Watch your five o’clock!


I might be lurking behind your tail, on the inside of your turn…

This entry is inspired by fellow aviator Tonet’s recent story about a victorious dog fight, check it out:

Walter Mitty’s Fifth Kill.

Indeed, it reminded me of a flight on a mild, beautiful and innocent fall evening…a while ago…I’ve never told this story to anyone. I’ve moved countries meanwhile…watch your five o’clock…

Sunday evening. The sun is setting. I’m on my way back from a productive session of aerial gymnastics. It seems we’re both satisfied, the lovely craft and I, her engine purring contendedly. The air is smooth, the light golden. I switch over to the tower frequency to announce my imminent arrival.

10 min later, I’m doing another 360, circling around the perimeter of the airport’s controlled airspace. The radio is going beserk, about ten people are talking at once, all leisure pilots coming back from their Sunday stroll, mixed in with some flight students and a good sprinkling of heavy accents. Radio discipline has broken down completely and next are the poor controller’s nerves.

“LISTEN!!!” he screams, clearly exasperated and counting down the seconds to a mid-air, “You can only talk one person at a time and WHEN I TALK NOBODY TALKS, IS THAT CLEAR?!!!!” I chuckle and do another turn…I just flew about 10 hammerheads in a row, nothing can faze me…completely Zen, I reflect on how much G-tolerance I have acquired and how long my aerobatic session have become, so much in contrast to the beginning, when complete exhaustion set in after 15min. A few times, I had to stare at the horizon really hard for quite a while before remembering my name…it is good I learned to stop before the G-confusion set in, now that I’m flying solo…but now, now there are no limits to the number of aerobatic maneouvres I can do, har har…wait a moment….

A look at the fuel gauges renews my will to get a radio call in. Despite my commanding German accent, further accentuated by my desire to get back to the hangar with the engine running, I place three calls before I’m allowed to proceed to and report downwind. Finally! In a few minutes, I’m down.

The city lights get closer….and closer. So is the bravo-airspace I don’t have clearance for. I’m on a very extended downwind and voice my displeasure. No answer. I’ve lost radio contact. I sigh and turn base gingerly, my head on a swivel, scanning for other traffic. It’s getting really dark, too, and my aerobatic plane does not have an attitude or turn indicator. I want to land. I try to contact the tower again and, thankfully, get an answer this time.

“Decathlon 1EF, report Tomahawk in front of you,.”

“Bedford tower, Tomahawk in sight, 1EF”

“1EF, number four, cleared to land, one departure prior your arrival”

My patience has finally worn thin.

Herr Tower, I (th)sink to mysself, sis iss watt you say, but you forget who is flying here in watt areroplane. Indeed, a red Fokker it is not, but your garden variety Decathlon it is not eiser and now, sis here has progressed too far, time to clean up the arrival pass, äh, path. Tally-Ho!

Ah, yes. Calm and collected, I make another call to the Turm “Correct that to number 1, please, cleared to land, and, ah, tower, there appears to be some burning debris on short final of RW29 you might want to clean up. IEF”

This is what happends when you fly the Transformers-Decathlon(TM) and your flight instructors are Nate and the Cat. However, sometimes kitty just wants to play:


  1. Flughauptmann! I love it 🙂 “Correct that to Number 1”, haha! “Numbers 1, 2 and 4 have vacated your airspace”. Somewhere in every pilot’s heart is an Ace… .

  2. Indeed. And the real-live aces have a special place in our hearts. Even if, otherwise, we are quite pacifistic…that fascination is so pervasive in your blog entry.

    When I still had a Facebook account, I once posted a picture of me in the cockpit of my CFI’s fire-red Pitts. A friend commented (in German): O, red fighter-aviatrix, you have got to fly a Fokker!” That cracked me up to no small extent.

    This CFI of mine used to fly the magnificent F4. On a good day, when we had accomplished a lot and the workload was light, he would respond “Tally-ho” to a request to look for traffic.
    That was cool, really cool.

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