ONLY BY FLYING - Helen Evans

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Helen Evans first took the controls of a glider in 1988, the start of her fascination with soaring flight. She edited the sport’s national magazine, Sailplane & Gliding, from 1999 to 2008, and in 2010 she graduated from the University of St Andrews with a Master’s degree in Creative Writing.

Her first pamphlet collection, Only By Flying, was short-listed for the Callum MacDonald Memorial Award, and no wonder. She executes a whole range of elegant manoeuvres in this poignant, funny, joyous first collection. 

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Pre Take-Off Checks

Controls: Are your rudder and ailerons
connected and working properly? Are you sure
you have full and free movement?

Ballast: Do you need more?
Or are you already carrying too much?

Straps: Will you be held securely during spins,
rolls, tail slides, high-speed stalls, loops,
and any unforeseen manoeuvres?

Instruments: Do they read accurately?
Are your batteries charged and running?
Will you select QNH or QFE?

Flaps: Are you confident coping with flaps? 

Trim: Have you chosen the correct attitude?

Canopy: Is your vision unobstructed?
Have you located the red emergency-jettison lever?
Could you bale out if you had to?

Brakes: Can you open them fully?
And are they closed and locked?

Eventualities: Are conditions suitable for flying?
Is the windsock lying?
If the launch fails, what will you do?


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