By Hobson Tarrant
Have you ever listened to those little voices in your head be they conscience and soul, good or evil, whatever, my first solo flight turned out to be a real three seat event. Having completed my practice circuits and landed my instructor unbuckled his belt and announced “She’s all yours off you go!” My adrenalin shot into overdrive and the first voice, Biggles, shouted to me loudly “Yes at last! Off we go now, hurry don’t keep that empty sky waiting”. I cast a smile and taxied to the runway and with checks done I faced down the long white line and beamed with self confidence, by now Biggles was safely strapped into the passenger seat and eager to go, I reached for the throttle, one push and we would race at 100mph into the sky.
“Are you sure we’re safe?” said a little voice from behind, I looked over my shoulder in surprise and there sat a little man in bowler hat and carpet slippers who was strapping himself in securely.
“Don’t listen to him!” snapped Biggles forcing my hand on the throttle lever.
“But what happens if we run out of fuel or the engine cuts out?” the little voice enquired.
“Old woman!” moaned Biggles “Lets go old boy the sky awaits” and Biggles was right we weren’t about to be put off now, the throttle pressed home and the ground slid by ever faster, 20, 50, 60mph, I pulled back on the stick and we were off accompanied by Biggles crows of delight, “this is the life”, he chirped, “up, up and away”, his singing voice was no better than mine.
“Well it’s too late now”, mumbled the little man in the bowler, “I wish I’d stayed at home this all looks very dangerous”.
300 ft and Biggles was outside wing walking. 500ft and the voice in the back broke in once more.
“Was that a left hand turn or right?” I’d already practiced four circuits but my mind had to race to remember.
“Left hand old boy!” Biggles face beamed in through the side canopy window.
“Oh yes”, I replied, I’d known all along so I added a sneer to my be-slippered passenger behind.
Another left turn and the altimeter indicated 1000ft as the runway passed slowly beside us, Biggles climbed back into the passenger seat and fingered the radio.
“I know!” I said haughtily and pressed the send button on the mike “GAXNL downwind, roger, call finals”. Ok now what was next I asked myself as the bowler hat brushed my cheek.
“The fuel looks very low, what is that knocking, I think one of the wings is wobbling do you think it will fall off?”
Meanwhile Biggles had disappeared and the little voice filled my ears with worry, beads of sweat began to drip down my forehead and the temperature in the cabin appeared to have suddenly shot up, my hands became very slippery and wet but I forced myself to concentrate on my check list and another left turn completed I told myself not to worry and that we were nearly there, but then came the time to descend. Biggles silently returned to his seat then with eyes closed hummed the dam busters theme without a concern whilst I tried to concentrate on what I’d been taught, carb heat out, 20 degrees of flap, trim for 65mph, or was it carb heat in, 65 degrees of flap and trim for 20 mph? Should I slow down and risk stalling, or should I speed up and overshoot the runway, meanwhile that green expanse and white painted line were closing in on me at 200ft a minute.
“More flap!” said the man in the bowler.
“Full throttle” replied Biggles “Lets buzz the tower”.
“You’re too high!”. “Do a victory roll!”
“You’re too fast!”. “Do a loop!”
“You’re too low!”. “Wave to the farmers!”
The two voices raised to a crescendo that appeared to black out all other thoughts, who should I listen to? What should I do?
My aged but beautiful Beagle Pup low winged aeroplane glided gently to the ground as if controlled by herself and rolled off the runway to a halt.
“Well done a perfect circuit!” the cheering words came over the radio as Biggles fingered his white silk scarf.
“See old boy I told you we could do it”.
I looked to the back seat but the man in the bowler hat and slippers had already gone home for his cocoa… Until next time.
Hobson Tarrant, author of The Peckham Quixote & Looking Forward to the Past in paperback novel form and animator for pleasure of popular music, see Youtube, Hobson was Head Waiter to the Duke of Bedford in the 1970′s, a midnight baker, milkman, goat breeder and failed Welsh village grave digger in the 80′s, Multi million pound turnover company director and creator in the 1990-2004 and then retired to Greece to enjoy all things creative with his long term wife of thirty years plus. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Hobson-Tarrant/132713240121005