What Caledonian Seaplanes taught us about flying By Beverley Harrison
Location: Drummond Hotel at St. Fillans at the east-most end of Loch Earn and a mere two hours from Edinburgh. (00407W 56 24N)
Time: Most arrived in the afternoon of 5th September and all departed during the morning of 8th September. At least I avoided the long drive either end of flying – although conversely no one else was back in the office by lunchtime! Thus my election to do the writing.
Our instructor, chief everything and mentor was Marilynn McDonald, ably assisted by “Buttercup” and umpteen ducks trying to teach us how to do it properly. Personnel on the September BWPA course/flying days were: Wendy and Paul Ryder, Lucy and Andy (plus dogs), Sophie, plus her mother Eleanor and Beverley
Weather: good floats flying weather was anything to produce smooth water, or as close as it is possible in Scotland. So..evening of the 5th / good, fit for floats flying.
6th / started well if changeable. Marilynn flew lots in order to get everyone through at least once and everyone’s activity of the evening before paid off, although lulled us into assuming things would always work. Towards the end of the day glorious sunshine, but increasingly rougher water, so not a fit surface.
7th / good walking weather. Happy dogs, but no flying. Early morning 8th / when most were thinking of departing, it was raining hard at 07:00, yet steadily getting better thereafter. Flyable (maybe) by 08:30. Stable at 09:00. Two more of us flew. Great learning points.
We were all weather watching, even when not flying, since the mountain environment is different. I had been trying for ages to get an instructor to get into the detail that was then covered in the two days plus at St. Fillans, on Loch Earn. Getting so close to the hills concentrates the mind and is unavoidable flying off a loch surface at just over 300 ft. surrounded by mountains and hills rising to over 2,000 ft! Conversly it proved earlier reminders to use gliding techniques like lift, in this case from the ridge immediately below.
It is good to stretch the flying experience range doing something entirely different, in this case flying a Piper Super Cub with added challenge of the floats and all the associated extra discipline of the water environment
For all of us it was a good few days amongst other pilots from BWPA and others also passing through the seaplane experience at Loch Earn. It made me get out more from Fife-Glenrothes amongst other local Scottish airfields!