Taking to the skies with my son at the helm. Awesome.

May 24th, 2019

It’s my first time in a helicopter.  I’ve been in small aircraft before, as a passenger though and never even made it as a guest in the cockpit.  So how awesome to have my first helicopter flight with my son at the controls…

I suppose it should not really have come as a surprise.  Even as a child he was inseparable from Flight Simulator games, landing and crash-landing all kinds of jets and aeroplanes in far flung, exotic locations, albeit in the safety of our living room.  Growing up he joined the Air Cadets and found his wings gliding over the Oxfordshire countryside.  He dreamed of joining the Royal Air Force and cleaving the skies in the whirlwind of Typhoon and Tornedo fighter jets, following in the footsteps of his grandfather who served in the RAF during World War II.  Instead, whilst still at university, my son became hooked on skydiving, his hobby for the last 10 years with well over 1000 jumps and an instructor badge to his name… I suppose it takes only one small step and a lot of courage to move from being in charge of a plane to jumping from its bowels into the surrounding nothingness.  Still, destiny finally caught up with him and this March he gained his PPL: Private Pilot Licence… A helicopter pilot!! 

And as a parent, it is quite rewarding to be able to reap the benefits of his exploits.  A tandem skydive over Stonehenge and the Wiltshire countryside in August 2013, filmed by my son and photographed by one of his friends,

and just a couple of weeks ago, a bird’s eye view of the East Midlands, UK. 

One hazy and sunny morning in late May, my son and I set off to the helicopter centre.   As only the second person he has taken as a passenger on one of his solo trips – girlfriend of course taking priority – I feel quite privileged. The weather looks promising: not too windy, not too cloudy and definitely no rain on the horizon.  Perfect meteorological conditions as a matter of fact!  No choppy adventures in the chopper for me…

I have been given the broad outline of our flight plan and am happy to leave the minutiae up to my son. Finalising the flight plan actually takes quite some time, involves quite a bit of mathematics and calculator wizardry, and definitely some map-reading and geographically expertise… I sit back and marvel. Stumping up for many years of educating the brood has clearly paid off.

Wearing bright yellow high-viz jackets, we cross the tarmac to the dragonfly look-alike helicopter. It seems barely big enough to take the two of us up into the wild grey-cloud yonder…

And whilst I attend to the only task I have been entrusted with – holding the flight map – my son takes care of all the pre-flight checks. It is very reassuring to see that no corners are cut where safety is concerned… There is a lot of pressing buttons, pushing levers, swiping iPad screens, and eventually talking to the control tower in a language completely alien to the uninitiated. Anything involving sequences of numbers and letters would have me lost in an instance. Not so my son who clearly has a knack for retaining such random information…

And off we go… slowly hovering over the airfield before gaining some momentum and height whilst ‘England’s Green and Pleasant Land’ slowly unfolds beneath us: endless verdant pastures flecked with brown stubble fields; garlands of trees and clusters of woodland; rivers lazily meandering; sprawling towns; and ancient castles standing proud on hillocks overlooking the surrounding vales.

Belvoir Castle

Although much of Blake’s England has stood the test of time, other parts have succumbed to the inevitable tide of change… Rather than being enveloped by the Victorian smog and fumes of the ‘Satanic Mills’, we glide over sun-seeking solar farms and lines of powerful wind turbines. We watch Matchbox cars on tarmacked roads below us rather than farmers with their carts and horses on muddy tracks. Towns have kept on expanding. In the midst of a large woodland in Staffordshire, we spy Alton Towers, the UK’s largest theme park full of thrill-filled rides. And of course, the very fact that we are able to glory in it all from a bird’s eye perspective was nothing but a dream in Blake’s England.

Alton Towers

All in all, a two-hour long fantastic experience. Hopefully one that can be repeated in the future to scan different parts of England. Time will tell. Maybe by then I will have figured out how to reduce the reflections in the photographs… A cloudy day perhaps??

12 thoughts on “Taking to the skies with my son at the helm. Awesome.

  1. Alison and Don

    I would love this! I went in helicopters from time to time when I was camp cooking in Canada’s far northwest – so exciting. It must have been amazing having your son as the pilot.
    Alison

    Like

    Reply
    1. lievelee Post author

      Yes, it was exciting, the more so because my son was the pilot. I am sure there will be further helicopter tours in store. I hope so anyway.

      Lieve

      Like

      Reply
  2. CarolCooks2

    Wow, What an experience and who better to have as a pilot..One’s son…Thank you for the follow 🙂 I normally don’t do a follow for a follow ( I read a few posts first) but on this occassion I will as I am so impressed and looking forward to reading some more of your adventures 🙂

    Like

    Reply
    1. lievelee Post author

      Hi Carol, thanks. I too am a little picky about what I follow; I just don’t have the time to read too many blogs but I do keep an eye out for those that entertain me…

      Lieve

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  3. Green Global Trek

    What a wonderful post!! So beautifully written, with humour and terrific storytelling. You sure are a brave family! I am in awe of your son, and whomever it is that is diving out of planes into the air… and all the prep work that goes before flying a helicopter…. Impressive!

    Interesting that your son’s grandfather seems to be guiding him along that airborne trajectory. That ain’t no coincidence.

    You clearly are a very proud moma bear and rightly so!!! Congrats to your son on getting his license!

    Peta

    Like

    Reply
    1. lievelee Post author

      Thank you Peta. Yes, I think there is a bit of adrenaline junkie running though our veins…

      I am also in awe of your writing and will avidly read about your settling into Hoi An with some envy. Short of finding a teaching job there, I think I will have to make do with weekend visits to Hoi An – depending upon where I end up going on my return later this year.

      Lieve

      Like

      Reply
  4. Gilda Baxter

    A Helicopter flight with your son…how cool is that? I must confess that helicopters do scare me a little, although I did go on a flight over the Grand Canyon. I am yet to be convinced again, but your son looks well in command there. A very proud moment for you to share this special moment with him. Nothing like getting a birds eye view of a place, the British countryside from above is just even more gorgeous. Thank you for introducing me to your blog, I linger around for a while 🙂

    Like

    Reply
    1. lievelee Post author

      Hi Gilda, thanks for having a look at my blog. I too was a little nervous about the helicopter flight, but then again life is never risk-free and maybe somewhere hidden inside me is an adrenaline junkie… A bird’s eye view can indeed be very spectacular. I have had the privilege of flying over the Grand Canyon too, but also over the Okavanga Delta in Botswana and the Victoria Waterfalls in Zimbabe.. Incredible views and definitely giving a very different perspective of those awesome places.

      Lieve

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.