Microlighting

As mentioned before (see ‘Convergence‘), I booked myself a flying lesson in a microlight. This Thursday, the 4th of October, it all went ahead, having been postponed from the Tuesday due to gusty winds.

Above is a picture of me in the microlight just before take-off.

The lesson itself was very similar to the lesson I had in the Cessna at Lydd Airport almost exactly two years ago. The take-off was a bit bumpy, and again I went a little light-headed in the turbulence, but this time I found that I settled down and relaxed more as the flight went on. This could be down to the microlighting lesson being an hour compared to the 30 minutes I had in the Cessna. However, I am deriving a certain amount of encouragement from it as it makes me think that continued lessons might see this tension disappear in much the same way as the nerves that were present in my early driving lessons are now a distant memory.

I also found the controls a lot easier to handle during the period in which I was in sole control, and the limited number of instruments also made things clearer and easier to follow. Compare the two photos below, and you’ll see what I mean.

The Thruster microlight cockpit

Cessna 152 cockpit

The view was much better in the microlight too, and made for a slightly more enjoyable experience in that respect. At one point, we could see as far as Canary Wharf from 2,500 feet up in the Essex sky.

The main problem I had with this lesson was knowing whether or not the bumpy ride we had at times was due to the gusty breeze or my clumsy efforts with the controls. I was reassured that it was more likely to be the former, but I retain a lingering suspicion that the instructor was giving me the benefit of the doubt.

I think I will have another couple of lessons before making up my mind whether or not to pursue this seriously. It’s much cheaper than learning to fly a light aircraft, but then “much cheaper” is shorthand for £3,000 to learn rather than £10,000, so it is still a considerable amount of money to spend.

Convergence

If you’ve read my ‘To-do list’, the post I made about my New Year’s resolutions, and possibly even the post about quitting football, there are several things I’d like to do in the future. I’d like to learn to fly and I’m looking for some sort of physical activity to replace the football I have played on and off for about sixteen years. I would also like to lose a bit of weight and get fitter, having ‘filled out’ when I was seventeen and only dropped below thirteen-and-a-half stone once when I had mumps in 2005, when I lost over twenty pounds in ten days.

My problem is motivation. I really want to go for a run, and I will, just as soon as I finish this biscuit. Oh no, hang on, you shouldn’t exercise immediately after eating, so I guess I’ll have to go later.

It’s also no secret that I’m pretty frustrated with work, mainly due to the fact that the pay isn’t the best, which pretty much ruled out learning to fly any time soon. That was, until I stumbled across the idea of flying a microlight.

And then, in one of those strange, coincidental moments, everything converged to hopefully kill all three birds with one stone.

Emma and I were visiting North Weald airfield on Sunday for one of their airshow-type days, and saw that a company called Saxon Microlights were present and chatting to people about learning to fly a microlight. After a prolonged conversation about the joys of flying these aircraft, I started discussing the prospect of booking a lesson. I suggested some time at the beginning of October, and the instructor said “Of course, you’re less than fourteen stone…”, to which I replied, “Well…. give or take…” only for her to rejoin: “You will be”, and promptly weigh me. I weighed in at 91.2kg, and she set me the target of 90kg before my lesson. And now, I have the motivation, an achievable target and a plausible method which should all combine to help me achieve all three of the targets I have set myself over the last nine months.