I was finally getting to fly a plane, something I have wanted to do since I first looked up into the sky. I was getting a half-hour "lesson" with Leading Edge Aviation which have a base in Scone, just outside Perth. After realising both my pilot's jacket and pilot's hat was going to be a little bit over zealous , I buttoned up my jacket and headed to the station.
It was a perfect day for flying, there was barely a cloud in the sky and no noticeable wind. I was so eager that I arrived at the station a good half-an-hour early so to past the time I talked to the pigeons, they were extra photogenic today; posing with breadcrumbs the kids where throwing. After getting strange looks from mothers as they edged their children away from the crazy lady, I got onto the train.
|The Poser Pigeon|
The train from Perth to Dundee is a mere 20 minutes and the walk from the train station to South Street (where I was catching my bus) was expected to take the same amount of time, in retrospect I should really remember that GoogleEarth is probably overcompensating. With plenty of time to spare I waited for my bus to Scone and I realised I should probably google how to pronounce Scone, turns out it's Scoon. Saved myself from looking like an ignorant tourist there.
Perth takes you by surprise, it has a group of grand buildings making up it's centre that you would expect to find in Paris and Vienna, not central Scotland. The silvery Tay splits the city in two, mimicing the blue Danube in Prague and Vienna, with a procession of bridges linking them together. Perth, although being around since the first stone circles were set down in the area in 4000BC, has just regained it's title as a city to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
|Perth's Grand Museum and Art Gallery|
|Examples of Perth's Waterfront|
To go with the rest of the day and my keen spirit I arrived in Scone a whole hour early, mainly because the bus service was determined not to let me arrive at the airport for 3pm. I decided to use this extra time to my advantage and go and explore Scone. Unfortunately you can easily walk the length of Scone and pick up a sandwich from Tesco in under half-an-hour. In the Taxi up to the airport I realised the airport was just around the corner from where the bus had left me off, and the driver made sure I did realise this. However the actual complex was a bit of a maze and I would have got lost in a field and before I knew it I would be on the runway, but unintentionally. However, even the taxi driver sent me to the wrong building.
Just as I entered the building I was essentially just whisked off onto the runway. My instructor reminded me somewhat of the lead singer of Keane and some Cambridge rich kid, so essentially the same thing, however surprisingly lacking in arrogance. It felt like my first driving lesson all over again and I fumbled about with the seatbelt, shutting it in the door several times and was all scared not quite sure what to do. There were numerous pre-flight checks both inside and outside the plane and then there was the initial gibberish between the plane and the traffic control tower and then before I knew it we were off.
I know I was in a measly Cessna 152 but taking off was well, easy. Open the throttle full, get up to 60mph and then start to point the nose upward and you barely even feel it! I am sure I didn't notice something but it was amazing how simple and effortless it seemed. Even though I was only up for half-an-hour and there is not much you can do, I still got solo control of a plane which was a dream come true. I got to steer pretty much up until landing and my instructor said that if there wasn't such a strong tail wind he would be tempted to let me land! I wasn't nearly going to trust myself though... Flying a plane, superficially, was a lot easier than made out; it's just a series of small adjustments as if you were driving a car, except you are well off the ground! The half-hour went far too quickly but it gave me a taster of something I will be addicted to, as unhappy as my bank balance will be about it, well my parent's bank balance.
|Some photos mid-spin to make my Mother's stomach turn.|
After the lesson and thanking my instructor, especially as he said I seemed like a natural, I walked back to Scone with a huge smile on my face like a child who just found out they were going to Disneyland. The bus back to Perth was late but I didn't mind, it was sunny and I had a good book. The bus wound through Scone and I noticed there were some parks to explore, just off the main road. By the time I got back to Perth there was only 5 minutes until my train home and I don't think I could beat GoogleEarth, especially as the bus dropped me somewhere different... Everytime I go into Perth I miss someform of connecting transport and I began to wonder if this was some kind of ploy by the Perth and Kinross council to make you explore more of the city. There was a good hour and forty-five minutes before the next train north but the sun was still shining, my camera was fully charged and I hadn't finished my book. As I wandered along the waterfront I eyed up several nooks and crannies but I noticed a certain little garden on the other side of the river which I decided would be my base for the next hour at least. I perched on a staircase and sat and read in the sun as jet-ski's flew past on the river. It was the most relaxed I had felt in such a long time, sitting in the sun and making an everyday feel like a holiday.