The 4th of August 2014, a day that started pretty much like any other, except my alarm was set rather early. Today, something different was happening, something exciting. I hadn’t slept much that night and as my alarm sounded, I was already awake and wondering with some excitement, how I might feel as I lay down at the end of the day.
What was happening was my first flying lesson. Something that had been a long time coming; 25 years in fact. One of my earliest memories was that of going to collect my grandmother from the airport as she made the short hop over the North Sea from The Netherlands to visit. This was always exciting, but coupled with the fact that my dad and I used to arrive an hour early so we could watch the planes made this the highlight of the year and the beginning of my dream to fly, a dream that instead of getting closer and as I got older, seemed to somehow get further and further away. You see, as someone who uses a wheelchair, I feel that sometimes, everything is just that little bit harder, takes that little bit more effort and sometimes, because of that, when you achieve something, it’s all the sweeter.
Learning to fly, was something I came to realise wasn’t for disabled people, it was for people whose legs worked properly, who could just jump in and out of an aircraft with no problem and who made it seem like it was impossible for “people like me” to emulate.
All that changed one day, when Freedom in the Air came along, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing! They were enabling anyone to fly! Maybe I could give it a go, so sure enough, as the 4th of August and, my 25th birthday approached, I was offered the chance to bring a dream I had long since left behind alive.
The feeling as I made my way to the aircraft, my aircraft was indescribable, I was introduced to the cockpit and made comfortable by my instructor Ivan (who is the Chief Instructor and Owner of Flight Training London – who work with Freedom in the Air) and then, we were away. On our way to the runway. The best bit, the wheelchair had been left behind and as I increased the power to that engine and rotated towards the sky, the plane becoming almost an extension of myself, I felt something I had never truly felt before. I can only describe it as a sort of freedom I had never truly felt. Coupled with the sense of responsibility to try and fly the aircraft to the letter of instruction given, I think the feeling of flight is just incredible. Something I never really thought I would ever have the chance to do. #YouHaveControl
If you ever feel as if something isn’t open to you, don’t do what I did and forget about it. Ask why not, ask how you can make it open to you, ask the people around you if they know a way for you to achieve your dream, the chances are someone out there will and if not, then its time to think outside the box and figure out how you can do what you want to do yourself!
As for flying and me, have I caught the flying bug? You bet! I’m well and truly addicted, now when can I next get up into the sky and not just look up at it?