High Flyer

Well actually, I wasn’t that high at all. I hovered about waist height for a minute at a time. Doesn’t seem like a lot, but it was an age to my old aching back. Twice I rose above twenty feet, in the capable hands of a very handsome Mr Jackson. In fact, all the boys were handsome, in an under thirties sort of way. The boys at the IFly centre all looked as though they had just come from the movie set of an Olympic Gymnasts film, tall, young and lithe, with all the muscles in the right place, trust me, in those flight suits they were wearing there was no way they could hide any indiscretions.
I was talked into doing an indoor skydive, reluctantly I might add, and Mark booked the flights. Now I have no idea why they call them flights, after all no one goes anywhere, apart from around a couple of times and then up and down, or so I thought. I had a vision of my acrobatic prowess shining brightly, diving gracefully around and twisting provocatively to some groovy tunes. I’d show them what this magic Mumma could do. The reality was, we were there for two hours and I spent two one minute sessions trying desperately not to look like a hypo full of hydrogen.
As we approached the centre both our noses began to twitch. There was a very distinct odour in the air. It smelt like the air that comes out of a bouncy castle when it’s been up all weekend. A stale rubbery smell, only this smelt as if the air had been forced through strained day old cabbage. Not something I ever want to smell again.
Was it A) The motorway? B) A sewerage farm we hadn’t seen, nearby? Or C) The stale air being pumped out from the wind tunnel we were about to ride in. I prayed it wasn’t the latter, but as we approached our suspicions grew.
The staff in the reception were wonderful, that was after we tentatively opened the glass door sealed precariously with packing plastic and duct tape. The glass fragments being held in place, just. Someone had a smashing time. (You have to do that joke at least once in a life time, go on smile.) The only thing I could think of was, which one of the employees had just got a new bed, as I noticed the label that said Bents Beds on the plastic sheet.
Mark however was more concerned with why someone had been that upset that they had smashed the glass door in the first place.
A young man, with a big cheesy grin did the meet and greet speak. The type of rhetoric that your mind plays elevator music over because you’ve heard it all before. “Good afternoon,” “are you here for?” “do you have a booking?” “what is your name?” “would you like?”
Mark dealt with the details as we were ushered to two terminals with computer touch screens. All up to date and rather futuristic. “Your medical questionnaire……blah blah finished come over to the desk.”
I began to tap at the screen, and Mark did the same.
“Shit!” Mark stopped tapping and looked up.
“What?” Is the only response you can give, after all you wouldn’t ask, “Sloppy or Log dear?”
“I can’t do this.”
Here we go, was my first thought. He didn’t check, did he, he just went ahead and signed on the dotted line, or in this case ticked the accept the terms and conditions box on the screen, without reading the details.
“Why not?”
Now I don’t know if the young man had an intercom system rigged up for such occasions or had radar for hearing, but he was there at Marks side no sooner had the words left my lips. Maybe he had a super sprung seat that catapulted him and landed him in just the right place, or he may just have been deceptively athletic and vaulted over the counter in a single leap. Whichever, Mark visibly jumped.
“Can I help?”
Mark explained that many years ago, he had injured his shoulder and blah, blah, blah… I’d heard it all before. This young man needed every fine detail of the heroic event that had led to Marks lopsided physique. Which only he notices as he posed in the mirror. I tell him that if he straightened up his left side, they would in fact being level. But you know how men are about their war wounds.
“Oh no, you can’t then, I’m afraid that the strain on your shoulder would be too much and you must have a letter from your GP to say that he thinks you are fit to fly.” The young man was genuinely concerned, and I was ecstatic.
“Never mind Mark, we’ll just have to right it off to experience and you will have to check the fine print in future, now can we get a refund?” I asked, trying to look disappointed.
“You can still fly.” Mark proffered.
The world swallowed me into a fourth dimension. “No I can’t, I can’t, I can’t, not on my own, I just can’t.” But I did.
Mark didn’t get his money back, he got a voucher, for the full value of his flight no less, so they were very good, after the obligatory calling the duty manager over, and no one knowing how to get into the voucher system on line and then the printer not working and the, “We’ll sort it out whilst your wife is having her flight.” Speech.
“Up the stairs to the viewing gallery, Brian will be your instructor and he’ll call you to take you for your induction at 3:15.” The young man told us.
“I began to object, to the receptionist, his female line manager who was now getting very angry and physical with the printer, and to Mark, when Mark grabbed me by the arm and starting taking big strides towards the stairs.”
