Saturday, 31 July 2010

Sydney Boat Show

Hi all,

Well I¹m here in Sydney and loving it! I¹ve now fully adjusted to the Jet lag and am really enjoying not being in a daze all day!

The talks at the boat show have been going very well and I¹m really enjoying talking to the guys in the audience and telling them all about my experiences that I¹ve had. In these presentations I¹ve also included quite a few humorous video clips and everyone seems to find them pretty hilarious which is good to know.

After every talk I¹m also doing signings at the “ boat books stand” which is right next to the main stage. It¹s really touching to hear people come up and talk about my trip. If anyone is around pop by and I¹d be happy to have a chat.

Today I had a great time and even had some fun with Justin and James

After the boat show I¹m nice and busy and I¹ll be soon heading north into warmer waters, helping sail a catamaran up the coast to the Whitsunday¹s, but I¹ll talk about that more later.


Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Off to Sydney

Hi all,

Believe it or not, I’m currently writing this whilst sitting in Dubai airport waiting to board my flight down to Sydney! I’m flying out there for a few weeks and it’s shaping up to be a really busy visit with lots organized.

The main reason I’m flying out is because I’ve been asked to speak at the Sydney International Boat Show, which sounds like it’s going to be a really good fun event with loads happening! The show is from the 28th July to the 2nd August and I’m speaking twice a day up on the main stage, which I’m really looking forward too. Last week I spent an evening putting together a great presentation with a few short video clips added in and it looks really professional which I’m chuffed about. After the show, I’m going to be doing a fair bit of sailing, but I’ll tell you about that later.

As you will be able to see, my blogs from my flying lessons have all gone up in a short amount of time. I started my flying lessons before the official launch and so below are the diary entries I wrote after each flight. Hope you enjoy all the reading!

I’m sure not looking forward to the jetlag that will no doubt hit me tomorrow, but ah well, it’s so worth it!


Flying Lesson 8-9 Getting Dizzy!

Well today was a new one! We were practicing circuits and we did quite a few of them! Seven touch and goes during the first lesson and the same during the lesson after.

A circuit around an aerodrome is exactly what it says on the tin. The pilot has to abide by the rules of the circuit and the direction that the circuit is travelling in. There is a route that the aeroplane has to take if they are doing circuits. Some aerodromes have a large circuit but luckily Denham has a small one, which was really great as it gave me the opportunity to practice taking off and landing a lot!

The first take off was nice and smooth, and as we flew low over the trees just after the runway a real sense of exhilaration went though me! Once over the M25, which is right after the runway, I banked right to run at 90degrees to the runway, my instructor pointed out a landmark which was a huge warehouse on the ground and once again I banked right around it to then run parallel with the runway. At this stage I was maintaining an altitude of 750ft.

I passed over the start of an area of lakes and as my instructor directed put in another turn to the right. I then put the engine to idle and we started to descend. After this I added two stages of flaps. I maintained the attitude of the nose of the aircraft to reduce our speed and put in a final turn to line us up with the runway. I called the tower to say we were on final and then adjusted the trims of the aircraft as necessary.

We began to descend nicely and I lined up an area on the windscreen with the numbers at the start of the runway. As we got closer, the ground sure started to whizz by faster! As soon as the numbers disappeared I levelled out and let the aircraft descend herself to the ground to ensure a smooth landing. We touched down with a bigger jolt than I’d have liked and I was quick to criticise myself but as we lifted off and I spoke to my instructor about it he said to stop criticising myself, as it was only our first circuit!

I repeated this exercise 6 more times and certainly improved a lot which pleased me tremendously. I was really chuffed to hear that I’m apparently ‘a very quick learner’.

My next lesson with Liam was almost identical to this one, however we also covered landing without any flaps and also talked through what would happen if the aircraft stalled during final approach. Not a good thing to happen!

Even after flying today I’m still itching to get up there again!


Sunday, 25 July 2010

Flying Lesson 6-7

Hi all,

In these lessons I was due to be covering stalling and I was seriously excited as I turned up at Denham airfield to go flying once again. This lesson was going to really show how the aircraft handles in a clean (and unclean) stall.

I headed out and was soon up in the air once again after doing a full check up of the aircraft. We headed out past the Heathrow zone so we could then ascend up to 2500ft, which is a safe height to practice stalling with two persons on board.

