Eastwards across the Atlantic, the five-hour time change had compressed the night into a mere three hours of darkness. Over south Wales we commenced our descent into Heathrow on one of those rare, perfect, summer mornings. A slight haze presaged a warm day, confirming the forecast given to us at Kennedy.
It had been an uneventful trip — London to New York and back — I had the usual difficulty getting any sleep in New York due to the time change, my over-active circadian rhythm and my disinclination to resort to sedatives. After an early breakfast, I set out on my usual morning walk down to Canal Street to look at tools, then back to Korvettes to buy some small presents for Pam and the children. On this occasion, I could not resist a rather extravagant one for my son John, who must have been about eight or nine at the time. It was a small model aeroplane with a tiny compression-ignition engine. My choice of present for John was, I admit, not entirely selfless. An early snack lunch at McCann’s, then to bed to try and snatch a couple of hours’ sleep before the overnight flight home.
Driving home to Hampshire against the flow of rush-hour traffic, I looked forward with pleasurable anticipation to introducing John to the technique of control-line flying when he returned from school that afternoon. It was always a comforting ritual, after a night flight, to sit down with a proper cup of tea and to talk with Pam about all that had happened during my absence. A wallow in a hot bath, then to bed to get back onto British Summer Time.