So today was field day at school. Normally this means a fun day out of school, mucking around with friends and eating a ton of junk food whilst doing an activity the teachers have just about managed to pass off as ‘educational’. The awesomeness of these field days seems to increase as you get older, from treks on the moor and historic walks around the city centre in year seven, to visiting the local zoo in year eight, and then shopping, boat trips, a tour of the Millenium Stadium and the local castle in year 9. Today was pretty much the same, except the activity? Well, that was only flying. Like, with ACTUAL PLANES. Standard, eh?
Yeah, no. Exciting much?!? So why exactly did I get to LEGITIMATELY FLY A PLANE?
Well, the health and safety officer had already lost his job so decided it was safe enough. Nah, I joke. I’m (along with almost all my best friends) have chose the RAF as my ‘Friday afternoon activity’ – we either have to do Duke of Edinburgh or Combined Cadet Force, within which you can choose between the Army, Navy or RAF. Naturally, because I love planes we were given sweets and made pancakes on our trial rotation, I chose the RAF. Therefore, weather-dependent, I was lucky enough to get a place to go flying at an RAF base near Bath today. Flying was, let it be said, amazing, despite the fact we spent most of the time sat in a lounge room, hanging around. I’ve put together a few of my tips* for those of you soon to embark on your first ever flight…
1. Get picked to fly first. This ensures the maximum freaking out, as you have nobody else’s experiences to base your anticipation off of. You will also get grumpy RAF officers wondering why you decided to go flying when you only got your ears pierced a few weeks ago and therefore can’t take them out, despite them qualifying as FOD (Foreign Object Debris). Spoilers: nobody told me. However, on the upside, you won’t have anyone’s horror stories preying on your mind as you prepare to climb into the cockpit – throwing up (or should I say down) during the loop-the-loop, anybody?
2. Forget how to count seconds when demonstrating you can operate the parachute. IT’S NOT MY FAULT, OKAY?!? The boy who did the first demo counted ‘one pasty, two pasties, three pasties’. I then forgot all other ways of counting seconds, and promptly followed his lead. Whoops.
3. Do exactly what they tell you not to. “Don’t nod when you feel the pressure of the helmet, just say stop.” they said. What did I do? Naturally, I nodded, then went “oops!” and said ‘stop’. Followed the instructions to the letter, methinks!
4. Desperately try and think of something to talk to the pilot about. “They don’t want silent, sullen passengers” the teachers said. “Talk to them,” the teachers said. Sat in silence before latching onto the questions asked of me like a rat desperately trying to stay on the sinking ship, I did.
5. Don’t whack your head hard on the school field the day before. It was house athletics the day before, and luckily for me (not!), during the shuttle relay everyone takes part in, one of the (more horrible) boys hammered straight into me at full speed, knocking me clean off my feet and thumping onto the floor, and causing me to whack my head on the ground pretty hard. Ouch. I don’t know if it was an accident or not (I flipping well hope it was, but you can never tell with this particular boy), but it meant I woke up this morning with a headache, but luckily it cleared in time for me to be ‘fit to fly’. On a similar note, it is highly advisable that you become massively incompetent at discerning the difference between a headcold and a normal nose, and therefore freak that you won’t be allowed to fly. Hey, so long as you can still pop your ears (I ended up constantly checking this even when I had my helmet on and was waiting to be called out, I was so paranoid) and can pass it off as hayfever, you’ll be fine. Honest.
So, that’s my quick rundown on How To (Successfully) Fly A Plane For The First Time Without (Completely) Freaking Out. Not too complicated really. In terms of the actual flying, it was awesome! Although I didn’t get to do aerobatics like some of the others (hopefully next time), I also didn’t throw up (*ahem* best friend ;)…), and got to fly the plane, ON MY OWN, forward, up and down, and do left and right terms. SO. MUCH. FUN. I have to say, the whole how-to-use-a-parachute stuff was seriously scary, and the stuff my pilot said about if there was an unsuccessful takeoff, jump out and run 20 metres away and don’t worry about him because I was more important (ahh, thanks, I knew there was something special about me) was rather unnerving. Once we were up there, though, I had a lot more faith in the little Grob Tutor and its ability to stay up in the air – the fact the pilot I was with apparently hadn’t had to jump in 30 years of flying was also rather reassuring. Being first up also had the advantage of being able to give my borrowed jumpsuit and gloves back (with accompanying sick bag) back fairly early on, and getting my physics homework and some reading (as well as utterly compulsory Family Guy and Come Dine With Me viewing) done. I also have another lovely certificate for the fridge! Haha.
*N.B. I am not a qualified pilot (although apparently I did very well and flew ‘smoothly’ *grins smugly*, so I highly recommend you do not follow any of this advice. But hey, if I flew smoothly then I must be doing something right!
Have you ever been flying, or do you have the opportunity coming up soon? Would you like to be able to fly? Have you got any questions about the whole flying experience you want me to answer? I would love you to ask/reply in the comments! 🙂 PS: You can still sign up (entirely anonymously) to mine and Emily’s #BlogOlympics here or here, with the chance to win prizes including a special edition of Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl + Rainbow Rowell buttons, a book from Cathy Cassidy (!) and a selection of uncorrected proofs from Chicken House Books – plus a whole lot more! So go sign up! 😉 Also, check out this post about my BRAND NEW collaborative blog focusing on feminism and other current issues, or just check the blog itself out HERE!