Being at my best when it counts

I gasped sharply as the sailplane rose from the ground. A tension shot through my body like a flash of lighting. I saw the sky opening up above my head as the ground vanished from my sight. All I could see were grey, deep hanging clouds. Why had the start taken me by such a surprise? A bare week lay between now and my previous glider flight – and yet it felt just the way it had the first time I climbed into the cockpit.

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Crash landing

I crash landed the plane this weekend. No worries: nobody was injured (except for my pride), the sailplane took no harm and my flying instructor dared to climb into the cockpit once more after the incident. But under many circumstances, this could have been the end of my brief and unsuccessful flying career.┬áSo why wasn’t it? Because someone did everything right in the moments I did everything wrong.

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Head in the clouds

I was lying in bed and I could hear the rain through my open window. A soothing background sound while still half-asleep on an early Sunday and the perfect excuse for a slow morning. Yet, I had no desire to let the day pass by, nestled in my soft warm sheets. I was keen to get to the airfield, back into the cockpit of the ASK21 – but at the moment the weather did not necessarily promise any good gliding conditions.

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Karen, Beryl and me

There will never be an account that will place my name along side Karen Blixen’s and Beryl Markham’s – unless I cheat myself into their ranks. You might think, how impertinent of me if you know of these extraordinary women, I so easily want to link myself to. And yes, you would be right. Neither in achievement or beauty, in talent or intellect, in boldness or bravery I am able to stand up to either of them. But both inspire me immensely – and when it comes to flying, we seem not just to share the feeling of freedom it bestows us with, but also the reason that brought us up to the skies.

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