A very long time ago I wrote a list of lifetime ambitions, one of which was to try every form of flying. I incorporated some of these into my 30 Before 30 list, including flying a vintage biplane, adding a new rating to my pilot’s licence, and flying a microlight, and this week I fulfilled the latter of these as I took to the skies in a flexwing microlight with our airfield next door neighbour James McCafferty, owner of the ingeniously named Microflights microlight flying school.
After a briefing from James, the first thing I had to do was to get dressed up in a warm flying suit. You can’t really get more ‘open cockpit’ than a microlight, so wrapping up warm is essential, even on a summer’s afternoon!
Suitably kitted out, we went out to the microlight. I like this picture because we look a bit like astronauts! All these pics were kindly taken by Lee by the way.
Mandatory photo with the microlight! My friend Pete pointed out on Facebook that I look like a Tellytubby. He has a point.
James explained which bits of the microlight not to touch in flight and how to get in…
…and then it was time for me to clamber aboard.
Strapped in and ready to go!
Taxiing to the runway with a nice sheepy backdrop.
Airborne! I was amazed at how quickly we got off the ground – even with two of us on board, the take-off run was much shorter than in our aircraft.
I have to admit, the feeling of being that open in the air – with no real cockpit – was a bit alarming at first, although I enjoyed the exhilaration of it! It was a little scary to look down, as there was very little separating me from a 1,500ft drop!
I was struck by how much more physical flying a microlight is than the aircraft I’m used to. Obviously it works by weight-shift, so you pretty much use all your upper body to move the wing from side to side. I didn’t have a go this time as it was very thermic, which makes for rather tricky conditions (even more so in a microlight than in our aircraft, as the microlight is so much lighter) – I was quite happy to sit back, admire the views and look out for hazards such as other aircraft!
The next few pics were taken with our GoPro, which we mounted on the aircraft. As you can see from all my smiles, I’m having a great time!
Coming in to land, I was amazed at how high our approach was compared to what the approach looks like in our aircraft. I thought we’d never get down to the runway from that height, but of course we did.
Safely on the ground!
Out of the aircraft, and I still appear to be all smiles!
It was a relief to open that warm flying suit once we were back on the ground!
It was a great experience and very different to any other flying I’ve done! You can watch a video of highlights of my flight and get a better idea of what it was like in the air by clicking the play button below. How happy do I look throughout the whole flight?! :)