Diary of a Student Pilot

David Walker writes about his experiences as he learns how to fly, after winning a competition to become a pilot.


Part 6. Flight Delayed

For most of the time, the weather at Compton Abbas Airfield is like this.

But occasionally, like anywhere else in the world, it can be like this.

October for me has been a somewhat delayed month, and instead of doing weekly lessons, there have been a couple of last-minute cancellations and limited space availability for bookings. All of which are no-one’s fault and could not be helped. But whilst I’ve been temporarily grounded, the pull to go flying increases, and makes me more determined than ever to complete the course and pass.

I’ve now had eight lessons which means I’m roughly a quarter of the way through this course. Every week when I leave home to go to the airfield, my stomach starts to churn and I’m a bag of nerves. Yet, when I sit in the cockpit in the moments prior to take off as the runway is stretching out in front of me, the nerves start to ease and excitement kicks in again.

To overcome the issue of the delays there’s still plenty to do with home-based study, and I’ve been keeping busy. The walls of my office are slowly becoming hidden by the ever-increasing number of notes up on display. And I’ve even attached a compass to the dashboard of the car, thanks to the loan from Dom at Dorset Marine Training so I can practice my bearings whilst on the move. And it’s working! Last week, it took me forever to work out a bearing, but now, I can do it much quicker.

Every day I still stand in front of the picture of the cockpit and wave my arms and legs round as I go through the Pre-Start and Starting Procedure. I sit in the armchair and practice aileron, thrust and rudder control. And when I’m out for a walk I mumble to myself, as I go through various lessons in my head – remembering specific things to do. If anyone passes me by, they’d probably say I should be sectioned! But I don’t care. I entered this competition with the intention of becoming a pilot. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do for the whole of my life. And now I’ve got this opportunity I’m not going to let a little bit of fog get in my way. This course is simply amazing, and I’m most grateful to be doing it.

Compton Abbas airfield is located in North Dorset, not far from Shaftesbury. They’ve gone above and beyond to get everything as Covid safe as possible and have now recently opened up their café to the public once more. So why not spend a couple of hours with good food, great drinks, friendly staff and a fantastic view of the countryside. It’s well worth it!


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