Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Just call me Biggles

My birthday was last month and one of my presents was a flying lesson! The day we were due to go out, sometime mid March, it was too wet and blustery - so we postponed it. I spent the whole day at school looking out of the window, and checking my watch more often than I usually do.

It was planned for late this afternoon but we got a call this morning to see if I would like to go up at lunch time. The pilot wasn't sure if the weather was going to hold up for that long. It is quite windy and blustery but with bright sunny patches. Apparently there is a special fliers forecast that tells pilots more details about air speed and wind direction and cloud density. Such short notice was good as I didn't have time to get nervous.

It wasn't a big plane. I managed to trap my finger in the door trying to get in. I read through all the checks that had to be made before starting the plane up, and more checks once we had taxied down the runway. It was very repetitive, but there again I suppose it has to be. As my husband has said often this week - "There is just a thin piece of metal between you and oblivion." He also said that he wasn't worried about my safety, but the pilot's. He can always find another wife, but doesn't think he will be able to find a computer consultant to match Chris. Chris works with Joe and flies in his spare time.

Flying is a solitary habit. I asked if he made friends with the other pilots back at the hanger (?). He says that they just clock in and head out to their planes. It was fun. It was blustery but sunny. I got to fly for about fifteen minutes! Living in Scotland, we got to see some superb views of Loch Ness and snow covered mountains. Being small I couldn't really see above the instrument panel. He said that the instrument panel was actually more important than being able to see out the front window. You kind of had to dip your nose - the plane's nose to see where you were headed every so soften. Dipping it's nose, while at the same time raising mine to look over the control panel was quite challenging. I think I kept us mostly in the right direction. Every so often Chris would say, "You have the controls" and I would have to repeat "I have the controls" - just so he knew that you knew you had the controls!

Looking at things from above is very interesting. Imagine looking down the way to see a rainbow beneath you! Seeing landmarks of the city was like looking at a model of the town. It is such a different perspective. You see where things fit in. For example I never knew just how close together the canal and the river flow through the city. I also did the predictable thing of flying over my house and taking a photo.

I also got to taxi along the runway once we had landed. Despite being as close to the pedals as possible, only the tips of my toes were touching. We swerved all over the place, narrowly missing a bunch of seagulls who thought they were sitting a safe enough distance away! Had them fooled! I have to say that not once did I catch the edge of panic in Chris's voice, not once did he need to wrench the controls from my hand - he did slap my hands a couple of times when I thought "I have the controls" when I didn't!

I thoroughly enjoyed my hour in the sky but I have to admit that I am still a bit queasy - (I get travel sickness on escalators!).

I don't think I have got bitten by the flying bug. It was nice but not something I want to add into my already busy life!

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