Tiger Moth Flying at Cambridge (2nd visit) By Sue Tuddenham
Following the success of the June event, fellow BWPA flyers came from near and far in the hopes of a flight in the famous De Havilland Tiger Moth. However, arriving at Cambridge Airport after a two and a half hour drive, it was disappointing to say the least to find that the cloud base was really low – it had been at ground level only half an hour earlier. Still, Janice had again generously organised a spectacular buffet, which certainly brightened the day, and allowed us all to enjoy a very English summer-time treat (strawberries and cream) in regrettably very English weather!
Hopes for a flight were high, but expectations – like the cloud base – were low. But it was a fantastic opportunity to get to know some of the other members a bit better, and was a chance for introductions and catching up. After much discussion and sky-watching, by mid-afternoon the cloud miraculously lifted as quickly as it had descended, and the first flight of the day was able to take place. Witnessing the looks of exhilaration on the returning faces, as one by one the flights started to take place, made up for any earlier disappointment.
So, despite the earlier disheartening weather, I finally found myself kitted up in a flying suit and sitting in the open cockpit of a Tiger Moth. I’d had my briefing, and after a few last adjustments and words of advice we were off! Snaking down the runway in order to see where we were going felt quite different to my previous experiences in a Cessna 152. Also, I found the prospect of having no brakes to slow us down rather daunting. But my instructor was re-assuring, and in what felt like no time at all we were up and away, flying over the Cambridgeshire countryside and gazing down on the fields below. It was a truly exhilarating feeling being in the open air with no glass between you and the sky. It felt a like a different world, experiencing the wind rush past you…and if you moved your head out too far, it really did rush past you! The Tiger Moth had fewer instruments than the Cessna I was used to, but we did have a radio, albeit only accessible from the back seat. After some sightseeing and a few steep turns and practice stalls we returned to base, and I have to say I was totally hooked. I’m currently working towards my PPL, but this flight has raised my hopes, and I want to eventually get a tail-wheel conversion on to the Tiger Moth!
I have to say a big thank you to Cambridge Flying Group, our most generous hosts, who were accommodating and great company, chatting to us all and telling us about the history of the Tiger Moth. The enthusiasm and commitment the club have in maintaining this beautiful aeroplane is truly admirable. And thanks again to Janice, who provided us with flying suits and even gloves for the flights – and looked after us all with sandwiches, tea and coffee. Thanks also to the BWPA Essex Group for hosting the event, and to Amy for being our designated photographer and snapping us when we were all dressed up in the flying suits with ‘top gun’ style helmets on. Although due to the bad weather early in the day not everyone who had booked a flight actually managed to get one, we still had a fantastic day, and I’m sure all who came were pleased that they did!
Role on more Tiger Moth flying…