The best hobby a boy can have
There are few things I enjoy more than flying my little aircraft, Evie.
I've wanted to become a pilot ever since my ex-girlfriend bought me an aerobatic flying lesson back in 2003 for my birthday. An instructor at Southend Flying Club took me up in the club's Cessna Aerobat to do some rolls, spins and loops at a few thousand feet above terra firma. That was it! I was hooked.
Unfortunately the cost was restrictive - the experience cost around £100 (my ex never did tell me exactly how much it cost), and lessons cost £120 per hour. That was far too much money for me in those days, so I only managed to get about 7 or 8 hours flight tuition sorted.
It wasn't until my business started taking off in 2016 that I once again picked up the gauntlet and headed over to Otherton Airfield where I could look at starting the course properly - with a view to completing it this time.
As soon as I began (with Mick, my instructor, pictured) flying again, I took the plunge and made sure I had enough money in the bank to complete the intensive training.
It took me more than two years to gain enough skills to qualify as a pilot, and more than 75 hours with my instructor. Half way through the training I almost gave up. The flying bit was easy, but landing an aircraft was a skill that I (almost) found too difficult, because I struggled with the rudder.
But all of a sudden it just 'clicked', and I found myself being able to land an aircraft. Seven additional exams later I had my pilots licence. And boy, am I having fun with it.
The feeling of soaring up above the clouds heading to an airfield the other end of the country is exhilarating, and there are few things in life (outside my amazing family) that can compete with the feeling of being thousands of feet in the air, looking down at our country's truly incredible landscape.
Today, I try to keep flying as much as I can - around 10 hours a month which keeps my hand in and brain thinking like a pilot.
It was drummed into me from early on that "there are old pilots and bold pilots, but no old, bold pilots", so keeping my skills sharp is important. Much like my driving, I like to ensure that I keep my concentration on what's happening around me. I guess having a family at home has made safety top of my list of priorities.
I also like to take up the occasional friend, mentee or client too (what a way to have a business meeting!), so if it's something you fancy, then get in touch and I'll see what we can do.
In the meantime, here's a selection of videos from flights that I've made since I took my first ever solo flight.