Well, maybe not quite so high. I am just in a small plane, hurtling from Archerfield (at the outskirts of Brisbane) towards Armidale in Northern New South Wales. The plane sits quietly on 5000 feet, and I am sitting, also quietly, just next to the pilot. At that height the scenery beneath seems to be sliding gently away from me, but the colours are fairly true. Not the brownish smudge that you get at 50.000 feet. You can see roads, paddocks, creatures moving and you can detect heights and of course, sitting next to the pilot you also have a view of the various instruments that talk about speed, altitude, compass bearing and what have you.

You do have the queer sensation of not appearing to land when you get close to Armidale. The strange sensation is due to the fact that the land is coming up towards you, as the town is high up on the New England Tablelands, maybe at 3000 feet or over 900 m.

No problem, we do have to get down a bit and our friends are waiting for us when we land.

Later, we tootle along the patrician town of Armidale and we go past another aerodrome which had a huge sign inviting you to come for a ride in a glider for 10/- (that’s ten bob –or shillings, later converted to one dollar). Although, in those days, I was nearly always “cash-strapped” but quite adventurous, my friend and I decided to take up this offer.

Well, I think that this was one of the best decision I ever made. I just wonder why I have not repeated it since. You get into this small plane, which has no motor, but an enclosed cabin and a pilot (of course). A catapult throws you forward and up and in no time flat you are amongst the birds. The view is even better than the one I described above and everything is so peaceful, the only sound is the swish of air around us, the colours are even truer.

It is a very beautiful feeling of utter, utter peace and quiet and contentment. A pity it only lasted a very short time – maybe quarter of an hour and even a greater pity that it became one of those “gonna” things. I have never set in a glider again – I just keep dreaming about it. 


Copyright © Henry Zehr 2013