Channeling the Red Baron
During my everyday Wall Street-workaholic life, I stare at spreadsheets and presentations on a computer screen for 12 or more hours a day. So when I worked with Trufflepig to plan my trip to New Zealand, I was definitely looking for a new challenge, and a change of scenery. I figured I would be staring down the bowl of a wineglass for a good portion of the trip. I counted on gawking out of the windshield of a car, taking in gorgeous views from winding roads and valleys. I couldn’t wait to hike up those famous Lord of the Rings mountains and look through the lens of my intimidating new camera at the rolling countryside and vineyards. But I hadn’t counted on also being able to take in those views from the cockpit of a bi-plane with the control stick in my hands and nothing but goggles and a seatbelt separating me from the free, whooshing air.
I should also say that when I’m not sitting at a desk in front of my computer, my work entails flying on planes. A lot. I’ve sat in the big seats, in the bad seats, and pretty much every seat in between. In my free time, I’ve even jumped out of a plane. From skydiving to parasailing to hang-gliding, I’ve done my best to jump (literally and figuratively) out of a traditional mould, conquer my fears and brave the skies. But despite all that time in the air, I never truly had an appreciation for how nimble and responsive a plane can be, and the true, wondrous miracle of flight, until I met Vincent and Alison D’Ath at U-Fly Extreme in Motueka, New Zealand.
After you’ve stepped into their nifty navy jumpsuit, you sit down with Vincent for a nice little chat where he takes a rather darling little wooden model of a plane (like as if Pinocchio had a plane, it would be this one) and demonstrates what the flight will be like. Plane goes up, plane flies around, let’s enjoy the view, how charming…then plane flies upside-down…hmm, okay, that’s interesting…plane starts barrel rolling…doing figure-8’s…barrel-rolling while doing figure-8’s…straight up, and then a free-fall straight down! And during most of these manoeuvres I will be the one doing the steering, rolling and diving with the control stick! I must say that although I saw him go through all the motions, I didn’t quite believe what he was saying. But before long I was snugly strapped into the cockpit, Vincent’s petite wife Alison is pushing their jauntily-painted Pitts Special plane around (I should be concerned that this plane is light enough for a small woman to push out of the hangar, shouldn’t I, the thought occurs to me, belatedly), the propeller started turning and we were up in the air. And so began the craziest, most exhilarating, most astonishing experience of my life. See for yourselves. Snoopy, eat my dust!
Amy is a Wall Street professional by trade but a Trufflepig travel addict and part-time adrenaline enthusiast by heart. Flying a bi-plane was the craziest thing she’s ever done…and she can’t wait to find out what else will beat it, or at least come close.