The Benidorm Bus

Jet2 Boeing 737 taking off from Leeds Bradford Airport

Leeds Bradford to Alicantie

This week we were on the flight deck of a Jet 2 Boeing 737 taking off from Leeds Bradford Airport and landing at Alicante. This was the ‘ Benidorm Bus ’, but we weren’t with the drunken yobs complaining about not enough tomatoes in their cheese toasties; we didn’t even have to listen to the sales pitch for perfumes – we were flying up front, watching over the shoulder of Captain Rob Hayes as he skilfully powered down the bumpy short runway at LBA and took us smoothly up through the clouds and then into the sunshine. We saw him swerve to avoid storms as he came into Alicante, lost height and speed with impeccable timing, and then, if I may quote Chuck Berry in Promised Land

Swing low, Chariot, come down easy, taxi to the terminal zone

Cut your engines, cool your wings and let me make it to the telephone’

Rob was not actually in the air, although, thrillingly, he hadn’t had time to change out of his captain’s uniform before coming from a last minute flight to Edinburgh and taxi back to Sandmoor, where, after a well earned pint of Timothy Taylor’s and a steak pie,  he took us through his video of take off and landing, then rewound and told us exactly what had been going on.

And we thought planes were flown by computers! It was a revelation to hear about the hands-on flying and split second decisions that go into the awesomely responsible job of taking passengers safely through an environment  at 37,000 feet, minus 56 degrees and getting us to our holiday in the sun.

I’ve had the privilege to be flown back from Tenerife last year and hugely entertained by the wise cracking pilot, who turned out to be Captain Rob Hayes. He’s been flying since he was 13 years old, and it was clear that the Rotary Club of Roundhay think he’s a star.

He even gave me a Jet 2 pen in return for his souvenir Rotary pen. A great evening.