This is Niall’s account of his intensive training day course.

I felt like Charlie Bucket finding his golden ticket when I arrived at the airfield and immediately got to fly! I then got to be a king for a day, enjoying a day of instruction devoted to me and just one other student, “Swiss” John.

Eight launches each, and a willing group of volunteers fetching and carrying for us and catering to our whims all day long. Gliding is a team sport. I felt like an undeserving Little Lord Fauntleroy seeing my clubmates and instructor sweating it out in the glorious hot sunshine on my behalf, but it was exactly what I needed to progress. Genuine thanks to all who helped. John and I both really appreciated it.

The weather has not been kind this year. The first planned training day was rained off. This time, the only thing missing was clouds. The weather was decent, ground operations were slick and launch heights were good, There was even a decent variety of cake. Perfect conditions for learning!

I arrived feeling slightly nervous, knowing that I was probably going to be put through the wringer doing stuff like cable break drills, but I soon calmed down and got on with it.

I still have an element of imposter syndrome. Despite creeping ever-closer to flying solo, my brain still finds it hard to believe that a normal bloke like me now has the skills to fly. I suspect that I’m not unique in this, and most people see gliding as ‘something other people do’. That’s a real shame, if I can do it, pretty much anyone can. The joy it brings is immense.

The joy of landing for the third time, then realising you’ve still got another 5 launches ahead of you today, is indescribable! I live a fair way away from the club, so I can’t fly as often as I’d like. My Achilles heel at the moment is landings. The opportunity to do 8 landings, learning from each and trying again, made a huge difference.

Extra one-on-one time on the ground with our Chief Flying Instructor, Dick, also helped. Time spent on glider retrieves was spent learning in the sunshine. Cake time was obviously also built into the schedule. We couldn’t let it go to waste!

When it came to the cable breaks, they weren’t so bad. I can fly better than I think I can. I’ll need a bit more practice before I’m solo, but I’m really getting there now.

Over and above all that, I spent one of the nicest, happiest days this year doing something I love and playing out with my mates. John said he enjoyed every second of being waited on hand and foot, and will expect the same in future every time he’s there!

To paraphrase Douglas Adams: Thanks for all the cake.

Niall Brady