“I can film it, I’ve got my phone with me, it will be great for Facebook.” Marks enthusiasm was not welcomed.
I’m not adverse to boasting about my exploits but I do try to keep images of my prodigious figure away from a camera, so the thought of this ample bosom floating around in mid-air and shown to the world made me more nervous than the thought of actually flying. What had I got myself into?
We ordered a coffee from the café in the viewing gallery, it was an exceedingly nice cup of coffee, served by an Eastern European blonde bombshell. Mark stood in his full 6ft 4inch body, chest out, full shoulders back pose. I must admit he is impressive, but it wasn’t me he was trying to impress. I was about to go to my doom, leaving him here with this immaculately groomed young lady. Visions of her clutching him to her chest comforting him as I was taken away to the morgue came to mind. I suggested we sat at the furthest table from the counter. I never did get a chance to finish my coffee, for as soon as I sat, we were called to the room of rules.
I’ll skip the induction process. The boring film droned on for at least twenty minutes although the clock stated that only five had passed. We then had a lecture on hand signals. Thumbs up, thumbs down, bent fingers, straight fingers, wobbling of hands with pokee out fingers. It was all too much to take in. Thumbs down was the only one I was interested in, that meant, I’ve had enough, get me out of here.
Then there was the suit fitting. I love this bit wherever I go.
“No that won’t fit me.”
“Nuha, not a chance.”
“Are you kidding.”
I was beginning to think I would have been better off bring my bike leathers.
We settled on a squeeze’em in, squash’em down fit. Fine around the hips and waist but more than cosy over the chest area. Oh, I do suffer when I decide to do these stupid things. Hang on, it wasn’t my choice, it was… And, where was he? Through the glass, I could see him, standing there chatting and laughing with the blonde bombshell. Oh, and I was having so much fun, not.
Through the first set of glass doors into the pressurised chamber, ears popping. Inside the very unflattering helmet and tight flight suit, it could have been anyone, how my husband recognised me, I still don’t know. We watched Brian and a colleague do an awesome routine of aeronautical acrobatics as the realisation of what was about to hit me sunk in.
Well actually, it wasn’t as you would expect. I wasn’t scared, nor excited, in fact I was bored, I was beginning to wonder what all the fuss was about. Sitting waiting in line to be helped into the flight tube, or whatever it was called I watched one child and three women struggle to relax, one by one, as that had their minute of thrill time. This was going to be a piece of cake.
Confidently striding forward as my turn arrived, I lifted my arms fell into the stream of air and floated upwards. I was doing well, up I went.
Brian tugged me back down, then around, then started waving his arms around, with funny bent fingers. I swear there is a class out there that teaches teachers and instructors how to make people who are relaxed into nervous wrecks when they are doing things.
Hips forward, legs bent, not that far. This was all done with hand signals, I wish I’d paid more attention. What the hell is he doing, what does that mean? It’s only supposed to be a minute, when is it over? I’m getting confused, thumbs down, thumbs down, where the bloody hell are my thumbs? Oh no, that’s the glass, smile, smile, smile, you’re going to have your picture taken, ready steady, shit that was the wall.
And out. My legs where there somewhere if they weren’t I have no idea what was holding me up. I looked as though I had enjoyed it, felt ok, and as I shuffled forward in line for my second flight I realised that this time we were going to be taken thirty feet up by the instructor.
It seems I had done alright, better than most and Brian was willing to let me get in by myself and fly solo. That’s when the fun started, I felt like one of those balls on a football table that flew around aimlessly hitting the sides. Finally, Brian gave up and held onto legs and the little handle on the back of the suit. I’d seen him do this with others and it came as no surprise. What was a surprise, was the sudden increase in pressure as we spiralled upwards? I am now the most grateful woman on Earth to the inventor of Tena ladies, extra padding was definitely needed.
I left having succeeded in something that Mark hadn’t done, and felt rather proud of myself.
Would I do it again?
Not bloody likely.
Was I scared?
Was it that bad?
No not really.
Then why not?
Because I won’t be that stupid to pay that amount of money to float around in a stinky pressurised oversized test-tube over two industrial fans, only separated by a springy mesh of grating a second time.
What about the voucher?
Oh that’s Ok, we are giving it to someone as a present, maybe they will get more fun out of it. As for me, I’ll stick to my motorbikes and horses.

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