Although I studied agriculture at Edinburgh University it was EUAS that occupied most of my time and energy. Without doubt they were some of the very best times and the memories of peddling out to RAF Turnhouse, clambering into flying gear, then that unique Chipmunk smell, the bang of the starter and the roar of the Gypsy Major bringing throbbing life to that lovely little aircraft live with me to this day. Although I have flown other light aircraft, if I dream about flying it’s always in a ‘Chippie’. Then there were all the merry times in the mess which in my day was at Buccleuch Place, including the night when we had all the girls from the Royal Ballet round for a party after their performance at the Kings Theatre!
I was all lined up with a short service commission, but after three visits to RAF Central Medical Board they decided I had marginal astigmatism in my left eye and I was downgraded to A2 and that was the end of that. Plan B was a career in Agriculture which took me to Lincolnshire and then Gloucestershire where I flew Austers, Beagle Pups, and Condors, at Wickenby and Bolkows at Staverton. As a sales and marketing guy I spent quite a lot of time travelling overseas in Europe, Eastern Europe, the Far East and the Americas and after all the wasted hours and days spent there, I shall be very happy if I never see Heathrow airport ever again.
After 12 years of living and working down south a change was needed and we moved from Lincolnshire up to Achiltibuie in the remote northwest Highlands where I set up a specialist food smoking business in 1977. Building a business and raising a family meant there was little time for flying and I didn’t fly for nearly forty years. But then, after prodding from my daughter, in Jan 2010 I climbed into the left hand seat of a Piper Tomahawk at Inverness and started again.
Flying hadn’t changed much and it all came back very quickly, but I had to pass a flight test and seven ground exams before getting my PPL re-validated. The biggest change was in RT terminology and procedures and my tendency to revert to RAF style transmissions was not appreciated by the new generation of civil air traffic controllers. Its good to be back in the air, but flying a Tomahawk is not a patch on the excitement of sky-dancing in a Chipmunk. It is really great to meet up with UAS guys again, to renew friendships, and to relive flying adventures from those great days of youth. It is an interesting new phase in the EUAS experience. Long may it continue.