Have you ever wanted to take off, climb, and cruise on a sixty-two-year-old, rebuilt Messerschmitt 208 (Nord 1101)? Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be the only Scotsman to crash a Messerschmitt on the famous Battle of Britain airfield in North Weald? Read about my home-made, cardboard simulator and my experience learning to fly an old aeroplane on the sofa. And also read about making films such as First Aerial Voyage in Scotland, Vincenzo Lunardi 1786 by strapping a camera to the floor of the cockpit. Find out about the shed in Skelmorlie, which is like the shed in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, where the naked pilots Wilbur and Orville Wright worked. There, the wind was steady and strong. It was a bit like deciding to go out on the machair in Islay and putting up a frail, wooden shed that had been transported to the island by a Clyde puffer. Come on a journey with Amy Johnson, Saint-Exupry, and Bill Burns. And then come back to earth. You have to ride a Velocette LE motorcycle with the same power in its engine as the Pope Toledo in the Wright brothers first powered aeroplane! On the ferry back to Sandpoint the LE Velo wont start on the handstart but once the ferry is empty I can run and jump and push the bike into life and burble through the gloaming in the best Brigadoon style. I push the Velocette straight into the shed among the aeroplane parts is there any Bowmore left?
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About the Author
James Hardie is an artist, pilot, and poet who wants to tell the truth about a creative life. He has taught at Glasgow School of Art (1980–1995) and the Art Institute of Chicago (1989), and he learned to fly in Aberdeen in 1972 so that he could visit his students in Shetland, Orkney, Hebrides, Moray, and Aberdeenshire. He is particularly interested in what he calls naked pilots. He believes he is a spiritual successor to Cervantes’s character, Don Quixote, a man whose imagination helps him deal with the impossible and connect the mysterious extravagance of innocence to life-and-death situations.