I DIDN'T know the Duchess of Cornwall had a fear of flying.

No reason why I should really.

But it's surely a bit of a handicap when your job description reads: "Blundering around the world, shaking hands or rubbing noses with native peoples."

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The revelation about Camilla Wotsname came after she overcame her fear to visit New Zealand. She told her hosts she'd have come yonks ago (I believe that was the expression used) if she hadn't been so aerially terrified.

Ha, how pathetic! I'm proud to announce I've no such phobia. Usually, if there's a nervous condition on the go, I'll try to claim it. Not in this instance. Two years in the air cadets, d'you see? Made me the man I am today. A-wibble, a-wibble.

I can understand fear of flying, right enough. It's what happens when you stop and think about it.

Never think, readers. It spoils everything. In this instance, thinking that you're miles up in the air separated from oblivion by a thin sheet of metal could really dampen your aeronautical experience.

So don't think about it. Just do it. It's exhilarating. As yon Leonardo da Vinci once warbled: "Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return."

Couldn't have put it better myself. Today, admittedly, I'm pretty earthbound, with my sad wee face ever upturned to the heavens. I used to fly regularly. But my one flight in recent years was to Belfast. And, because of a prevailing wind, that took just 25 minutes from Edinburgh. Enjoyed every single minute, though.

I should say that I've never actually flown a plane, not even for a second. In the air cadets, I was only allowed to stick my hand out of the window to signal when we were making a turn.

Mother said it sounded like a practical joke, but what did she know? Damned civilian.

Once, on a middling-sized passenger plane, I was allowed into the cockpit and was discomfited to find the crew pointing at our destination to starboard and saying, "Look, there it is over there!", before manually turning the steering wheel in that direction.

Somehow I'd imagined there'd be less guesswork and more computerised accuracy. But was I downhearted? Nope. Go up, folks. It's the only way.