Flying with my father

MotorGlide member Stan Shires achieves a flying milestone.

The other week I accomplished the real main reason for me learning to fly. What was it? My First Solo? No, though that was a very satisfying first. Was it was the Cross-Country or General Skills Test? No: they were mere gateways to get me to this meaningful event.

You see, about thirty-seven years ago when I was a 6-year old boy, I started to go flying with my dad. We lived on the London/Essex border and he was flying out of Stapleford Abbots in Essex. My dad was in various groups, including a Tiger Moth. However, his flying got serious when he bought his own plane: a Stampe SV4C (G-AZTR) – the French equivalent of a Tiger Moth. He is an accomplished pilot and learned to do aerobatic and even competed. One of my lasting regrets is that we never did aeros as I was too young and too scared.

After a few years he sold the Stampe and bought a Beechcraft Bonanza (G-BGSW). This was a beautiful plane – a fast 4-seat tourer with retractable undercarriage and variable prop. We toured as far as Spain, Portugal, Finland via Denmark and Sweden and regularly went to France.

However there came a point when my parents moved abroad and his licence lapsed. Suddenly 20 years had passed. Then my dad hit 70 years old. It was then he was revalidated and started flying again. He now flies every week in a PA28 out of Wellesbourne.

So that is the background to the real main reason for me learning to fly. I wanted to be like my dad. So the other day we met at Long Marston and got Wilhelm ready. I went through the Daily Inspection and followed all my checks. Finally we lined up, with the GoPro recording all of this, and then I opened the throttle.

stan and dad

For the first time I was in the left hand seat. We flew around for about an hour and then returned to Long Marston. After about an hour I made a fine approach and made a very good landing (for me at least). As we taxied back I don’t know which one of us was more proud. I could see the genuine pride in his face and I was bursting with pride that I was a slightly average version of him. He complimented me during a debrief on a very safe and smooth flight. He even complimented the landing saying it was better than the guy he normally flies with in the PA28.

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Afterwards we went for a pint and a Cuban cigar. I don’t know who was more proud, but for the first time I was in the left-hand seat and I did a good job.