First of all I was shown a clean stall and it was interesting to see how the plane handles during a stall and then it was my turn. I brought the power back to idle and held the nose attitude high to maintain our height rather than sinking. The airspeed dropped back all the way to 60knots and at this point the aircraft started buffeting. The airspeed then dropped down to 55knots, the stall warning came on telling me that we were about to stall and soon after that I felt the plane just about to drop away and so I dipped the nose forward, applied full power and after quickly gaining more airspeed I leveled off.

That was my first time at the controls of a clean stall and I sure learnt a lot! A stall can quite easily happen during the stages of approach so it is very important to drum in all the techniques of getting out of a stall. I practiced this numerous times and we headed back down to the airfield.

After a bite of lunch we were up and away again and I had an even bigger grin on my face than before. This time I was going to practice stalling whilst in a turn and then just gliding out of it.

Once out of the controlled airspace and after finding a quiet stretch of airspace I was led through the effects of stalling whilst turning. What happens is that, as the plane loses air over the wings, the plane loses lift and the lower wing drops away. If I wasn’t expecting it, it would probably have been quite a surprise! I also ran through stalls whilst climbing. I also did stalls and then just glided out of them.

One of the last stalls we did was really just an exercise to show me how the plane will effectively fix it’self if balanced. We let the plane stall, and as the nose dropped away, we let it go into a partial dive to increase the airspeed over the wings and once this happened the airplane started to level herself out impressively without any help from us. What a feeling as we lost a thousand feet in seconds!


Flying Lesson 5

Hi all,

Today I flew out of Denham aerodrome as the runway at Cabair was having some repairs done to it which has ceased all flying operations from there for a few days.

I hopped into the car in the morning and after banging on the radio there was an immediate traffic report saying that the M25 motorway was totally jam packed! Bummer, I thought to myself and so off I went on the nice and windy long route through all the back roads.

I arrived at the aerodrome, drove up to what I thought was where Cabair was based and no, this is where all the Helicopters were. I got out, looked around and at the other side of the field, there they were! I drove back round and met up with Liam once again.

We soon were out in the plane and taking off and I was as thrilled as ever to once again be up in the air. Today the sky was blue as far as the eye could see. This lesson we were covering banking whilst maintaining a steady height and balance of the aircraft. It was fantastic to continually put the aircraft into 30degree banks and look out below and see everything we were passing over! I learnt a huge amount in this lesson and I’m really enjoying it!


Friday, 23 July 2010

Mike Perham announces plans to fly solo around the world

Dateline: 23rd July 2010 Farnborough International Air Show

Today 18-year old Mike Perham has announced plans to become the youngest person to fly solo around the world. The press conference, hosted aptly in the Futures Pavilion at the Farnborough International Air Show, comes just 11 months after Perham returned to a hero's welcome in Portsmouth last August to become the youngest person to sail around the world single handed.

If successful in this latest challenge, Mike Perham will also become the first person to both sail and fly solo around the world. Doors are now starting to open to make this adventure possible and if everything comes together in time, he hopes to be off next summer.

Circumnavigating the globe in a small plane is the ultimate flying adventure. The planning and logistics required for such a trip is hugely challenging. Studying the weather systems en-route and dealing with worldwide bureaucracies and regulations are quite daunting. No other single aviation event is this rich in content and equally multi-faceted. The flight will prove to be mentally and physically gruelling, in climatic extremes, placing high demands on Mike and his aircraft.

Mike, who only passed his driving test a few months ago, has begun an intensive training programme for this next challenge with Cabair Flying School at Elstree Aerodrome. Mike said, 'It is  truly amazing to experience the freedom that flying gives. There is a lot to learn, but I'm loving it'.

Steve Hinton-Lever, director of Cabair says, 'When Mike first came to see us with his plans, we were immediately impressed by his mature approach and outlook on life. Mike will make an excellent ambassador for the industry and we can expect him to inspire many into taking up flying.'

Liam Dunleavy, Mike's flying instructor, said, 'It is great to be able to work with someone who shows such determination to succeed. Mike has a natural aptitude and I am sure his experience of sailing around the world will be a great asset to his flying goals'

Mike, who was listed by both Time Magazine and The China Daily in their top 10 heroes of 2009, will challenge the current record holder, Barrington Irving from the USA, who flew solo around the world at the age of 23.

