6 Jan 2018

Oh, to be a cloud.....

"Oh, to be a cloud floating in the sky." Beautiful clouds out at sea from Terrigal. Taken from the balcony of my home.
These clouds reminded me of a book I read at primary school-I must have been eleven. It was a fiction book set in the mid 1930's about a passenger plane - a De Havilland Rapide -which took off on a routine flight from Croydon Airport to Paris. At the time Croydon was London's airport. The passengers were very well dressed as only the wealthy flew in those days. One passenger was wearing a bowler hat and carrying a tightly furled umbrella which I find highly plausible.  Anyway on this fictional flight the plane became lost in towering clouds and the pilot became disorientated. As the plane was in danger of running out of fuel he chose to descend and land in a field somewhere in mid France. The story then went on to describe the adventures of the passengers as they tried to get back to Paris.
I remember being totally hooked on the book with its description of early civil aviation and in particular the pilot's efforts to find his way. I must have read it half a dozen times. There would have been no such problems for any planes flying through or around these clouds over Terrigal.
If planes fascinate you, as they still do me, I recommend you download the FlightRadar24 App on iPhone or iPad which allows you to see flight paths in realtime all over the globe. It is a superb app and it is FREE. Now when I hear a plane overhead I turn on the app and it immediately shows me the flight details, the aircraft and its registration number and even a live view from the cockpit for many flights.  It even tells you the scheduled time for the flight's departure, the actual time it departed and the scheduled and forecast arrival time.
 If the Russian missile crew in Ukraine had had the app they would have known that the plane overhead was Malaysian Airlines MH370 and they would have spared so many innocent lives although maybe they did have the app and they knew exacly what they were doing.
Croydon Airport remained in limited use until 1959 and I can vaguely recollect seeing the abandoned buildings from a nearby main road sometime in the 1960s. Croydon was replaced by what started out as the rather grandly named Great West Aerodrome on Heathrow Farm to the west of London which became today's Heathrow Airport. My father took me by underground train and bus to Heathrow field in I guess 1953. The plan was for me to see some planes taking off and landing but much to my disappointment we were there for two hours and not a plane moved! I can still remember that there were two DC3s and an Avro York standing on the tarmac and that was it. What a contrast to Heathrow today.

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