Have an airshow!
pointed out, we might not have been able to fly even if we hadn’t been waterlogged, the weather was so foul. Perranporth, ten miles away and with a hard runway, was flying for only eighteen more days than Bodmin, through the whole winter. Now how much do you want to spend on drainage?
The first order of business, we agreed unanimously, was to get the kitchen sorted. Put in some proper cooking facilities so we can offer people more than an honesty box and some tea and biscuits. That’ll cost anything up to £5,000, but by the time you get here this summer (subliminal message: Fly to Bodmin, fly to Bodmin!) we should have hot dinners to match our sunny welcome. Then we can become a destination not just for fly-in visitors but for non-flying Cornish people who might want to have a good lunch at an unusual venue, with exciting planes going past the window.
Fact is, most of the population of Bodmin don’t even know we exist. When I offer to take someone in Bodmin flying, the first question is usually: “Where’s the airfield?” Well, it’s three miles out of town, signposted off the A30, but we’re in the happy position of doing most of our flying over open moorland, with only the Dartmoor ponies to annoy. How do we get the word out? How can we promote the Club to the eating public, even if they don’t want to learn to fly?
I know, I said… like the young Mickey Rooney in the films… let’s have an airshow, right here! Howls of derision from all quarters, with some angry aerobatic pilots looking ready to throw their pasties at me. Hadn’t I seen the CAA’S new scale of charges? Using Shoreham as an excuse, it had priced almost everyone completely out of the airshow business, even though their new rules won’t do a damned thing for safety.
Well, not being an aerobat I wasn’t really up to speed, but I was quickly appraised of the facts and I went home brooding about the injustice of it all, and not only because of the vegetarian pasty. What, I wondered, constitutes an airshow? How much can you do without benefit of clergy, so to speak… could you have, say, an open day, with planes coming and going and some people practicing their aerobatic routines over the field?
CAA publication CAP 403 — Flying Displays and special events: a guide to safety and administrative arrangements tells me that a flying display is ‘any flying activity deliberately performed for the purpose of providing an exhibition or entertainment at an advertised event open to the public’. So, if you turned that on its head and chose a day where you knew people would be practising their aerobatic routines to invite the public to come and have lunch, they can’t touch you for it, as Ken Dodd used to say. We’re not talking big crowds here — if we got fifty new people in all day, that would be a soaraway success, I reckon. No need for airspace restrictions or special procedures, a crowd line or a display line, no call to go appointing a Flying Display Director or asking to see a pilot’s Display Authorisation and, above all, no need to pay a Caa-appointed Display Authorisation Evaluator to confer a blessing like some latter-day Pardoner. Just a few people doing what they do, and some other people watching from the bar or the car park.
But it kinda gives you an uneasy feeling, doesn’t it. Because this was the way things were done in the old days, before a more enlightened CAA formed a working partnership with the people it regulates. I thought we’d entered a brave new world where regulation had to be based on evidence, but it seems we haven’t moved far from the days of hunch-based regulation or stands-toreason rules, larded with usurious charges. Of course, what we used to do in the old days when rules were expensive and dumb was to contrive ways to get round them. And you know what? That didn’t help anybody.