The record route, which is adjudicated by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, will take Perham, who already holds 2 Guinness World Endurance Records, across 18 Countries during the 3-month long record attempt. The flight must start and finish at the same aerodrome, crossing all meridians and be not be less that 19,864nm (equal in length to the Tropic of Cancer).

Mike, who is an Ambassador for the Prince’s Trust, certainly has a good track record. His solo round the world sailing voyage undertaken in 2008/9, generated a wave of media coverage that made him a household name right around the world, delivering more than £60 million in air time and column inches for his sponsors. Mike’s exploits were also the subject of a 90-minute Channel 4 TV documentary, which has since been aired by other TV networks in France and USA.

Since completing that solo voyage, Mike has encouraged thousands of young people to make more of their lives, delivering his ‘Live the Dream’ talks to schools, youth groups and business motivational conferences in the UK, Hong Kong and Australia.

Mike has seen first hand the enormous difference adventures like this can have on other people. He has a stack of emails saying how inspired they have become after following his voyage around the world. Mike frequently visits schools and says, "It is hugely satisfying to see so many young people engaging with what I have to say. I love taking questions and to see a sea of hands in the air is just amazing. If only more people of my age realised they too could live their dreams. Nothing is impossible if you want it enough. I come from land locked Potters Bar, yet I managed to sail around the world."

To follow Mike's activities, visit his website or to find out more about Mike and his character, read his book, Sailing the Dream.

Barry Pickthall
PPL Ltd - The Specialist Media Source
Business of the Year Award Winners - 2007/8
+44 (0)1243 555561
+44 (0)7768 395719

Flying Lessons Two and Three

Today was a double lesson and this time I was learning with Liam who will be taking me on most of my lessons from now on. I woke up around about 10minutes before I had to leave and so immediately dashed out of bed, jumped into the shower at break neck speed, shaved in record time as I knew we were going to take some press shots later, literally jumped into my clothes and drove at of course a ‘very’ responsible speed to the aerodrome.
Turned up not too late (almost on time actually!) and met up with Liam. I hadn’t met Liam before now and we hit it off immediately. He’s one of the younger instructors and so that definitely helped.

We went through into one of the briefing rooms that they have at Cabair and we sat down to go into detail about climbing and descending. Now that may not sound all too difficult to you guys but trust me there’s a lot more to it than the meets the eye. Being ‘landlubbers’ and not ‘air lubbers’ I imagine not many of us ever really think about it.

There are of course different rates of climb, the different angles one can climb, some are quicker, some are slower. One example would be, if you climb steeply then you don’t actually make as much distance over the ground to where you want to get to as you would if you climbed at a very gentle rate. At a max climb I was to find that around 65knots was the best we could make. At a cruising angle of climb, we would be making around 80knots so a lot better!

After the briefing, I went out to do a pre flight inspection of the aircraft. I’ve only done this a few times but and I’m happy to say it’s really starting to ingrain itself on my memory! After this I hopped in, did a systems check and Liam hopped in shortly after.

I started up the engines after running through the pre-start checklist and we taxied over to the runway. Final checks were made, final clearance was requested, then given, and we taxied out into position, applied full power, released the brakes and we were off!

At 65knots of airspeed, we lifted off and were soon up, up, and away! That initial feeling of losing the friction of the ground and getting up into the air never ceases the thrill me! We gained altitude up to 2000ft, and after getting ourselves a little bit of distance between the circuit, and us we began the fun!

Liam was excellent in showing me through the different rates of climb and how it is all affected and what it affects too. I practiced climbing and descending and was really intrigued how the aircraft handles when you push her into a really steep climb. I was surprised at just how much she wanted to yaw. After a while we turned around, headed back to base and touched down with a surprising amount of grace. Liam was seriously impressing me!
It was time for a quick break, a bite to eat, a drink to down and I was once again raring to get out there and go again! We had another little short briefing, this time about using flaps and the effects it has, but of course there’s only so much one can learn in a classroom and so we headed outside again, into the plane and after all the checks were once again completed we were soon airborne once again.

I found this lesson really interesting as I had never before really thought through or understood the effect that using flaps has to the way the plane behaves in the air. There are many things I can and have carried over from sailing to flying but this was certainly new ground for me. Liam also showed me other techniques to slow the aircraft down in the air such as using full rudder one way and the aileron the other. Before long we were down on the ground again after yet another smooth landing by Liam (credit to him!) and the lesson was over. I wanted another one right then!

