Top Tips for getting your aviation fix without any planes: The Sam Wise column


Shooting Star 2

I told our columnist (admittedly just in my head) not to do a quarantine special. I definitely mentioned (thought) that he should avoid the ubiquitous toilet paper jokes. I emphatically bellowed (might have had a passing thought) that he should not tar all fans of aviation with the brush ‘nerd’ or ‘trainspotter’. Well, Sam Wise, never one to listen to my unexpressed wants, has done all of the above and here it is. 

“You would think that aviation nerds, who skirt the fringes of society, have a limited palette of human interaction and who are frequently kept more than two metres away from normal people at the best of times, would be barely affected but the opposite is quite true. Every aviation event in the world shut its doors, nearly every passenger flight is grounded and even for those cargo flights that are moving, no one is allowed to go and see them. Thus, the majority of plane geeks have got literally nothing left in their lives.
The situation, then, might seem dire. But fortunately we’ve come up with a list of DIY
aviation activities to scratch that itch, to see you through these dark days! The following will provide endless hours of aircraft and aerospace-related fun without ever having to leave your home (which you shouldn’t be doing unless for essential journeys or one exercise a day. And remember to wash your hands).
1. Watch aviation movies down your camera lenses. Imagine you’re at an airshow or a fence somewhere while watching Top Gun, Chevaliers du Ciel or even Airplane.
Enjoy the rollercoaster action as though you’re seeing it live, get those perfect
topside shots or close-in static images. You can even enjoy stock-footage on some of
those Australian customs and immigration shows they put on daytime TV. Don’t
forget to share your pictures on Twitter!


2. Ever fancied being ~0 years old again? Relive those heady days by getting your
partner, family member or other person living with you to put your food on a spoon
and say “Hewe comes da aewopwane” as they “fly” it into your mouth. Nyeeoowwnn
noises are, of course, compulsory. Try to imagine the cutlery as a plane from a
different era with each mouthful – in this way you get to enjoy a display of the
evolution of aviation without ever leaving your dining table! If you live alone simply throw the food into the air and catch it with your mouth.


2 Make Cardboard Toilet Roll Planes Dusty Crophopper Skipper.jpg
3. If you accidentally panic bought 500 rolls of toilet paper they can be handily
fashioned into a MiG-21, Su-7 or -9, English Electric Lightning or other such
pencil-bodied fighter jet. Stockpiled lasagna sheets can work wonders for the wings
and tail section and all those bottles of wine and beer everyone knows you’ve been
getting through can make for realistic missiles. Toothpaste lids make ideal jet nozzles.

3 Make Cardboard Toilet Roll Planes Dusty Crophopper SkipperP1042504.jpg
4. Recreate the sounds of aviation even during your work hours! Assign each of your
colleagues an airline-appropriate callsign and use strict radio protocol during Zoom
meetings. Refuse to answer them until they do the same, and they can join in the fun
5. Design your own aeroplanes with pen and paper. You’ve got plenty of options here –
fanciful, realistic, fictional etc. Supersonic VTOL spy-triplane? Why not, who says you
can’t! Upgraded F-15 variant with human-carrying pods on the wings? Sure thing! A
stealthy TSR.2 if the bloody Yanks hadn’t cancelled it out of jealousy or something?
Hell yes. Don’t worry if you’ve got no drawing ability and your plane looks like total
garbage, just pretend you’re an aeronautical engineer from the 1920s.


6. For a more thoughtful act, you can show solidarity with grounded or jobless airliner
pilots by staring out of your window for 12-14 hours every day. Bonus respect points
if the window faces into the rising or setting sun. Wear aviators to add a touch of
“ex-military cargo pilot” to it.

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7. Sort your patch collection into alphanumeric order*. Although, at that point it’s
probably better just to let the corona take you. As you can see, there’s no reason to let your favourite hobby sit by the wayside during this difficult period. With a little imagination, decisive determination and a burning hot fiery passion for all things flight you can find isolation no less entertaining as before. In the real world, meanwhile – stay safe, don’t let up on washing your hands and maintaining social distancing, think about those around you and don’t travel unnecessarily.


Do visit aviation museum websites as some are offering virtual tours and could do with your support.

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