How life can change in just a single second…

Nov 04, 2022
G-WINS Aircraft by ONE LIFE

Today our beloved G-WINS sits on the ocean floor after crashing into the sea yesterday afternoon.

By the grace of the flying Gods and the incredible work of Search & Rescue and Lifeboat crews, both pilots were picked up and saved.

But we’ve lost a good one. That aircraft was part of our lives for over 7 years and she took us on many fine trips through France and the UK. WINS was part of our family and she looked after us every time we flew.

It absolutely breaks my heart to think she’s under those cold, dark waves when she should be up where she belongs in the sky. But alas, no more.

I spoke to the pilot who told me that the engine had failed. They were on a training mission at 2,000 feet when it all went quiet up front and they had nowhere to go but down into that freezing cold water.

We train for this stuff all the time, but you never think it’s going to happen to you. One minute you’re in a nice warm cockpit with the engine humming along beautifully, the next you’re trying to get out of a sinking plane and into a life raft before you succumb to hypothermia. I can’t imagine how scared they must have been.

It doesn’t matter which aircraft I’ve ever flown, I’ve always talked to them. When we were first dating, I took Jules flying and she must have thought I was mad as I said “Morning Mate” to our plane.

The thing with aircraft is, if you’ve ever been up close to one that is totally shut down, they seem a bit lifeless. They sort of just sit there doing nothing as if they’re inanimate objects. But every pilot will tell you that the second you throw that Master Switch, the beast starts to wake up.

When I used to be the first one of the day to fly WINS, it was like she was sleeping when I walked out to her. Our ritual was always the same;

Two taps on the left wingtip with my usual “Morning Mate,” then check the levels of all 4 fuel tanks, unlock the door and climb into the cabin. If everything looked good on the inside, I’d throw that red Master and she’d start to wake up - almost like someone coming out of a deep sleep, one eye opening at a time.

That comforting noise of the gyros spinning up in the instruments, the Lo Bus light winking away at me, I’d cycle the flaps and turn on the lights for the external walk around checks.

I don’t ever recall finding a fault that would prevent us from flying. Often pilots will find something wrong with a plane and they have to call a technician, but WINS always seemed eager to get going without delay.

And then the best bit; back into the cabin, secure the door, strap in to the left hand seat and begin the engine start procedure. Firing up these 6-cylinder, fuel injected engines needs a precise sequence to get just the right amount of fuel into the engine before turning that start key all the way to the right.

Nearly ever time, she’d have two revolutions of the 3-blade propellor and then fire into life. It was the sweetest feeling because we knew we were going flying together, we were off into the sky to do what we did best.

Final checks on the runway and we were off; “Lights, Camera, Action*” I’d call out as we released the brakes and pushed the throttle all the way forward. (*Thanks for that one Mike).

Call me bonkers if you like, but I think all aircraft have a soul and they respond to how people treat them. They may look lifeless when they’re sitting on the ramp, but once they’re up and running they have their own life.

They’re also not perfect, each and every one has their own little quirks and idiosyncrasies. A bit like humans then, we’re all unique in our own way, and we too respond to how others treat us.

When we moved to Spain I had to let WINS go and I was gutted. The pilot who was taking her over wanted a test flight, so I sat back in row 3 as he and the instructor took her into the sky. Like a protective father, I had to restrain myself from constantly giving advice about how she responded to this and that. It was time to let her go and that was my last flight in her.

I’m heartbroken today to think that November Sierra is all that way down under water, but most importantly I’m so happy that the 2 pilots are okay. Still, it doesn’t take away the loss.

I guess I had to type this blog this morning to kind of get it out of my system, and also make the point that life is so very precious and can change in just a singe second.

But please take this away from my post today;

Don’t be afraid to go out there and find your adventure. Incidents like this one are very rare, and they can’t stop us from pushing our comfort zone and chasing down what makes us happy.

We only have ONE LIFE so get out there and live it to the max, because we never know when our ‘flying days’ might be over.

Have a great day.

Andy x

#ONELIFE #liveyourbestlife #carpediem #adventure #grablife

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