Learning to fly

Aviation Media and News since 2008


Pilot: Eric J.

Airfield: Parafield

Time Frame: Mid 20th century

Eric is my father-in-law. We quite often sit and talk about flying due to our mutual interest.

Eric flew Tiger moths, Piper Tri-Pacers, Chipmunks and a few others. He often tells me stories of when he was learning to be a pilot. Stories that interest me and others that amaze me. In an afternoon I can be taken though hours of flight history.

One of the stories is about his training where he would be taken up to do navigation around Parafield. They would take off and climb to the assigned altitude. The exercise would begin. They would be cruising along nicely. The plane was trimmed and navigation going as planned.

All of a sudden it dawned….. Why are we in a slight bank and going off course?

Eric retrimmed the plane and resummed course.

A few moments later, here we go again, slight bank and going off course.

Eric was quite dismayed at all this until looking in the mirror attached to the wing strut to query the instructor. He could see the instructor with a big smile on his face! He had placed his hands to one side out of the cockpit. This was enough to disturb the air-flow and in turn this was enough to upset trim an cause the aircraft to bank.

Moral is: Be ready for anything!



On another flight  the instructor said, “Take her up!” While the instructor still had hands on the controls.

The flight proceeded where Eric was happily flying away in the knowledge of the fall-back with the instructor with hands on the controls. Soon he realised the instructor had some time ago pulled the control pin out of his pommel and Eric had complete control of the aircraft for some time.

If you want to learn to swim, I suppose you just jump in the water!



Also, there were disaster recovery excercises. In these the instructor would say ” let’s go up and do a few circuits.”

Once aloft they would proceed as planned… Until…. All of a sudden the engine would start to cough and splutter. Eric would then have to go through the process of performing an emergency landing only to find the instructor had reached down and shut off the fuel cock. No warning, no plan.

I suppose if something is going to happen in the air, it’s going to happen unexpectedly. What a way to learn!


Strange Filght

On one occasion Eric was telling me that he was coming in over parafield with a strong head-wind and at one point the aircraft had a negative ground speed. (Yes, they were actually going backwards across the ground.!)

It’s just amazing what these guys got up to…. I will confer with Eric and try to bring more stories of aviation in Adelaide.


Story by David H.