Back in July last year, just after the “ALife4Sale” auction had completed, my next door neighbour, Fiona, mentioned that she knew a doctor at work who regularly went flying, and had offered to take me up for a flight, if I would like to. Of course I would!
I got in touch with Rob, and we made some tentative arrangements, but both had pretty busy schedules at the time. Unfortunately in the month that I had left before setting off on my travels in early August, we never managed to find a mutually suitable date, and the flight never happened.
So on my return to Perth recently, I got in touch with Rob again, and we made arrangements to meet up and go for a flight this morning. The weather forecast for Saturday was a bit poor, and it rained a bit yesterday. I hoped our flight would not have to be cancelled, but this morning was fine and bright with no wind whatsoever.
I rode the motorbike down the almost empty freeway in beautiful warm weather, really looking forward to the day. When we had planned our flight Rob had asked, “Do you want a nice scenic tour of the coast, or would you like to try some aerobatics?”
“Aerobatics!” had been my instant response. “I hoped you might say that,” Rob had replied, sounding pleased.
So I met Rob at the Royal Aero Club at jandacot, just south of the city at 9 o’clock, and after Rob completed the necessary paperwork, we went out to inspect our plane, a Cessna 152 Aerobat.
With everything checked out we were soon off down the runway and airborne, and we flew south, parallel to the coast, looking for my old house, having promised Fiona that we would do a couple of low circuits around the suburb.
We found Wellard pretty easily, and I soon picked out the house, being familiar with how it would look from the air from studying Google Maps. It was the first time I have seen the house since walking out the door back in August last year, and it was an interesting way to see the place again. Despite having been in Perth for about two months now, and having passed fairly close by on the freeway a few times, I have had no desire to go back past the house at all – it really does now feel like a part of my life that has been put behind me.
After a couple of laps of the house we headed out into the large training area, where Rob had explained that we had plenty of airspace to play around in safety. After a quick check to make sure there was no other aircraft nearby, Rob put the little plane into a dive, and then pulled up into a loop. Wow!! It was brilliant, and the dial on the instrument panel said we had pulled 4G.
We followed up with four more stomach churning stunts, completing the five basic aerobatic manoeuvres, which are:-
Loop, Stall Turn, Barrel Roll, Aileron Roll and Spin.
It was absolutely awesome, and at the bottom of the first spin we did I experienced something I have only heard of before, as my vision started to darken almost to black as we pulled out of the dive, as blood struggled to reach my brain. As soon as the g-force dropped off my vision came back almost immediately.
After trying out the set of five manoeuvres Rob asked how I was feeling, and what I wanted to do next. “More of that,” I said. “Can we string a few of them together?” and Rob happily threw the plane into some more wild stunts. Absolutely fantastic!
When time ran out we headed inland and followed the hills northwards, passing over a friend’s house in the bush, before heading back to the airfield to land.
Back at Rob’s house we had coffee, and Rob suggested we go out to his shed, where he said he had a couple of things I might be interested in. I was amazed. In his garage, which is converted into a fully fitted out workshop, he has the fuselage, tail, and one wing of a 1930’s designed plane that he is hand-building from wood. It is a Pietenpol Aircamper, and Rob keeps an online diary of his progress here:
Rob’s Pietenpol Progress
He has been working on this for four years now. How long until it’s finished? “Another four or five years – depends on the finances.” Rob answered. And I thought my 100weeks project was a long-term goal!!
“Oh, that’s nothing,” Rob explained. “This is just practice for the main project. While I am waiting for some parts for the Aircamper, I have made a start on the next plane, which is a full-size, 2-seater, wooden-framed WWII Spitfire, which will have an engine as powerful as the original Spitfires, and should perform about the same too!”
What is the planned build time for that one? “Twenty five years, again depending on finances!” Wow!
More info on the design of the Spitfire that Rob is building here:
Spitfire Aircraft Company Ltd.
Many thanks again to Rob for an awesome day. It really has given me further inspiration and enthusiasm for my goals of learning to fly myself, and for taking a flight in a MIG jet-fighter.