I have to say, I’m really loving the freedom and excitement that flying brings. It’s also darn sexy too! I told one of my mates just casually yesterday that I was flying today and he didn’t believe me! I can’t wait until I can take him up on my own.


Flying Lesson One

In the first lesson, I met up with Chris who would be teaching me for the first week. Liam was on holiday. I was due to start lessons the next week but suddenly I had some free time and we decided to start them this week. We first spent around 15minutes in the classroom going over basic theory. Having sailing as a background really helped, as all the principles of lift are exactly the same.


We then went out to the aircraft to go through a complete check of the aircraft. We used the checklist in the booklet and went through from start to finish. Chris was excellent as he explained totally everything and got me to do everything which I really liked. After the full check we went inside, signed out, phoned up the tower to radio out and then headed out to the plane.


Got in the plane and then started the engine, taxied out down to the runway. Was learning all the braking and the steering via the rudders. Arrived at the runway, radioed for final clearance and then got into position. Put the power up to 100% with feet on the brakes. Released the brakes and off we went! Once the airspeed was up to around 65knots Chris lifted the nose and we were airborne! Wow what a feeling! During all the take off I had my hands on the controls and was just getting a feel for what Chris was doing.


We headed up to 2000 feet. The maximum allowed in the area is 2500 due to all the commercial traffic just above us. Chris handed over the controls to me and he let me get the feel for it myself. Good habits learned early will stick with me so it was important for me to learn them right at first. Before I knew it we were flying over my home town and I was looking down searching for my house. I realised that we had passed it and so we did a circle and found it! It sticks out a lot as we are one of the very few houses in our town to have a pool in our garden. Potters Bar certainly looks pretty small from up there. I was grinning from ear to ear and was wondering if my parents were looking up at us at that exact moment.


We flew out to Lee Valley Park and Chris was letting me really get the hang of all the controls which was really great. I was having a ball and felt right at home in the air. Sure I was a bit nervous. But who wouldn’t be during their first flying lesson! Chris showed me all the principles of how the aircraft balances in the air. He showed and explained all the differences the flaps make. He explained the trim tab fully. He certainly explained a lot during that first lesson but I just soaked it all in and I loved it.


We headed back to Elstree airfield, effectively following the M25. A brilliant reference for where you are. We were back in what felt like no time and as we came into land Chris once again took the controls but I followed through and felt every little move he was making. He was excellent as he explained every little bit of what he was doing and the effect if was having on the plane, the speed and the altitude. Called up the tower too.


We touched down with just a little bump and then taxied off to the end of the runway and headed over to our parking space. I was definitely really thrilled after that lesson and left with a very large smile on my face. Thanks Cabair flight school.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010


Hi all,

Busy few days since I wrote last, and an exciting few days too!

Last Tuesday I sat my Yachtmaster practical down on the south coast and I’m very pleased to say I passed no problem. It was a great day spent going over all different sorts of different technical things and also a load of navigation. We weren’t able to post off the application that day though as I had forgotten to bring a passport photo with me. I popped one in the post on Thursday so that was all in hand.

One other thing I had to do for me to get my Yachtmaster was to show a first aid certificate which meant going on a one day course once again down on the south coast as there were no local places which did the course. I got up super bright and early and drove down there for 9am. Once down there, I found the course really interesting and was surprised just how much the protocol for cpr has changed... yet again.

On Thursday I did a talk at Chalfont St Peters Primary School in Rickmansworth. I visited this school almost two years ago and talked about my trip across the Atlantic ocean when I was 14 years old. It was fantastic to go back and meet all the kids again. They’re such a good bunch and were all really interactive which was fantastic.

Things are hotting up here and I’m really looking forward to the launch of my project this Friday which is very exciting! Still can’t say what it is yet but it’s something very new and very very exciting! I’ll be updating this nice and soon with the announcement!


Thursday, 15 July 2010

Isle of Man

Hi all,

It’s been a fun last couple of weeks doing a couple more school visits, and also putting in some training for my next big challenge (can’t tell you that quite yet!). I also spent a couple of nights up over on the Isle of Man courtesy of Canada Life International.

I flew up on Thursday and much to my disappointment it was raining when I got there! It’s been so hot where I live that I didn’t even bother taking a jumper! I only took a thin jacket which wasn’t exactly warm in the slightest, but oh well, worse things have happened!

