Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Cursed flight ends with great lunch

Finally! I watched Louis Kervoaze crank the Cessna’s yoke anti-clockwise against a port side crosswind and we were airborne in about ten metres flat for a 45-minute round trip between Lannion and Paimpol along the north Brittany coast. On the back seat sat Mrs BB and Lucy (with her ever-clicking Lumix).

Disappointment had seemed inevitable. I was misinformed by a tourist office and an aero-club, got the air strip muddled and had been threatened by strong winds that were whisking super-tankers out of the Channel and dropping them into the Place de la Concorde. On that very morning Lucy’s Tom came down with the lurgi and the phrase Le vol maudit (Cursed flight) was born.

But here we were inspecting the mussel beds from 1000 feet (yes, French aviators do use imperial terms), overflying an island acquired by a supermarket magnate and appreciating tide-out contours undetectable at sea level. The landing was a special treat: a deliberate stall whereby the plane in effect drops the last few metres on to the runway to the muted blare of the stall horn. I couldn’t remember the exact word to describe this experience other than it started with an e. Useful having Lucy around; she knew I’d undergone an epiphany.

Tom had recovered thank goodness and we met up with him for lunch at one their favourite fish restaurants in Erquy. Humdrum stuff like coquilles St Jacques, half a dozen oysters and a piquant white number from Gascony – almost a canteen meal you might say. Afterwards we were ushered into the presence of the famous Mol who I believe conferred her blessing. Oh, I should add: we did talk a bit.

Below: Lucy, Louis, Mrs BB with Cessna 172.

15 comments:

The Crow said...

Wow! What an adventure!

Did you ask for the stall, for research purposes, BB, or was it serendipity?

For heavens sake! don't have your next novel be about a bullfighter or a parachutist, or we might never hear from you again.

For those of us who live vicariously through the exploits of others, your report has been thrilling.

Lucy said...

Still chuckling with delight and sorting through photos, none of which I want to dispense with however blurry!

Thanks a million and then some.

Occasional Speeder said...

Obvious question from me - so I can establish how good the produce is from the island mentioned - which supermarket was

Occasional speeder said...

...it (iPhone issues... Sigh)

herhimnbryn said...

What larks Pip!

marja-leena said...

Wow, wish I could have been along with you, much as I'd probably have shook in my boots! I have never been in such a small plane nor in Brittany. Hope Lucy will show some of her photos.

Plutarch said...

An ambition talked about and then achieved. Yes I imagine you talked a bit. It is sometimes difficult to separate your description of this flight from the episodes I have read about flying in the current novel.

Barrett Bonden said...

The Crow: I did not ask for the stall landing but was cock-a-hoop when I recognised immediately (and not just from the stall horn) that it had happened. Back at the aiport our gallant pilote professionel invited us to have coffee with him and I was flattered out of my boots when he confirmed my diagnosis with a certain sort of geniality. My French got very wobbly after this but I do remember M. Kervoaze telling me that the French word for stall is a décrochage based on the verb décrocher - to take down, unhook or decouple. If you know the causes of a stall then these meanings give an added elegance to the concept.

In fact my next novel is about the impossibility of achieving (non-religious) redemption for sins committed. Since I have a strong collection of sins I shall be starting from better than ground zero.

Lucy: The inspired bit was having you along.

OS: I think it was Auchan - we used to go to the one in St Nazaire for the Big Buy prior to returning home from the house in Drefféac.

HHB: I'm considering having that put on my tombstone - buit not just yet.

M-L: Now here's a point. Failing eyesight means that Mrs BB is often, justifiably, terrified when descending certain types of staircases, especially those that turn spirally. She is often worried by my driving for the same reason. But I asked her, as did Lucy, whether the prospect of going up in the Cessna worried her and she said, "Not at all. I've always loved planes, It's just airports I hate." Though not the one at Lannion, it seems.

Plutarch: There were times when correcting the novel (which I did throughout the holiday on my Kindle) and doing the flying seemed to merge. In a feat of extraordinary imagination I managed to trans-gender M. Kervoaze into Jana.

The Crow said...

I remember my instructor, on the one and only (free) lesson I had did a stall to show me how to get out of one. When I asked what a stall was, he said, "It's when the sky deserts you."

I've since learned what happens in a stall, but I've always preferred his answer over the technical explanations.

So glad you had an opportunity to talk 'flying stuff' with your pilot.

Rouchswalwe said...

As long as I could have taken a cask of ale along for us, I would have been honoured to board this flight. And you've met Mol! I'm so jealous.

Avus said...

Reads like you all had a ball, BB.

As to tombstone inscriptions and last words, I think John LeMesurier's last utterance takes some beating: "It's all been so very lovely". (said like Sergeant Wilson, I imagine)

Barrett Bonden said...

The Crow: Might I have asked him to demonstrate? Perhaps it's just as well I had other responsibilities. And you're right: the language of flying has been one of the great attractions in writing A Stall Recovered. Identifying gravity as an earth magnet, for instance.

RW (zS): A piggin of ale! You're incorrigible. How much of it do you reckon you would have consumed in a 45-minute flight?

Avus: Since I have lived in the city I am also able to go along with WC Fields' "Better here than in Philadelphia".

Julia said...

Sounds really fun! How does a little plane compare with sailing a small boat? Does it feel rockier or smoother?

Rouchswalwe said...

Well, I suppose I had in mind a mini-cask of 5 litres. By shaving off the landing and taking off times, I figure we would have about 30 minutes of drinking time left ... divided by 5 would equal 1 litre every 6 minutes divided by the number of people in the plane ... see! That leaves just enough to quench the thirst in the thin air up there.

Barrett Bonden said...

Julia:. Interesting question. Well, it just so happens:

...Then, as if by prior agreement, they both looked out on the Bay of Biscay.

“Did you ever sail?” he asked.

“Once. In Chesapeake Bay. A guy I met in the USAF. Three days. Next best thing after flying.”

“Quieter.”

“Less intuitive.”

“I’ll take your word for it. We were saving for a Contessa 32 when she gave me the thumbs-down. I thought it would bring us closer. Looking back I can see it was my thing, not hers.”

“Perhaps it was better you never got the boat. You’d have hated to have lost it in the settlement.”

“You seem to know a lot about me.”

“I do a lot of guessing.”

A Stall Recovered - two-thirds way through.

RW (zS): Perhaps we were all too serious. Perhaps we needed you along too.