Yes, yes, once again I have gone up, up and away with the birds courtesy of my new best friend, Bill, and his wonderful Flight Simulator and if any of you lot call me a drone you will be banned! I have been cruising the skies, off and on, for about a dozen years now. It is my proud boast that I have crash-landed at more international airports than you could count on fingers and toes! I would like to be able to boast that I was up to professional standards, as some are, I believe, whereby they can take off from Heathrow one evening, set the auto pilot on the 747 to take them to Cape Town, and then wake up the next morning in time to land the plane there. Alas, "to tell truth and shame the devil", I have not so far managed to progress beyond my single-engined Cessna Skyhawk with which I manage a take off, usually fairly easy, gain height in a somewhat up and own manner, make a shaky turn to port (see I got the lingo!) and then attempt a landing which on a good day can be described as bouncey and on a bad day as - well, don't ask, just fasten your seat belt and adopt the survival crouch!
However, I must tell you that it is the most absorbing past-time. Even just taking off and gaining height on a steady course takes my multi-tasking skills (which are zero, according to the 'Memsahib') to the limit. You have to set the trim tabs to climb, whilst setting the the throttle to a reasonable level after take off, and then you have to watch your climb indicater like a hawk because the bloody plane is likey to start screeching upwards into a stall, or, hurtle downwards into a kamikaze dive if you fail to pay attention. At the same time it is vital to keep an eye on your compass bearing lest, as frequently happens to me, you find yourself drifting off course. It took me ages to realise the embarrassingly obvious truth that if you increase speed you will begin to climb, and equally obviously, if you decrease speed you will lose altitude. For ages I used to yank the control column backwards and forwards not realising that the throttle, combined with the trim tabs, would do the job for me.
Landing, using the term loosely, remains a problem for me even after years of practice. Partly this is due to my low boredom threshold which means that after my initial enthusiasm which rarely lasts more than a few days I never stick at the task long enough to master the art. Mainly, I blame God because He keeps moving the bloody runway just as I'm coming in to land! Mind you, the tremendous sense of triumph and joy that erupts when, about once in every ten landings, I actually glide effortlessly down onto the centre of the runway for a perfect landing is roughly equivalent to the feeling I used to get when my parachute opened - back in the day!
Now that I am running my new best friend's latest MS8 and having rediscovered my somewhat dusty control stick and the DVDs for Flight Sim X, I am determined to stick at it this time and see if I can manage to promote myself off the Cessna and into something more fitting for my talents - sorry, did you just say something?
Oh, and finally, a word to my e-pal, JK. Yesterday I flew around Arkansas and it is the most tediously boring flat pancake of a place that I have ever seen via FSX. I suggest you sue them for slander! Actually, for interesting scenery, the best place to fly around is Hawaii - absolutely gorgeous and you can play dropping bombs on you know who!