CLOUD CUCKOOLAND

Born some ninety years ago, Harald Penrose was Westland's test pilot for many years, but this book is about his retirement and his rediscovery of flying purely for pleasure.

If you have never read this little classic about the joys of flying, you have a treat in store. Even if you have read it before, I think that you will enjoy rereading it, as I did. Either way, not to spend £10 on discovering just what it is that makes you spend £1,000 and more a year on flying would seem to be a seriously false economy.

Born some ninety years ago, Harald Penrose was Westland's test pilot for many years, but this book is about his retirement and his rediscovery of flying purely for pleasure. His flights are chiefly in a Currie Wot and a Tipsy Nipper, but there are excursions in an HS 125, a Cessna twin, a modern glider, a hot air balloon and an early hang glider. The last was at the age of 71 when, while out for a walk on the downs, he came across a young couple with their newly purchased weight shift machine. He had never flown one before, but on a sudden whim decided to take it up for a few flights, so as to show the new owners how to do it. In addition there are reminiscences of flights from days gone by in a Spitfire, a Supermarine Southampton flying boat, a helicopter, an Auster and a Volmer homebuilt amphibian.

There is little technical information, much about his other interests of bird watching and sailing, and a whole lot, with copious examples, about the multifarious forms of pleasure to be had from flying. Read it carefully, just one chapter at a time, and rediscover, between writing out all those cheques, just what it is that you seek when you call, 'Clear prop!' Nigel Everett.