May 29

We have had our quiet time. Now to discover if we remember how to fly the DC-3.

The weather is IMC (instrument meteorological conditions) meaning we must fly on instruments to be safe. All three pilots (Gene Vezzetti, Bill Mnich and yours truly) have substantial experience. The difference is contemporary pilots usually enjoy the aid of an autopilot to follow instructions through the mist and muck (hopefully, not ice). I “hand flew” the big bird to altitude, all the while helping Gene interpret handoffs from one brogue to another. If you haven’t seen the SNL skit (youtube) on Scottish air traffic control, you should. It’s realistic and funny, when you’re on the ground.

Each controller asks whether we require basic, traffic or terrain services. Having flown several long trips in my career, I have a funny feeling HFF will one day receive a series of bills reflecting IFR services in Scotland. “Basic” seems sufficient (and entirely consistent with Scottish frugality) since our databases and radios reveal traffic and terrain. We left the clouds on descent into Duxford, flying by Cambridge and into the pattern. A significant row of Dakotas (the favorite British term for the C-47) greeted us, but nowhere near the number expected by Sunday, June 2nd. By then, when our European colleagues arrive, the number will exceed 30.

Were you four or five years old for your first memory of Christmas morning? Some of our crew members are in their 70s. Landing at Duxford rivaled that Christmas morning.

John Sessions