Where have you been? What have you seen?
Having been involved with KAXT on the insurance side for several years I finally had the chance to have go on Sunday ! This was only my 3rd rotary flight ( others being a quick jolly in a Squirrel from Bournemouth and a similar jolly in the Bristows operated S-61 coastguard machine from Lee on Solent ) and the first hands on in a helicopter ever.

I'm really rather excited to get to do this as time/ funding is running out to keep these sort of machines going . Anyhow.... having never watched in detail a turbine start I was amazed how simple ( to me) and quick it was . No sooner had I strapped in and the Nimbus engine was screaming away behind us. Of course my reference is SEP types , but to suddenly have minimal airspeed but 1000 feet a minute climb was surreal ! I guess that's the benefit of a shade over 1000hp.

We quickly had a chat with Solent and cruised down the eastern edge of Soton zone, along the beaches of Portsmouth ( avoiding the US carrier - even in RN markings we weren't going to risk getting even close to the temp airspace) . For such a sunny Sunday so late in the year we were amazed to only see 1 other aircraft - a bright yellow Slingsby Firefly I think overhead Thorney Island.

Despite the Wasp operating from ships we took a considered route mainly over land , but it did make me think hard about the crews flying these aircraft doors off with the RN- with the one engine -over some seriously unwelcoming bits of water - along long way from help. Credit and respect to the crews of the day...........

I wasn't surprised to find myself chasing the controls all over the place- but it did remind me of how hard it is and also the skills helicopter pilots have to master to keep things looking 'good' and in a straight line - let alone in a hover/ transition ............

Anyhow as we were very very very quickly burning through fuel we headed back home to land & shut down - followed by letting the engine cool , cover , de-rust the blades ( engineering of the day and the expectation of a crew to maintain the aircraft mean this should be done after each flight - the tips of the blades are nearly supersonic so do take a battering) and a general chat with the other chaps at the airfield finished off what I suspect would be something of a one off flight for many people - I know it may be for me !

The afternoon did bring together a few aspects typical 'Britishness' in aviation - from the days of 51 years ago when we were at the forefront of aircraft design - a scream turbine engine, to the guys on the field patiently rebuilding their Aeronca to the classic calm and stillness of a small farm strip - after the flying has stopped as the shadows get long and the temperatures drop.

I do wonder if everyone I speak to about their aircraft and the routine of insurance and paperwork still enjoys this sort of range of feeling after flying ? I know I do :)

Peter Matcham│Aviation Account Executive │ McComish Insurance Brokers
01425 486548 Mobile - 07776 599536
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