It was 2330 on a Wednesday. I was in bed reading a book (certainly no surprise there) when I heard the ping on my phone go off. I debated whether I was going to even check it, my phone was lying all the way at the end of the bed after all, but eventually my curiosity won, it normally always does.
There was a message from Tim (my favorite British officer and the only one I know as of late (win-win) right?) and this is what the message said.
Fancy a short flight? FANCY A SHORT FLIGHT?! Would I ever. I won’t go into the schematics over all the messaging as we just worked out all the details, but he told me I had to meet him in the afternoon. There was only one problem with that, you see I have this thing called work… that gets in the way here and there, but I immediately told him I would meet him at 1:30 over at the NATO base and then from there we would drive to the airfield where he keeps his plane.
You see Tim is quite awesome and I met him back in the summer about a month after I arrived in Italy, right as he arrived back from his tour in Afghanistan. My car windows also happened to get bashed in at his house so there’s that fond memory too. Within the next few weeks Tim is packing up shop and heading to Kuwait for his next mission. He’ll be flying his plane back to the UK where he will leave it while he is deployed for the next 6 months.
I couldn’t be more excited to have scored a flight with him. Plus I felt even more privileged that he included me. It was just a day of days, that’s for sure.
At work it all came together brilliantly. Everyone was out of the office, my supervisors were both gone, one sick, and one on government travel. I was in charge of sending out the daily messages that afternoon and so I decided who would miss me for a couple of hours?
I finished up a few things, sent a few emails, then logged off and was gone like the wind racing to meet up with Tim for our flight RDVU. I’d be heading back to the office afterwards to send off the last of the emails but as soon as I got in the car, turned on the music, and was speeding across the highway I forgot everything else work related.
We started off with a few pre engine checks, you know, standard checklist stuff. Luckily it didn’t take very long as he had flown earlier that day.
We had to crank the props a couple of times, make sure everything was in good working order.
Just a few more checks and then we’d be ready to go!
When both doors are up it looks quite tiny inside. Tim has done a 2 week trip across Europe in this plane and he was only able to bring carry on luggage for the ride. No other room available.
Inside the hangar, this is where he stores his plane for just over 100 euros a month. That’s less than a parking pass in downtown Naples! It’s also only a 5 minute drive from where he works so on his lunch break he can drive over and go for a flight if so chooses.
This is the go pro mount that he bought in Afghanistan designed specifically to be placed on the wing of his aircraft so we could video tape the flight. We were having problems getting the pin out but eventually did and strapped my go pro in for the ride. He said he bought the fancy mount but then ran out of money for the go pro, go figure!
Once we had donned our rubber duckies and strapped into the seats it became very strict business. Tim gave me the safety brief, I listened intently. He showed me all the gauges and levers, I listened to that intently too. Once he gave me the run down and conducted the last few pre flight checks, we slowly made our way to the edge of the runway, checked the winds, pushed a few buttons, pulled a few levers, turned a few valves, and within seconds we were speeding down the runway bobbing back and forth for a few seconds, and then were airborne. Just like that!
I waited for this sign and I knew we were all in the clear. Tim has been flying airplanes for over 12 years. He started flying when he was 14 and then joined the British military to fly airplanes full time. He told me that yes its a hobby, but its what he’s really good at too. From 2 short flights with him, there’s no denying that.
In this area there are very distinct lines set for airspace management. We can only go so far down the coast before we would reach Naples Airspace and permission is required before entering. We wouldn’t be heading through that area today. After we ran the route down the coast and I tried my hardest to make out my house but failed, we turned seaward and headed over to the island of Ischia, a place I am familiar with by boat because that’s one of our favorite past times in the summer.
In a short 15 minutes we were coming up on the island and although we had to stay to the right again because of airspace management requirements, we were able to fly right over top of the island. From the plane I saw both the bridge and cliff that I had jumped off in the summer time, a place where we found hidden hot springs, the place where everyone knows about the hot springs, the port we go to fuel the boats. It was even cooler that I was familiar with the island and have boated all the way around it before.
Look at the Gucci monitoring system.
Coming around the edge of the island, the cliff formations were incredible from this viewpoint in the sky.
Here we are on the back side of the island, doing a loop to prepare for the return flight.
Down there where you see the 2 beaches is the first little town I went to within a week of arriving in Italy. When I first arrived a group of people I had met the day before invited me to go boating with them my first Saturday in town and I of course said yes. We drove all the way over to the back side of Ischia and ate an amazing seafood dinner down in the port.
Do you see the castle over there?
Maybe a little bit better here?
And just like that it was time to head back. But not with out a quick lesson first. Tim said it was my turn to fly and he gave me full rein to get us back across the water. Eee!
I felt like I was driving a banshee on the video game Halo, but I did everything that Tim said trying to keep our altitude steady at the same time as pointing us in the right direction. Luckily we didn’t lose major altitude while I was in control and once we got back over land Tim took the reins back. He landed us safety on the ground on a very short runway, might I add.
Afterwards I thanked him 500 times and then he was off to take Luca the caretaker of the airfield on a flight while I raced back to work just in time to send off those last few emails and head to the airport with bags packed for Chamonix France and a weekend of skiing.
Later my dad wrote to me on FB with regards to the above picture and said “It’s not what you know but who you know” Tim later messaged me and said that there was something very satisfying about being the ‘who’ in the its all about who you know! statement. I got a kick out of that and completely agree with him.
Arriving back around 5pm with a flight at 7 I sent off that last email and within seconds the Captain that I work for ran out of his office. He thought for sure that I had written the email ahead of time and time stamped it to send with a couple hour delay. I was just sitting at my desk smiling smugly before again taking off. If only he knew what I’d really been doing over the past few hours! I’d say I won this round on all accounts.
More about France coming soon!
This article appeared first on The Cassey Excursion.
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