Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Theme Thursday : Flight


I've been hanging around the PPRuNe website again. When I start skulking around the various PPRuNe forums it's a sure sign that a holiday is in the offing - a holiday involving flight. If you are not familiar with PPRuNe let me introduce you. Nervous potential passenger this is PPRuNe. PPRuNe this is nervous potential passenger. Oh, and just in case you are wondering, PPRuNe stands for the Professional Pilots Rumour Network.It is a jolly little website where professional pilots and other flight professionals can exchange information and seek the answers to questions. Things like "As anyone else noticed that the tail of the DK24 becomes seriously unstable in a cross-wind?". Or "Another two planes have crash-landed at Wenthorpe Municipal Airport, it's a wonder that any land in one piece". They complain about being overworked and underpaid and repeatedly suggest that the latest roster plans of the airline owners are putting passenger lives at risk. It is a must-visit website for anyone about to take to the skies and one I can heartily recommend to all of you.

It's not that I am a particularly nervous flyer, in fact I would say that I enjoy flying in the same way that a lapsed Son of Temperance (which I am) enjoys a pint (which I do). As I have recounted on these pages before (see, amongst other posts, Into The Void) in the early 1980s I lost most of my hearing. The final loss was associated with a heavy flying schedule involving both commercial jets and light planes. The doctors told me to cease all air travel in order to try and retain the very small amount of hearing I had left. As that residual hearing allowed me to hear myself, I followed their advice. And so I became a non-flyer in a world where more and more distance travelling involved flight. I was doing a lot of work for the European Commission in Brussels and in place of the one hour flight I had been used to, my regular trips to Belgium would involve long railway journeys and overnight ferry crossings. I would try to persuade myself that crossing to the Continent via the night ferry from Harwich was romantic and adventurous, but all too often in was merely frustrating and exhausting. I was determined not to let my inability to fly stop me going to events I felt I should attend and would go to ridiculous lengths to get to out of the way places. I remember going to an afternoon meeting in Stockholm. Everyone else flew in during the morning and home again in the evening. For me the journey took a week!

During those years I missed flying almost as much as I missed hearing. Strangely enough I would still dream about being able to fly (by which I mean get on an airplane) long after I stopped dreaming about being able to hear. After my cochlear implant operation one of the first things I did was to fly again. By then all my natural hearing had gone - there was nothing left to lose. So I might anxiously scan the PPRuNe website to see if Acapulco is safe and the airline is solvent : but, come January, I won't be worrying too much. I will simply be glad that I am able to fly.

The picture at the head of this post is one of the postcards from my collection. It is a modern reproduction of a photograph dating back to 1914 and features some kind of event at Hendon Airfield near London. At the time, Hendon was being used as the base of the Royal Aero Club of the United Kingdom. According to their weekly newspaper "Flight" ("The First Aero Weekly In The World"), the 18th July 1914 was the date of the Hendon-Brighton-Hendon Air Race. One can only assume that the postcard features one of the competitors.

To see how other Theme Thursday participants have interpreted this weeks theme follow this LINK

28 comments:

  1. THAT is my kind of plane!

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  2. Kinda spooky, as I took my last flight back in August of 2001.

    I'm still wondering how it took you a week to get from Stockholm...unless there was real bad weather or a quarantine( a former co-worker was laid up at Heathrow last year due to the latter )...

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  3. Kris : Not sure I would trust it for a long haul flight.
    Subby : It took a week to get there and back. The route went from Yorkshire to Felixstowe to Gottenborg to Stockholm and back again.

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  4. You know I had not flown for years, but we have had so many crashes lately when planes hit strange turbulence and they fall to the ground. The news people work really hard to illustrate it for us all to see. So both of the flights out to Maine were extremely rough. It took twenty minutes to get above it all. I wasn't bothered but I didn't have the trust that I had when I was younger. I am glad you can fly again. I assume the implant isn't bothered by the altitude.

