Today I went flying. It was good.
One of the former cadets at Air League, Mick Leonard is now an F/A-18 Hornet pilot in the RAAF. Today was a family flying day for wives and families of the pilots and Mick and his father Rod invited me along for the day. The original plan was to go up for DH-82 Tiger Moth joy flights, I’d long wanted to fly in a vintage Tiger Moth and this was my chance.
The Tiger Moth is a pre-war vintage biplane so its pretty basic, tube and canvas, simple instrumentation and so on. A very enjoyable flight. Then one of the pilots asked me if I wanted to go for a ride in a Nanchang. Stupid question. The Nanchang CJ-6 is a Chinese made basic trainer with a 260hp radial engine and is fully aerobatic.
I climbed in with the pilot Dan and we took a flight across to Cessnock for fuel. Enroute we spoke about my flying and he offered me some stick time on the way back – can’t say no to that!
Because of its origin much of the controls and instruments in the aircraft were in Chinese – the basics were now labelled in English but in the rear many were still in Chinese. The altimeter was also in metres – this confused be at first as I thought “300 ft is a bit low… oh, 300 metres. That’s not too bad.”
On the way back to Luskintyre I had a go at flying the aircraft, it was like a little fighter with stick and throttle quadrant and was very responsive. I was a little hesitant about doing aerobatics, but Dan assured its like riding a bike – you never forget. Sure enough – I did some loops, rolls and wing overs and it all came back. With 260hp and 140kts indicated there was no need to build up speed in a dive and Dan gave some positive feedback on my aerobatics which was good for the ego.
It was all over too soon as we landed in the late afternoon sun, Rod had a go at the Nanchang and Mick and I discussed flying. Soon the sun was setting and I was driving home. Definitely an awesome day – gotta get flying again soon.