Talking the talk

One of the fascinating things about flying is the jargon used on the radio. Messages to air traffic services (ATS) are spoken in something more like a computer protocol than a language. This is especially needed in a noisy cockpit environment like the Tiger Moth's open cockpit: if you can barely hear what someone is saying, it's easiest if you already know roughly what they're going to say. To this end, practice is an important tool: if you can listen to ATS conversations even when you're not flying, you can get the hang of understanding what they're saying, and making yourself clear.

Swinging for 70 years

"Contact," called the swinger.
"Contact," I repeated. Holding the stick in the crook of my right arm, with my right hand on the throttle, I opened the switches with my left hand, and made a thumbs-up.
The swinger placed both hands on the prop and pulled it down towards him. There wasn't so much as a click.
I immediately called out, "Switches off," and closed the switches again, before extending my arm into a thumbs-down where the swinger could see it.
The instructor frowned from the front cockpit. "I think the impulse is jammed."

Ab initio on a Tiger Moth

As we crossed the end of the runway, and I could see the ground a hundred feet or so below, I had a sudden moment of terror. "You don't like heights," my monkey brain told me. "Besides, doesn't all this climbing make you feel nauseous? There's no way you can take this up as a hobby."