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  • Dyfrig Gibbs

Never say never

We’ve come a long way since I last wrote (again). Back then we were suspended in a Mallorcan isolation. My family and I doing a modern day Robinson Crusoe, seemingly deserted on a beautiful island, just in this version the main threat was over zealous Guardia Civil looking to impose the strict COVID regulations. As I wrote then, it was a lovely pause in the pace of our life up until that point, a great chance for us to bond and grow - literally - as a family. Yes, little did we know then, but our family was in the process of growing 25% bigger: we are now a family of five and we couldn’t be happier about it. Our latest Gibbs cub, Snow, is now 5 months old and quite possibly a robot because she has no desire for sleep. She’s a monster but off the scale cute.

As idyllic as it may of looked in Mallorca, it had an Instagram esque filter to it that betrayed some underlying challenges we were facing so we hot tailed it outta the sun last October. The reasons are long, complicated and lost in a mire of Spanish bureaucracy, COVID restrictions and Brexit negotiation. The result however is a feeling of blissful contentment that we wouldn’t of found without our Spanish exile. We realised that our home lay in North Somerset, the base that we saw as a launchpad stole our heart and eight months away affirmed to us that it was THE place we want our roots to bed in. That feeling of contentment, of being sure where we want to live and to strengthen friendships is a feeling I don’t think either of us had until this year - which was fine because I was trying to be an Airline pilot so being a mobile family fitted perfectly. Typical then, that as soon as I’d reached that goal, our feelings changed and we can only see the benefits of a stable home in a nourishing community.

The result is we’re now living in a way I thought we never would: I’ve joined the ranks of ‘commuter pilots’. My operating base is now Vienna whilst my home base is Somerset. I’m consigned to being away 4 or 5 nights out of seven... For the time being.

I’m writing this from an inexplicably sticky bench in Dublin departures lounge (my best guess to why is it’s a side effect from having being ‘anti bacced’ every 5 minutes - y’know to protect us from the virus), anyway it’s the only spot I can find where I don’t have to wear the mask and have access to 24V AC. I’m here on an 8 hour transit stop waiting for a connecting flight home. Clearly there are many gaps to fill in the story that’s played out since I started the blog, but the biggest gap I’m yearning to fill is the time left vacant by not being able to be a father and husband. I feel guilty that I can’t help while Bella has to work incessantly hard just to get through the day, whilst - if I’m on standby - I’m essentially scratching my arse wondering what to do.

I’ve made a commitment to myself that I will use the time to stay on top of my ‘knowledge‘ - one of the key competencies we are assessed on as pilots - as it’s seemingly easy to let it slip and get by with the basic knowledge you need on a normal uneventful day. But If I'm not able to read Harry Potter to the kids I might as well read the Flight Crew Operators Manual and make an attempt to be the guy who knows the aircraft, the operation and doesn’t break a sweat when it’s all a bit ‘non normal’ - I love flying with this type of pilot so I’m shooting to have that effect too. Hopefully I’ll also find the time (and the space) to stay fit and counter the atrophy brought on by all the (sitting) down time that requires.

On top of that I figure, since I don’t get paid enough to play poker with matchsticks let alone the crypto market, I will use what time‘s left milling around deserted airports to write about life as a commuting pilot.

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