Five airborne adventures

Five airborne adventures for your bucket list

I have always been interested in anything to do with personal flight. I think this interest comes from my father. He was fascinated by hang-gliding, and always wanted to take to the air.

For my 16th birthday he bought me a parachute jump, and instead of watching from the ground as most fathers would, he came along and did the jump with me.

Later, after college I had a very brief taste of flight on a very cloudy, windy day in England’s Peak District, when a college friend introduced a few of us to the relatively new sport of paragliding.

Many people think of aerial sports as being prohibitively expensive, but there are some reasonably cost-effective ways of getting in to the air too.

Of course, it’s also possible to spend a fortune on air-based experiences.

Here are a few you might like to consider trying.

1) Paragliding

One of the earliest goals I achieved from my list of 100 was learning to paraglide. My girlfriend Mel’s dad was another father interested in taking to the skies, and had long been a member of his local paragliding club.

Introductions were made, and before long I was enrolled on a beginner’s course.

Here is a video of one of my earlier flights:

Here are details of the school I attended, where I had to learn in French!
Acendance Ecole du Parapente, Gourdon

A quick internet search should uncover your local clubs and schools.

My paragliding blogs:
http://ianusher.com/tag/paragliding

2) Fly a helicopter

I once saw a documentary about British Army trainees learning to fly helicopters. Many of my goals see to come from seeing something on a documentary, and thinking, “I’d like to try that.”

Based on the trouble the young recruits had, controlling a helicopter seemed to be very challenging. I’m someone who does enjoy a challenge, so this was a great goal to add to my list.

When I finally did get my hands on the controls, in the skies above Hawaii, my suspicions were proved to be correct – a helicopter is very tricky to control.

But with some good instruction, and some applied focus I managed to get the thing to go in the direction I wanted, and stay reasonably level.

What a great thrill, and well worth the price of a lesson. Here is a short video from my flight – what an experience.

The school I attended was on The Big Island in Hawaii. An internet search will produce the name of the school nearest to you:

My blogs about my flight:
http://ianusher.com/tag/helicopter

3) Wingwalking

You may have seen this particular aerial activity if you have ever been to an air show. It usually involves an older style biplane, with someone perched precariously on top of the wings.

Well, if you would like to experience a thrill of this kind, it turns out it is relatively easy and not prohibitively expensive to do so. If you are in England these guys can help:
Wingwalk Displays Ltd.

Here’s a video from my flight:

And here are my blogs about the experience:
http://ianusher.com/tag/wingwalk

4) Learn to fly an aeroplane

My friend Marty in Australia introduced me to skydiving. I also discovered he had his Private Pilots Licence. His stories of the freedom of the sky, alone at the controls of an aeroplane inspired me to add the goal of flying solo to my bucket list.

As I was planning to do some lessons I discovered that South Africa was the cheapest place to learn. I had a fortuitous meeting with Instructor Gerhard as I travelled along the south coast from Cape Town, heading eventually for Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe.

I returned later to Port Elizabeth to tackle my flying goal.

It’s very hard to convey in words the thrill of achievement when on your first solo flight the wheels touch down gently on the runway after a successful solo circuit.

Watch my video for a quick glimpse of my slightly worried face as I say, “It’s just me, all on my own!” I’m not sure I should have been filming on my first solo flight – I’m sure my instructor would have had something to say!!

Don’t tell Gerhard at the wonderful Madiba Bay School of Flight

My blogs about my flight:
http://ianusher.com/tag/aeroplane

5) Weightlessness flight

A plane flown on a parabolic flight, which flies upward at a steep angle, then pitches down into a freefall drop, will cause a sensation of weightlessness for the occupants of the plane. This is because the plane and its contents are all falling at the same speed.

This experience is used to train people heading into space who will encounter extended periods of weightlessness.

There are a couple of places which offer weightlessness flights commercially. One is in Russia, and one is in the States. Both are very expensive.

I managed to find a cheaper alternative to experience the same thing in Florida, is a smaller plane. The cost was only $2,000 – a bargain compared to the $12,000 plus price tag of the other options.

Here are a few pictures:

Find out more about how you could try amazing ride-of-a-lifetime here:
Aurora Aerospace

My blogs about my weightlessness experience:
http://ianusher.com/tag/weightlessness

More “fantastic fives”:

There are so many great experiences to enjoy in life.

In celebration of the five-year anniversary of the completion of my “100 goals in 100 weeks” challenge, I have written five blog posts, each containing five ideas for fun-filled adventures or experiences you could add to your own personal bucket list.

Feel free to add your own bucket list suggestions in the comments section below.

Here are the other “fives” posts…
Five fantastic adventures to add to your bucket list
Five fantastic fun-filled festivals
Five Wonders of the World
Five underwater adventures

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