For me, its partial retirement!
At 75 years old some would say about time, and although I am retired from my flying and some business activities, it was not entirely by choice.
I couldn’t report on it at the time as it was commercially sensitive, but in 2014 Andy Elson, a previous business partner and round the world competitor, invited me to join him in a project to develop an unmanned craft which would fly way up above 65,000ft and which could stay there for months on end. Of course, powered by solar energy.
This was the start of a company called Astigan. We managed to obtain sponsorship and funding from Ordnance Survey based on a promise that this type of craft could carry out their mapping requirements more efficiently, faster, and cheaper than using conventional aircraft.
By 2018 we had a flying prototype aircraft with a 75 metre wingspan weighing in at less than 100kg. It was nothing short of incredible. However, just prior to Covid, Ordnance Survey pulled out of the funding and that, as they say, was that.
The following year I suffered some health issues which resulted in my not being able to retain my flight medical certificate, so unfortunately my flying, both balloons and fixed wing, came to an abrupt end.
Still reasonably fit, but not to fly, I’m continuing my talks when asked and golf has a regular place in my diary.
Sadness seems to visit all too often with friends and contemporaries passing on to who knows where, and, at this senior age I have eventually learned to find the joy in each day rather than concentrating on the next diary event.
A blessed and lucky life so far? Darn right!