After another week of bad weather I eventually head back to England not having actually done a solo flight, only settling for two tandem flights with Alex. Other than the tight harness reducing any chance of me having children down to almost zero, I loved it.
Fast forward a few months.
"Mate. The weather is good. Come flying. NOW!" Alex shouted down the phone. God he is a bully. But I like that. I think he wanted to teach me more than I wanted to learn. . . . and I REALLY wanted to learn. That's Alex for you. I jumped on the train and headed down to Wiltshire (where his flying school is based)
I spent all afternoon doing ground handling, which as far as I can work out was just an excuse for Alex to watch me being dragged through various patches of cow shit. Also my now quite ridiculously long hair kept going in my eyes so I had to wear a helmet, on the ground. I looked so cool, cow shit and all.
The next day after, in my mind about 47 seconds more training, although it was more like a few hours, Alex said it was time for me to go solo. My heart jumped.
"Really mate. Im not sure I'm ready"
"You are mate. Honestly. I'll help you launch. You're a fast learner."
The cynical side of me was thinking he was just saying that to give me confidence. Im not so sure I am a fast learner?
We walked up the small hill and by the time I reached the top I was completely out of breath. Seriously. Ive just run 1000 miles. I should not be this unfit. I get my A's and B's (terms for the lines to the wing) together and get ready for my first solo flight. My heart was racing. I blamed the hill climb but in fact I was bricking it.
"Just remember mate. The wing flies itself. Don't force it."
Then before I had a chance to think, and inevitably back out, the wing was in the air and I was being pushed down the hill. Oh god. This is it. I've had a good life I guess.
There was a rush of frantic running, legs pumping and line pulling. Then all of a sudden the ground dropped out from under me and I was in the air.
"Yes mate. Pull right. Now left a little. Good man!" I heard Alex shout from behind me on the hill.
Was I actually flying? No way. It seemed a lot easier than my mind made it out to be. Life seemed to slow right down. I felt a strange sense of calm which I wasn't expecting. I thought my mind would be racing, fighting, overthinking but in fact it was the opposite.
Although only a minute long it felt like an hour as I gently glided down and prepared to land in . . . wait. . . a huge pile of cow shit. Seriously! Of all the places to land. Damn it. These trainers were new this morning.
Paragliding! Yes! Im hooked!
If you want to learn to fly Alex is your man. Click here to find out more.