Harry is 13 and has always loved aviation. He shares his thoughts with AeroTime.

Harry Starling
Young Aviation Enthusiast
Norfolk, UK
Twitter @HarryStarling 

I’ve been interested in aviation for more than 10 years and I am only 13!  I first went on a plane when I was two in 2009.  It was a Monarch A321 and we were going to Menorca on holiday. I was so thrilled to be going on a plane that my parents tell me I got over-excited at the airport that I fell asleep through the whole flight.

I love the whole experience of flying.  The airport, watching the aircraft, spotting different liveries, different models of aircraft, the flight, in short, everything.  When I am holiday, I am always excited about the flight home and look forward to getting back to the airport.

For me, 2020 was going to be an exciting year in aviation. We were going to Florida, but rather than going on a 747 like we had in 2017 (which was very exciting in itself), this time we were taking three flights there and three flights back with two different airlines, two new international airports to visit and six different aircraft. I was looking forward to the flights almost as much as the theme parks at our destination. But with Covid, these plans are now on hold. However, Covid did have some unintended consequences that enabled me to continue my interest in aviation.

I am always looking for any opportunity to see aircraft of any sort.  My dad will sometimes take me to our local airport, in Norwich, at the weekends so we can look around and I take photos of anything that I see.  During the Covid period, it has sometimes been difficult to go anywhere because of the lockdown rules, but I will always keep an eye on Flight Radar 24 to see if there is anything operating nearby.

It's interesting to see that Norwich air traffic has remained quite high so there has usually been something to see every day.  Norwich Airport seems to be handling more and more maintenance and lots more storage, so we have had a good number of aircraft coming and going from airlines that we never normally see. Norwich airport is also the home of Air Livery who repaint aircraft, so it’s a great way of seeing aircraft newly painted in the latest livery of many airlines who don’t normally operate from Norwich.

Recently at Norwich Airport, I saw a range of different aircraft from the Augusta Westland 139 (they do a lot of North Sea shuttles from Norwich) to a Transavia 737-800 (in the old livery) and a BA Cityflyer E190.  We also saw a Braathens RJ being towed into the hanger.

When you have a hobby like this, it is really difficult if you have to stay indoors because everything is happening outside.  But it’s been really important to stay in so I have found other ways to keep up with my aviation hobby including watching hours of aircraft videos on YouTube. I have also started a twitter account logging what I have seen. Only a few followers so far, but its good to engage with others who share my aviation interest.

I also like to visit the City of Norwich Aviation Museum for which we have a family season ticket.  We managed to go in September when the Covid rules had been relaxed and we walked around outside.  They recently moved a new display aircraft RJ-85 across the airport perimeter and Norwich bypass to a new resting place at the museum.  I didn’t see it move but I saw some pictures of the crane carrying it across and I couldn’t wait to go and visit it when the museum re-opened.

The new aircraft looks massive there. There are some very big planes at the museum – a Nimrod, a Vulcan and now this RJ-85. There are lots of smaller planes around it including Cessnas, Pipers, Hawker Hunters, a Jaguar fighter jet, a Harrier and a Lightning, amongst many others.  I look forward to going to see them again soon and hope in the future to be a volunteer there.

I know there are a lot of kids like me who love aviation who are probably finding it tough right now. I know it is even harder for those employed in aviation too. But when I look up and see vapour trails in the sky, we know that the vaccine is coming and we can hope that we will see more and more coming back to the skies soon.  Then, hopefully we can go and visit the airports and museums again, just like we used to.  Until then we can watch it all on YouTube, continue tweeting our pictures and keep working hard so that we can one day get the jobs we want and can be around aircraft even more.

This is my Covid story and I look forward to reading yours.