Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Nirav goes flying ...

Well well well, I should have been blogging more often, especially when I have the time, as well as things to blog about.

As the topic suggests I did go flying, but flying commercial is not a big deal anyways, but I was lucky enough to be invited by a colleague (Mr. P) who has a share in a private plane, to hop on for a joy ride.

The plane which he has is a Ukrainian ex-military jet, used for training of pilots in the Ukrainian Air Force (YAK-30) and is a reliable plane for aero-batics.

Now P has this expensive hobby of flying these gas guzzlers (I am usually a person with a low carbon footprint, not having a Television at home and all) and doing all those crazy stunts like loops, flips and figure of eights, as well as flying upside down. He suggested I join him one fine sunday. Well I am never the one to say no for an adventure I agreed.

The airfield was outskirts of Greater London (outside the M25 ring road) and the nearest tube station was Epping (Far east on the Central Line) and got a ride in P's car to the North Weald airfield.

Before I boarded the plane, I was given a detailed briefing about the plane and its operating parts, and before starting the engine a serious check was done that all the moving parts were moving, and the parts which shouldnt move were not moving. (Unlike a car one cant suddenly stop a few feet ahead and fix the problems)

Then when I entered the passenger seat (mind you it is a training jet and the passenger sits behind the pilot, and has over-riding controls and a complete sets of instruments in the cockpit) I was told to strap the parachute and the seat belt.
Then Mr P said that incase of some trouble, he would try and land the plane, on some open fields but if in the worst case scenario that wasnt possible, I should open the hatch above me, and release the seat belt, and jump up, and then pull open the parachute chord.
Now this is simpler said than done. This wasnt some simple seat belt, it had straps from your shoulders and well as below from your legs.
The parachute was also strapped similarly.
In case of an emergency what if I not only nstrapped the seat belt, but also the parachute and then jumped off?
When the time came to pull the chord, it would be all over, (not that my blog readers would notice, since I post so infrequently anyways) Though I am joking about it now, it made me sweat profusely during the period of the flight.

The ride was absolutely exhilirating, and we flew from North Weald to the east coast of England, towards the Thames Estuary and the mouth of the River Crouch (just north of Thames) flowing into the North Sea. The pilot was generous enough to let me take the control for a while (it was a training plane) and let me make a simple left turn and right turn (though he held the acceleration pedals, i only turned the joystick around)
The greatest part was the take off and landing, one hardly felt a thing (more like a wheeelie on a motorcylce than the stressful ear piercing take off on a commercial passenger plane)

I dont think anywords can describe the true feeling, (atleast I am not all that expressive) but during the loops I experienced 4G acceleration force, and rest I leave the pictures to do the talking

The pilot Mr P

The Passenger Nirav

The 9 cylinder radial engine

The cockpit (Passenger)

The Scenery below from the plane