Sto­ries told, lessons learned

Pilot - - PREFLIGHT -

We bring you some­thing slightly dif­fer­ent in this is­sue with the sad story of Scot­tish rac­ing driver and pri­vate pi­lot Ron Flock­hart’s ill-fated early 1960s at­tempt to set a record speed in fly­ing from Aus­tralia to Eng­land. Ron was a two-time Le Mans win­ner who was also well known as an F1 driver, par­tic­u­larly as a mem­ber of the BRM team, which fi­nally won the con­struc­tor’s ti­tle in 1962.

Sadly, Ron Flock­hart did not live to see his old team pre­sented with the tro­phy, per­ish­ing in April 1962 when he lost con­trol of his civil­ianised P-51 Mus­tang in cloud over the Dan­de­nong Range in Aus­tralia. Ron held a PPL and seems to have pro­gressed from the Auster tail­drag­ger he owned at Fairoaks to the WWII fighter with no great dif­fi­culty, at least as far as han­dling the heav­ier and more pow­er­ful aero­plane in vis­ual me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal con­di­tions goes. How­ever, as Neil Fol­lett and Nick Stroud’s well-re­searched ar­ti­cle start­ing on page 76 makes clear, he had no in­stru­ment fly­ing qual­i­fi­ca­tion and had flown very lit­tle in the months prior to the ac­ci­dent.

Ron’s story is per­haps more of a ‘We Learned About Fly­ing From That’ than a fly­ing ad­ven­ture that went wrong as, af­ter a se­ries of ac­ci­dents sim­i­larly at­trib­ut­able to loss of con­trol in bad weather, the UK IMC Rating was in­tro­duced only a few years later, in 1967.

Over the decades since the IMC must have saved a num­ber of lives, but it has re­mained the only game in town as far as the pri­vate pi­lot is con­cerned. The de­mand­ing and ex­pen­sive CAA and EASA In­stru­ment Rating has al­ways been be­yond the means of non­pro­fes­sion­als (the num­ber of PPL IR hold­ers has re­mained stub­bornly at the 500 mark for as long as I can re­mem­ber) and the au­thor­i­ties have never seen fit to align the Euro­pean qual­i­fi­ca­tion with Fed­eral Avi­a­tion Author­ity IR, which is both eas­ier and cheaper to ac­quire — and has an ex­cel­lent, proven safety record. I hear that moves are afoot, but un­til it hap­pens the in­ter­me­di­ate step we do have is the EASA Com­pe­tency-based IR. How dif­fi­cult is this rel­a­tively new rating and how much does it cost? Stephen Walker ex­plains in Part Two of his CB-IR ‘Be­yond the PPL’ fea­ture, start­ing on page 44.

Fi­nally, in a more light-hearted (or should that be light­house-hearted) mood, we bring you Ge­off Scott’s in­spired — if a lit­tle ec­cen­tric — tilt at the Poo­ley’s Dawn to Dusk chal­lenge (‘Fly­ing Ad­ven­ture’, p.92). Like any Pi­lot fea­ture, this one is a great story of­fer­ing a fine mix of en­ter­tain­ment and — yes — ed­u­ca­tion. We hope you en­joy it!

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.