I conquered the skies by bravely flying my very own V2 helicopter — OK, so the editor made me do it.
Recently my editor received an invitation to undertake a trial instructional flight (TIF) in a helicopter from the guys and girls at V2 Helicopters.
Being aware of my intense fear of flying, my editor thought this would the ideal opportunity to punish me for my often late copy (copy deadline + stories not submitted on time = cranky editor who is a stickler for meeting deadlines). Without consulting me, she immediately jumped at this invitation and informed the V2 management that I would be delighted to accept.
Despite my very loud vocal protest, she said ‘I’ve accepted the gig, your name’s on the manifest and you’re going’. I muttered some curse words under my breath; she said ‘I heard that’ and that her decision was final.
Well, the day of reckoning dawned, a perfect May Day in Brisbane — not a cloud in the sky, a bit of a strong breeze, and I thought to myself, this could be fun (I’m lying, but one does one’s best to convince oneself that life will be long and enjoyable).
I arrived at my destination — V2 Helicopters, QANTAS Drive, Archerfield Airport — having reinforced with the inner Max that these guys are professionals and know what they are doing.
The receptionist greeted me and I could sense her thinking what sort of a right Wally have we got here? I didn’t think my initial request to check the pilot’s qualifications was that stupid.
They skipped the waiting room (fearing I would bolt) and ushered me straight into the briefing room. My pilot / instructor Mark arrived and after introducing himself, the first words out of his mouth were: “Do you really want to go flying today? it’s gusting 15 to 30 knots outside.” I replied “is that bad?” and Mark responded “only if you are not a seasoned flyer”.
With my editor’s last words ringing loudly in my ears — “if you don’t do this story, your position of editor-at-large is in jeopardy” — I replied: “What’s a light breeze to a man of my capacity?”
Fortunately, Mark believed me. That man could not sense fear even if it smacked him in the face. He then provided a very enlightened and detailed brief on how to fly a helicopter, far more informative than the ‘how to fly a helicopter’ on Google — this bloke really knows his stuff.
We then proceed to the aircraft, a Robinson R22. Mark gave a physical briefing about the vessel. He added additional fuel (which I thought was a fabulous idea) and we mounted his trusty steed. I have another name for it, but don’t expect usage of that would be permitted by my excellent sub-editor (earning brownie points here).
After receiving the appropriate air traffic clearances from the tower, we became airborne.
“How do these things fly?” I asked Mark. He was very reassuring and told me he had many hundreds of hours flying these mystery beasts… remember I asked about his qualifications? But now that we were in the air and I was in his hands, I only had his word for it.
I was somewhat relieved when he asked me if I was ready to take over the controls. Using pilot lingo established in the briefing, Mark said ‘your aircraft’, to which I replied ‘my aircraft’ (got to love that pilot talk).
I felt considerably safer knowing I was now in control of my own destiny. Fortunately I am here to write this story because Mark’s hand did not stray too far from the control of his destiny.
We had a magnificent flight over the city and Moreton Bay.
Doesn’t matter your age, race, colour or creed, make this a must on your bucket list and fly in a helicopter with the guys and girls at V2 helicopters.
If you don’t want to take control, then just have Mark and the team take you, your family, friends and visitors over our city for a ride. You will be buzzing for days with memories forever.
By the end of my TIF I was able to give Mark a few pointers and truly expected to hear from him about advancing my budding flying career. I checked with the receptionist and she assures me he has my number… perhaps he’s busy.