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Man owning up to his mistakes! (or 101 less 2 is?)
Peter, a somewhat pompous once friend of ours flies little Cessna 172 aircraft. Well he used to. He broke two in a row now and therefore gave up flying ever since. Fortunately for those of us that might happen to be on the ground underneath him.
Shortly after gaining his Pilot’s Licence Peter somehow managed to fail to notice a hanger (large building used to store aeroplanes) and collided with one corner of it on take off. This despite the hanger being (well the size of an aircraft hangar and quite visible really) and located some quarter of a mile from the runway! Snapping off one wing in the process. Cessnas don’t fly right well with only one wing (keep going round in circles. Fine if you don't mind flying London to Paris, via Edinburgh!) and so the little plane flipped over, breaking one of Peter’s legs as it did so.
Not to be daunted Peter imported another used Cessna from America by first having it dismantled and then loaded into a transatlantic shipping container. Apparently some older Cessna 172 aircraft in America now fall foul of more recent and stiffer airworthiness certification there. Often deemed unviable to upgrade in their homeland they are either broken up for parts or sold for a song and exported. Often to less fussy European aviators. In Peter’s case his last little second hand Cessna set him back about the same price as would have a reasonably sound, low mileage, Ford Mondeo (the one with two cup holders).
Before flying again though Peter had to recover completely from his broken leg and that took a long time. I suppose one needs both legs in case of suddenly finding oneself needing to pedal. After he was completely mended Peter asked me if I would like to join him on his inaugural flight. As luck would have it though I was unable to accept his offer. I had a far more pressing engagement that day; changing a light bulb in my bathroom.
The day following his flight Peter turned up again at our house, again hobbling around on crutches.
“What happened to you?” Memsahib and I naturally enquired with some degree of concern.
“Barrel rolled the damned thing coming into le Val St Père. It's a write-off!” Said
Le Val St Père is a small grass strip airfield at Avranches, northern France.
Peter was most indignant at any claims by witnesses and investigators that the prang might have been his fault. Everyone that saw what happened though, along with reports in the local press, suggested that he had come in too steep and too fast. Peter insisted though that it was the poor state of the runway. Even claiming that air accident investigators called in immediately afterwards had closed the airport due to the condition of the strip. This was true only in as much as these bods were concerned to first find the rest of Peter's propeller, lest someone else trip over it. Then vacuum up the remaining bits of his plane and finally heel a few divots back into the turf, before opening it up again half an hour later. At least that's what my farming friend and next door neighbour told me and who had taken off from that same strip later that very day in a French built Robin R3000 plane!
A month or so later we invited Peter and his then girlfriend to dinner at our place, along with a dozen or so other friends. Although definitely not the reason for hosting our party nonetheless everyone invited was eager to learn more about Peter’s aerial adventures.
“Bad weather apart, taking off and landing are the hardest parts.” Said Peter. In full flood for the benefit of his captive audience. “I have quite some experience now what with just over a hundred take offs. So I know what I’m talking about.” Continued Peter, in frankly quite a pompous tone.
“Unfortunately followed by slightly fewer than a hundred landings Peter!” I could not resist quipping in from my end of the table.
Peter never returned our invite. Odd that.
For the day anyway.