Flying is something that I have never been totally comfortable with. I think it has something to do with being sealed up in a steel tube and rocketed through the upper atmosphere at well over 300mph.
There is the indisputable reality that I have absolutely no control over my life. Of course having crew members serving food and drinks does help things a little but, if I had a financially practical alternative way to reach the UK or the other side of Canada, I would take it!
Having set the scene for this Post, imagine me now sitting in an open cockpit of a six seater and, of course, I am guided to a front seat! It was not entirely of my own choosing as I was coerced by my daughter (then around 12-13 years old “Can we sit in the front Dad?”). She really wanted to go for a ride but clearly needed either Mum’s or Dad’s company. We did not actually draw straws to determine who went up with her but, if we had done, I would have no doubt got the short one!
We started moving off at a painfully slow speed (speed is a relative term when you want something to be over really quickly!) which simply heightened the expectation of what was to come. Adrenalin was already in full production which really did not help me too much as we made a small turn and then continued on our path at a seeming snail’s pace. Looking down at the ground only confirmed that we were indeed moving slowly and, looking around me only confirmed that, once again, I had no control over my life.
I clearly saw the point ahead from which we would be launched (my perception of what would happen next!). As it came closer and closer I heard talking behind me, but I was not going to turn around at that moment in time as I expected a radical change of speed at any moment. Then it happened!
We accelerated at a rate which caused my eyes to water as I squinted directly ahead and, after a short time, had built up sufficient speed to surely replicate flying directly into a gale coming from the opposite direction! We then suddenly went into a steep climb which quickly changed into a very sharp turn to the right. Within a matter of what seemed like a few seconds, we went into a steep dive twisting slightly to the left which was followed by another much shorter climb and then into another dive.
This was not my most comfortable moment because, while I was resigned to having no control over my immediate future, being thrown forwards, backwards and sideways gave me serious doubts about whether I would have any future.
That last dive took us remarkably close to the ground, at least from my perspective, but before I had chance to worry about it, we were starting a very steep and long climb up to the heavens. Presumably to keep us entertained, and just before we reached “the heavens”, we embarked on another steep dive which suddenly changed to a very high speed climb whilst completing a 180 degree turn!
I was so glad that I hadn’t eaten anything prior to that experience otherwise it could have been really awkward!
I was so disoriented by now that I had no idea where we were relative to anything, or in which direction we were facing. For a few brief seconds, every now and then, the sky was above me and the ground below me, which was how it is supposed to be isn’t it? But then, what did that matter given my circumstances?
After the 180 degree turn, we commenced a relatively slow climb which quickly included banking to the right. A short dive was quickly followed by another “reach for the clouds” kind of climb! Just as quickly, we were once more into a dive to the ground followed by another steep climb which turned slightly left and then we headed once again for the ground. There was one final short climb and then we came down for the final time with very impressive stopping ability. I heaved a sigh of relief. Why would I put myself through such an ordeal? It could be described as a real “roller coaster ride” but then ….. that’s exactly what it was!
Note: This piece was written based on the Leviathon at Canada’s Wonderland (see link below)
For the record, I have only ever been on one roller-coaster (Great Canadian Minebuster at Canada’s Wonderland), and only went on that one because Melanie (daughter) really wanted to ride on it and she needed an adult to accompany her. One of many parental sacrifices!