A couple of years ago, I posted about having a trial flight in a microlight. I haven’t posted about flying since, so you might have got the impression that no flying happened.
This is not the case.
One reason why I haven’t got much writing done is because I’ve been too busy flying. One flight in a flexwing microlight was enough for me to get the bug, and this week, my National Private Pilot Licence (Microlight) arrived in the post from the Civil Aviation Authority.
To be honest, it has not been an easy couple of years. As my instructor delicately put it, I am “not a natural pilot”. Being afraid of heights also doesn’t help, when you’re sitting on (rather than in) a very small aircraft with only a lap belt to stop you experiencing gravity in a very personal way!
I’ve kept quiet on this blog about learning to fly because a) there are plenty of people blogging about learning to fly, and b) they all seemed to be much better at it and having a lot more fun than me. It’s the sort of thing you talk about in public when – despite how difficult it might seem – you don’t doubt that you’ll finally make it.
I had doubts all the way. Right up until the end, I wasn’t sure I would ever get my licence. At no time did I ever think, Yes, I can do this. When you think there’s a distinct chance you might have to slink away with your tail between your legs, you don’t post about it on the internet.
So why did I do it? Given all the tears and snot and terror (I discovered that yes, when terrified enough, I do scream), why persevere with something that is not only expensive and potentially dangerous but I wasn’t very good at?
There is only one answer: it’s an addiction.
There is something about flying in a flexwing microlight that isn’t like anything else I’ve ever experienced – it’s certainly nothing like flying in an ordinary aircraft, even a very small one. You’re far more ‘connected’ to the air – you can feel everything through the steering bar and across your body. When you surf across a cumulus cloud for the first time, it’s an experience that you never forget.
Through all the worst bits, when I never thought I would get through, one tiny part of my mind kept asking, Could you bear never to fly a flexwing again? And the answer was always, No.