So there was I. Sitting, half-lying.
was great. The sun
was about to set
. The wind
had died down. Turbulence
was nearly non-existent. Still enough light
you know where
not the kind to get a rise
there, this... it's just a kind of dare
The previous evening
had laid the groundwork
. The insect
s had been romping around in my gut
s then, too. But I hadn't had much warning
had just plunged me into it. Silly me. Should have seen it coming.
I'd had my fair share
already, so I thought... Well, I didn't think actually. So it was unexpected
when it did happen
. Luckily I satisfied
her. Which gave me a great feeling. Strange... or maybe not.
Now I was alone
. Loving and dread
ing it simultaneously. In fact, I was scared shitless, but anticipating
I was going to get. Which, knowing the tamed down weather, was not going to last long
Last long... Last long... The previous one had lasted long. A bit too long for inexperienced
me. But I'd had support
that time. Managed not to completely fuck up, either. Otherwise I wouldn't be facing the prospect
of roughly seven minute
s of solitude now.
I have a tendency to shiver uncontrollably in some situations. One of those is when my brother has a gig with his band, for some strange reason. The other I know about is when I'm about to kiss the girl I love for the first time. But that's a different first time, and a different node. Or non-node. That's none of your business...
Well, I found another instance of uncontrolled shivering while half-reclining
there in northern France
. And this was just not the time to start shivering...
I got hooked up
by my friend
not long before thumbs-up
roughly eight minutes till the end
And then, everything blur
red with the concentration
d upon myself. Not the time to fuck up
. Not the time to think ahead
to rough landing
. Not the time, but for the checklist
Yes, the check
. Look outside to see the instructor kneel
ing next to the cockpit
. Questioning look
on the face
." I say. Single-seater
is small blue
. God, I'm going to go small blue for the first time! Suddenly I'm back at shivering again.
"OPEN!" I hear. Automatically I reach for the yellow knob
and pull it all the way out.
, then, "CLOSE!". I release the knob and it springs back. Click... Hooked up.
I look around. Left, right, in front, up, and all around. All clear
, I guess.
I look left to where the instructor is wait
Bring my left hand up...
make a fist...
left hand breaks the gesture as the tip of the left wing of the glider is picked up...
Right hand moves to the stick...
and grabs the yellow knob...
focus on the coil, the slack of rope
that is my mission
soft landing, I hope
After a short moment I shift my attention
to the beast park
ed about a mile
away, straight ahead. Then, when I discern
yellow light, back to the coil of rope lying in front.
Then, a jerk
. And again nothing... Until, suddenly, with a second jerk, the coil of rope begins to shrink
into the distance ahead. Shivering is impossible
with white knuckles
. But a heart
s into your throat
is not so easily pushed back in place again. Especially if both your hands are otherwise occupied
The coil is gone
. The rope is taut
. The glider nudge
s a bit forwards
. "TAUT!", I hear the instructor yell
on the truck
a mile away is familiar
and I can see it in my minds eye
at the controls, notice
s a shift from flashing headlight
s to continuous
light. Slowly presses down the accelerator
until the full power
of the big V-8 engine
is brought down on the spool wrap
ped with steel cabling
. Steel cabling with a glider attached to the end of it...
Ok, so here goes... The glider starts to roll and when the instructor can't keep up, the wings are free
. I'm free. But not quite. The glider rolls a bit farther on the ground
, until speed
has built up.
Then, I'm free. Pull, you have to pull!
That's what my friends told me. Different glider, different behaviour
. This one want
s you to pull. So after I'm airborne
I slowly and steadily bring back the stick. And feel the power of the V-8 haul
ing this glider up into the air
Not much to see at this stage
... The glider is point
ing up at an angle
of about 45 degrees
, so the view
ahead is of the heaven
s. Left and right I see the ground steadily dropping away. When I sense the altitude to be about 100 metres, I say "hundred metre
s" out loud
there to hear
me, but protocol
is protocol. And it is reassuring
to do this like all the previous time
s I've done it.
Only, this is not
of the previous times I've done it
time, I'm alone
Not much time yet to enjoy
. Still have to finish
The glider is at an altitude of about 300 meters, now. Not very satisfy
ing, but that's what you get with tame
I feel the decrease
in pull from the V-8 and initiate
I'm free. Adjust
the airspeed to about 90 kilometres
. Slow left turn, stick left and the tiniest bit back, left foot down, wait for the glider to roll
to the left, then, stick back to left of neutral, left foot a bit up.
Satisfied with the new heading
, so level out by pressing the stick right and pulling a bit back, right foot down, wait for the roll, then, just before the glider is level again, stick neutral, feet neutral.
Quick check of height
. Damn. 250 metres. Time to go on circuit
That's another story.
North of France, spring 2000