You have an interesting aircraft. Tell us about its history…
Yes, my Piper Cherokee is an old friend. I first bought Papa Sierra Sierra Whisky back in 1968. It was one of the first two Cherokee 140 aircraft that were imported into the UK.
I sold it in 1970 and bought a Cessna 182, and then I stopped flying when I got married and started a family. Then, in 2009, I saw that “my Cherokee” was for sale at Biggin Hill. Rob Wildeboer suggested we take Albert from Goodwood to have a look at it and we flew it back to Goodwood where it was given a new engine, new interior, and new avionics. I always had a soft spot for the Cherokee and now I was flying it again after a gap of 39 years. Sierra Whisky is now the oldest flying Cherokee 140 in the UK, and when Rob first saw it he remarked that it had a superb airframe. It’s almost as good now as it was when I first owned it in the '60's and, like a chassis on a car, that is important.
What is the appeal of flying from Goodwood?
The hangars don’t leak and the service is great. When I get to the Aerodrome the aeroplane is ready and at the end of the day, they put it away. The Aero Club is a community, a network if you like, and that can be very helpful because pilots need access to that slow drip-feed of information that you get from the community - like an experience of air traffic somewhere, or the cost of fuel, or some event that’s worth knowing about.
It’s a great place to fly, although I don’t fly over the sea anymore after I had a total engine failure in a Cessna 150 I was flying from Leicester to Oxford. When I learned to fly on Austers I was taught to fly from field to field visually, so we landed safely - in a field - but I am now very circumspect about flying over water with one engine.