I am about to describe one of the best experiences of my life.
It all started off like an ordinary day, we were going for a picnic with some friends, it was beautifully sunny and, yeah, everything seemed normal.
About an hour before we were going to leave Dad told us that, yes, we were going for a picnic, but we were doing something else first. I was intrigued, as I’m sure you are now. Dad revealed, after a while, that we were going flying in a plane!
Our friend built his own plane, which he flies quite regularly from an airfield near Lewes. He often flies over our house and sometimes we wave. He had offered before to take us up, but I never thought it would happen. Now it was.
A strange feeling crept up inside me, I was utterly excited and a bit nervous, as I’d never been in any sort of plane or flying machine. I’m sure my stomach flipped when Dad said the words “flying in Dave’s plane”.
I’d always fantasize about flying high up in an aeroplane. I’d dream about it too, but then I’d wake up because I couldn’t really picture what it would be like.
The plane is called a Streak Shadow and it seats two people. It was amazing to think that Dave built it all by himself. My sister went first, then me.
I clambered into the cramped cabin and sat down. I had to undergo a safety check where I was shown how to undo the seatbelt in an emergency and how to open the hatch. I had to wear headphones with a speaker to communicate during flight.
Then we were ready for takeoff. Dave, the pilot, spoke into the radio to tell them that we were departing. Pilots talk in a sort of code with coordinating words and long series of numbers. I learnt that you never say the words ‘take off’ unless you are actually about to take off.
You should always try to take off into the wind when in a plane. Sometimes there is what is called a crosswind, where the wind blows across, not down the runway. There was a slight one today, but we looked at the windsock and judged the best direction to go in.
Soon we were racing down the runway at almost 150mph. Then we were in the air. Gradually we gained height until we were 2000ft above the earth. We slowed to about 80mph. Finally, I had the chance to get a proper look at the ground below. Immediately, I thought of my Granny’s dolls house! Everything was miniature. The sheep in the fields looked like ants and the fields themselves stretched away into the distance like a patchwork quilt with hedge stitching.
Because the plane was so small and light, you felt every little, tiny movement. Every jerk and every lurch, and every gust of wind.
Dave took me on a tour of the area, pointing out the sights. Then we flew over and saw the coastline. I was absolutely loving it.
Then Dave asked me if I’d like to have a go at using the controls. I said, over the intercom, that I definitely would. He showed me how everything worked and I had to use the joystick, which is the steering instrument.
Right is right, left is left, forward is down, backwards is up. What I didn’t realise is that only tiny jiggles are needed. I pushed forward really hard and we literally plunged downwards. That was very, very, very scary.
After a while I got the hang of it. Dave put his hands on his head to prove that I really was flying the plane alone. I practised picking a point on the horizon and steering towards it, keeping it in the centre of the dashboard.
The landing was a little nerve-wracking since we came in at a weird angle due to the crosswind.My whole flight in one word: exhilarating.
At the end of the day, I received a Young Aviators Certificate. It was brilliant.
I would like to thank Dave for giving us such an awesome experience. He was so willing to teach us and share with us, we really loved that. He also taught us a lesson in generosity. I hope that other people will be like this as we journey through life.