When you think of a plane that is over 70 years old, you don’t necessarily think that it is still functioning. I had that thought on Christmas day, when my Aunty bought my Grandpa a ticket to fly on a genuine World War 2 Tiger Moth plane.
Obviously, that seemed to be the best present that he received, so my personalised hip flask was tossed into the drink cabinet and forgotten about. How charming.
After a few days once the novelty and Christmas hangover had worn off, my Grandpa read the small print of his flight. The plane was based on a small airfield just out of Sheffield, so that was the first thing he moaned about, “Bloody Sheffield?! That’s miles away!” It’s an hour’s drive away.
The next thing was that we had to be there exactly half an hour before his scheduled flight, “What if there is traffic? We will have to set off at least 3 hours before we are due to go.” Really Grandpa, it’s a Sunday.
Then after all that palaver, the details stated that you had to be under a certain weight in order to fly. Well, that led to even more moaning, “I’m going to have to stop drinking, otherwise I won’t fit in the bloody thing!” So, this then started the “giving up beer” fiasco. And true to his reliable word, he stopped drinking and the pounds dropped off.
As the weeks pass and the flight drew closer, every time I saw my Grandpa he would stand and turn to every angle imaginable to try and see if he looked slimmer. Yes, I know. Almost as bad as a woman.
Flight day arrived and we all convoyed down to the airfield. Grandpa had his pre-flight briefing, which he took far too seriously because he thought he would “drop out of the sky” if he didn’t listen properly. After his briefing, he climbed into the plane (not very elegantly) with the biggest grin on his face I have ever seen. He had to wear a big aviator jacket and flying cap with googles, and to be honest, he looked quite cool. After a few attempts at trying to get the “old bird” fired up, it was chocks away and he was off.
As the plane bundled along the field to get to the runway, we frantically waved Pops goodbye, we all had the biggest grins on our faces too. Even though the plane is over 70 years old, it sure did move across that field. Minutes later it was up in air, so naturally everyone went, “oooooh he managed to get off the ground…yay!”
After 20 minutes of flying around the South Yorkshire countryside, he was back on solid ground. As the plane didn’t have any brakes, there was a lot of going around in circles all over the field until the plane came to a graceful halt.
My Grandpa isn’t one to exaggerate so when he said that it was one of the best experiences of his life, I knew he wasn’t lying. The smile on his face is one I will never forget.