"Über den Wolken..."
There's this famous German song that translates into "Above the clouds freedom must know no boundaries". And yes, being up in the air is one of the most exciting things ever. I've always enjoyed plane rides no matter if on big commercial Boeings, rusty old Antonovs or shaky Wilgas. Among the aircrafts I've been wanting to go on for ages are helicopters and gliders. The first is still on the list - but thanks to the Whangarei Gliding Club one of my wishes has just come true.
My host dad's father happens to be the president of the club and has told me for months to just come around on a nice weekend and someone would give me "a lift" up into the air. Never been able to make it but the last few days Matt and I were house- and dog-sitting for Philip's brother and his family so we were just around the corner. Then Sunday was finally the day of days =D
One of the club members, Alex, has been flying for over 20 years and agreed to take me for a ride in his two-seater. I was a bit scared, I admit, but mostly excited. As a sports journalist in Germany I had been writing about a major gliding competition for years and watched heaps of them going up and coming back down. But actually sitting in one and getting ready for take-off... let's say I had a few butterflies in my tummy.
After all the checks had been done and everything was set there was no turning back. Within seconds the glider started moving and we went upwards. MAN THAT WAS SCARY!!!! Worse than on any rollercoaster I've ever been on! After only 20 meters or so the glider's nose went steeply skywards. I was screaming all the way and thought I was getting sick. But that feeling didn't last long at all. Once we were actually up there and level all I could think was "How beautiful!".
Alex explained a lot to me, told me what we were seeing - we had free view all the way to the Bay of Islands! He even offered me to take over and fly but I thankfully declined. I was happy enough just enjoying the view and taking pictures. Unfortunately the weather circumstances weren't too good that day so after about 15mins it was time to head back down to the airfield.
Once again I was a bit scared thinking "Surely landing will be even worse than goin up" - but nope, nothing, As Alex had said before to calm me down: "It is just an easy glide." And it was. Before I realized we were back on the ground. What an adventure :-) I've just finished uploading my pictures on Facebook. If you wanna have a look, click here :-) Matt also took some videos which I'm hoping to share with you soon.