Parachutes are providedCREATIVECOMMONS

Michaelmas was an exhausting term. So when in week 8 the opportunity arose to try gliding I couldn’t have been happier. What raised my hopes was a picture on the Club’s website with the caption “ever realised you needed another perspective on life?” It was eerily close to what my counsellor had said when I told her I was on the verge of a breakdown. Could this be the solution to all my problems?

Intrigued and excited, I was ready to face the challenge. The Club President offered to give me a lift to Cambourne, where the airfield is located. We spent the drive talking about gliding, and I found out that I was about to get into a mini-plane that worked on naturally rising currents of air. Planes without a carbon footprint? I was already imagining my instructor as an eco-friendly version of Tom Cruise in Top Gun…

At the airfield, I felt like Gulliver in the Lilliput of planes – dozens of tiny gliders were parked nearby. I looked around, half-hoping that Tom Cruise was hiding in a corner. Unsurprisingly, he wasn’t. So I turned my attention to what I was really there for: the gliding experience.I was given a parachute and talked through what was about to happen. I slid into the front seat with my instructor on the seat behind me and tried my best not to throw up with nerves. Next thing I knew, the winch dragged forward the cable attached to the glider, allowing the air currents to get under it. Soon we were in the air.

I was in seventh heaven. The view at 2,000ft was incredible! The instructor let me have a go, but in my enthusiasm, I turned too abruptly and the glider suddenly lurched to the right. He laughed, redressed the course and let me try again. The handle was incredibly sensitive – the tiniest twitch could affect the movement of the glider. I took a few turns, went down a bit and then back up. I couldn’t believe it; I was actually in charge of an aircraft! All these movements were not to the liking of my stomach, so I soon feared that the contents of my lunch might resurface. The instructor took control again and got us safely on the ground.

I couldn’t stop smiling – the euphoria from the adrenaline rush was almost too much to handle. Few things I’ve tried in my life have been so much fun. The life problems and the stress had vanished. I was in love – with the sport.

As first dates go, gliding had had all the right ingredients – excitement, adrenaline, and serotonin. I highly recommend it to anyone who needs a breather from Cambridge. It might be not very lady-like to recommend my love to other people but, dear reader, sharing is caring. So trust me on this one, it will change your life!

If you feel like giving gliding a go, e-mail the University Gliding Club President, Malcolm Morgan, at mem48@cam.ac.uk

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