My husband has always been more adventurous than me, although since meeting him I have become more so. It is amazing how much influence another person can have over you. When we first met I had something of an adventurous spirit but not an ounce of what I have now. Any fears I had of trying something new was quickly quashed when Andrew introduced me to his microlight.
We had been together less than a year when he drove me to the airfield where he had a hangar. I had no idea what a hanger even was, except something you hang your clothes on. In fact I had no idea what a microlight was and I do wonder now if I had had even the slightest clue, would I have gone that day. It was a lovely Summer’s evening. Very warm and all Andrew seemed to talk about was thermals, while I wondered why we would even need them. Of course the thermals he was talking about was rough bumpy warm air and not extra warm clothing. I asked more about the restaurant we were going to afterwards than I did about the flying. After all, I had been on many flights; it couldn’t be much different from that could it?
Oh, good lord, it was very different.
We parked outside the hanger and Andrew opened it up and wheeled out what looked like a motor cycle. I watched in fascination as he checked it over thoroughly before wheeling out a huge wing. My stomach lurched at this point when it dawned on me that this was the wing that would keep me in the air. I looked frantically around the hanger for a possible plane. I didn’t mind how small as long as it was something enclosed. There was no plane. I then looked for the cover that would go over the top of the motorcycle thing, but there wasn’t one. I watched with trembling legs and beating heart as Andrew positioned the wing on and fastened the bolts. He then handed me a flying suit and helmet. I nearly passed out. My god, I can’t go in that, can I? I quickly learnt that a microlight is pretty much a motorcycle with a wing and not much else. Well, a motor obviously. Heavens, did he actually say that he can fly up to about 10,000 feet in this? Not with me in it, thinks I?
‘Ready to go?’ he asks with a smile.
I climb into my flying suit and zip it up with shaking hands. This is it, I shall die and this relationship that I had hoped would be something good will be no more. I stare dumbfounded at the two small seats and try not to picture myself sitting in it at 10,000 feet. I feel sick. Andrew helps me clamber in and helps me on with my helmet. He then affixes the mike that will allow me to speak to him while we are up there. Oh, God, what if I fall out. He straps me in tightly and I thank god for that. I wonder if I should make a few last calls from my mobile, you know my final goodbyes and all that? But before I can do anything he is climbing into the front seat and starting the propeller.
I would come to know those words very well in the coming years.
‘How long have you been flying?’ I ask in a shaky voice.
‘Since yesterday,’ he jokes
‘About ten years,’ came his confident response.
Well, he must know what he is doing. We motorcycle down the track and stop at the runway. It’s now or never. I can either run, or close my eyes and pray. I choose the latter. You only live once after all.
‘Golf, mike tango, Yankee, echo is lined up for immediate departure.’ he says in one of those typical pilot type voices.
‘Golf Yankee echo is cleared for take off at your discretion.’ Advises a voice in response and I wonder what at your discretion means.
‘Golf yankee echo, take off.’ Says Andrew and before I can ask what is happening we are storming down the runway at about 50 miles an hour. The things I do for love. Then, we really do have lift up and, oh, here are the thermals. A few bumps and I feel myself clinging onto Andrew. Well, we certainly got close on this flight. We go higher and higher and I feel myself tense and tense even more. Finally we are so high that I don’t care anymore and the views are spectacular. I am like a bird.
The wind blows against my face and ahead of me is a hot air balloon.
The cows and sheep below look like tiny dots and I see people sitting in a field having a picnic and they begin waving to us. I wave back. Andrew takes us higher and higher and it is the most wonderful feeling in the world. The colours of the fields seem to change with the shifting light and the shadows are incredible. There is one shaky moment when he asks me to lean over the microlight very slightly so he can check the fuel. I do so and find myself seemingly dangling from the flying motorbike. We turn, go lower and then rise up again. I am having a wonderful time. We skirt around Blenheim Palace where they have a function happening and the driveway is lined with flaming torches. From 3,000 feet the scene is amazing.
I was disappointed when that flight ended and as the years went on I went up many times with Andrew. On one flight I leant forward and guided the microlight by the handlebars, with Andrew assisting of course. I helped wash down the wing and have even been known to sew it before now. I do not enjoy bumpy flights however and always avoided even slightly windy days. We have visited other airfields and have enjoyed the sights of Oxfordshire from the air.
Just over two years ago the microlight failed its MOT and although we got it repaired Andrew felt it’s time was running out. We were both busy but he was busier and had his studies to focus on. After a lot of thought Andrew sold it.
We have done many other exciting things since and I know I would never have done them had it not been for Andrew. Navigating the whole island of Boracay in the Philippines for instance on a motorcycle. I had never been on one in my life and Andrew hadn’t ridden one in years, but what a fab time we had.
Oh, yes the things you do for love.