Somehow swimming was put away for a while while other adventures beckoned. Gliding was great in the ATC but the civilian schools didn't know what to do with a sixteen year old pilot and I never flew solo outside the ATC.
Then at 17, it just took a phone call. An advert at college, a number to ring, and a few weeks later I was flying off hills around Mere in 1977.
Hang Gliding was in its infancy, and looking back at the Rogallo Gliders, the swing seat and the hippies on the hill that taught me to fly, I am surprised to have survived those early flights intact.
The same for parachuting. I always wanted to jump and all it took was a phone call. I still remember every second of that first jump. Kneeling at the open door of the Cessna 152 as it took off, the climb out to 2,500 feet. The engine goes silent and a tap on my shoulder. I edge out of the door, the step above the wheel clearly in focus, the ground just a memory. Left leg first onto the step, arms grabbing the wing strut, right leg outstretched into space. Arch and head back. I am outside a perfectly good aeroplane.....waiting. Then....."GO", I jump.
It was the most beautiful sight in the world, as I looked up to see a fully formed parachute overhead. The contrast of the jump and the peace of flying the parachute to the ground, I was hooked. The first free-fall, the delayed drops and then, then the reserve parachute and the last jump (number 38) that ended them all .
I knew Nicola did not like me doing these things, the children were still babies, I had a career and a family to care for. I shouldn't be throwing myself into the sky.
Somehow dreams seem to lose their way as life takes over. But I wouldn't have had it any other way. The best dream of all came true with Nicola, Ben & Joe.
I still wanted to fly, and ten years later I was paragliding and microlight flying for a few years. I even tried the paramotor for a short season.
I wonder when I might ever fly again, but for now I am compelled to swim.