Chapter One:

I’ve been fascinated with Aircraft for as long as I can remember. I grew up watching a steady stream of Jets out of Glasgow airport and Sea Kings out of HMS Gannet. The best days were when our school lessons would be punctuated by the sound of four Olympus engines powering Concorde around the base turn for another training approach into Prestwick. I’d go home and complain repeatedly until my parents would take me round to Monkton to watch that magnificent machine in action up close and on full reheat.

I tried to imagine what those Concorde crews felt when they walked out to her for the first time, and I’d have given anything to be in their position.

However, the closest I got to flying was Microsoft Flight Simulator 4 on my IBM PC-AT. Our holidays were car trips in the UK, or by bus to the near continent. My Mum was terrified of flying so airliner holidays were out of the question, but they’d always try and incorporate some aircraft related activity on our holidays.

The years passed and I moved to the Isle of Man for work, far away from the big jets. At least I was able to fly as a passenger now. My first flight was from Ronaldsway to Heathrow and it should have been on a British Aerospace 146, but G-MIMA had a technical problem so my first passenger flight was in an ATP instead.

I always wanted to learn to fly, but every year it seemed to just get further away.

In 2003 I watched with great sadness as Concorde was withdrawn from service. Catherine knew about my longing to fly, so for our first wedding anniversary that year she surprised me with a trial flying lesson from Manx Flyers at Ronaldsway. (If you mention the word “Auster” to her today, you can almost feel the regret that she didn’t buy me a new camera instead).

I flew the Cessna 172 G-CCCC round the island for an hour, and was totally captivated by the experience. However there was no way we could afford for me to go any further. I could perhaps stretch my finances and get the licence but there was no way I could afford to keep flying.

However, all was not lost – In the 172 we’d flown near to Andreas Airfield where the Andreas Gliding Club are based. The next weekend I went to see them.

Fast forward 7 months, 14 flying days, 43 flights and 3h 58m flying time and I found myself strapped in to “Boggles” the Blanik, by myself, waiting to do my first solo flight. 6 minutes later I was back on the ground, I was a pilot!

Boggles at rest after my first solo