Something of a contrast...
Very much by design, this issue embraces aircraft from the extreme ends of the scale of two-seat general aviation types: the dear old Air Cadet T61 Venture/sf 25 Motor Falke and the Folland Gnat.
The Falke is a kind of flying VW Beetle, not just because it uses the same engine but because it is slow, outdated and, let’s say, a little challenging in certain aspects of its handling. I should know: my first car was a ’68 1200 Beetle and before that arrived in my life I’d spent several hours flying in the Thames Valley Gliding Club’s Motor Falke with my father. The abiding memory of those happy days is dragging across the grass at Booker, wondering whether the thing would ever get airborne — this was the first time I heard the phrase ‘relies on the curvature of the Earth’. Sitting in a heavily laden Motor Falke on a hot summer’s day, this old saw seemed like an entirely rational explanation of how the thing might eventually leave the ground.
I don’t know whether he ever experienced the joys of Motor Falke flying, but former Pilot Editor James Gilbert was a Beetle owner. The story I cherish is that when the thing broke down outside a Jaguar dealership on Park Lane, James marched in and bought the E Type they had on show in the window — which takes us neatly to the Gnat, which in many ways is the airborne equivalent of that car.
A classic, high-performance twoseater, the Gnat is an aircraft any full-blooded flying enthusiast would like to get their hands on. Colin Goodwin certainly jumped at the opportunity when it was offered by the Heritage Aircraft Trust and Edwin Brenninkmeyer. For the story that appears on p.24, I flew up to North Weald with Col in his RV-7.
I think it is fair to say that there was a little apprehension at the idea of climbing into an old jet aircraft with a pilot neither of us knew — apprehension that evaporated rapidly when we met Edwin and the experienced and highly professional team that look after the Trust’s Gnats.
Over lunch after his flight with Colin, Edwin talked about the different aircraft he’d flown. It turned out that he’d logged lots of tail wheel time, not least in Cubs — he’s not only a skilled jet jockey but very much another fullblooded enthusiast, as we really should have guessed right from the beginning. For all the rich diversity of GA, there are strong bonds that unite us pilots.
I hope the early promise of this summer is realised, and that you are all aviating in motor gliders and fast jets, and all things in between, dear readers.