A Fly on the Wall Ė No More!
From the unfortunate attempts of Icarus to the rather more successful ones of the Wright Brothers, man has always dreamed of flying. And I am no different. Except that I am female, a 44-year-old mother of two and, when not occupied with the skies, have my hands full with running a household and working part-time from home as a website designer.
After a recently family visit to Folkestone on east Kentís coast, my breath taken away by watching graceful paragliders dotted in the distance during the car ride down one of the coastal trails, I decided I no longer wished to be merely an observer. Returning to my home, my husband reminded me of my daydreams and urged me to make them a reality, making sure I found time in my hectic daily schedule to book myself on an introduction-to-paragliding course.
I had experienced no problems logging on to deal with some scary clients via video-conferencing, and had parted with equally scary amounts of money making my children feel treated (without spoiling them). But booking my paragliding course online was a different ballpark. Although initially attracted by the idea of going on a tandem course, I am used to being in full control, so I went for a 1-day introductory course, which promised (weather permitting) I would learn to take off by the end of the day.
As the day drew closer, I wondered what Iíd let myself in for. But I also kept reminding myself of those paragliders Iíd spotted, all free as birds. This memory and my pleasant, knowledgeable instructor helped put my mind at ease. I was given a thorough briefing to cover the health and safety aspects and an introduction to the equipment and instruments.
A few pointers I picked up:
- Clothing should be sensible, practical and layered. Strong sturdy footwear is recommended for landings.
- Ask yourself whether youíre healthy enough and fall under the weight restriction.
- Check whether you can bring observers.
- And check the weather!
Thereís a lot of ground to cover before you can get off it.
Back Down to Earth
I had been in an airplane before, so I was not a complete virgin to flight, but nothing can quite compare to being a part of the scene, with the elements rushing past you, as opposed to being an observer of the scene, safely ensconced in a protective bubble. I was shown how to inflate the wing, how to move my body to steer properly and how best to deal with unexpected breezes. I was very proud of myself and as soon as I landed (my former fears a distant memory) I wanted to do it all over again!
What else did I learn? Iíve realized the importance of doing things for myself, as well as for my family, friends and co-workers, and am already looking into attending further flying experience days. Iíve also come away with plenty of ideas for gift days for those skeptical chums who suspected I wouldnít go through with it! Taking the plunge Ė or in this case, the glide Ė was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my forties so far. I canít wait to see what my fifties will bring.