I am very sad to say that I am now back home and this part of my FSDP adventure has come to an end.
I can honestly say it has been one of the most phenomenal experiences of my life. The comradery you feel with your flying buddy is brilliant and not only did we learn about each other’s disabilities, daily struggles but also about each other’s strengths and ideas for the future. It was great to share the experience and I sincerely hope that Damian and his wife will remain life-long friends. The other advantage of having a flying buddy is they are there for you if you have a bit of a wobble, which for me happened the morning I was due to go home. I was unbelievably sad to be going home, the night before I had received a call from home that had brought me out of the FSDP bubble and I was getting sick and had a really high fever, the combination resulted in me sobbing on my buddy in the morning.
The flying was brilliant and incredibly levelling – I didn’t feel at all disabled in the plane, in fact I never really gave it a thought. Every now and then Fiona would put the flaps on, as I was unable to they were a bit tough for me and would probably have dislocated my shoulder. Other than that, I flew the plane without any problems at all – obviously I had the normal problems of learning a new skill but they were not related to my disability. I also sat and passed the meteorology exam this time and I was incredibly close to sitting the navigation exam but we kept getting lovely visitors and having fun.
There is one day in particular that will be forever ingrained in my mind. It was a beautiful day, the sun was out and we were doing a navigation exercise so we flew to the Isle of Wight and viewed the needles from the air. The turbulence was a little ‘interesting’ and the biggest thing I learnt from that flight was to relax and don’t fight the weather. I love the Isle of Wight so seeing it from the air was really special – I also love the sea and to fly over it was incredibly relaxing, I could have stayed and played all day but Damian needed the plane for his flight. That afternoon the wind started dying down and it soon became evident that this might become a flyable afternoon in the shadow. Well Fiona and Raymond put their heads together and came up with an idea, that was so fantastic I think I will forever grin just thinking about it. I was to go out with Fiona in the Shadow, that enough was making my day, as I had been wanting to go out in the shadow from day 1. Damian was to go out in the C42 and take off after us, we then arranged a place to meet and we arranged to do some loose formation flying. Damian in the C42 was going to catch us up as it is a faster aircraft and then fly next to us, then peel away, climb and fly over the top of Fiona and I in the Shadow. Obviously, Damian and I were the photographers rather than the pilots. It was incredible, the sky was so calm it was almost still and the sun was just setting – it really was extraordinary.
The shadow was great fun and I managed to do
another flight on the final flying day, the best way I can describe the shadow is like riding a motorbike in the sky, the plane responds to your slightest movement and is just gorgeous to fly. I also found that after flying the shadow I had more confidence in the C42 and on the final flying day I had probably my best technical flight to date, we flew to Longleat country park, which again was gorgeous.
I have come away from the experience with a number of actions on myself, however I will talk about those in my final blog. Hopefully that way instead of being a plan they can be underway. In the meantime it is back to my normality and tomorrow I have 2 hospital appointments, which may or may not result in more surgery on my shoulder. There is the possibility of shoulder, foot and spinal surgery to be scheduled over the next few months, however you can rest assured I will be fitting some flying whenever I can.