I met Keith in the summer of 2003, because I absolutely had to get on a plane to Washington DC in December of that year. I was pursuing every avenue I could in order to get as much help as possible, because I was really stuck on the ground, as it were. (I had decided, at around the age of three, never to fly again. So I grounded myself for the next 38 years.) Having endured a few fear-of-flying courses with various firms, and failing to find my wings, I felt increasingly entrenched, and thought I would never be able to let myself fly.
Everything changed when I met Keith .You will observe a charming and funny, rather self-effacing man, and notice acute intelligence and sensitivity. You will sense the (for me) rather mystical qualities of a professional Pilot, a man who can *fly*, a man who can teach others to *fly*, a man who can fly and teach others to fly whilst also successfully taking responsibilty for other people’s lives and hugely expensive and complex vehicles. And there’s something else in a man like Keith, an authoritative strength and power, in repose, but always ready. If I were shipwrecked on a desert island, and Keith were there, I know things would be ok. Undoubtedly, you are most fortunate to be where you are today (wish I was with you) and fortunate to have Keith on the plane with you. Thankfully not as the pilot. I say this for two reasons; one, becausewhen he flew with me in the simulator, he put his feet up on the dashboard and let the co-pilot drive the thing, and secondly, because he’ll be in the cabin with you, talking and laughing. As will you.
All this is not to say that you *need *Keith to get you off the ground. There’s only three things that can do that, the engines, wings and you. And I think that being around Keith helped me find *my* inner strength and power to fly. We all have it, we can all create it within us.I learnt from Keith that passenger aircraft are like Bentley Motor Cars. Built to be stronger than they need to be, meticulously maintained, and never pushed anywhere near the limits of their capability.
Rather like cruising about in a Ferrari at 15 miles per hour. I learnt that Turbulence or whatever you want to call it, is never dangerous. I discovered that my worst fears were phantoms. They only existed in my mind. My first flight was in an 8 seater twin-engine Piper Chieftain from Biggin Hill to Southend International airport. I kissed the tarmac at Southend. “Don’t do that” said the pilot, Chief Instructor at the Flying School “they’ll all think I’m rubbish!”
We tried to find a cup of tea, couldn’t, so with special permission fro air traffic control, flew down the Thames to Vauxhall, did a big circle over London, and nipped back to Biggin. I flew to Washington DC. I flew back to England. Then I flew to Barbados. And Back. Then I did two fear-of-flying flights to keep myself topped-up as it were, and to have a go at helping others get flying. Then I flew to Thailand. That’s a long way. I recommend Business Class. I can now get on a plane, and go somewhere, anywhere. And even enjoy it. I love Jumbo jets best. I am still apprehensive sometimes, and less so each time I fly. And that’s good enough for me. I don’t panic, or die of fear, or go mad, or get up and try and get the door open. I watch the movies, enjoy the food, even look out of the window, and take photos! Well, look, I’m rambling now, so I’ll shut up. I am there with you in spirit, fly well, happy landings!
Jasper Britton the narrator of The CD set