Wednesday, 9 April 2014

“Winter must be over”

Beamed the ferry man at me as I boarded the ferry, nodding at my flight bag “I guess you’re back up there then”. He’s a genuinely cheerful fellow and seemed delighted that the weather had improved enough for him to see his regulars back on track.

And it was a gorgeous day, sure a little on the chilly side but sunny with a slight breeze. Not a cloud in sight. Despite my nerves I was feeling a small glimmer of optimism, maybe I’d come through this intact after all.

My initial optimism was somewhat muted when I stepped into the flight school though, about as muted as the lighting. It would seem that a slight maintenance issue had left the school temporarily without power. “ Ah well,” joked Bob “ we won’t be able to bill you for the flight!”

Unimpressed with the flashlight ambience, we set off in search of a study area with some natural light.
Planning and briefing over I headed to the plane to start my walk round, before making the booking Bob had asked me if I had any preference plane wise. I dutifully ranked them in order of preference. JES followed by SAR and finally JPM bringing up the rear.

So of course I’m heading over to JPM, hoping she’s not too mad at me for making her my last choice. All goes well until I start draining the fuel from the left tank. I’ve read the theory but never actually experienced this before, that is a distinct layer of water in the bottom of that drainer cup.

No biggie I guess, I know what to do. I go off in search of a dump bucket; this fuel can’t go back in the tanks. I need to keep draining until I don’t see any more water. Mindful of the non-combustible nature of said liquid I keep on draining, maybe a drainer cup or so. When I think I’m clear I take the extra precaution of sniffing the contents of the cup until I’m sure that what I have is 100% fuel and not 100% water.

Rinse and repeat on the other tank and belly points.

I fervently hope that this isn’t an omen of things to come. I’m jumpy and nervy as it is. Run up completed almost by rote, I express one final thought as I get my takeoff clearance and line up on the runway.

“I really don’t want to do this,” I mutter to no one in particular.

Despite my rational mind telling me otherwise, part of my brain feels that once I push that throttle in, there’s no going back.


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