Saturday, August 28, 2010

Finished in France and now off to England 1973

Jack and I left early in the morning from the hotel so that I could get an early start.  We drove once more around the  Arc de Triomphe on our way to the Le Bourget airport.  It's hard to believe that it was finished in 1836 and 12 avenues lead into the one way circular

Arc de Triomphe

drive that goes around this monument.   You just enter the traffic and don't look right until you are ready to exit at your street.  Jack dropped me off at the hanger and I started my preflight and loaded the aircraft.  I filed my flight plan for Le Havre, France.  Here I would clear customs and refuel the aircraft before heading out across the English channel to the Southern coast of the United Kingdom.  I taxied out and requested a clearance for takeoff and I was on my way.  I took up a course to the North, Northwest and this would take me out to the coast of France.  Then I would proceed along the coastline until I reached Le Havre.
Navigation should not be a problem, even with out aviation charts.  The weather was good and I did not foresee any problems with this leg of my flight.  I had time for a quick lunch and then to find the office where I would file another flight plan and clear customs.  I was  instructed to make a radio call in the blind when I reached mid channel and then proceed on to Dover, England.  After takeoff from Le Havre I continued up the coast.  As I followed the coastline, I looked down at the beaches and wondered how it must have been back in June of 1944 where the D-Day invasion of France took place. When I was South of Calais, France, I banked the aircraft and turned out to sea towards England.  My flight over water would be approximately 30 miles.  It doesn't sound like very far, but when you are flying a land based aircraft and without any survival gear, not even a life vest, you can be a bit skeptical.  After a while, I could not see land from either of the coastlines of France or England.  I made my radio call to the French authorities and kept my heading steady for Dover.  In a little while as I looked through the haze, I could start to see the the outline of the English coastline.  What a beautiful sight.  In time I could see the city of Dover, but after making a check on fuel, I decided to bypass Dover and proceed on to the Shoreham by Sea airport.  I continued my flight along the South coast of England and in about an hour I could see my destination on the horizon.  Shoreham by Sea, is a quaint little resort village near the coast, but located on a back bay

Shoreham by Sea

inlet.  The airport was just West of town and I made my call requesting landing instructions.  I received a clearance for landing from a tower operator with a beautiful  English speaking voice.  Having been in France for almost a month, you almost feel like it's impossible to communicate with anyone most of the time.  I enjoyed my time while there, but it was getting to be very irritating with the language issue.  I was going to be working for a company, Spooner Aviation while here, and I would train one pilot, Mike Woodley.
Jack would not be arriving until later, so I arranged for a rental car.  It was decided we would stay in a hotel nearby in a small town called Hove.  As I am driving to the hotel,  I become very aware that driving on the other side of road is  not just a matter of moving over, you really have to rethink what has been so second natured in you driving habits.  I rented a car with a manual shift, but the next day I exchanged it for one with an automatic transmission.  Everything was backwards and I just could not concentrate on my driving and make my way around, and consider myself safe.  I checked into the hotel where a wedding reception was going on in a large open room off of the lobby.  I was invited in by someone I did not know and they thought I was there for the reception.  So I enjoyed a couple of drinks and shook hands with several strangers and then went to my room to wait for Jack to arrive.  Later that night I got a knock at the door and Jack had finally made his way to the hotel.  I figured we would be here about two weeks and we could plan for our departure back to the United States sometime after that...................................

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