Flying the Legendary Spitfire

By David Brown

Richard Paver’s superb shot of MJ627 shows the classic lines of the Spitfire/ (via Heritage Hangar)For many years, I had harbored the desire to fly a Spitfire. This dream started when I was allowed, as a schoolboy, to sit in the cockpit of a Spitfire at RAF Woodvale, and had persisted since my early flying days in England. Together with fellow Air Cadet, Alan Walker, I had spent my weekends at Woodvale supporting operations to fly other Air Cadets at 10 Air Experience Flight, which enabled us at the end of the day to wangle a quick 15-minute flight in the Chipmunks. After college in England, and more Chipmunk flying with the RAF and in civilian life, I started a career in the flight testing of jets, initially in England, and flew light aircraft at weekends.

I still had the Spitfire dream, but Spitfires (especially two-seaters) are rare. Time passed and we moved on, Alan advanced into airline flying, and eventually progressed to a Senior Captain position with Cathay Pacific flying the mighty Boeing 747. By then, I had moved to California where I worked in Flight Test and various Advanced Design groups, taught aeronautical engineering at a university and the USAF Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, and was lucky enough to be involved on the periphery of various warbird operations. We corresponded occasionally, and I saw on Facebook that he now flew a Robin, G-FEEF (aka Fifi), which he based in England. He was also an accomplished warbird pilot and flew Spitfires, Hurricane Sea Fury, the B-17 Flying Fortress, and even the notoriously tricky Messerschmitt 109… pretty impressive.

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Editorial: Learning

By Ed Downs

Given our May issue, which features much of what is going on in flight training today, this writer decided to take a slightly different view on the prosses or training. Let’s take a look at the student’s contribution to training, learning. Becoming a Flight Instructor today is sort of like becoming a junior phycologist. In fact, this writer did post graduate studies in educational psychology, in addition to sitting in the right seat of a flying machine, staring at a hoobs meter for more hours than can be accurately counted. Add to that, years of ground instructing and nationwide tutoring through computers and phone contacts, and you have a person who has seen how folks learn. 

This writer has also seen a marked change in the ability of my students to learn. Yes, this could be the meanderings of an old guy who just expects students to learn fast to make the job of training easier, but it seems to be more than just that. Many of the very experienced CFI’s I work with in teaching Flight Instructor Revalidation Clinics (FIRC’s) comment that they too see changes in how leaning is taking place.

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