Vintage Flying: The Tiger Moth
Updated: Jun 17, 2019
Over the weekend I had the extreme privilege of flying a DeHaviland Tiger Moth. This opportunity came about through an Air League Flying Bursary which I used to further my flying experience in vintage aircraft. This wasn't the first time I'd flown in a vintage aircraft however it was the first time I had flown in an open cockpit aircraft. The aircraft, G-AXXV dates back to 1943 and has seen service in both the RAF and the French Air Force. Between 1952 and 2013, the aircraft passed through a number of private owners' hands, initially in France and then in the UK. She now lives at White Waltham Airfield where she is utilised by West London Aero Club for flying lessons.
As I walked upto the aircraft I immediately thought she was stunning and appeared in a restored original WW2 RAF livery. The owning Pilot offered me a tour of the aircraft before strapping in to fly. The aircraft was nigh-on immaculate. After the walk round, I jumped in the back which is traditionally where the aircraft commander sits. It took a while to adjust as I'm such a short-arse so required a few cushions! Eventually we were sorted and ready to go, with some assistance to start the aircraft as it requires a manual prop start.
The engine started and the other pilot jumped in the front. This was the first real blast from the past. As the wind blew through my hair, I really felt privileged to be sitting in this old girl. Chocks Away! We were ready to go! My first attempt at taxying seemed to go well. As you can't see over the front of the nose of the aircraft, you have to weave slightly to ensure there is nothing in front of you which you may hit. After a short while, we lined up on the runway, applied full power and off we went.
Rudder is key in this aircraft and it's very noticeable how much you need to use... constantly! I took control for pretty much the whole sortie apart from a couple of aeros and this allowed me to get used to how the aircraft handled. It was very light in fact, a lot like modern light aircraft, you don't need much pressure on the control column. I think I picked up the handling of the Tiger pretty quickly and completely fell in love with it. As we performed a couple of aeros which I followed through on, I really felt how light and agile the aircraft was as it slipped through the air.
After a bit of local Nav, we returned to the airfield to practice a couple of circuits with touch-and-gos allowing me to practice my landings. This is quite a tricky technique and requires a bit of rudder as you touch down. The landing aspect includes a nose high attitude and you touch the tail wheel down first.
At the end of the sortie, we taxied back to the club house. It was over way too soon and I had already fallen in love, despite the super frizzy hair I had!
If you are perhaps looking to further your flying experience, or maybe you are at the other end of the spectrum and are keen to start flying but haven't got the funds to do so, then check out the Air League. The Air League provides incredible opportunities, scholarships and bursaries for young people wishing to take their first steps in the aviation industry, whether that be as a pilot, an engineer, an air traffic controller or even a baggage handler. The scholarships on offer (and there are hundreds of them) are generally to take you to your first solo but there is potential to have your PPL fully funded.
The Tiger Moth