Monday/Tuesday 14/15th March 2011

I wasn’t due to leave Florida until 19:30, on the overnight Virgin flight back to Manchester. There is nothing worse than hanging around all day waiting for a flight, so I decided to see if I could get another game of golf in. I called the River Bend Golf Club, but they had nothing until the afternoon, and I needed an early morning tee-off, so I could go to the school in the afternoon to complete the formalities, before heading back to Orlando.  “Try the Halifax Plantation Golf Club” said the lady at River Bend, so I googled the name, found the number and called them. “The only time we have available is 07:22 “, the guy said. “Will it be light at that time” I asked. “Just about” came the reply, so I booked the game. I had returned the Challenger to the hire company yesterday, so I called the local cab company, and booked a taxi. When I asked how far away the Golf Club was, the guy on the phone assured me it wasn’t too far, and 15 minutes should do it, so I arranged to be collected at 06:45

It was still dark when the cab driver collected me, and 30 minutes later, and $30 lighter, I was at the Halifax Plantation Golf Club. I booked in, and was introduced to my playing partners, Rob & Carole (!) In this case, Rob was Carole’s son, he was down from New Jersey for a few days to stay with her, and they were getting in an early game of golf. It was a good job I had my golf jacket with me, I didn’t take it off until about 9:30 in the morning, as it was fairly cold until the sun came up. However, it was a very pleasant golf Course, I enjoyed the game, and it was certainly better than sitting around the house waiting for the hours to pass by. I had thought the cab fare a little high on the way out there, so called a different company for the cab back. That was a mistake, they took almost an hour to turn up, and the return journey cost me $40!

Back at the house, I packed my things, and then cycled to the Airport to complete the formalities with EASA. On the whole, I have been very pleased with EASA, and think I got good value for money. Not everything was perfect (no company ever is), but I would certainly recommend them to anyone looking to do a similar course to mine. Fortunately, Guy was heading back to the houses as I was about to leave, so I didn’t have to cycle back, I got a ride. There was just time for a quick shower, before Phil came to collect me from the house, to drive me back to Orlando, and the evening flight home. I watched one of the movies on the plane, and then managed to cat nap for four of the seven hour flight back to Manchester. I was lucky that in Manchester, I didn’t have to wait long for the train to Piccadilly, and only waited 5 minutes at Piccadilly for the connection to Sheffield, so I was back at home for 10 AM. It was a typical cold, foggy day for this time of year back in Sheffield, nothing like the warm sunshine I had left behind in Florida.

So this is the end of my American Adventure. Did I have a good time? I thought I would before I went, but I couldn’t have imagined just how good it would turn out to be. Apart from the main reason for going to the States (to learn to fly), I had met some great people, been in Daytona when the 500 was on, seen the last launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery, experienced Bike Week, and, oh yes, got my PPL. How could it have been anything other than fantastic, and something I will remember for the rest of my life.