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October 2015
Those magnificent men in their flying machines

By Doug Matheson

Some of you will remember the TV series of Mission Impossible here ‘Jim’ is given his mission by miniature tape player. The message always included the phrase ‘your mission, should you choose to accept it…’ just before the tape self-destructed. It works in a similar way in the KN when a phone call comes in out of the blue from the illustrious Editor with some strange request to undertake some activity, often involving a degree of personal risk, with the aim of producing an article. For the life of me though I can’t remember ever being given the option of NOT accepting it. Sadly, he doesn’t self-destruct at the end of it.

And so the other day he called to say that he wanted to do an article on an autogyro and would I be interested in tagging along? It all sounded innocuous enough and, though I didn’t say yes, I apparently didn’t say no either. So when he phoned a few days later to say that all was arranged he rang off before I could say ‘As long as you don’t make me go up in that thing as I am very scared of small aircraft and will cry like a little girl if you do’.

The reason I was about to say that is I don’t have a very happy relationship with small flying machines. The first episode was when I was taken up in a friend’s Tiger Moth which is an elderly bi-plane made of plywood and canvas, held together by wire. Anyway, we had a lovely flight around Brize Norton and then came in to land in the grass as these things can’t land on tarmac. The grass was a bit long which is why we didn’t see a massive temporary landing light lurking there which we hit with one of the wheels. The little Tiger Moth bounded into the air and, fortunately, Gary reacted very quickly and pulled back on the control stick (trust me it is literally a stick in the Moth) and we took off again thus preventing what could have been a nasty prang. Strike one…

To read the full story, be sure to pick up a copy of the October 2015 issue!