My Flying Page

In 1972, aged 16, I went on a week's residential gliding course at Challock in Kent. The weather wasn't very good. I had only about half a dozen winch launches over the entire week, but I did learn to drive the elderly tractor which was used to chase the sheep off the runway.

By 1986, and by then in my 30s, I was working as a GP in Ealing. I lived in Perivale and learned to fly radio control model aeroplanes at Horsenden Hill and Northwick Park.

It was only in 1990, when I moved to live near Shoreham Airport to take up a GP post  and had started model flying with the Sussex Radio Flying Club, that I even considered full size flying.

This is a picture of Shoreham Airport in the 1990s. 

Shoreham Airport 

My first flying lesson was on 26/09/1991 in a Piper Tomahawk (PA-38) G-SION which was operated by The Mercury Flying Club. I quickly realised that I was well and truly bitten by the aviation bug.

I started my PPL training in G-SION and G-BSKC (another PA38) but changed to a Cessna 152, G-BSDO when the club sold the Tomahawks. I did most of my training including my first solo in G-BSDO but when Mercury folded, I transferred to "Air South" run by John and Jenny Pothecary and flew their 4 Cessna 152s which were G-BHPX, G-BMTB, G-BNJD & G-BSHE.

Keith Warren, who had been the Examiner & CFI of Mercury Flight Training (and who had taken me for my trial lesson in G-SION) also moved to Air South, and it was he who examined me for my GFT in G-BMTB on 28th November 1992.

A few years ago I happened to fly into Enstone, and saw G-SION looking very sorry for itself. I saw G-BSDO at Sandtoft in 2009, resprayed and looking very pretty.

Shareoplanes

After getting my licence, I spent several years flying the minimum hours necessary to maintain legal currency before coming to the conclusion that I would only fly regularly if I bought a part share.

The first plane in which I owned a share was a Piper Vagabond (PA-15), G-BOVB which was a great deal of fun, and for a traildragger, a forgiving aircraft to fly. Long after I had left the group I understand that VB had an engine failure after take off. Fortunately no one was injured, but the aircraft was badly damaged and has not, as far as I know, flown since.

Here is VB in happier days.

 

Although I enjoyed my time with the Vagabond, after about 70 hours of hand-swinging props (and it was particularly difficult to start when hot), I decided that the next plane I part owned would have an electric starter.

This was a Cessna 172 G-ASVM. I owned a share for about 4 years and flew nearly 100 hours in her.

 

 

After the members of this group went our separate ways, and the plane was sold, I bought a 1/30th share in the Southern Strut Flying Group’s Shoreham based Cessna 150 G-AWRK. Of all the shared aircraft that I have ever flown this was the one I felt most at home in. It always started first time & never missed a beat. Everything  worked. Climb and descend at 60 Kts, fly at 80Kts. It was almost unstallable in landing configuration with full (40 degrees)  flap and would land (though perhaps not take off) in incredibly short distances. I still prefer C150s to C152s. 

 

 

There is a report of a long trip I made in RK here. I kept the RK share until it came to a sticky end at Deanland in Autumn 2008 -  fortunately with no injury to anybody.

 

Romeo Kilo made for very cheap flying, but with the size of the group, availability was limited and long trips difficult, and so I subsequently bought a share in a Socata Tobago (TB-10), G-BLCG.

She flew very nicely, and the in flight visibility was much better than a PA28,  but the right hand oleo had a habit of deflating, so I would taxi her in with the right wing down  & often with the firecrew (somewhat embarrassingly) in attendance.

I logged about 90 hours in total in G-BLCG. Here she is at Midden Zeeland. This was one of the last trips I flew in her. 

 

When I decided to start to learn to fly helicopters I had to sell the TB10 share to raise some funds for training but I bought a small share in the Oldbus Flying Group’s Piper Archer (PA28) G-BMIW. 

 

I still fly IW for about 30 hours a year, mainly longer trips and I have now logged just under 300 hours in her.. 

 

A few years ago she was re-sprayed to red and white.

 

In May 2009 I had a fantastic trip to the Shetlands and Hebrides in G-BMIW. This was written up in the April 2010 edition of Pilot Magazine. In May 2010 a couple of us took it on a trip round the republic of Ireland and this was also written up in Pilot and printed in early 2011. Since then I have been on trips to Holland, Belgium, Spain, Germany, France, Denmark & Sweden. These trips were all shared with another group member who has posted videos of most of them here  Paul Dean's You Tube channel

In December 2013, I bought a share in a Shoreham based 1957 Piper Tri-Pacer (PA-22), G-AWLI. I only flew about 40 hours in G-AWLI before she was damaged in a landing accident after the cowl came open in flight in late 2020, (I was not the pilot), and the group dissolved.

Here is a photo I took at Headcorn.

 

Multi-Engine flying.

