... How I Learned About Flying... (Part 7)

by Peter Hunter

how I learned about flying

Half-way through the barrel-roll and things were going well - an upside-down Buckinghamshire portrayed as a patchwork of yellow, green and brown dissected by black and grey veins

    smudged only by the occasional car

   I was flat on my back - fixed by safety harness and the half-G or so maintained by the centrifugal force at the top of the barrel roll. The sudden, unscheduled and unexpected maneuver, my left hand still on the control stick - resulted in puling the aircraft into a flick roll which developed into a fast fully-fledged spin. Now - instead of seeing the ground through the Perspex roof of the canopy the windscreen in front of me was filled with the rapidly spinning version

of the home counties scenery

   Much like a rotating Google map - but rapidly getting closer. The rear of my car-type folding seat had collapsed. I was unable to sit upright unless I supported myself with my right hand holding onto the passenger seat - not the best way of practicing unscheduled spin recovery in an airplane

    I had never spun it before just incipient spins in air tests

   Back in straight and level flight - I checked all my instruments. The accelerometer telltale indicator was reading high, but not quite as high as the Falcos six G-limit, so all was good. No problem - at least until I returned to the airfield where the handicap of having to use only my left hand - due to the necessity of using my right one to hold my self upright

   might prove embarrassing

   Realising I could let go for a few moments using my back muscles instead of the seat back - was a help, but the main problem was - unlike in more modern machines, my Falcos brakes were operated only by a single bar situated between the two rudder pedals, rather than the conventional two brake pedal arrangement. Additionally

    it required quite a lot of pressure to be effective.

    and the collapsed seat back would not permit me to give it too much pressure.

   It seemed to me time to call on some of the benefits I could expect from my monthly landing fees and parking charges.

Booker Tower - this is Golf Foxtrot Alfa Lima Charlie. I transmitted.

Lima Charlie - go ahead. The controller answered.

Lima Charlie - I have a small problem My seat back has collapsed so could you roll out the crash wagon, as I might not have full use of the brakes'.

Unknown to me at the time my wife, Celia - then learning to fly - was flying circuits in a Cessna 150 with her instructor, an ex-RAF Group Captain. Later - as related by the Group Captain - 'she had stayed calm and unconcerned'

     I was proud of her

   In my twenty plus years owning and flying the Falco for more than two thousand hours - she - the Falco, I mean - never once tried to kill me. Although there were times - two or three partial engine failures as valves hit pistons during race practice - two instances where undercarriage legs failed little things - as she tested me and kept me from becoming complacent. In human terms, she was the perfect lover - demanding, attention seeking

     requiring the utmost care and sensitivity

    But never a serious threat

  Peter Hunter 2013

from Peter Hunter's auto-portrayal - Too Many Miles From A Land Of Rivers

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