Have an air­show!

Pilot - - REGULARS -

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.

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