As I said previously, my punishment for knocking Irene for six has been at least two weekends stuck at home. Not too bad as the weather was kinder although it has taken a turn for the worse at the moment.
For as long as I can remember I have always wanted to learn to fly. I had a couple of lessons when I was younger but with a mortgage, job and kids it was a non-starter both time wise and financially. Over the years I have contented myself with using a Flight Simulator on my PC and I have a setup with multiple screens, proper yoke, throttle controls and rudder pedals. As they say in the PR world, ‘it’s as real as it can get’. No it’s not, it’s good but not that good. No sensation of flight, no g forces etc. However it has always been at the back of my mind so with our change of life emphasis I did some research and found that gliding is more affordable, and I found a local club at Talgarth about an hours drive away. Called the Black Mountains Gliding Club it sits at the base of the Black Mountains, of course, so it benefits from what’s called ‘ridge lift’ and ‘wave’, a phenomenon unique to mountainous areas.
With that in mind we did a day visit on the 24th July to see how the land lay and were made to feel very welcome. There was no flying that day due to the weather but we had a nice chat with those that were there, Julie & Keith, and ‘Bo’ one of the flying instructors. As a result we took a trip to the club last weekend with the Motorhome as the club also offers camping space and electric hook up. Fortunately the weather was good last weekend and I managed to get a flight in on the Saturday which I thoroughly enjoyed although at times I felt a bit queezy and a little stressed. The flight lasted an hour and I learnt all about thermals and ridge lift and I took the controls for about half the time of our flight, managing the turns into the lift and circling around. We started out at 2,700 feet and managed to get some lift that took us to over 4,000 feet, but the cloud base was low so we couldn’t go any higher. It was a wonderful feeling and great views but obviously it had to come to an end and Jamie, my pilot, brought us back down safely to the field.
That evening the club had a barbecue/social under the oak tree and we were once again made to feel very welcome amongst about twenty of us. Once the flying was over the dogs had a good run in the field too, so everything worked out fine. On the Sunday I set about helping the others wth their gliders, seeing them off behind the tug, recovering them back to the start and chatting with the people who had come for their ‘introductory’ flight. I booked myself another flight for the afternoon hoping to see if this really was the thing for me. We broke for lunch at 1.15pm and I went back to the van for a sandwich and a welcome cup of tea. The next thing I remember was Irene waking me up at 4pm as I had fallen soundly asleep, the fresh air and exercise must have got to me. Needless to say I missed my slot for another flight so must wait for another day. Never mind. It is definitely a cheaper alternative to powered flight but with the tug fee (based on the height you are taken), the time you are airborne and the hire of the club plane, it still works out about £65 a flight. Not cheap by any means and I’m not sure I can spend the time (20 hours +) or the money to achieve a solo flight, or 40 hours + for a gliding pilots licence. Another dream that will have to wait until our numbers come up on the lottery!