Not for the fun of it

Back on the airfield after eight long weeks of business trips, seminars, holidays and bad weather. And of course, things did not work out perfectly – but that was going to be the smallest concern after today’s flying day.

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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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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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A hesitant return

Conferences, meetings, studies, holidays and the simple need for a calm weekend at home had kept me away from the airfield since the season started in April. It was end of May now and I had not set foot on the green field again after serving my winter working hours. There was this half-hearted attempt in mid-May, after too little sleep and too much good wine, but my train was delayed by almost an hour. A sign, I thought. So half relieved and half with a bad conscience I went home again.

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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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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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