how I learned about flying
' I have control'
' I have control' instructed 'Stickpusher' - my new flying instructor, from the aircraft's right hand seat. He - Stickpusher was now my tutor because until my first solo flight I had insisted on being taught by the club's Chief Flying Instructor on the grounds that his skills and knowledge should be greater than that of his junior sitting beside me.
'You have control' I stated as required by the rules taking my hand off the control wheel - hoping that Stickpusher did not live up to the name we all preferred to call him by. As the wings dipped left he indeed nudged the control column forward - guiding the little Piper Colt trainer down and to he left in a feeble version of a wing-over manoeuvre - then diving positively in the general direction of another small aircraft about two hundred feet and one and a half miles distant. In the shallow dive our speed built up and in the clear, smooth air we rapidly caught up with the other machine.
'Now we're going to have some fun' trumpeted Stickpusher in a juvenile manner. I was already having fun, or at I was least meant to be, I thought - this flying lesson called 'upper air work' - practising stalls and spins in an aircraft that was very reluctant to do either. Now I could see that the other machine we were rapidly converging on was a DH Chipmunk two seat trainer, painted in Royal Air Force livery - plodding steadily along Straight and level, the pilot apparently minding its own business
as gradually it dawned on me that the idiot Stickpusher was going to 'buzz' the other aircraft - without warning without its captain's permission
mindless and stupid
Stickpusher was about to spoil my day - the expensive flying lesson I had been looking forward to all week.
'You idiot...' I yelled at my instructor 'You stupid, stupid idiot... that Chipmunk might be flown by a student on his first solo cross-country' - as I forcefully took control from him. 'I have control' - I have control... I realise you are officially pilot in command - but it's my money that's paying for this.' We continued the flight in an embarrassed silence and soon landed at our base airfield. I considered complaining to the school manager but 'wimped-out' as my wife had paid for the complete course in advance, one lump sum that I had no wish to jeopardise by endangering the future service I would receive
as I was not even halfway through my course at this stage.
Already I was considered a difficult student. I had been transferred from the Chief Instructor to the far less experienced Stickpusher, after just my first five hours
after my first solo flight having insisted the CFI remain my instructor until then
he had not wanted to - claiming older men like me, already successful and perhaps running businesses - were harder to teach. Their history and self-confidence rendered them assertive and unwilling to take instruction. I did not object to these views and could see the merit in what he claimed all the instructors were younger than I was and it seemed they merely viewed their job as a means of hour building towards a career with the airlines
It was still a nice day, clear and blue with that post cold frontal seemingly unlimited visibility. My idiot of an instructor had ruined it all unless you count his actions as yet another lesson
but the story did not end there
a week later Stickpusher telephoned me at home; 'Peter - the Civil Aviation Authority have contacted me about the incident with the chipmunk. There was an RAF instructor with a student in it' now he was pleading, a note of desperation entering his voice; 'they are filing an Air Miss it's very serious. Please be my friend and say I never went near them'
who had the control now?
Peter Hunter 2013
from Peter Hunter's too many miles