Leicester aero club in 1986 and still fly there today. Leicester has an interesting history and is one of the oldest flying clubs in the country. During the war it was used for Lancaster maintenance and training. Leicester operates Cessna 152s [2 seat trainers, considered by some as the best light training aircraft made] a Cessna 172 4 seat tourer, a Piper pa 28 160 and a Grob 115 [a German 2 seat trainer] I fly all the types but prefer the Piper 160 which is a vast improvement on the 140 in my opinion. To gain a ppl nowadays you will need to complete 45 hours training, pass 2 flying tests, one on navigation and another on general handling and then complete 7 written tests and a practical radio test. Sounds a lot to do but for me it has been immeasurably worthwhile and opened many new doors.


Dave Bird