Every now and then little things in life are worth remembering – surreal little things that make you laugh or raise your eyebrows. Simple experiences and the way we tend to look at them often make for nice little stories and so I make no apologies for what I’m about to write about – I am after all part storyteller!
Last week was an interesting one for me on several levels – things have been happening at an intense and rapid pace with the project, and I hope to be writing about some changes and exciting things coming up in the near future, but for now I’m talking about a simple ‘transport’ flight.
Last Friday I was over in Norfolk staying with Al from Wildcat Aerobatics again, and I was asked to assist with some filming work they had going on – it was a fairly miserable day and I was needed on the ground with a radio to help coordinate what was going on (so I was basically asked to do what I’m good at and nag – lots of “slower”, “further back next time”, “lower if you can”, etc. etc.). The filming itself was rather good fun from my perspective as it happens, despite how bitterly cold it was stood out in the middle of the airfield. In terms of surreality, a trip over to see these boys always seems to please, Friday being no exception.
The flight to Old Buckenham in Al’s S2A wasn’t what I’d call a completely ‘normal’ flight. I have absolutely no issue being a passenger, nor do I mind a bit of turbulence or grey weather. That said, being sat in the front seat of a Pitts Special, in incredibly bumpy conditions, whilst attempting to balance a reasonably sized open cardboard box full of beef products on my shoulder (so as to not impede the aircraft controls) did make me wonder how on earth I’d ended up where I was.
Basically, we were taking some frozen beef over to Old Buckenham for the cafe there – seeing that we were flying over someone had to keep hold of the meat as there was no space for it in the limited cubby hole luggage bay bit. Of course, with me being the front seat passenger it was naturally my responsibility to keep control of said meat products. Upon climbing into the cockpit it very quickly became apparent that the obvious option of just sitting it on my lap and not dropping the open box wasn’t to be – unless of course we only wanted to point the nose downward. We both decided that being unable to pull the stick back was unlikely to be particularly conducive to actually getting airborne, let alone getting over to our destination, and as such a better option needed to be settled on. Hence, so it was, that I spent the entire flight balancing a not insignificantly heavy box of frozen cow on my right shoulder, safely above the level of the control wires and well out of the way of the stick and canopy lock.
Mercifully it was only a very short flight, as after about ten minutes I was wondering if I’d actually ever be able to feel my arm again. Obviously no aerobatic flying was undertaken, otherwise we’d have ended up with bits of poor old frozen Bessie in all manner of inconvenient places within the cockpit. The sheer bumpiness of the flight meant I did actually wonder a few times about just how easily I’d be able to retrieve my dignity had I ended up with half my payload down the front of my flightsuit.
The reality was that the flight was pretty uneventful, we arrived both complaining about the cruddy weather, me whimpering about my dead arm and the cafe grateful for their meat delivery. Some food and a cup of tea later and the Wildcat pair were up again to strut their stuff for the cameras, and I have to admit I was just a tiny bit proud to be stood there beneath them.
“It’s all in a day’s work” I think they say…