Wednesday 6 September 2017

Up, up and away

To celebrate my exceedingly advanced birthday last October, Nº1 Son gave me a gliding voucher. I tried to cash it in during our Exmoor family holiday, so that he could be there, but the gliding club cancelled at the last minute. So we re-scheduled, at a different club, for the end of July.

It was a beautiful day for taking your life in your hands, and the instructor Ian gave me a briefing…

and then ensured that I (and my parachute!) were well strapped in.

It's 52 years since I was last in a glider – when I was in the cadet force I got my "A and B certificates" on a week-long course that culminated in three solo flights. The glider I flew then had an open cockpit and we were launched by winch. This time we were towed up by a small powered aircraft.

This was not only much more civilised, but it meant we reached 2500 feet before releasing. Ian flew us around for a while, and even found some thermals to take us a little higher. Then he said "You have control", to which I responded in kind.

I'd expected to be a little nervous, but I really hadn't anticipated that it would take me to the edge of terror! I flew for a while, but never felt in control. Although it was a fine day, there was a lot of turbulence in the air, which seemed to give the glider a mind of its own. After we landed, Ian suggested that, because of the turbulence, we re-schedule the other two flights and hope for calmer conditions. So today we returned.

This time, Ian was piloting the towing aircraft, and I had a different instructor, Graham. Conditions were cloudier but less chaotic, I managed to stay on top of the panic, and it was an amazing experience. Graham was complimentary about my handing of the controls in the turns, and even in situations where the small amount of turbulence we did encounter demanded management. I put it down to 2-dimensional practice on Erin Mae's tiller. So, thank you to Nº1 son for the voucher – a fabulous treat.

At the end of this week we are hoping to get up to Erin Mae at last and have a few weeks on the waterways. So posts to this blog, singularly lacking this year, might even start appearing again.

1 comment:

  1. I bet it all came flooding back, didn't it? From your CCF days.