Soaring the Alps

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Spiraling into motion sickness

I am not a natural, when it comes to flying. This much my first flight in the motorized glider had shown me. In fact, I was prepared to leave the airfield behind and with it the foolish idea of me learning to fly. Yet, against my better judgment I stayed, rooted to the ground as I saw the first sailplane launch.

Attached to just a thin, long rope, a winch at the far end of the lawn towed the plane into the air within a split second. It rose steeply. I imagined a rollercoaster ride, being pulled up in high-speed, seeing nothing but the sky above you, while waiting, anticipating the peak – and the fall that would follow. 150, 200, 250, 300 metres the sailplane rose into the light blue sky dotted with white puffy clouds. And then it stopped.

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Airborne

Do you know these moments, when you suddendly realize what you are getting yourself into, but it’s too late to do anything about it? I do. I live by them. However, seldom did reality slap me in the face with such an intensity as she did on my first day at the airfield.

We will give you a soft start, the instructor had said. The two of us will be flying the Falcon, a German touring motor glider, starting and landing as the airplanes your are used to – she is just a little bit smaller. I kid you not..

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Once you have been up there, encircling the clouds, sought for openings of blue sky, passages between hills and valleys of vapour, gently touching the white tissues with your wing, you will always long to go back.

To lift from the solid ground and motion towards those heights your gaze is returning to.

You long for the ever-changing landscape, to venture into an unknown no one has seen before you or will ever see after.

– The reasons I fly

Awaking

Why did I do it? To show off, to prove myself, to get attention, to accept a challenge. A little bit of each, I assume. What certainly was not involved the first time I set foot on the airfield was a passion for flying.

I had just recently gotten over my fear of flying. That is, my clammy hands did not cling to my armrests anymore. Neither did I sink into a deep, begging prayer, asking a higher power to spare myself and anyone on the plane I was travelling with. There was just as little reason for my fear easing as there had been for it to appear in the first place. Yet, as my new position involved frequent travelling – of which a fair amount as above the ground – I gratefully accepted its disappearance.

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When something made your world spin an extra round, you can sit back and wait for the blur to disappear, or you can use the momentum to take off – in whatever direction it might lead you.

– The reasons I fly

The momentum

It was an encounter that teared me out of my everyday life. It was a momentum that kept me rushing forward, too fast to see where I was going. I was accelerating and I knew, I would either crash or take off.

I crashed.

But I also took off. And this is, what the story that will unfold through this blog is about: The flapping of a butterfly’s wing that unleashed a hurricane. In less dramatic and more ordinary terms, you might say: a swipe to the right that sweapt me off my feet.

This is the story of how I came to learn to fly. Despite my fear of flying.