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Andy Barton

06/05/2014 15:36:45

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Getting here the long way round

It’s funny how things work out isn’t it? If even a few years ago someone had told me I'd be flying for Classic AIr Force at Newquay I'd have laughed.

Throughout my airline career I’ve made sure I continued to build my skills on light aircraft, starting by learning aerobatics in my spare time with my ex RAF Dad while going through my CPL course and then doing tail wheel training soon after. 

Having been laid off by British Midland post 9/11 (measured for my uniform on Wednesday, sacked on Friday) and having then worked in various temporary paper rearranging jobs I became a flying instructor.

After teaching PPLs at Nottingham for a while I took a chance, uprooted myself and lived on a camp bed in a rented spare room in Redhill, Surrey to work as a full time Tiger Moth pilot. Getting in one became like putting on a comfortable pair of old shoes and it gave me a deep love of vintage aircraft, especially all things de Havilland.

I had a few near misses with the Air Atlantique Classic Flight after that, the chance to fly a Rapide or DC3 impossible not to be hooked by, but was never in the right place at the right time. I continued to stalk Jon by email though every so often, but after my move to Cornwall I focused on other ways to express my light aircraft urges.

I then almost fell off my chair when I was told that who should be moving to Newquay, but the Air Atlantique Classic Flight, in their new guise as Classic Air Force.

I was soon doing my training on the loveable old Prentice, quickly followed by the divine Chipmunk and finally the impossibly elegant Rapide. What a privilege it is to sit in the cockpit of one and slowly bring those Gipsy Sixes to life.

I still fly often with my Dad, we share the Yak-52 currently residing with us at Newquay, and he remains the person I look to first for advice. Who knows what the future holds, but I’m now a firm believer in the power of fate.

(Or of possibly being the only available tail wheel pilot in Cornwall!)

Barry Clay

07/05/2014 10:40:22

Andy a great personal appraisal of flying vintage aircraft,the fact remains that without people like yourself keeping the skills required to fly tail draggers we would be hard pushed for the future,its a two way thing in keeping them maintained & having pilots with the ability to keep them flying.

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