I was asked the question recently “how many and what types of aircraft have you flown” … so it got me thinking. Its about 140 types now.
My first flight was in 1965 with my father, in a Tigermoth flying from Cambridge airport, age 7 years.
At the age of 17, I managed to get on the Air Cadets Gliding Course at RAF Henlow. I would motorbike across in the morning, help with the launches and general ground handling and then, it was your turn. Typically 3 flights a day. The big day came and it was cable breaks exercise, after that put a new weak link in and off you go. 3 launches on a winch around the circuit and that’s your lot. Once at the top of the tow just as a check I looked behind me to be sure no instructor, bingo solo. This was in the Kirby Cadet MK3. That’s my first solo done.
My next solo was at the age of 21 when I learnt to fly fixed wing GA. This was the Bellanca Scout. The “farmer’s version” of the Citabria. July to December 1980 doing the PPL. Whilst learning to fly I rebuilt a CASA Jungmann. This developed my entusasum for aerobatics. Through necessity I designed an inverted fuel system for the Jungmann. Initially using a snow mobil Tillotson carb and then direct fuel injection. Neither could be marketed. Much research and self justification I spent a massive amount of money on the new Ellison carb which I knew would work as its principle is a refined Tillotson! My first customer for the MOD was Air Cheif Marshall Sir John Allison of the RAF and Duxford fame!
Later in the 80’s, many GA types were flown. It was not till I had amassed nearly 1000 hours, before I flew a nose wheel type.
1990’s saw many new types flown. It’s possible I’ve flown more Russian types than anyone else in the UK. MIA890, YAK 3, YAK 11, YAK 12 and 12A, YAK 18A & T, YAK 50, YAK 52, YAK 55, L29, L39*, L139*, L159* (*Not solo)
In the Russian batch there are the war birds and jets.
Sometime during the 90’s, I flew a B767 simulator at Luton, this could be counted as “solo” as the only instruction was numbers for speeds. The flight was easy, not sure if faultless, as downwind night visual, right hand circuit doing 300kts won’t be standard practice 🙂
A gyrocopter licence followed in 2012. Those are shaky machines! The gyro licence course was undertaken by a Lithuanian military pilot at Pociunai. He was very surprised at my ability on every flight to touch down at the intended point wherever the throttle was closed in the circuit 🙂
The occasional dabble with various helicopters, R22, R44 and Jet Ranger, CH-47 Chinook. It was July 2013, I flew the most historic Chinook ever, BN. The helicopter that won the Falklands, being the only heli available after the Atlantic convey was sunk by an exocet missile from Argentina. The heli’s were not solo flown and present a gap in my solo flying machines abilities.
Autumn 2015 I took to the skies with a paraglider in Chamonix. Following that in the flat lands of Cambridgeshire a paramotor. The motor flying is quite demanding prior to getting airborne, the weight of the motor, harness and fuel is approx 32 kgs. Carrying this around to the launch point is not so easy. Once the canopy is up this weight is taken, and moments later you’re flying.
Today (2nd April 2017) saw me solo the weight-shift microlight, all rather different with backwards rudder/ pedal steering-push right, turn left, backwards pitch and turn controls. Push to go up, push right to turn left!
So, the solo list is :-
- GA – PPL
- 3 axis microlite
- Airline (767 sim)
- Weight shift microlight
- Helicopter – flown but not solo – CH47 Chinook
- Turbo prop - flown but not solo – PC12
- Multi engine – flown but not solo – biggest was B17
- Hover boards and jet packs – just coming to fruition in various guises, not ready for punters!
Currently I’m building a time machine, I have a fair amount of traveling still to do. 🙂