Bill Withers: Lovely DayiTunesAmazon

Bill Withers: Lovely DayiTunesAmazon

Pete on the Loose - Flying with the Team at the Great Circle


Cas Smith and Pete Edwards

The Great Circle said to me "Do you fancy having a go in the plane" turned out to be stunt plane!

When I was a wee nipper I used to bore my parents to death with drawings of planes. If you gave me a couple of hours I’m sure I could nip over to my Mum’s house and dig out some of them, then you could marvel at how good at drawing planes I was...I’ve grown up now so I might not be as good.

Drawing planes is all well and good but flying them is the thing I really wanted to do, so when I got a call from Adam Berrington from The Great Circle asking me if I wanted to have a go, I politely bit his hand off! Heck, I spent my youth making paper aeroplanes and balsa wood gliders so you can imagine how I felt about actually sitting in a light aircraft with proper wings, a proper propeller and proper everything!

It was a lovely crisp sunny Thursday morning when I arrived at the airfield with a sense of anticipation only heightened by driving past the hangars of full planes. Once I’d calmed down I was given a briefing by Cas Smith who’d be taking me up. What Adam had failed to mention is that he had something a little different in mind rather than the standard taster flight. The difference was that Cas is stunt pilot and we would flying in his Pitts S-2B which it turns out is like an F1 car for the sky! With the help of a model plane Cas showed me the different manoeuvres we were going to try, all of which were probably gonna make my head swim and then fall off!

Cas Smith and his Pitts S-2B (I want one)

Before we could take to the skies, I had to be strapped into a parachute and then the plane. The aircraft itself is designed for speed and agility so creature comforts were thin on the ground which meant the in-flight drinks were out. With Cas in the back and me in the snug fitting front seat, we quickly taxied out to the runway. When taking off on your hols, the acceleration you feel is nothing compared to doing zero to 120mph in 3 seconds in a stunt plane!

The parachute was tight in places the you just don't want to be tight

At about 3000 feet about above our fair county, with the view stretching as far as the eye could see on the bright sunny day, Cas showed me the first manoeuvre which was a simple “aileron roll”. The roll is simple way of turning the plane upside down and then back the right way up again. Needless to say that I was glad of the snug fitting seat as it turns out that when you’re flying a plane upside down you want as many things holding you into it as possible.

"Look Mum that's me in there"

After series of rolls, loops, flick turns all of which Cas would demonstrate and then let me try, it was time to let the professional to show what he could do. I’ll admit now after everyone suggesting that I’d need a sick bag if I was put in a stunt plane I was keen not to give them the ammunition for mikey taking. With Cas showing what can do with a stunt plane the rest of the flight to was blur of horizon and ground while concentrating on keeping breakfast in my stomach.

I didn't feel completely whole after all the stunts

Back on the ground with a cup tea and chocolate biscuits settling my restless stomach, I caught up with Adam and the rest of Great Circe team to thank them for the opportunity to fly a plane (I’d already thanked Cas as I crawled back to the flight centre). Of course I’d always wanted to have a go and ended up doing far more than I could’ve ever hoped to but it really is something that you can do yourself. Obviously lessons start with you flying something little more sedate but once you’ve qualified and have a Private Pilots License you can move on to bigger things. If you really want to get into it you could be up and flying in around 4 weeks if you want to fast track your training. Otherwise you can fit it in around your everyday life so that you could be qualified and flying the family to continent for a jaunt just in time for school holidays. That’s something I reckon I’ll be doing in years to come, it’ll be interesting to see what happens first, the family or the private pilot license!

More pictures of me with the Great Circle Team.

Check out the The Great Circle website If you want to find out more about learning to fly or just trying a taster.

Author: Pete Edwards