Along the way I gained Night, Multi and IMC Ratings. Whilst the night and IMC ratings all went smoothly, the twin rating, in the Flying Hut’s  Piper Aztec G-BCCE in must have been one of the most drawn out ever. I started it in  2003 and finally completed the course and passed the test in 2007. I still think the panel looks daunting. 

 

I have renewed my MEP rating ever since, usually in a Piper Aztec, but once in a Beech Duchess. I am embarrassed to say that I have never flown a twin without an instructor or examiner in the cockpit.

Rotary Flying.

In 2005  I started learning to fly Robinson 22 Helicopters with Fast Helicopters at Shoreham.

After about 60 hours training, mainly in an R22, but with some on an Enstrom F28,  I finished my PPL(H) in 2006.

I completed the Enstrom piston helicopter type rating and, for a few years, owned a quarter share in G-BURI, an Enstrom F28C which was based at Goodwood.

 

 

After I sold my share in the Enstrom I did a Robinson 44 conversion at  Helicopter Services at Wycombe.

My R44 and Enstrom ratings have now expired but I keep the R22 rating current and try to fly once a month or so throughout the summer,  in an R22 hired from Advance Helicopters at Shoreham. I now have just over 200 rotary hours logged.

Here is G-WIZY on the Isle of Grain a few years ago.

 

 

Gliders.

When I gave up General Practice in 2003 to change  to Aviation Medicine, I expected to have a lot more spare time (and rather less money) and so I thought I would also give up powered flying and learn to fly gliders instead.

I joined the Southdown Gliding Club at Parham, but as my aviation medicine workload picked up I found I really didn't have the time that I needed to make any progress with unpowered flight.

Finally, 40 years after my first flight at Challock, I went solo in a glider from Booker Gliding Club on 27/09/2012. I flew a couple of hours solo and then I stopped working at Wycombe and never went back to gliding. Now I have retired completely (in July 2018)  I may have another try.

This is a picture from the Booker Gliding site blog from Sept 2012 showing me looking somewhat stunned after my first glider solo!

 

Microlights.

In 2013 I  wondered about microlights and completed my fixed wing microlight "differences training" in a Streak Shadow and a Thruster (NG). However I decided not to buy a microlight share. This is not because I have anything against microlights but there are none based at Shoreham and I live only a mile from Shoreham Airport

Unusual types.

Whilst most of my flying has been in "the usual" types, I have had lessons in a Harvard, a Tiger Moth, a Bell 47 (MASH) Helicopter, Thruster and Shadow microlights and an RAF2000 autogyro. At some point I would like to have another go at open cockpit flying.

G-ARMO, G-ATTI and G-AVLO (my forays into sole ownership)

G-ARMO

In October 2009  I bought a 1961 Cessna 172, G-ARMO and logged 364 hours in her, mainly commuting between my two aviation medical practices at Shoreham and Booker, before I sold her on 1st August 2013. Whilst my friend John owned a half share for a year during this time, in total  I owned GARMO outright for about 3 years. 

 

Just before I sold her  I did a trip around most of Great Britain. Here is a picture of Ben Nevis from above.

 

And this is my last sight of G-ARMO on the day I sold her.  The sale of G-ARMO

 

G-ATTI

In October 2014 I bought G-ATTI a 1966 Piper Cherokee 140.

Here she is landing at Lee on Solent (with the the permission of the photographer)

 

and here she is at Popham.

 

I was very fond of G-ATTI but having retired I realised that I could not afford to own any C of A aircraft outright and she was sold in May 2019 some 4 and a half years after I bought her.  During my ownership of G-ATTI I logged almost exactly 500 hours in her (chock to chock).

G-AVLO

So in September 2019 I decided to venture into permit aircraft. This is G-AVLO. Thanks again to Richard Davies who took the photo when I flew to Lee on Solent. G-AVLO is a 1967 Bolkow 208C Junior, and is on a LAA administered Permit, not a C of A. So far I have logged about 100 Hours in G-AVLO and I am enjoying being able to do much of my own maintenance under the supervision of my LAA inspector.. Time will tell if this is a good idea or not.

 
 

Hours

I now have over 2150 hours logged (1900 as PiC).  About 200 hours are rotary and about 20 hours are in gliders.  I have flown 100 aircraft of 39 types and logged over 200 different airfields and landing sites.

For many years I used to say that I would like to exceed 1000 hours P1 before age or finances forced an end to my flying. 

I reached that in 2014. 

Then I said if I reached 2,000 hours total time, I would be ready to stop.

I reached that in April 2019 and I now wonder if 2500 hours TT might be manageable before it is time to finally hang up my headset.

Who knows?

Andy Tobias 13/03/2021

Infrequently asked Q 1.

OK I have dragged my way through all  of this. I am not really interested in your flying, but I do want to know what has happened to your aeromedical practice at Shoreham. 

Answer is here  

all text and images (c) andytobias 2019 except where stated