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  5. Larry : The altitude affects the pressure and the eardrum but the implant by-passes all that mechanical stuff and therefore is not affected.

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  6. As Superman says, "Statistically speaking, flying is still the safest form of travel..." Of course, that's coming from Superman.

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  7. Alan, I looked that up and now understand! Yoiks!

    I recall as it took me a week( well 5 days )to go 1,000 miles. Military hops....

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  8. I love to fly, too! The security after 9-11 has made it a bigger ordeal, but once I actually get on the plane, it is enjoyable. I never tire of the sites above the clouds!

    Love the old postcard. He does look a bit nervous!

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  9. Enjoyed it...and like the postcard VERY much! That is very unique.

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  10. Very interesting post. I love the idea of a passion for flight--alas, I'm not big on air travel, although I'm in awe of the mechanism by which we accomplish it, and the people who take us airborn!

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  11. i'd rather fly than take a long car ride, but i'm still not a big fan. of course, hubby has a pilot's license and LOVES to fly. it's been 6 years since he got his license and he's still never taken me up in a plane.

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  12. i'm just an infrequent flyer, but it sure beats driving those longgggg distances to the west here in the states. Arizona, here I come!

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  13. This postcard is the best!!

    I'm glad WT gave up flying. He was a worse at handling a small plane than a car!

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  14. My mother loved travelling, wasn't deaf but found take off and landing agonising in her ears. Nothing seemed to fix it. You heading to Acupulco? Diving off that huge cliff with the locals . . don't forget to take your camera or at least don't wear white sox with sandals. *Lapsed son of temperence* then I must be the lapsed daughter! hehe

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  15. wonderful image and your story of having to stop flying is interesting. it's amazing as we age all the stuff that changes and usually not for the better!

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  16. Okay, so now you are really showing off: Themed blog post, combined with yet another curious postcard from your collection, combined with another side to your personal history which had not been previously revealed AND an introduction to yet another website which just has to be explored. Is there any limit to your talents?!

    No, I didn't think so.

    Great post!

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  17. Happy TT. You have apost card collection? They are great moments from other times. Style.
    I'm wishing we were neighbors!- J

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  18. I invariably fall asleep before take-off and miss it.

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  19. love the post card....have had a few wacky flying experience...once when the gulf stream shifted that sent us skidding through the air...i left indentions in the arm rest i believe....

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  20. The title comes from an old RAF 'character', Pilot Officer Prune. Everything he did was wrong. I have a book my Dad bought me years ago which is all about PO Prune. I think ex RAF aircrew probably set up the site using the acronym that they were already familiar with.

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  21. Hi Alan! Interesting that some of my favorite films involve flight. I love those old British films especially. One, in particular, "Dam Busters". Of course I don't know a Hawker Hunter from a Cessna....

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  22. I've never been a nervous flyer (I'm not a pilot, just a passenger) until my Brazil incident (see my post for TT) but I do remember flying around Angel Falls in Venezuela and what that pilot did with that little airplane pretty much cured any nervousness about turbulence in a bigger plane forever. Let's just say I got some spectacular shots of the falls...

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  23. Interesting pic, to be sure.

    And I love your memories and the excitement you seem to have at flying again. Hope it is a smooth flight!

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  24. Hmmm... That fella on the postcard looks like an updated version of a centaur; instead of being half human and half horse, this one's half human and half airplane. It's good to see you're able to do something you love again after a long absence from it.

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  25. What a great postcard! I'm beyond a nervous flyer--I simply don't go there: extremely bad claustrophobia in planes. But as you love it, I'm glad you're able to again. That site sounds interesting, but one I'd best avoid in case I do actually have to fly again at some point!

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  26. Welcome back to the friendly skies. The biggest hassle of flying is all the security and delays on the tarmac, but its all worth it once you get to your destination.

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  27. Great post card. I'm glad you'll be able to enjoy the skies again.

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  28. Hah! You are part of a six-pack. I am part of an eight-pack.

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