It was great to meet up with the team at Canada Life and I also did a short interview for the local radio station. That night we had a lovely dinner (thanks Sean!) consisting of steak and lobster and it was back over to the hotel room for a good sleep as I had a big day the day after.

The morning began with a visit to Ballacottier Primary School. I was really impressed with just how behaved the kids were. I did a short 20 minute talk and then it was question time and wow the kids were really responsive. This went down a treat but I had to leave to head over to the High School for another talk so I wasn't able to answer everyone's questions…there were still maybe 30 hands in the air when the head master had to call time!

I arrived at Ballakermeen High School and after being shown around, the sixth form were assembled in the lecture room and I went and delivered a talk to them. This also went down a treat and I was really chuffed. The guys at the high school were all a really good laugh!


After this I had the afternoon off and spent it wandering around and having a look at a bit of the Island. It’s certainly a very pretty place. The evening arrived and I headed over to the Hilton for the evening charity dinner. They were raising money for Project 21 and I was the keynote speaker.

The food was once again delicious and after this I was up. I had a really enjoyed talking to the 150 executives in the room and got quite a good few laughs so I was chuffed with the way it went down. It’s great being only 18 and delivering a talk to an audience with an average age of 45! There was a charity auction and they raised £11,000 which was really great news!

This evening I was honoured to be invited to present some awards at the Hendon RAF Museum, for The Alan Senitt Memorial Trust. These were for a few groups of secondary school students who have been following a course to develop leadership skills and have had a really positive effect on their community. One example being, a group of students who totally renovated a sports hut for kids to use.

This week I’m doing some more training (big announcement soon!) for my next project so keep following!


Monday, 12 July 2010

Round the Island Race

Hi all,

Sorry about the silence recently, I’ve been meaning to do this blog for a while now.

The Round the Island race was brilliant fun. I was racing on the Prostate UK cancer boat representing one of the four charity boats. It was brilliant because it was just like a race within a race. I wasn’t too concerned about our overall result. I just wanted to get a result within the charity boats. It was a very exciting race, there is simply none other like it in the world. To head out to the start line soon after 5am and see literally hundreds of yachts filling the Solent is quite a sight I have to admit.

It was a downwind first leg and we got a cracking start accelerating across the line with the spinnaker up. I was happy to see we had an early lead on the other charity boats which we held nicely up until the needles. At this point we had a bit trouble dropping the spinnaker and unfortunately lost around 300m (a lot in racing terms!). Another charity boat caught us up and they then went off inshore to take that tactical route. We stayed offshore as did the other two charity boats.

At the south of the island where all the boats rounded the point (St Catherine's light house - a great reference point for positions) we saw that our offshore route wasn’t as favourable as the inshore one and the Macmillan cancer support boat took the lead.

We were still in second place maintaining a healthy distance over the other two boats and I was happy with our tactics as we came up to the Bembridge Ledge on the east of the island. The Ellen Macarthur Trust boat at this point had made up a good bit of ground and were trailing us by around 150m.

They were able to point higher (brand new sails I’ll add!) and so I was a little worried tactically as they would no doubt try to come up over us and nick our wind and take the lead. The whole team onboard our boat worked really hard with the trimming and we were able to defend our position very nicely all the way to the finish line. I was really chuffed how well everyone worked together onboard and it definitely paid off as we came back in a well earned second place.

The racing was great fun with just the right blend of competitiveness. We didn’t ding anyone and had very few mishaps so I was a very happy Mike at the end of the day. Great racing from all the charity challenge boats too!

Since the race I have been doing a few talks to some schools as part of our VocaLink Live the Dream school programme and I have also been working a bit towards my next adventure.. (can’t tell you what that is yet, but hope to be able to announce something in a couple of weeks!).

Excitingly I’m heading out to Australia at the end of the month to speak at the Sydney Boat Show which I’m really excited about. It’s going to be a fantastic show with lots of exciting attractions!

This next coming week I’m doing a couple more school visits and excitingly I’m also flying out to the Isle of Man courtesy of Canada Life International to speak at a charity event where we are raising money for Project 21. See for more info on who they are.

Don McIntyre is flying into the UK soon and it will be fantastic to catch up with him and hear all about the Talisker Bounty Boat Expedition. One of the most important aims of the expedition was to raise money for the Sheffield Institute Foundation and the guys on the trip certainly worked seriously hard doing so! Please keep donating! See for more info.