The recent election campaign, starting for me as it did some months ago, pretty much negated any free time I had during evenings and weekends. Dropping leaflets and knocking on doors became my entire life outside the day job at County Hall.
As soon as the election was over I began to look at all the things I needed to do in the first few weeks, and one of the most pressing actions was to revalidate my pilot’s licence. Once you’ve qualified, as I did back in January 1999, you have to revalidate every two years – either by building up a number of flying hours, or by taking a test again. I’ve always taken the test irrespective of how many hours I’ve flown as personally I think it’s safer.
So on Saturday afternoon I drove to Headcorn Airfield to take my LPC, or Licence Proficiency Check as it’s now called. It was great to see the examiner again, and although I’ve not flown for best part of two years it all came back – climbing, turning, straight and level, stalling – even a simulated engine failure somewhere over Paul McCartney’s house.
I’d forgotten what an absolute joy it was to climb a little two-seat Cessna up into the sky, watching the rain on one side of the county as you followed the sunshine in the other.
Descending to 500 feet to simulate a ‘bad weather’ touch-and-go landing at Headcorn, then a flapless landing, and finally a glide landing where my examiner friend – with whom it’s an absolute pleasure to fly – treated me to a demonstration of how to get the aircraft down in a hurry, which left my heart in my mouth and my stomach nearly somewhere else. He congratulated me on passing my LPC in just an hour and five minutes, and I left the field hoping that I might find more time in the next two years to actually fly for pleasure, rather than letting my work rule my life.