When Zee + I were talking about The List way last year, he laughed at number 45, and said that he'd much rather FLY a helicopter than just ride around in one. It seemed like a fair call, stepping it up and all that.
So, for his birthday I rather selfishly got him something that would help me with the list - I got us both helicopter lessons.
I won't lie - I white knuckled the chair in front of me while Zee took his turn. 15 minutes of flying, up along the M1 for a bit, and then across to a little field to try the hover challenge. The thing about being in this helicopter was that it was domed - the glass went below the chair, and you could look straight down and see the ground, a few hundred feet below.
When it was my turn my heart was beating a million miles an hour. It was insane - the helicopter was such a bizarre machine. There was so much going on, peddles at your feet to change the way you rotated, the cyclic (basically a massive joystick) that was super sensitive, any slight movement and the helicopter was already going that way before you could register it was, and the collective, a handbrake like stick that controlled the up an down.
Every time we took a turn, my stomach lurched - it was such a bizarre feeling. Being in the air wasn't so bad, though. You had time to react if it was going to fall out of the sky. The hover challenge (keeping the helicopter in one place without moving) was interesting, and much harder than I thought (the pilot said I did a better job than Zee, high five!) and novel all the same.
The worst bit was when I didn't know where to hold. Once the pilot had taken back the controls and had swoooped to male a turn, I panicked when I didn't know where to hold. I grappled at the door before I realised that was a bad idea, and held onto my legs instead. Awkwardly, though I hadn't realised it, I'd OPENED THE DOOR while I was grappling. While we were flying. Miles up in the air.
I got such a fright when the pilot asked me to close it.
Still, I flew a helicopter! Very exciting. Zee even took a video of it:
Flying totally trumps riding in a helicopter. I'm calling this one done. High five!