Flying High



So we are now – scary realisation alert – halfway through the year.  I am glad to say I have managed to achieve 25 of the labours on my “40 things” list, with several more booked or in the pipeline.

After today I can tick off my bucket list that I have taken the controls of a Cessna-152 two-seater aircraft.

I don’t mind admitting I was terrified beforehand.  I am no daredevil.  In fact I am not the most easygoing flyer.  While I would never let my trepidation about flying stop me holidaying abroad, I employ deep breathing techniques when I take off with Thomson (other airlines are available), and am always massively relieved when that big jet comes into land at whatever destination.  In general, I am a “safe” sort of person who likes to live within my comfort zone.  To be blunt, I’m a wuss.

So how was I going to fare bucketing along up there at 100mph in a contraption that weighs the same as a Mini?

There are scary moments in life.  Some are “I might die” scary; some are emotionally scary (and, talking of the latter, Nathan and I celebrated our 10th –Tin – wedding anniversary the day before I took this epic flight).

My trip, from Halfpenny Green Airport, near Wolverhampton, was scheduled for 12:30.  I couldn’t think beyond that time, even about what I was going to have for lunch that day.  I psyched myself up for about a week before.  On the day I, not entirely tongue-in-cheek, reminded my husband of the location of our wills and my funeral plan.  I optimistically shoved a sick bag (a Poundland bag) in my pocket and went on my way.

I tried to rationalise with myself.  What had I to worry about?  Aeroplanes are the safest form of transport, so they say.  In 2016, my mum took four separate flights in similarly tiny planes, in various areas of the country, as part of her 70th birthday celebrations.  If she could do it, so could I.

The lovely pilot, Bob, talked me through the control panel, and then we were ready for take-off.  We were soon bobbing above Bobbington, with its acres of fields and farmland, and thence the much more densely built-up conurbations of Wolverhampton and Walsall.

Up there it was much smoother than I expected.  I’d imagined I’d be screaming, pummelled by the flimsiest breeze that would feel like a typhoon against the fuselage of a winged Mini.  The weather conditions were favourably sunny and calm.  There was very little wind.  It hardly felt as though were moving, although we were doing 100mph.  We maintained a more or less constant height of 2,000 feet.

We flew to my current home town, Sutton Coldfield, and back in the hour allotted.  I didn’t spot my house, though picked out my workplace amidst the toytown landscape below, and snapped a few aerial shots with my phone camera.

At one point Bob allowed me to take the controls.  My tension made me a tad heavy-handed, which resulted in a more urgent ascent than intended!  I lacked the fingertip sensitivity required to make that tin can move.

During the last 10 minutes or so, I must admit I started to feel a tad light-headed, though this was due more to the heat within the flying miniature greenhouse than from fear or turbulence.  The sick bag remained happily redundant.

I was glad, as always, to come into land – though the Cessna experience is one I am very glad to have undertaken.  Maybe it is good to venture outside your comfort zone once in a while?

Ironically, I made my maiden flight on the birthday of the famous aviator Amy Johnson – a fact I discovered only when I later logged online and saw she was the subject of that day’s Google doodle!


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