Monday, May 18, 2009

Red Baron

When I was 5, I dreamt of flying fancy space ships on long interstellar journeys (like from Titan to the planet Eroticon VI (Still to be discovered)). But as I grew older, my dreams drew more real. So by 7, I dreamt of flying fighter aircraft and being the next Red Baron.

However, reality struck this down as well and I just dreamt of being rich (and buying an island) after that. I'm sure most young boys would have gone through a similar cycle.

However, last weekend, I had a chance to actually fly an aircraft. Well a Microlight can barely be called an aeroplane - it weights less than a small car!, but nevertheless it flies. It flies quite well infact.
That's the little critter. It weighs less than 350 Kgs! It's called the Red Baron, the only connection being the red colour I presume. The name's printed on the front, barely visible from this angle.

That's a chopper - same hanger types. It's huge. And utterly cool as well! But back to the microlight now:

So, me: Sitting in the aircraft, almost read for take-off. This was very early in the morning, mind you. That engine above is an 82 BHP thingy - that's a *lot* of power for such a tiny aircraft.

Aaand we're airborne! Now just climbing to a decent altitude. It was airborne is like 20 metres! (I told you it was overpowered :) )

The insides of the microlight. Look at all those controls! OOoo shiny! So we're now just levelling off and turning away from the airfield. After this, Vineetha (the pilot and instructor), showed me how to use the controls and taught me how to turn using the control stick and the rudder as well as how to maintain course, etc :)

A picture of Bangalore from under the wing. (Bangalore is a good 20-odd Km away from the Aerodrome, but we flew all the way there - didn't take long). The good thing about the engine being overhead is the awesome almost-360-degree view.

So that's us still in the air - I've now relinquished control of the aircraft. The engine is quite noisy so we get to wear these cool mic+headphone thingies and communicate with each other over radio! :D ...

Now we've landed and wheeled the Red Baron back into the hanger. Nidhi actually organized the whole thing for me - thanks a lot :) .. she unfortunately was not allowed to fly since she is a commercial pilot and for some unfathomable reason, commercial pilots are not allowed to touch smaller aircraft. Vineetha, the pilot, was awesome. Towards the end, just before landing, she took these totally cool 90-degree turns where the wings were frikking perpendicular to the ground! That was soo cool!

This is almost as much fun as skydiving! I'm thinking I should get a licence and learn to fly one of these. They cost only as much as a car. Hm... Island or microlight - damn! What a tough decision :P.