Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Gliding over Oxfordshire...

It is, I venture to suggest, very important to force oneself from one's comfort zone from time to time.
Yesterday I did just that when I took part in a gliding lesson over the Oxfordshire countryside.

 I was apprehensive when I arrived at the airfield.
I do not like heights, which makes skiing down steep mountains challenging at times. Although it's the going up that terrifies me, the coming down is fabulous and definitely worth it!

This was my glider...

It is as small and fragile-looking as it appears in the photo.

Before taking to the air I watched a short video that explained how to control the glider, how to communicate with the instructor and what to do in the event of a bail-out, although I'd already realised that in the event of an accident there was no way I'd have the time to open the canopy, undo my seat belts, clamber out of my seat, manoeuvre myself onto the wing and leap to safety before I hit the ground, so I'd decided to go down with my ship, as it were.

I was also acutely aware that taking off would be the worst part of the experience because the glider is catapulted into the air by a winch and that appeared to make the going up fast, steep and quite, quite contrary to the laws of physics.

And I was right.
Taking off was not nice.
I think I said Flip at least a hundred times as I tried very hard not to say the 'F' word.

And then we were up and the winch cable dropped and we were gliding over Oxfordshire.


It wasn't my first time in a small aircraft.

Years ago, back in the days when I had a good career and lots of spare cash, I took a flying lesson in a Cessna.

That experience was delightful and I found flying the plane easy. Perhaps I had more confidence in myself then?

The lack of thermals meant that the first flight was short.
Which meant that we had to repeat the take-off.
The second time that we were catapulted into the air I made the mistake of closing my eyes and so, of course, I was overcome with motion-sickness.    

I simply didn't find the experience fun.

I took the controls briefly and then relinquished them. I feel safer with an engine, gliding is not my cup of tea...

 And landing again was a relief....

So, I did it.
I stepped, or rather, I was catapulted, out of my comfort zone and into the unknown.
I survived.
And now I have a certificate to prove it.

I learned a lot from my gliding experience. Aside from the obvious how to fly a glider etc, I learned that the biggest obstacle to being confident, competent and successful is, probably, my own inner fears.


  1. Am v disappointed there is no pic of you complete with parachute. Please rectify :)

    1. There are NO pics of me with the parachute, unless Sarah....
      Lord, I hope not!

  2. Aeroplanes with an engine, preferably two, or even more - Yes! Delicate little 'planes with no engines? No-o-o-o!! Martin Shaw (ex The Professionals actor?) recently said that whenever he gets into his aeroplane, he is constantly aware of all the things that can go wrong.

    Although flying is perfectly safe, (it's the landing that's the problem) my preference would be to stay on the ground (how much further can one fall?) if the alternative was going up in a glider.

    You're a very brave aviator. :)

    1. Actually, since a glider is built to fly without an engine it may be safer than a plane with an engine that fails, but I am not really convinced.

      Yes, heights do not scare me, it's hitting the ground at terminal velocity that doesn't appeal!

      (I'm not brave but thank you)

  3. Replies
    1. Well, it was an experience Zhoen! I am rather surprised at how nervous I have become in the last few years, I used to be such an adventurous person and now, well, now I am almost a Mouse! :)

  4. it's funny, when I think of skydiving, I think oh NO! (with an expletive or two), yet I would love to try hang-gliding, which is actually more dangerous! good for you for trying something new!! xo


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