Two kilometres of kevlar rope, a tractor engine attached to a huge wheel, a glider attached to the loose end, and you. You’re part of a catapult and sitting in an aeroplane.

“-ALL– OUT, ALL– OUT-” and with that radio mish’, you are flung up into the air to about 2000ft and the Southern alps appear. If you can ignore your insides that just inverted (if it is your first flight), you begin to take in the magnificent view of the Wairarapa below, and the south island in the distance.

On a good day you fly around like a hawk for 20 or 30 minutes, and about half of that on a bad day. No engine, so you are soaring around while being able to hear yourself breath. Pretty damn novel experience for that alone. I will leave the rest of the experience for you, but I will spoil the landing.

You’re exiting the cockpit and you say to the club treasurer who just got you back to earth safely “So how much will that be?”. Expecting a hit, you pull out a wad. Not necessary. $100 for three flights. Your solo license after 8 hours.

How awesome is that. The last few times i’ve been there, I am the only person there besides from the trainer and winch operator, who presumably have been flying alone all day.

The Wairarapa, folks.

I took Sophia, Christina and Daria up. They all went first so got some nice sun on them and the deck below. I was last so I didn’t have the warmth of the sun but I did get the most magnificent sunset and view of the alps. I pushed the instructor to let us do some tricks, burning glide time but feeling some more G’s. I pulled the stick back, pointing our nose to the stars, kicking the rudder out a bit just before we stalled and fell over with all the grace of a ballerina’s failli. Hurtling towards earth, our speed picked up sufficiently to regain our hawk like, silent, glide over the Gladstone hills.

The experience is well worth it and the gents at the club are brilliant.

Some photos of the day included below, with a link to a video of my flight.

Moments before launch.
Moments before my launch.

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Getting ready to launch
Getting ready to launch
The four of us at Papawai airfield.
The four of us at Papawai airfield.
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Sophia about to take off.
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