To quote Leonardo Da Vinci about having once tasted flight you will always be looking skywards. I was an “Air force brat” with my father being a career officer since he joined the Royal Flying Corps during WWI and through WWII.
This was the probable reason that I made the decision at the age of just 13 to go to sea and went to Greenwich Naval College. I have never had the slightest urge to take to the skies other than as a pampered passenger. I had chickened out of a go in a friend’s microlight, more because of the way I had seen him ride a motorbike than a fear of flying.
I regularly have an extra annual holiday when the serene beautiful one goes on holiday with her sister on their regular pilgrimage to the Eiger and the Jungfrau. I celebrate my week of freedom with ‘Jolly boy’s outings’ and doing guy things like sailing or canoeing. This time I found myself at a bit of a loose end and went for an exploratory drive and as I passed the local gliding club I saw a poster for their open day. Looking to recruit new member possibly, they were inviting members of the public to have a trial flight.
Somehow the brakes on my car came on and I reversed up to read the poster and found myself turning on to the airfield. As I parked, a glider landed nearby with a thump and skidded to a stop. A lady got out of the car parked next to me and ran over to meet the passenger from the glider. As they walked to their car, I asked them if this was where I got a test flight. They pointed to the pilot who was still sitting in the glider and I took a pew in the seat behind him.
The pilot was a taciturn individual and I don’t suppose he spoke more than a dozen words after we were hitched to a wire and we were hauled into the air. We took off for a really enjoyable flight which seemed to me a lot like sailing a yacht and I felt quite at home as we flew over Oundle and along the Nene valley. All too soon we landed with a hell of a thump and slid along the grass.
I thanked the pilot profusely, got into my car mentally ticking of another experience from my ‘bucket list’ and drove off. At the end of the week I enjoyed my trip even more when I discovered from an article in my local newspaper, that the ‘open day’ had been a huge success.
I learned that I should have registered at the clubhouse, paid £30 for the experience and waited my turn for a flight. There was no mention of a queue-jumping freeloader. I’ve always been a pushy sod and I must admit that I felt the experience left me feeling as free as bird. Well free anyway!
I haven’t felt the urge to repeat the experience or to do what my wife suggested on her return, to go and pay for the trip. After all I’m convinced no-one noticed and it would only cause embarrassment for the person whose job it was to collect the fee.
I’m much too busy and in any case I must go down to the seas again to the lonely sea and the sky and the call of the running tide. It’s either that or to the yellow brick road as I’m off to see the Wizard!