Flying

After a brief existential crisis last week, relating to questions about what direction my life was headed, why where I live is sometimes so much like an retirement home (someone said this to me recently and it really connected with how I was feeling at that time) and various other things I’m not prepared to share with the whole world yet, I was all but ready to give up on life here, move back to the UK and find a ‘real job’.

After a very strange day with many pieces of paper, a black marker pen and a room that ended up looking much like the projection room Howard Hughes locked himself into in ‘The Aviator’. I finally came to the conclusion that, although sometimes boring and often difficult, life is better here. Also, I’ve been looking at the psychological concept of re-framing things and I now realise that this coming year is actually full of possibility.

So in the two spare remaining weeks of summer that I have, I drew up a little list of stuff that I wanted to do which I may or may not share with you over the next weeks or so.

List item number 1. Fly like a bird.

So I can’t actually fly, I don’t have feathers and I have a very real and physical fear of heights. I do however, have on my doorstep here a couple of places where in exchange for money, you can strap yourself to a guy and jump off the side of a mountain with a parapente attached.  I booked myself in with ESI pro flying in Chatel, with a guy I know called Christophe. I think with this kind of thing and my fear of flying/heights it was good to do this with someone you know and trust.

After a trip up a couple of lifts to the top of the Morclan lift in Chatel at 1970m (you can see Mont Blanc, Dents du Midi, Dents Blanche, even the Eiger from up there) we walked over to the communications equipment on top of the hill and Christophe set up everything with no fuss.  Before i knew it and with no time to dwell on my fears, I was strapped in and we were running down the hill before the chute lifted us up and I settled into the seat.

Immediately we started going up on a thermal that we picked up just along the ridge line that goes down towards the La Chapelle ski area and just went up and up and up. It seemed windy but Christophe just said that this was the effect of the wind coming against us as we moved through the air.

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Up and up we went, you could feel the movement of the wind acting on us and bumping us gently from side to side, like waves in the ocean and as I started to relax, it was amazing to get an aerial view of Chatel, the Abondance valley, Morgins and further afield, like being a soaring eagle. I saw the sites and routes for the new lifts going in at Lac de Vonnes and all of the new pistes the commune are making for the new link between Super Chatel and Linga.

I’m pretty sure I was a terrible passenger for Christophe as every time there was a little sideways movement or slight drop in pressure to the wing, making for a slight falling motion, I would tense up again and make scared noises! I’m the same in an aeroplane so it’s not his fault 🙂

After a while and as we got closer to the ground, I became more and more relaxed and started to really enjoy myself and noticed that my good friend Neil had stopped to take some photos of me, the ones you see are his.

After seeing just how maneuverable the wing was on the way into land, we were soon down with a precise landing that was just like stepping off a bus. Incredible.

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It took me about 7 hours for my hands to stop shaking and I’m not sure that I would be ever able to do it again but if you don’t have the same fears and hang ups that I do, it’s something I would recommend to anyone. It’s magical.

Thank you so much to Christophe at ESI Pro Flying in Chatel for taking me and being so patient with me.

Next stop on my list.  Saas Fee for some Glacier skiing tomorrow morning.

-x-