Pro tip: If a friend asks for volunteers to go flying around Southern England you should definitely say yes.
A couple weeks back I had some spare time between arriving in London and the start of a conference. As luck would have it, a buddy of mine is working towards his pilot license and was keen to get a couple hours in the air on a Sunday afternoon. And so, following a quick shower in the arrivals lounge at Heathrow, I was off to Southend Airport and the Southend Flying Club to shake off jetlag in the back seat of a Piper PA-28 Cherokee.
With a bit of flexibility in our schedule we considered a few options, ultimately settling for a quick hop down to Shoreham/Brighton for a cuppa tea. Also, it seems like the restaurant does a great Sunday roast for brunch. Alas, we didn’t have time to enjoy that.
The plane was needed back in Southend relatively soon so not much in the way of lazy time in the sky, but the Piper Cherokee doesn’t more especially fast so we ended up on a roughly two hour return journey. Flying over the white cliffs along England’s southern coast at 1,800 feet is pretty amazing.
Being able to listen in to the conversations and planning involved, both with ATC and between the two guys up front, is a great reminder to me about just how complicated flying is. Looking out the windows low over England also reminded me how beautiful it is. I moved from a 747-400 to a PA-28 in a few hours. Needless to say, the BA 747 pilots didn’t need my help spotting nearby traffic in the sky so the Piper experience was more intimate. But and both both are amazing in their own ways
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