Flying experience by Pragathi Lakshmi Murthy, Newstead wood school

Pragathi Lakshmi (me) before flying T1 Grob Tutor <i>(Image: Pragathi Murthy)</i>
Pragathi Lakshmi (me) before flying T1 Grob Tutor (Image: Pragathi Murthy)

Flying Experience by Pragathi Lakshmi Murthy, Newstead wood

On the 26th of October I had the best time of my life, I got to fly an aircraft– before even learning to drive a car. What would you think if I told you that you could do it too: that you could glide across the skies completely free and unlimited as you pierce through the clouds at high speeds; experience the zero-gravity effect while doing loop the loops and crazy aerobatics; observe our tiny world from the sky and watch it seem meaningless in the grand scheme of the world? You can get this once in a lifetime opportunity too-as I have explained below.

That early Wednesday morning began early at 4 as I rushed to get ready for the big day ahead. Once our team of 5 was assembled, our coach journey began at around 5am and we set off nervous yet excited, two strange feeling when combined.  We arrived at around 8 (which included a break at McDonalds of course) at the military base in Benson just as the sun began to pop from the horizon scattering wonderful colours across the sky. Once we got there, we began the basic safety protocols and got geared up in our coveralls and air-tight helmets. Finally, after what seemed like forever, I was walked up to my aircraft and seated in to the T1 Grob Tutor, a powered aircraft. At this point I was so excited I couldn’t even feel myself. Once I was safely buckled in, we taxied to the runway and my trainer performed the final safety checks and then the aircraft began to collect speed and smoothly we began to lift off the ground and began our venture through the skies.

Once we were up, I instantly felt this indescribable ecstasy and freedom that I had never felt before. The skies are not like roads, there are no obstructions or too many dangers it was just large areas of plain airspace in a wonderful countryside area from where you could just see big landscapes of all shades of green and tiny little orange specs of houses. Once I was first given control of the aircraft, we soared through the air all the way to Oxford. We were so high up and there were no other humans in sight it was mildly therapeutic and absolutely peaceful. Having control made me feel like I had power of this great aircraft from which even the gigantic world seemed small. Once we reached Oxford, I got some epic pictures (as shown above) from the sky and that’s when we began the real fun. The instructor demonstrated some loop-the-loops, barrel rolls, and other crazy stunts in the sky and then I too got to try them with the controls. It was epic. I got to feel zero-gravity (where I felt no gravity) and more than double-gravity (when you experience more than double the usual gravitational force). The whole ride was absolutely phenomenal and it was a shame when we had to land, but we made it exciting and ended up having a sharp landing to end the ride.

But you are probably still wondering how you can get a chance to do all this crazy cool fun stuff and the answer is simple! Find your nearest air cadets’ squadron and enrol yourself for a place. Not only is cadets a portal to experiences like flying but many more like marksmanship (rifle), drill, radio, music, cyber, first aid, expedition and many more wonderful opportunities. You get many chances to go to various other squadrons around the country and if you are lucky enough you may even get some international trips like the yearly remembrance trip in Ypres or other cool trips around the world and joyous camps – which sometimes have special appearances, like Tom Cruise at this year’s RIAT. But most of all, you get to socialise with a wide variety of people, and collect life-lasting memories through cadets personally, I think that it's an opportunity no one should miss out on. All you have to do is search up the ‘Royal Air Force Air Cadets’ and you will be led to a website where you can enrol to join at a squadron near you!