For my 40th birthday I received a voucher for a one hour flying lesson with Wexford Flying Club. Initially I was nervous; there were so many stories in the news around that time about small aircraft crashing. It put me right off, in fact, I did’t book my lesson for over a year.
I finally plucked up the courage and set a date (October, 2016). The leaves were falling off the trees, the shadows were stretching across the landscape, and the small aircraft flying season was coming to a close. I really wanted to get some good pictures and booked an afternoon appointment hoping for some dramatic lighting.
The airfield turned out to be exactly that: a green field somewhere near Taghmon, Wexford, and upon arrival I saw a small airplane coming in to land – on its one wheel. A few beads of sweat trickled down my back.
I was greeted at the Office/Control Tower, by Kay, who was very nice and put some of my fears at ease. Inside the Centre, Peter Tawse (the pilot) went through the basic workings of the plane (D-KIAH SF25C) with me using a scale model. It was a lot of information to take in, and my brain was almost fried by the end of the pre-flight session. I wondered if I would remember anything once up in the air.
As a teenager I spent some time playing flight simulators (Apache Gunship, F15 Strike Eagle, F16 Combat Pilot) on the trusty Commodore Amiga, and had a ‘basic knowledge’ of flying, but this was different, now it was for real: No ejector seat options today.
My heart quickened when Peter said he will be turning off the engine mid-flight, and that we would be gliding, and landing, with the engine turned off. There was no turning back now. Only the day before I was watching some majestic Buzzards soaring high on the thermals, watching them through a pair of binoculars way up in the sky, so high that they were barely visible to the naked eye. I always wanted to fly like a bird, and now here was my chance. The opportunity to soar.
Once we were up in the air, it was only a few minutes before Peter handed over the controls to me. The plane was beautiful to fly, the controls only needing small adjustments to make noticeable changes in pitch, roll, banking. The hour up in the sky flew by so fast. It was totally amazing. Far more enjoyable than any flight with Ryanair, or Aer Lingus.
I meant to take more photos but I was so immersed in the whole experience that I forgot, which is fine, because the memories are now ingrained in my being, and not buried somewhere on a memory card or hard drive.
Our flight took in the following areas: South East coast from Cullenstown to Saltee Islands, to Carne, Rosslare, and Ravens Wood. Then across the Slaney River, Wexford Town, Forth Mountain, and back over towards The Airfield at Ardenagh, near Taghmon, Wexford. We touched down shortly before sunset, and the light was amazing.
I think the highlight was when Peter switched off the engine and we removed our headsets. It was just us and the plane, up in the clouds, and the sound of the wind. I stuck my hand out of the small sliding window and shifted it as a bird would its wings, feeling how it would be to really fly. That didn’t last long as the air temperature was pretty cold at 4000ft. As we soared through the air, and the fluffy clouds, there was little or no sound, other than the tiny air gaps in the cockpit canopy. Finally, I was flying like a bird.
Our Carriage awaits.
Wexford Town, River Slaney, and surroundings.
Ravens Wood, and the ever shifting sandbanks of the Slaney Estuary.
Slaney Estuary, Rosslare Strand, and Harbour.
Kilmore Quay, Forlorn Point, and surroundings.
Looking SW towards Hook Lighthouse, and beyond.
Keeragh Islands, Cullenstown, and Burrow in foreground.