Where do I begin? When I was 10 years old, I was part of a group of children from Westbourne Primary School who were privileged to have a teacher who belonged to Goodwood. She organised a trip for us to fly over the school in an experience that would change me forever. We flew in the School’s Cherokee 140, G-AVUU for a short trip around the local area. Sadly, I no longer have any pictures of that wonderful day, they were in black and white taken on an old box brownie camera (I still have that somewhere).
It then took me until June 1978 before I could get my hands on an aircraft at Goodwood. She was G-BCCB the Flying School’s Robin HR200/100. I ended up flying most of the fleet, including the G-BBOE and G-BCCY, along with a cheeky flight from Biggin Hill in a Rallye 100ST G-BECA while I was visiting my granddad. This luxury lasted until December that year when I got married, had children and ran out of money ...well I am sure you all know about that one!
I never lost my passion for aviation and continued to look to the skies with envious eyes and longing. It was not until late 2014 when my wife Jan said ‘why don’t you go and have a flight at Goodwood!’ so I did.
Eagerly I climbed into the company Cessna and thought ‘where are the instruments, the stick and...oh this is not how I remember it!’ I took a few flights in the Cessna and was told that I showed promise, but something was missing for me. I like a challenge, I missed the old fashioned dials. ‘Nope, this is not for me’ I said to myself, I love the actual flying part, but I decided to discuss this with my Instructor. The support I got from the whole team was second to none, how would I like to give the Cub a go? Well I jumped, no leapt at the chance, to give it a shot!
No fancy glass cockpit, just a good old-fashioned stick, rudder, compass and stopwatch, a taildragger...hang on a minute, a tail dragger?! OK, I’ll give it a go!
With just a few hours on a Cessna, this was going to be a challenge, to say the least, but after just two trips in G-DRGL, I fell in love with her!
I started to work my way through the PPL course on the Cub, then came a serious blow to my progress. My hip failed and I had to have a total hip replacement. I thought that this was going to be the end of my dream. I stuck my nose into the aviation books to keep my mind off the discomfort and hoped for the best (all nine written exams were passed with just self-study).
The break between flying the Cub, surgery and getting back into the skies was just 8 weeks, but there was no way I could clamber into the Cub, so I flew one of the Cessnas instead. I was back in the Cub just ten weeks post surgery, which was fun but hard work!
Reading through my log book I have fond memories of every flight. I had five Instructors in the course of my tuition, which I highly recommend, as it teaches you that all instructors have different styles and manners in teaching. This is a great thing to have in a school as it teaches you the best of all worlds.
My first solo was a bit of a surprise to me when Charlotte said ‘hey jerry, how do you feel about flying a circuit on your own?’ I was stunned, having been so used to having my instructor behind me... I was lost for words! The Cub leapt into the air with just me in her, I was so surprised! A normal circuit followed after a few whoops from yours truly and then a slightly excitable landing as the payload was a tad lighter than I was used to.
After this, I continued building my confidence, navigation with a chart, stopwatch and compass, working towards solo navigation and the associated bits and bobs, not easy in the Cub but it's part of the fun of ‘old school’ flying.
I loved it! The only hard part was after all the preparation for my solo qualifying cross-country was the time delay to fly it after the dual trip. It then took three months due to the weather and airfield works, then all the features of the landscapes i.e. spring fields had changed colour etc!
My route was Goodwood, White Waltham, Compton Abbas, back to Goodwood in a Super Cub...what an experience!
A few more consolidation flights, then the big one, my Skills Test. I must admit that I was petrified, but in hindsight, I should not have been. Graham is one of a kind and after 10 minutes I was totally relaxed by his professional calm manner. We did some navigation and other exercises, followed by the most informative and instructive debrief, this I will never forget and will use as I build my experience.
Last October I was so honoured by the Club awarding me Student of the Year! The certificate and Tiger Moth model are proudly displayed in my lounge.
Since obtaining my license, I have taken a friend, my eldest son (twice) and my very nervous flyer of a wife Jan up in the Cub with me and look forward to taking my youngest son up very soon.
Would I recommend Goodwood Flying School? Do you need to ask? I thank ALL the team for my PPL, from the friendly helpful ground staff, front desk, Tower and the remarkable assortment of instructors, thank you all for helping me to become a pilot.
To date, I have just 90 hours, but working towards my first 100!